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The Secret Life of the Body 1 (UNIB10011)

Undergraduate level 1Points: 12.5On Campus (Southbank)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 1
Subject codeUNIB10011
Semester 1
Semester 2
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Ever thought about how we actually see, hear, taste, smell and touch? How do musicians, dancers, artists, athletes, martial artists and yoga practitioners do what they do? And how does this relate to findings and hidden secrets in scientific research about the body and the brain?

In an increasingly global and collaborative world the need to have a knowledge of the whole, the interconnections between disciplines, their languages and approaches, histories and cultural expressions, is essential to understanding 21st century problems and creating practical and innovative solutions.

This subject explores the intricate links and parallels between the arts, science, philosophy, architecture, mysticism, medicine (both western and eastern), law, and economics, through understandings of the human body. The VCA campus provides a unique classroom environment for this subject, with a teaching staff of working artists, academics and guest speakers, all experts in their fields.

Underpinning The Secret Life of the Body is recognition of the value of interdisciplinarity and the role it plays in understanding critical vocabularies and new areas of research. The focus on the exchange of ideas between students and teachers across the schools and campuses, shapes the range of issues that the human body presents to us, in all the ways that we experience it - intellectually, personally, kineaesthetically and in multi disciplinary forms.

Intended learning outcomes

The Poetics of the Body aims to:

  • Introduce students to historical representations and interpretations of the body;
  • Familiarize students with a range of discipline-specific technical and theoretical terms by bringing them into plain English to facilitate communication;
  • Enrich student’s vocabularies and to explore a range of assumptions within disciplines, eg: the “objectivity” of science verses the “subjectivity” of aesthetic judgement;
  • Provide the ground for new modes of understanding and representation of the body;
  • Integrate practice with theory through aligning studio/laboratory with lecture/tutorial based learning;
  • Contribute to and enrich current debate on the human body;
  • Engage students with culturally diverse practices and customs associated with the body;

Generic skills

At the completion of the Poetics of the Body subject students should be able to:

  • Exhibit a sound working knowledge of the role of the human body across its various discipline specific domains;
  • Demonstrate interpretive abilities across a range of academic disciplines;
  • Confidently communicate, both orally and in writing, opinions, ideas and observations with regard to theory and practice of the body, in group and individual situations;
  • Participate effectively as a team member in interdisciplinary projects with a shared focus;
  • Embody an informed respect for the principles, protocols, discipline and ethics of interdisciplinary scholarship and practice;
  • Demonstrate capacities for scholarly analysis and artistic imagination, creativity, transformation and interpretation;
  • Contribute to a range of disciplines as collaborators and leaders;
  • Contribute in an informed and considered manner to current scientific and ethical debates on the human body.

Eligibility and requirements





Non-allowed subjects


Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home



  • Intellectual Journal: (30%) the journal will serve as repository for ideas taken from lectures, tutorial/ workshops, readings from the Course Reader, as well as performances, exhibitions and museum visits. Students will map and connect ideas encountered in this subject to their main disciplines. The journal should reflect each students growing intellectual curiosity and capacity to link specific themes to their broader context. Diversity of writing, graphic notation and imaging will be encouraged. The journal is also a place to record the different vocabularies and definitions encountered in lectures.
  • Project: (40%) project to include both theoretical and practical components . Students will select from a menu of projects.
  • Group Presentation: (30%) Students will form small groups to present to the tutorial group some of the key ideas from the weeks reading from the Course Reader.

Dates & times

  • Semester 1
    Principal coordinatorDavid Shea
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Southbank
    Contact hours3 hours per week for 12 weeks
    Total time commitment136 hours
    Teaching period 4 March 2019 to 2 June 2019
    Last self-enrol date15 March 2019
    Census date31 March 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail10 May 2019
    Assessment period ends28 June 2019

    Semester 1 contact information

    Elizabeth Presa


  • Semester 2
    Principal coordinatorElizabeth Presa
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Southbank
    Contact hours3 hours per week for 12 weeks
    Total time commitment136 hours
    Teaching period29 July 2019 to 27 October 2019
    Last self-enrol date 9 August 2019
    Census date31 August 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail27 September 2019
    Assessment period ends22 November 2019

    Semester 2 contact information

    Elizabeth Presa


Time commitment details

136 hours

Further information

Last updated: 14 August 2019