Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


This unit offers an introduction to key methodological issues in the humanities. Pivotal humanistic disciplines such as literary studies and history have continually confronted the problem as to whether the texts they interpret constitute data for objective analysis (e.g. the historical 'archive') or whether the interpreter themselves inevitably contributes to the 'meaning' of the literary text or historical document. Primarily focusing on interpretive debates in literary and cultural studies, the unit examines a range of approaches to interpretation and analysis in the humanities that have sought to differentiate humanistic methods from scientific inquiry. Students study and seek to historically contextualise important critical approaches to interpretation that have sought to define the relationship between interpreter and text and between a text and its author and social context, including hermeneutics, formalism, reader-reception theory, Marxism, structuralism and post-structuralism, feminism and queer studies, and postcolonial theory. Theorists to be studied might include Giambattista Vico, Wilhelm Dilthey, Ernst Cassirer, Hayden White, Jacques Derrida, Edward Said, Richard Rorty, Eve Sedgwick and Cathy Caruth.

Students develop and complete an intensive research project on their chosen theoretical area, and articulate and defend positions in literary and cultural theory. These forms of assessment equip students with advanced research and communication skills that have applicability across a diversity of professional careers.

6 points

Students are able to (1) understand the fundamental critical concepts and debates in contemporary critical theory; (2) learn the historical and social contexts of these concepts and debates, that is, how these concepts have been influenced by, and in turn informed, various important social movements in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; (3) take informed and critical positions within these debates and situate these positions within the critical tradition; (4) apply theoretical strategies and insights into the interpretation of cultural texts; (5) express original arguments, together with research methodologies, approaches and findings, coherently and logically in oral and written formats; and (6) undertake and present research in groups efficiently and creatively, develop communication skills that benefit group discussion of critical theory and its applications.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) interpretation exercise; (2) topic proposal and research project; and (3) tutorial participation. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Tanya Dalziell and Associate Professor Alison Bartlett
Unit rules
Advisable prior study
for Social Research Methods students: ANTH4103 Knowing Social Realities: Theoretical Foundations.
SOCS5003 Research Design and Resourcing.
SOCS5005 Social Research Ethics
Contact hours
3 hours per teaching week

Learning Management System (LMS) or Course Materials Online (CMO) electronic availability of key texts likely

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.