Comparing Arts degrees at universities in Melbourne

Thinking about doing an Arts degree? Struggling to differentiate between the Arts degrees available at different universities? We've spoken to current Arts students from four major unis in Melbourne, to get insider knowledge about what makes each one unique. In this article, we bring you first-hand info about subjects on offer, how they're taught and assessed, and the strengths and weaknesses of Arts degrees at Monash, University of Melbourne, RMIT and Deakin.

Thinking about studying Arts in Sydney? Check out this article comparing Arts degrees on offer in NSW.

Deakin University

Stand-out features:

  • 'Jobshop Website,' which advertisers casual, part-time, full time and internship positions available for students
  • Optional internship semesters
  • Flexible study program
  • Large student-activity culture
  • Multiple campuses

2013 ATAR cut-off: Ranges from 50.05 (Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communication)) to 73.35 (Bachelor of Arts, (Psychology)). Study score of at least 25 in English (ESL) or 20 in English other than ESL is a requirement.

The Deakin Arts Degree is done as a 3-year full time degree with study options in the following areas: Animation, Anthropology, Arabic, Australian Studies, Children’s Literature, Chinese, Criminology, Dance, Drama, Film Studies, History, Indonesian, International Relations, Journalism, Language and Cultural Studies, Literary Studies, Media and Communication, Middle East Studies, Philosophy, Photography, Politics and Policy Studies, Professional and Creative Writing, Public Relations, Sociology, Spanish, Visual arts.

Teaching Format: Most subjects have 1 x one-hour lecture and 1 x one-hour or two-hour tutorial.

Assessment: Assessment varies from written assignments and examination, to practical and technical exercises and performance. Some units include class participation, online exercises, workshops and tests as part of assessment. 

Subjects and credit points: Deakin requires students to complete 24 credit points of study. Each unit is worth 2 credits points.

These subjects are drawn from: At least 8 credit points in a major sequence. No more than 10 credit points at level 1, at least 14 credit points at level 2 or above, and no more than 8 credit points outside the course-group units for the Bachelor of Arts.

Exchange opportunities: Arts students have the option of studying overseas, with destinations including Canada, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, and Italy.

Degree Structure: 3 years full time, part-time study available. Off-campus is also available.

Degree overview: Deakin have flexible options for students to structure their course easily, and to their own tastes. The university has numerous campuses, including Burwood, Geelong Waterfront, Geelong Waurn Ponds and Warrnambool. Off-campus study is available, and all units include theoretical and practical approaches to help students experience their chosen future career paths.

During his time at Deakin University, Andrew, 21, has found the journalism component of Deakin’s Arts Degree to be especially enjoyable, and says the student culture is popular:

“There is heaps of practical experience for Journalism, such as interviews for stories in the real world, having to organise time to meet with people who aren't in the local area, work experience and internships.”

“The social environment is great, as well as DUSA which is the student reps. There are heaps of social events, activities on-campus and trips off-campus. Student culture is good, like anything you have to put yourself out there, only get back what you give.”

A unique feature of Deakin University is its student cultural life – there is an abundance of experiences offered that lets students travel together, meet and take part in ‘theme weeks.’ This is all done through DUSA, the Deakin University Student Association.  Additionally, Deakin’s multiple campus life gives students who do not live in Metropolitan Melbourne the opportunity to study a large variety of subjects.


University of Melbourne

Stand-out features include:

  • Compulsory Arts Foundation subjects in first year
  • Compulsory breadth subjects
  • Theoretical approach
  • Great exchange opportunities

2013 ATAR cut-off: 91.40 clearly-in rank

The Melbourne Arts degree is done as a three-year degree with majors and/or in the following areas: Ancient World Studies, Anthropology, Arabic, Art History, Asian Studies, Australian Indigenous Studies, Chinese Language, Chinese Studies, Classics, Creative Writing, Criminology, Development Studies, Economics, English and Theatre Studies, English Language Studies, Environmental Studies, French, Gender Studies, Geography, German, Hebrew and Jewish Studies, History, History and Philosophy of Science, Indonesian, Islamic Studies, Italian, Japanese, Knowledge and Learning, Law and Justice, Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, Media and Communications, Philosophy, Politics and International Studies, Psychology, Russian, Screen and Cultural Studies, Social Theory, Sociology, Spanish and Latin American Studies.

Teaching format: Most subjects have 2 x one-hour lecture and 1 x one-hour tutorial per week (though this can vary according to the subject e.g. Screen and Cultural Studies subjects will also have a film screening).

Assessment: Assessment requirements vary across subjects. The majority of subjects have a mark for participation during tutorials and a class presentation (10%), an essay due mid-semester (40%) and a final essay due at the end of semester (50%).

Subjects and credit points: The university requires students to complete enough subjects to reach a total of 300 credit points in order to graduate from the Bachelor of Arts. Each subject offered in the University of Melbourne Bachelor of Arts is worth 12.5 credit points (a normal course load is four subjects per semester).

These subjects are drawn from: in first year, one or two compulsory Arts Foundation subjects, and in third year, one compulsory capstone subject per major, and between six and four breadth subjects (subjects outside the faculty), with the remaining subjects making up the requirements for majors and minors (these differ depending on the subject area). 

Exchange opportunities: Arts students may undergo exchange or study abroad to a number of international universities that offer corresponding subjects.

Degree structure: 3 years full-time (can also be undertaken part-time)

Degree overview: With a wide variety of options for study areas, including some that aim to broaden the mind, the Melbourne Arts degree allows for a sampling of several different interests early in the course. Students can then choose to specialise as they progress throughout the degree. The University of Melbourne was also recently announced as the returning Number 1 university in Australia.

Reflecting on her time as an Arts student at Melbourne, recent graduate Michelle identifies the university social environment and student exchange as the highlights of her degree:

“The university has plenty of opportunities to get involved, socially. There’s an abundance of clubs and societies. The trouble is getting students to put aside any inhibitions and join up! In particular, I spent a lot of time writing for the student magazine, Farrago. I’ll be editing it next year!”

“I went on exchange to the University of Pennsylvania in 2012, and I loved it! Travelling and studying in another country – what more could you ask for?”

One unique feature of the University of Melbourne Arts degree is the compulsory Arts Foundation subjects and compulsory breadth subjects. These subjects are aimed at giving students a broad idea of the study interests available to them at the university. The Arts Foundation subjects aim to combine a few interlinking disciplines by focusing on themes (such as Identity, Power and Reason) and the different discourses that can access them. The breadth subjects enable students to select something outside of their degree, expanding their options and giving them the opportunity to study something they might not have otherwise tried. The breadth subjects also enable students to experience the different teaching methods at the university – for example, Science subjects have different contact hours, assessment, and class discussions to Arts subjects.


Monash University

Stand-out features:

  • Crossover campuses
  • International reputation
  • Theoretical approaches
  • ‘The Monash Passport,’ an education model that provides volunteer opportunities, leadership programs and travel opportunities
  • The choice to start studying a unit whilst still in Year 12

2013 ATAR cut-off: Clearly-in score of 80.05 (Caulfield Campus), or 85.05 (Clayton Campus).

The Monash Arts Degree is done as a 3-year full time or 6-year part time degree with study options in the following areas: Anthropology, Ancient Cultures, Australia In The World, Australian Indigenous Studies, Behavioural Studies, Bioethics, Chinese Studies, Communications, Community Studies, Criminology, English, English as an International Language, Film and Screen Studies, Geography Climate and Physical Environments, German Studies, History, History-Politics, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Human Rights, Indigenous Cultures and Histories, Indonesian Studies, International Relations, International Studies, Islamic Studies, Italian Studies, Japanese Studies, Jewish Studies, Journalism Practice, Journalism Studies, Korean Studies, Linguistics, Literary Studies, Modern Greek, Music, Philosophy, Politics, Psychological Studies, Psychology, Religion and Theology, Society Cities and Sustainability, Sociology, Spanish and Latin American Studies, Theatre, Ukrainian Studies, Visual Culture, Writing.

Teaching Format: Most subjects have 1 x one-hour or 1 x two-hour lecture, and 1 x one-hour or 1 x two-hour tutorial.

Assessment: Assessments typically consist of written assignments, online tests and quizzes, exams, and presentations.

Subjects and credit points: Monash requires students to complete a total of 144 credit points in a standard Arts Degree. Each unit is worth 6 credit points. Typically, students study 4 units a semester.

These subjects are drawn from: A major of 48 points, a minor of 24 points, a first-year sequence of 12 points, 2 additional Arts units of 12 points, and the remaining credit points come from electives in a standard degree.

Exchange opportunities: Arts students have the option of studying overseas, with destinations including Austria, Botswana, Chile, Denmark, France, Italy, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, the Middle East, the UK and the US.

Degree Structure: 3 years full-time, 6 years part-time. Off-campus and distance learning is also available.

Degree overview: Monash provides students with specific course structures that help provide a clear pathway into a student’s chosen career. The university is internationally diverse, and provides a large collection of choices for electives. Double degrees are available, and because of the structured courses, are easy to undertake. Social interaction is a key feature of the Arts Degree, as there are opportunities for group assignments, presentations and practical group work.

Sorrell, 20, is studying a Bachelor of Arts and has great faith in the university’s lecturers and tutors. She also says that the student culture is enjoyable, and the convenience of the university is great.

“I love my campus, I love the vast amount of subjects that I can choose from in my degree and specifically in both my majors, and I love the quality of lecturers they provide for us in this course.”

“I really enjoy the social environment at my faculty, I find fellow students to be motivated, informed and generally pleasant to deal with. I am not a member of any societies by choice, but there is a wide range of student societies available to join and there are also a number of organised social events throughout the year.”

A unique feature of Monash University is it’s prestigious name – the university is in the top 1% of world universities. It has a vast international compass, and loves providing students with opportunities that could be life-changing experiences. There is also a big emphasis on interaction, and students are encouraged to undertake tasks that help them bond and communicate with fellow classmates.



Stand-out features:

  • Unique format separating communications streams and  social sciences streams
  • Central location in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD
  • Geared towards practical experience
  • Notorious for strong industry connections, ideal for students who have a particular career path in mind

2013 ATAR cut-off: ranges from 81.65 (Bachelor of Communication (Public Relations)) to 93.15 (Bachelor of Communication (Journalism)). Some courses also require additional prerequisites e.g. folio, interview.

The RMIT Arts degree differs from the traditional Arts degree format (such as that at The University of Melbourne) in that it separates social sciences degrees from communications degrees. The social science degrees are done as three-year degrees with study options in the following areas: Global Studies, Languages (including Chinese Mandarin, French, Japanese and Spanish), Psychology, Social Work, Youth Work.

The communications degrees are done as three-year degrees with study options in the following areas: Advertising, Animation, Fine Art, Visual Art, Games and Interactive Media, Graphic and Communication Design, Journalism, Media, Music and Audiovisual, Professional Communication, Public Relations, Screen and Writing.

Teaching format: Most subjects have 1 x one-hour lecture and 1 x two-hour tutorial.

Assessment: Assessment requirements vary across subjects and courses. Assessment can include folio presentations, essays, case studies, assignments, projects, reports, oral presentations and quizzes, to assess students’ abilities to meet the courses’ learning outcomes.

Subjects and credit points: The university requires students to complete enough subjects to reach a total of 288 credit points in order to graduate from these Bachelor degrees. Each subject offered in these RMIT Bachelor degrees is worth 12 points (a normal course load is four subjects per semester).

These subjects are drawn from: usually, at least one compulsory core subject pertaining to the degree per semester (that is, at least one quarter of the course is composed of core subjects). Some courses require students to select one subject each from a few selections – usually bundled according to their practical or theoretical applications. Some courses enable students to complete a Contextual Studies Major, through a minimum of five subjects in one particular area. These areas can include Cinema Studies, Literature and Philosophy, Politics Economics Communication.

Exchange opportunities: Students may undergo exchange to a number of international universities that offer corresponding subjects.

Degree structure: 3 years full-time (can also be undertaken part-time)

Degree overview: With a focus on career selection and industry contacts, RMIT’s degrees are geared towards those wanting a vocational education. Students who enter the degree with a clear idea of the career they wish to pursue will be able to specialise in hands-on subjects that give them skills to use throughout their career. RMIT’s city campus is also right in the CBD, a busy location with many activities available outside of university life.

Reflecting on his time in the Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) at RMIT, Broede identifies the location and up-to-date assessment as some of the outstanding aspects of his degree:

“There is a strong student environment on campus, specifically through the student union, clubs, et cetera. However because RMIT is in the city, I would say there is also a bit of outward-looking student environment.”

“Journalism also has news quizzes, which are kind of like miniature exams spread out through the semester. You are assessed on your knowledge of the week’s news. These can be quite challenging, but are good because they prepare you for the ABC and News Ltd cadetship tests.”

One unique feature of the RMIT Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Communications degrees is the opportunity to gain real industry experience while studying. This is done through internships that the university can help students apply for. Additionally, coursework is aimed at giving students the opportunity to do things as they would in the workplace, albeit with guidance from lecturers and tutors.