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Appendix B: Guidelines for Determining and Publishing Expected Student Workload




These Guidelines are designed to assist staff developing new topics or making changes to existing topics by providing an indication of the estimated time commitment a student, working effectively, would need to devote to achieve an average grade. The Guidelines do not imply judgements about the degree of difficulty of different courses or disciplines or deny differences in performance between students. In developing and revising topics, staff should also refer to the General Principles and Policies in the Assessment Policies regarding student effort in assessable activities.


The publication of the expected student workload in topic information is intended to provide students with a helpful guide to assist them in planning their study time and enrolment load. It does not offer students the guarantee of a successful result with the investment of this time commitment.


Standard Student Workload


To ensure approximately equivalent student workloads for topics with similar units, the information published on expected student workload should be based on the standard student workload of approximately 30 hours of student time commitment per unit.


The standard student workload is based on approximately two hours of time commitment per week per unit (including the time spent in formal classes and individual (non-contact) study time during the specified teaching period) for a notional fifteen-week 'teaching period'.


The notional teaching period is based on thirteen weeks of teaching plus a further two weeks of individual study in which students are expected to prepare for examinations and complete assignments.


It is recognised that there will be legitimate variations from the standard student workload depending on the nature and level of the topic. Where a School plans to offer topics with a proposed student time commitment that varies significantly from the standard student workload it must obtain approval for the variation in accordance with processes approved by the Faculty Board. A significant variation from the standard student workload is defined as a variation of more than 20 per cent.


The standard student workload does not apply to clinical topics and professional experience topics. Faculties should ensure that such topics operate within reasonable expectations of student workloads, having regard to relevant industry standards and external accreditation requirements. Faculties should ensure that members of staff teaching in courses with clinical and professional experience components are aware of the demands on students during placements, in setting and scheduling assessment exercises.


Publication of student workload


Published information on expected student workload may be expressed in number of hours per week or number of hours for the topic, as appropriate. Where applicable, students should be advised of any expectations relating to individual study outside of the teaching weeks (e.g preparation for assignments and examinations).


Normally, information on student workload expectation will be published as part of topic information provided to students at the commencement of topics. For topics taught as part of an integrated curriculum (e.g the Graduate Entry Medical Program), where student study patterns cannot be easily separated into individual topics, the information on student workload should be published in a format that provides students with a guide to the expected time commitment they need to allocate for the program of study.


Advice to students on expected workload should also include a disclaimer to the effect that students should see the published workload as indicative only of the estimated minimum time commitment necessary to achieve an average grade in the topic. Students should be advised that depending on their ability and academic background they may need to invest more time than the standard student workload to achieve such a grade.


Publication of the Guidelines

These Guidelines will be published annually. Their existence will be drawn to students' attention in course handbooks and publications published by Faculties and Schools.

August 2006