Biographical Writing

Be a biographer! Learn to write a biography, family history, biograhical novel, write a biographical magazine article or even an obituary. Great online course - learn from dedicated and enthusiastic tutors.

Course Code: BWR205
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn the importance of research and research techniques

Learn about different types of research, where to start gathering information, and how to apply the art of fiction to the craft of a biography. In the final lesson, you'll write a 2000 - 4000 word biography and receive individual feedback from our academic staff.

Biographical writing can be large-scale, and cover a person's whole life, or it can be small scale, and cover only a short period, from a week to a few years. Sometimes the subject's life is the entire focus. Other times, it's his or her work, or their life in the context of a particular philosophy or achievement.

A biography is neither a diary nor a journal. It's more than a collection of ‘she did this’ and ‘he did that’. Although biographies are writing about life, it's more useful to think of them as a collection of writings about life events. What are the key events? How do these tie around a central theme or purpose?

 

 

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope and Nature of Biographical Writing
    • The difference between a biography and autobiography
    • Unauthorised biographies
    • Using ghost writers in biographies
    • Choosing your subject
    • Biography vs. Memoir
  2. Researching a Biography
    • Types of Evidence
    • Using Evidence
    • Fair Use
    • Where to find evidence
    • Conducting an Interview
    • How to deal with conflicting sources and information
    • Citations and Referencing
  3. Developing Context
    • Determining Your Theme
    • Developing the theme
    • Themes and Structure
    • Using Context
  4. Short Biographies
    • Principles of the Short Biography
    • Distilling Information
    • Preparing to write from life experience
  5. Comprehensive Biographies
    • What makes a comprehensive biography comprehensive?
    • Writing a Great Biography
    • Voice in Writing
  6. Planning a Biography
    • The Short Outline
    • The Detail-Heavy Outline
    • Outlining the biography
    • Defining a theme, writing to a central theme
    • Word Budget
    • Organising Chapter Content
  7. Editing and Marketing a Biography
    • Editing
    • Writing a Sales Package
    • The Publishing Process
    • Publishing Processes for Ebooks
    • Self-Publishing Your Work
    • Distributing and Selling your Work
    • Grants for Writing
  8. Project – Writing a Biographical Story
    • In this final lesson, you will bring together everything that you have been learning to undertake research and construct a first draft of a biographical piece of between 2,000 and 4,000 words.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Determine when, why, where and how biographies are written.
  • Determine sources of information and then acquire appropriate information for a biography.
  • To decide on the type of biography and context in which it should be developed, based upon researched information.
  • Write different types of short biographies to meet different purposes.
  • Analyse a life to determine the structure, style and content of a comprehensive biography that could become a small book, large book, or screenplay.
  • Plan a type of biography.
  • Determine how a biographical manuscript may be dealt with after writing is completed by the author; to produce and market a finished product.
  • Apply knowledge and skills developed throughout this course, to research and produce a biographical short story.

What You Will Do

  • Discuss how topics are integrated into a biography and how they help or hinder the work.
  • Create a biographical timeline.
  • Locate a biography, in print or online, and assess the referencing used.
  • Identify a theme or themes in a biographical work and think about how events in the work tie back to the theme.
  • Research copyright and libel laws in your area.
  • Research letters requesting information or interviews with experts or other sources.
  • Locate two pieces of primary evidence, then two pieces of secondary evidence for the topic of your choice. Keep notes on how you found your evidence and what makes it primary and secondary respectively.
  • Research short bios of “ordinary” people.
  • Analyse the life of a person you’d like to write about. Look at this task from the perspective of deciding what content you would include and the best structure and style to use for this particular subject.

Examples of biographical writing might include:

  • An historical account of someone's life, such as the explorer Douglas Mawson
  • An account of someone's philosophy in the context of their life, sometimes generally, sometimes for motivational reasons.collection of interviews about a person's life
  • A feature article discussing only one or two aspects of the subject's life, through empirical research or anecdotal research (interviews with the subject, people who know the subject etc.)
  • A biopic, or film representation of a person's life – the screenplays or teleplays for such work are a form of biographical writing
  • A play about a subject's life, or period in their life.

A biography may be short or long, a book or short story, a profile written for promotional purposes or an obituary to celebrate a person's life.

Learn to write, edit and produce a well-constructed work - our tutors will guide you through this course.

How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

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What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

You don’t need to purchase any additional resources to complete our courses.

We aim to teach you the essentials without you having to purchase any specific computer program.
We recommend that you have access to a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, so that you can easily complete and submit your assignments.

You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

Yes, if you are enrolling in a Certificate or Advanced Certificate, you might be eligible for credits if you have evidence of your previous studies or relevant experience. More information is here.

We recommend that you are able to browse websites, send emails and conduct online research. You will need to be able to type and submit your assignments.
If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course has been designed to cover the fundamentals of the topic. It will take around 100 hours to complete, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and anything else that is contained in the course. Our short courses are a great way to do some professional development or to learn a new skill.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

Yes, if you don’t have access to the internet, you can receive the course as paper notes or on a USB stick for an additional fee. We can also make alternative arrangements for you to send your assignments to us.

We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

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We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $55 (AUS) $50 (O/S) for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exam and you will be able receive your course certificate- a Statement of Attainment. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

Yes, our courses are built to be applicable for people living anywhere in any situation. We provide the fundamentals, and each student can apply their own unique flair for their own interests, region and circumstances with the one-on-one guidance of a tutor. There is also a bit of student directed research involved.

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.





Tutors

Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Lyn Quirk

M.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy

Lyn has 35 years of experience in the Fitness, Health and Leisure Industries. She has a string of qualifications that are far too long to list here; being qualified and registered to teach, coach or instruct a wide range of different sports and other skills.

Lyn established and managed Health clubs at three major five star resorts on Australia's Gold Coast, including The Marriott. She was a department head for a large government vocational college (TAFE), and has conducted her own aquafitness business for many years. Lyn has among her other commitments worked as a tutor for ACS for almost 10 years, and over that time, participated in the development or upgrading of most courses in her fields of expertise.

Rosemary Davies

B Ed, BSc Hort, Dip Advertising & Marketing

Originally from Melbourne, Rosemary trained in Horticultural Applied Science at Burnley, a campus of Melbourne University. Initially she worked with Agriculture Victoria as an extension officer, taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (clocking up over 24 years as a presenter of garden talkback programs, initially the only woman presenter on gardening in Victoria) and she simultaneously developed a career as a writer.

She then studied Education and Training, teaching TAFE apprentices and developing curriculum for TAFE, before taking up an offer as a full time columnist with the Herald and Weekly Times and its magazine department after a number of years as columnist with the Age. She has worked for a number of companies in writing and publications, PR community education and management and has led several tours to Europe.

Nicola Stewart

BA(Hons); Dip.Pub; CIM Dip.Marketing; PGCE; Dip.Holistic Aromatherapy; Dip.Reflexology; Dip.Orton-Gillingham Multisensory Language Education; Masters in Education & Professional Studies/Research, PhD (underway)

Nicola worked in publishing before changing direction to teach Anatomy, Physiology and various complementary therapies in the UK’s post-compulsory sector for 16 years. She is the published author of 10 books, plus a range of magazine articles and has also ghost-written across a number of genres. When she is not working for ACS, she provides specialist literacy tuition for children with dyslexia.

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