Policy Redesign Project

All policies and procedures are being reviewed as part of this project. This document is pending review, but remains in effect until the review is carried out.

Principles for Masters Coursework Program Structure

Establishment: Academic Senate, 2 August 2000
Last Amended: Academic Senate, 9 September 2015
Nature of Amendment: Consequential amendments due to full review of provisions for assessment of thesis
Date Last Reviewed: September 2015
Responsible Officer: Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

1.  Coursework Masters degrees should be structured to address ‘volume of learning’ expectations and achieve learning outcomes in accordance with the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) specifications for a Level 9 Masters degree (Coursework) or Masters degree (Extended) (see Guideline 1).

2.  Except where modified by clause 4 or 5, the number of units for a Masters degree should typically be:

  • a maximum of 72 units and a minimum of 54 units for a Masters degree (Coursework);
  • a maximum of 144 units and a minimum of 108 units for a Masters degree (Extended). 

3.  The number of units required for a Masters will depend on the level and field of academic qualifications at admission:

3.1  a Masters degree (coursework) will typically be 72 units for :

  • students with a 108- or 144-unit AQF Level 7 Bachelor Degree (or equivalent) in a different discipline, as defined in Guideline 2.1;

3.2   a Masters degree (coursework) will typically be a minimum of 54 units for students with:

  • a 108- or 144-unit AQF Level 7 Bachelor degree (or equivalent) in the same discipline, as defined in Guideline 2.1;
  • an AQF Level 8 Bachelor Honours degree, Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma  (or equivalent).

4.  The following may contribute topics to the units required for completion of the Masters (see Guideline 3):

  • the last 36 units of a 144-unit AQF Level 8 Bachelor (Honours) degree (or equivalent);
  • a 36-unit AQF Level 8 Bachelor (Honours) degree;
  • a Graduate Certificate (AQF Level 8);
  • a Graduate Diploma (AQF Level 8);

on condition that:

  • the contributing award and the Masters form part of an articulated sequence of awards in a given field or some or all of the topics are in the same general field as the Masters; and
  • it can be demonstrated that, on completion of the Masters degree, learning outcomes will have been achieved at the appropriate AQF Level 9 Masters Level.

5.  The number of units required for completion of a Masters degree (coursework) may be reduced where substantial professional experience is specified as an entry requirement in accordance with the Guidelines for Recognition of Prior Work Experience.

6.  Where it is intended that a coursework Masters degree would qualify graduates for admission to Doctoral studies, the research component of the coursework Masters program should be of at least 18 units.  In such research topics, there must be at least one external examiner or the research topic(s) must be externally moderated at least five-yearly to validate the assessment of research components.

Guidelines

1.  Research element in Masters degrees

1.1  As specified in the AQF, the Masters degree (Coursework) must be designed so that graduates will have undertaken a program of structured learning with some independent research, and project work or practice-related learning, with learning outcomes appropriate to Masters level. One topic could integrate aspects of both.

1.2  As specified in the AQF, the Masters degree (Extended) must be designed so that graduates will have undertaken a program of structured learning with some independent research and a significant proportion of practice-based learning, with learning outcomes appropriate to Masters level. As this qualification is designed to prepare graduates to engage in a profession the practice-related learning must be developed in collaboration with a relevant professional, statutory or regulatory body.

2.  ‘Volume of learning’

2.1   The ‘volume of learning’ may be less for students whose undergraduate qualification is in the ‘same’ discipline than for those who have qualified in a ‘different’ discipline’.  The University will determine on a case-by-case basis the extent to which a qualifying degree may be considered to be in the ‘same’ or a ‘different’ discipline taking into account the nature of the discipline and the knowledge, skills and/or graduate qualities on which the Masters will build.

3.  Nested awards

3.1  A Graduate Certificate and/or Graduate Diploma may form part/s of an articulated sequence nested within both a 54- or 72-unit Masters degree, with sequentially-developed topics allowing progression through the three awards, where it can be demonstrated that on completion of the Masters degree learning outcomes will have been achieved at the appropriate AQF Level 9 Masters level. 

3.2  A Bachelor Honours degree may articulate with both a 54- or 72-unit Masters degree, with credit granted for completed topics with AQF Level 8 Honours-level learning outcomes, where it can be demonstrated that on completion of the Masters degree learning outcomes will have been achieved at the appropriate AQF Level 9 Masters level.

4.  Topic content in postgraduate topics drawn from undergraduate topics

4.1  Where topics in a postgraduate degree share content or activities with AQF Level 7 undergraduate topics, the adaptation of those topics to achieve learning outcomes appropriate to the higher AQF level would normally include some separate learning activities, some separate assessment tasks, and assessment at the requisite postgraduate level.

4.2  Where the sharing of content or activities is substantial, such topics will normally share the same title with the suffix GE (graduate entry) appended to the postgraduate topic, so that the topics may be readily associated for planning purposes.