Arts Discovery at the University of Melbourne

Find your voice, create new knowledge and connect with the world in this core subject of our Bachelor of Arts degree.

What is Arts Discovery?

Arts Discovery is our flagship subject for all commencing Bachelor of Arts (BA) students.

It’s an essential introduction to the diversity, distinction, and impact of research in the humanities, social sciences, and languages.

In Arts Discovery, you’ll learn how to learn like a Melbourne Arts student, opening up exciting pathways with your individual and collaborative research, and gaining the research and academic skills you’ll need to thrive in your BA studies.

This subject is your passport to join our community of critical thinkers who drive creative innovation, deepen understanding of societies and environments and contribute to inspiring New Futures by constantly asking questions about the world around us.

Where do we start?

We start with you.

Guided by some of our Faculty’s leading scholars, you’ll develop a collaborative research project, drawing on your own background knowledge and experiences, and inspired by one of the objects we’ll be discovering together in the first weeks of semester.

A photo of Earth, foregrounded by the moon's horizon, taken on-board the Apollo 8 spacecraft. (Image credit: NASA)
'Earthrise' – a New Futures object studied in Arts Discovery in 2022. (Image credit: NASA, 1968)

Your chosen object might provoke you to expose the fabrications, crimes or wonders of the past. Or to engage with what’s happening right now – with what makes you hopeful or fearful, wary, or thrilled to be alive in the present moment.

Whichever angle you take, we’ll support you to develop your research projects and envision New Futures to challenge and change what matters most to you.

You’ll present your collaborative research outcomes, using traditional and experimental methods, in a public forum to maximise your impact and add new project management skills to your CV – maybe through producing a video essay, a print publication, a podcast, or a group exhibition in a virtual gallery.

You’ll also have space and time to build and reflect on your own learning journey and to present that experience in individual work.

Where do we end?

That’s up to you.

We’ll provide you with a strong foundation to succeed in your Arts degree, no matter which major(s) you choose.

'Moon Totem', a work by sculptor Noriko Nakamura. (Credit: Noriko Nakamura)
'Moon Totem'– a New Futures object studied in Arts Discovery in 2022. (Credit: Noriko Nakamura, 2015; full acknowledgement and photo credits at bottom of page)

We’ll encourage you to explore learning strategies and academic skills that will serve you throughout your studies and beyond graduation. We’ll facilitate connections with peers and academics that will set you up to take full advantage of our vibrant Arts community.

We’ll invite you to make the award-winning Arts West building your home when on campus, where you’ll participate in your Arts Discovery seminars – and from which you’ll venture out into the amazing life and resources of the Parkville campus. We’ll help you navigate the abundant offerings online and on campus, ranging from libraries and study spaces to cabinets of curiosities from our cultural collections, and on to the co-curricular programmes that add to the unforgettable experience of your BA.

In the end, it’s your adventure. We’re here to help you make it the best it can be.

Arts Discovery is about finding your voice, creating new knowledge, and connecting with the world.

Are you ready?

What you'll do

A photo of a takeaway coffee cup. (Image credit: Mitch Goodwin)
A takeaway coffee cup – a New Futures object studied in Arts Discovery in 2022. (Image credit: Mitch Goodwin, 2021)
  • Complete this subject in your first semester in a shared study experience alongside other students commencing their Melbourne BA
  • Broaden your perspectives by connecting with our welcoming, vibrant Arts community, including through interactive seminars and interdisciplinary teamwork
  • Learn how Arts research leads to real-world impact by driving innovation and understanding in areas including sustainability, indigeneity, technology, and diversity and inclusion
  • Develop and deliver a collaborative research project prompted by one of our New Futures objects
  • Build connections with academic experts and learn about their own research projects and processes
  • Hone research techniques including questioning and analysis, reflection and collaboration
  • Complete Joining Melbourne modules to get the best start to your time at the University of Melbourne
  • Access the University’s resources, such as academic skills and mental health support, that can help you succeed in your BA journey.

Video: See the world through fresh eyes with Arts Discovery

Want a preview of what it's like to study Arts Discovery?

Discover spaces around our Parkville campus as Professor Jacqueline Dutton and some of our students explore the inspiration embedded in a takeaway coffee cup – one of the New Futures objects studied in 2022.

Take the next step

Plan your Melbourne BA

Explore Arts Discovery in the Handbook

Further image credits

Moon Totem

Noriko Nakamura b.1986
Moon Totem, 2015
The University of Melbourne Art Collection. Gift of Michael Caswell and Olivia Poloni, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, 2019
Photograph by Matthew Stanton