Biography allows us to explore some of the most fascinating questions of human existence. How do we come to be who we are? What is the essence of a life and character, and can we as biographers really know that essence? How are narratives of lives shaped by differences of culture, class or gender? Biographical work helps us understand our history in new ways, and can cast fresh light on whole realms of political and social change. Not surprisingly, biographical approaches are growing ever more popular in a wide range of fields, from history to heritage, politics to art.

The National Centre of Biography is the ideal place to pursue postgraduate research on biography. As well as producing the acclaimed Australian Dictionary of Biography, the Centre is the focus of a growing community of scholars, students, writers and readers who share a commitment to innovation and excellence in all aspects of biography.

Based in the School of History at the Australian National University in Canberra, the NCB is within walking distance of the rich resources held by many of the nation's cultural institutions including the National Library of Australia, National Archives of Australia, Prime Ministers Centre at Old Parliament House, National Film and Sound Archive, National War Memorial and National Museum of Australia.

The NCB teaches one masters-level course, Hist 8011, Biography and History, and offers a PhD program run through the School of History.

PhD Students also have the opportunity to attend regular seminars and workshops on biography and join the NCB’s Biography Workshop.  They are provided with a shared room, phone and computer, and have access to the university's libraries and academic community. Some funding is available to cover fieldwork costs.

For further information about the Masters course contact Dr Samuel Furphy at

For information about undertaking a PhD contact the NCB’s Director, Professor Melanie Nolan at

Current PhD students

Updated:  8 November 2017/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications