Another of the social sciences, focusing on the study of people and the institutions which shape society. There are a lot of overlapping subjects between Sociology, International Studies and Criminology.
Compulsory subjects are Critical Analytical Skills in second year and Applied Research Methods in third year. The best Student Experience Survey the faculty could find to promote Critical Analytical Skills was “This subject is well organised”, so have fun with that. If you’re interested in humans and how we interact, and prefer more contextualised work as opposed to the theoretical stuff in Anthropology, give Sociology a go. Recommended subjects include Sexual Politics (POLS20011) and Law in Society SOLS10001.
Screen and Cultural studies is about TV and movies and their influence on society and culture in both the past and the present day. You’re required to attend screenings for some subjects which is cool because you watch them in big lecture theatres on a large screen. You may want to buy a camera if you want to make movies for assessments but there are often many other options like essays, posters or blogs so don’t stress. The first year subject, Culture, Media and Everyday is described as ‘very fun and interesting.’ There are lots of different topics and a variety of assignment options. It has two main lecturers and plenty of guest lecturers which keeps things interesting. The lecturers have partially changed but Fran Martin is still a lecturer who was very clear and had good power points. It remains a different way to think about life, and serves as another excuse to enjoy Cinema Nova’s $6-$9 tickets every Monday (on Lygon St).
This is a popular and diverse major – one that does allow you to study a mixture of political ideas and contemporary events, even if it is a little lighter on the latter. The subject base is very broad, and includes a strong mix of international and national political subjects.
The examples studied can be a little shallow at times. The introductory subjects are very basic, to the level where you’re taught what cabinet is in first year Australian Politics. Second year’s Politics and the Media starts off with a very simple explanation that “the media influences politics”. Similarly, studies of individual events or movements can sometimes not go beyond the basic facts and theoretical linkages. Nonetheless, the flexibility is there and subjects such as the popular Public Policy Making do introduce many to new approaches.
The two compulsory subjects, Critical Analytical Skills and Applied Research Methods, are widely disliked by students. The convoluted and unclear nature of teaching and assessment make them a tough challenge. Having a look at a good practical polling or research methods book – as opposed to the often confusing subject readers – can be helpful in getting through them.
Despite this, studying politics can be really rewarding – teaching you about both new ideas and key events. This is both practically useful in pursing a range of policy and administrative careers – and helpful and interesting in building knowledge of the world.
Thinking about thinking about thinking, and other metaphysical stuff. Expect thought experiments that look like star trek plots, trolley problems, the categorical imperative and that debate between realism and anti-realism that never seems to get resolved. Also, join the Melbourne Uni Philosophy Community, a bunch of philosophers who don’t take themselves too seriously and love to debate morality over a few drinks.
Notable Academics include Karen Jones, a great lecturer however there is some subtle agenda pushing going on in the background, watch out for this and all is good.
Chris Cordner also warrants a mention. Take the time to read his book. The mellow tone of his voice is great for naps.
In the Media and Communications major, you’ll get a large chunk of historical theory, another chunk of contemporary research and a small sliver of practical production. The biggest focus of the major is on looking at theories behind why and how media is produced – often the more abstract ones. This can be interesting at times, though sometimes wears thin if not linked to more contemporary practises. An expanding part of the major is more specific contemporary media research subjects, which take place primarily in second and third year. If people have an interest in these specific areas, they’re generally enjoyable.
The greatest shortfall in Media and Communications is the actual practical writing and media production. Out of the eleven media subjects, there are only two practical writing subjects – Introduction to Media Writing and Writing Journalism. There are no specific TV, radio or film production subjects – and even the marketing and online media subjects often focus on hypotheticals and theory above production and writing.
Literature involves learning about how novels and poems can be used to interpret the social and political context of a particular time period. You do this by analysing selected passages, pulling apart metaphors and similes and then explaining any implied ideas issues and values which you can identify from the text. The major contains one compulsory first year subject as well as a third year capstone. It is a highly flexible major where you can study a wide variety of different genres. However, be aware that this is one of the Arts majors that see cuts to subjects regularly, so don’t count on studying in third year what you were looking at in first year. It pays to be flexible.
It is one of the more expensive Arts majors as you are required to read an entire novel every week during your first year and up to two novels by your third year while also keeping up with a subject reader. It is much more cost effective to either buy your books from a second hand store or to use online shops like bookdepository.com. Otherwise, you are looking at wasting a lot of money at the Book Co-op. You should also be able to buy your books from Readings in Lygon Street. It has very good staff and is normally quite well stocked. If you’re are looking at doing foreign literature, you should make full use of the Baillieu Library as it has a very extensive collection of different translations of Russian and French literature. Also, if you are required to study a piece of foreign literature, you are generally required to use a specific translation. You can lose a lot of marks in an essay which references the wrong translation. There are stories of Lit students accidentally using really old translations of a book that had been censored which meant that half the textual references in their essays were wrong.
The Linguistics and Applied Linguistics major is all about languages, grammar, sounds, and meaning. It also encompasses the social and cultural side including how language affects how we think. You have to do 3 compulsory subjects: Phonetics, Syntax and a capstone- Exploring Linguistic Diversity. And then there is also recommended subjects for honours too. The first year subject, The Secret Life of Language is reviewed as a good overview of the major at length, worth trying out if you’re interested. The lecturer has received high praise from students, being described as having a sense of humour and not terrible lecture slides
Melbourne has a wide variety of languages you can study. Currently, you can choose from Swedish, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Japanese, Chinese, Russian and Arabic. There a few different ways you can incorporate a language into your degree. If you’re an Arts student, you can simply pick a language as your major or a minor. If you want to do your arts majors in other areas, you can alternatively apply to do a Diploma in Languages where you effectively do a separate course on top of your degree. The catch is that you have to do an extra year at University unless you want to overload. Some languages however let you do courses over the summer like the Spanish intensive where you do the second year of the diploma over 6- 7 weeks during the summer break. This enables you to go straight to third year level Spanish. Doing a language can be very challenging if you start from scratch. You will effectively squeeze what you would normally learn over four years in High School into two semesters. It requires you do a lot of independent study in order to keep up with the workload. There are ways you can do this and have fun. There is a university club for every single language you can study at Melbourne and most of them generally include senior students who will tutor you and organise socials where you can have conversation practice. Another way to get the best of studying a language is go on Study Exchange or Study Abroad for a semester or two. Students often come back fluent in their chosen language. Don’t be freaked out by the cost of exchange. There are a lot of grants you can get from the University as well as a government scheme called OS Help which can give you a loan of up to $6000 which you can add to your HECS. That included with the $2500 you get given from the University is 75% of what it generally costs to go on exchange.
Languages courses are generally structured into three different streams. These include a Beginners stream where you start from scratch and two post-VCE streams which include an intermediate stream and an advanced stream. If you have studied a language previously and want to continue it into uni, the faculty will allow you to sit a test to see which stream you’re best suited for. Don’t freak out if they put you in the advanced stream and you don’t feel up to it. It’s normally a fairly easy process to transfer.
The structure of each subject is different to your average Arts degree. In your first year, the main focus is basic grammar, vocabulary together with listening and speaking. Your assessment is divided up into a series of homework exercises, oral exams and an end of year written exam. As the course progresses into second year, you do less and less grammar. In your third year, you get to choose from elective subjects. These range according to language but generally focus on studies of film, literature and cultural development. These subjects can be challenging as you have to apply all the skills you have learnt from the grammar subjects and are required to write 1000 words essays in your chosen language.
There is a decent choice of electives, largely focussed on literature. Linguistics subjects however are rarely offered. The core subjects Italian Language and Culture 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, and 3A are compulsory. You will generally have three seminars every week where you focus on reading, writing, speaking and listening.
The same structure occurs for the other language courses.
See below for insight to particular languages
French, Italian, Japanese, Spanish
A note on Languages: we understand there are many more languages taught at the University, but have received no reviews thus far. If you have any comments on your particular language studied please submit through the Submit tile on the CounterCourse home page, or follow this link.
Spanish is an extremely popular language for students to start learning at Uni. As a Spanish language student, you will be taught by tutors from all parts of the Spanish-speaking world, providing for a really interesting range of language learning and cultural experiences. The different accents may be hard to get used to at first, but tutors are generally helpful and accommodating. Until about level 3, tutors usually use both English and Spanish in class. Most students find first year Spanish to be fast-paced but accessible and enjoyable, with an emphasis on conversation and grammar practise through group activities. For this reason, learning Spanish at Uni, as with other languages, is a social experience and a great way to make new friends from all different study backgrounds, especially as you tend to be with the same class group two or three times a week. Each Spanish language subject generally involves several different assessment tasks, such as online grammar quizzes, group presentations, essays, in-class tests and exams. While this means that the workload is fairly constant, it also gives students multiple opportunities to produce their best work and continue practising what they have learnt. For students studying Spanish as part of a Diploma in Languages, a number of interesting cultural subjects are offered, such as Hispanic Cultural Studies, which largely focuses on film in the Hispanic world, and Rock, Pop & Resistance, which looks at cultural responses to socio-political events in Spain and Latin America.
Dr Jun Ohashi is the subject co-ordinator for entry level Japanese 1&2. While demanding and challenging for those with little background in Japanese, it is pretty easy to do well if you dedicate time and effort to the subject.
Dr Yasuhisa Watanabe is a fantastic lecturer and coordinator. He currently takes Japanese 3 and 4, which are very well-structured and interesting. Course topics are interesting and relevant.
In Japanese 5 and 6 (previously 3A and 3B), the course begins to meander around with very little structure or guidance. These subjects are taken by Dr Sayuki Machida, who has done some fascinating research, but is not a particularly engaging lecturer or coordinator. There are no clear units in these subjects; topics are not cohesive and students spend a lot of time reading articles that, while interesting, don’t seem to be relevant to a particular area of language. Most Japanese tutors are excellent; good communication and very dedicated to helping students.