For lecturers and students

The University of Melbourne Archives (UMA) is a vast research collection, open to both postgraduate and undergraduate students. 

Object Based Learning

UMA has been involved in Object-Based Learning initiatives with academic and library staff across a range of subject areas. Some of our objects are featured on the new Teaching with unique collections website. Object-based learning is increasingly being utilised in tertiary teaching; and the University of Melbourne’s commitment to this pedagogic method is evident in the object-based learning laboratories and extensive display spaces in Arts West, the new home for Bachelor of Arts students.

The staff at UMA can assist teaching staff across a range of disciplines to use our rich collection in undergraduate and postgraduate coursework teaching. We can also provide University of Melbourne students with expert one-on-one advice about archival research. Please contact UMA to arrange a meeting if you would like to take advantage of these services.

For an example of the innovative type of exercise we can develop for your class, see the short video on Object-Based Learning in the subject The Long History of Globalisation.

The archives can provide accessible material which personalises history and illustrates some of the problems of interpretation… The archives staff members have been very helpful and flexible in finding and providing suitable material for our subject. This ranges from organising suitable rooms for tutorial sessions to the specialist knowledge they share with the students. Tim Ould, Tutor, Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation, University of Melbourne

Increase student engagement

Original source documents (such as letters, diaries, minutes) or artefacts (such as photographs, medals, memorabilia) can spark imagination and empathy, encouraging students to engage in issues and events in a more concrete and meaningful way.

Learning outcomes

  • Critical and analytical skills
  • Methods of identifying and resolving problems
  • Independent approach to knowledge and history
  • Understanding of rigorous methods of inquiry and respect for ethical values, appropriate theories and methodologies
  • Improved communication skills
I sit in the library and I remember why I love history. I hold in my hands the same letters that another young man once held, almost a century ago. He wrote in a trench, or sometimes in a small town, but always with the same address: "Somewhere in France." I can touch the medals that this same man won and I can imagine his pride. I understand that these things, these documents are not only objects of history, these are his remains...These objects, these words in his diary are important because they represent the link between us today and in the past. Blog post by Sam Watts, French language and culture student, 2012

Creative and innovative outcomes

Assignments can be developed that allow students the opportunity to use their technological know-how because the work can be presented in a novel way, including:

  • Exhibition showcases
  • Blogs
  • Creative writing pieces

Not just for history students

The scope of UMA's collection is vast and covers a wide range of human endeavour, including engineering, economics, town planning, teaching, politics and the arts.

Recent use of UMA's collections for teaching purposes include:

  • French Language and Society: using the diaries and letters of Australian soldiers who fought in France in World War 1 to use as a basis for discussion of French culture and society
  • Global Economic Development: using slave plantation records to discuss the development of global capitalism in a Coursera MOOC
  • Creative Writing: Using correspondence with authors from our Meanjin and Melbourne University Press collections as a basis for a creative writing piece