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History

The purpose of History is not simply to present facts but to search for an interpretation of the past. Historians attempt to find patterns and establish meaning through the rigorous study of documents and artefacts left by people of other times and other places. The History major of Melbourne University is fairly wide ranging but has been substantially scaled back since the introduction of the Melbourne model.  In first year, you have a choice of three subjects which cover very broad subject areas. Generally, as you progress through years of university, your subjects become more specific. If you want to give your history major a greater sense of depth, you should consider a study exchange. At Universities in England, America and Europe, you can do much more specialised history subjects (see guide to Study Abroad). The faculty has a few great academics: Dr Sean Scalmer is a very good authority on Australian history particularly the development of Australia’s democracy in the early 20th century.  Dr Dvir Abramovich who takes the Israeli-Palestinian subject is one of the really great passionate academics and gives a very objective guide to studying his subjects. Other good lecturers are Richard Pennel whose focus is the great Islamic Empires and the Modern Middle East. He’s a bit of a misanthrope, but has dry wit and does hilarious impressions, along with suggesting the odd good book from time to time. Course costs are pretty slim as the History department now puts all of the reading content online. In each subject, you will typically do one research essay and a document analysis. There is also a compulsory capstone in third year called Making History where you look at different areas of Historiography. This has recently undergone a shake up and the lecturers are still getting it all together. Be patient, as there are some really interesting topics that pop up.

There are also a few intensive subjects where you can go overseas. One is searching for the American Dream where you to Washington, Boston and New York studying American culture and History. Something more local is a subject created by Kate Darian-Smith is Urban Legends: Melbourne Intensive, taught during the Uni breaks, where you explore the history around Melbourne in its laneways, buildings and streets.