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    Biography has been a popular form of writing for more than two centuries. This class will introduce students to key examples of biography and offer a platform for writing and publishing original biographical works. Students will contribute to Dunedin’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature while learning more about New Zealand’s literary history and about practical publishing.

    There will be three main assignments - students will create:

    1. A Wikipedia page for a notable New Zealand individual
    2. One or two biographical articles for the Dunedin City of Literature
    3. A longer work of biographical writing in the style of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

    Suggested topics will be available for all three assignments, though students are encouraged to contact the paper co-ordinator in advance with their own ideas. The goal is to complete the class with two and possibly three published or publishable works.

    About this paper

    Paper title A Topic in English Language
    Subject English
    EFTS 0.1667
    Points 20 points
    Teaching period Not offered in 2024 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $1,240.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    72 300-level ENGL points

    Teaching staff

    Paper Co-ordinator: Associate Professor Thomas McLean

    Paper Structure

    The initial weeks of the class will focus on topic selection, outside readings related to biography and research on your selected figures. At the same time, we will begin preparing articles for Wikipedia and the Dunedin City of Literature. Research and writing of a longer biographical study will take up the remainder of the paper.

    Teaching Arrangements

    The class will meet weekly for a 2-hour seminar.


    All readings will be available through Blackboard, though most of students' time will be focused on independently researching the content of their various projects.

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete ENGL 404 will be able to:

    • Locate source materials, both published and archival
    • Discuss and analyse aspects of Dunedin's literary history
    • Identify the features of good, publishable writing
    • Evaluate critically and provide constructive feedback on the writing of others
    • Reflect on and respond to feedback on their own writing
    • Collaborate with others in addressing the conceptual and practical challenges of a large group project
    • Understand the many tasks required in writing, editing, and publishing a book
    • Understand the contractual agreements, intellectual property rights, and ethical obligations in research and publishing


    Not offered in 2024

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system
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