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C/3.1 Courses and awards

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C - Learning/Teaching
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Contact Officer

Dean of Studies, Learning and Teaching Unit

Approval Date

20/09/2013

Approval Authority

University Academic Board

Date of Next Review

01/10/2016

3.1.1 Policy principles
3.1.2 Policy outcomes
3.1.3 Definition of relevant terms
3.1.4 Award titles
3.1.5 Credit point system
3.1.6 Time-based study
3.1.7 Designated units in award courses
3.1.8 Course requirements
3.1.9 Curriculum structures
Related Documents
Modification History

3.1.1 Policy principles

A primary function of QUT is to deliver higher education courses and programs and the University is committed to providing high quality and well-designed courses which meet the needs of its students and the community. Courses at QUT are designed and structured based on the following principles.

Courses at QUT will:

  • set clear academic expectations and standards
  • provide clear, consistent and flexible course completion requirements for students
  • provide pathways via a range of articulation mechanisms which recognise the diverse prior learning experiences of students.

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3.1.2 Policy outcomes

This policy is designed to:

  • promote coherent course structures and clear course completion rules
  • promote course structures that recognise the diversity of QUT's course offerings and enables response to the evolving nature of business, industry, and the professions
  • be in accordance with Curriculum Design Policy (C/4.2)
  • meet all relevant national regulatory requirements, including the relevant standards
  • ensure that the course learning outcomes (knowledge, skills and application of knowledge and skills) are evident for each qualification.

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3.1.3 Definition of relevant terms

(a) Course

A Course is a structured and coherent set of units or thesis components that leads to the award of a qualification. A course forms a coherent body of knowledge, skills and application of knowledge and skills, purposefully designed (C/4.2) to support student learning and enable graduates to demonstrate achieving the learning outcomes for the qualification. Course learning outcomes, including transferable, non-discipline specific skills, are explicitly identified and align with the level of the qualification.

Each course is assigned a course code and a credit point value for coursework courses (C/3.1.5) or EFTSL value for research higher degree courses, and approved by University Academic Board (C/4.1) QUT offers both award courses and non-award courses (C/3.3).

Course codes are in the format @@## where @ is an alphabetic character and # is a numeric character. The first two characters represent the school or faculty administering the course, or designate the course as interfaculty in the case of a course offered collaboratively by two or more faculties.

(b) Study Areas

A Study Area is a coherent set of units within a course which together form a coherent body of knowledge, undertaken at an advanced level and normally approved by faculty academic boards (C/4.1). A course may have two levels of Study Area: Study Area A and Study Area B. Study Areas may have Study Area Learning Outcomes that align to, but are subordinate to, course learning outcomes.

Study Area codes embed meaning regarding the faculty or school administering the course, the type of Study Area, and an abbreviated description of the Study Area.

Study Area A, also referred to as a Major, meet the following criteria:

  • Study Area A is the primary group of units within a course
  • Study Area A is included on academic transcripts, and may be appended to the award title on QUT parchments if formally approved during the curriculum development and approval process
  • a Study Area A is assigned a set credit point value such that all Study Areas A within the course have an equal number of credit points.
  • all Study Areas A within a course are owned by the faculty(ies) delivering the course
  • the minimum requirements for Study Area A at each level of award are
    • Master degree awards - 48 credit points
    • Graduate diploma awards - 48 credit points
    • Graduate certificate awards - 24 credit points
    • Bachelor degree awards - 72 credit points
    • Associate degree awards - 72 credit points.

Study Area B, also referred to as a second major, extension, or minor. Study Areas B meet the following criteria:

  • a Study Area B is a secondary group of units within a course
  • a Study Area B may be drawn from either the same discipline area as Study Area A or a complementary or different discipline area. Course structures may permit students to take more than one Study Area.
  • a Study Area B is included on academic transcripts but does not appear on QUT parchments
  • to encourage cross-disciplinary study, Study Areas B within a course may be offered by faculties other than the faculty responsible for the course. QUT has established University Minors which are Study Areas B of 48 credit points available to students for cross-disciplinary study
  • the minimum requirements for Study Area B at each level of award are
    • Master degree awards - 24 credit points
    • Graduate diploma awards - 24 credit points
    • Bachelor degree awards - 48 credit points
    • Associate degree awards - 48 credit points.

(c) Complementary studies

The term Complementary Studies applies to the group of units that are required in addition to core units and a Study Area A in some courses in order to fulfil course requirements. The units comprising this study package accordingly complement the discipline focus provided by the core units and Study Area A.

(d) Unit

A Unit is a structured and coherent set of learning activities that normally work in concert with other Units to contribute to one or more course learning outcomes. Each unit is assigned a unit code and a credit point value (C/3.1.5 below) and approved by faculty academic boards.

The list of faculty / school codes and level indicators for units is available in the QUT Handbook.

(e) Thesis

A Thesis a substantive piece of written work submitted for the award of a higher degree and is assigned a code and an EFTSL value (C/3.1.6) and approved by faculty academic boards. The coding schema for a thesis is the same as for a unit.

(f) Study package

A study package is used within QUT’s corporate curriculum systems as a term to describe an element of the curriculum structure. Courses, Study Areas, Units, Complementary Studies and Theses are examples of study packages.

(g) Cohorts

For the purposes of this policy, undergraduate cohorts include those students enrolled in bachelor and bachelor honours degrees. Postgraduate cohorts include those students enrolled in graduate certificates, graduate diplomas, masters degrees and doctorate degrees.

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3.1.4 Award titles

The award title for a course is approved by University Academic Board through the curriculum development and approval process (C/4.1) and is included in the title shown on the award parchment issued to students who have completed their course requirements (E/10.2 ). Award titles must meet the requirements specified in the Qualification Standards, including the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Qualifications Issuance Policy, and are subject to the following requirements:

  • at the level of graduate diploma, graduate certificate, associate degree, diploma, University certificate, the word 'in' is used to denote the discipline area. For bachelor degrees, masters degrees and doctoral degrees, the word 'of' is used
  • faculties may choose to append a Study Area A title to the award title to be printed on the parchment, subject to the University's curriculum development and approval process (C/4.1). The decision to append a Study Area A title to the award title must be justified by addressing the following considerations:
    • the structure and extent of specialisation within the degree course
    • the extent of the recruitment or marketing demands for the title
    • the extent of the professional or employment demands for the title
    • the issues of false advertising and misunderstanding by students and employers
    • the life expectancy of the value of the title
    • the extent of use of the specific title in the national and international community.
  • Where a Study Area A is included on the parchment, it will appear in parentheses (eg Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical))

QUT has standardised abbreviations for award titles. A complete list of award titles, including approved abbreviations and details of QUT's standard abbreviations, is held on the Teaching website. Any variation to the standard abbreviation must be approved by University Academic Board.

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3.1.5 Credit point system

QUT uses a credit point system for all coursework courses for the purposes of calculating student load (EFTSL) for internal and external reporting. The credit point value is a measure of the proportion of the volume of learning which the unit represents to a student, and is the weighting used to calculate a student's grade point average (GPA). The total credit points per full-time year of a course is 96. Any variation is approved by University Academic Board and is regarded as overload or underload.

The standard units are 12 credit points. QUT may allow the following exceptions in certain circumstances. These exceptions must be approved by University Academic Board as part of the course requirements (C/3.1.7):

  • project, studio, practice or work integrated learning units within coursework courses may be multiples of 12 credit points. Where such units span more than one teaching period (multi-component units), a separate unit code and credit point value is assigned to each teaching period of the unit for the purposes of managing enrolment and calculating EFTSL. Units spanning more than one teaching period in a research course are established as a thesis (C/3.1.3(d))
  • six credit point units may be approved where a strong case based on market requirements can be made.

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3.1.6 Time-based study

Research higher degree (RHD) courses are offered as time-based study consistent with the requirement of the relevant AQF level and are characterised by the enrolment of a student in a thesis. Students admitted to RHD courses may enrol in their research thesis at any time, and receive an amount of Equivalent Full Time Student Load (EFTSL) corresponding to the volume of learning they are expected to complete the course on the basis of full-time study. EFTSL is consumed as the student progresses through the course on either a full-time or part-time basis. If coursework units are offered within the RHD course, students enrol in the units as required and an equivalent amount of EFTSL is subsumed according to the number of credit points in the units.

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3.1.7 Designated units in award courses

A designated unit has content that has been identified by the faculty as critical to meeting a satisfactory level of competence. A faculty academic board requires students to complete the unit with a passing grade in order to continue in the award course. Such units include performance-based or work integrated learning units, units requiring the development of particular skills, and units requiring the demonstration of certain personal qualities.

A schedule of designated units can be found on the Student Services website.

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3.1.8 Course requirements

Course requirements set out the specific requirements for admission to and completion of an award course and include the following:

  • the award title (C/3.1.4)
  • whether the award may be granted with distinction (or "with honours' for course with 384 credit points approved before 2012) (C/5.2.4 and C/5.2.5)
  • minimum entry requirements for the award course, and in the case of a higher degree by research (RHD), any requirements for acceptance as a candidate for the degree
  • the course structure including
    • a specified number of credit points for completion of the course (or EFTSL for RHD courses)
    • the credit points for each component of the course structure (core components, Study Area A, Study Area B and optional components)
    • the distribution of credit load between project / thesis and coursework (for courses with a significant project or thesis component)
  • mode of attendance or mode of study
  • any requirements for academic progression, completion of the course and entitlement to the award including
    • requirements to complete particular units (eg designated units – E/6.7.3)
    • any requirements to undertake compulsory activities such as occupational health and safety preparation, field work (see Field trips below) work placement, or performance or practice-based tasks.
  • in the case of RHD courses, the faculty arrangements for
    • approval of project/thesis proposal
    • confirmation of candidature (where appropriate)
    • supervision
    • examination procedures.

Specific requirements for course structures for different award categories are shown in C/3.2 and guidelines are provided on the Learning and Teaching Unit website.

Course requirements must be made available to students at the time of enrolment (E/2.1 and E/4.3.3) and are set out in the QUT Handbook. Students are eligible to graduate as soon as they have completed all the requirements for the course (E/10.1).

Course requirements are approved by University Academic Board at the time of approval of the course. Specified changes to course requirements can be approved by the faculty academic board in accordance with the curriculum development and approval policy (C/4.1).

Attendance is not normally compulsory unless it is a specified course requirement to demonstrate progress towards, or achievement of course learning outcomes. Attendance may be required for field trips, work placements, occupational health and safety preparation, and performance or practice-based tasks. Attendance may be:

  • compulsory for the course – attendance must be clearly specified in the course requirements, and each relevant unit, approved in accordance with MOPP C/4.1
  • a compulsory component of a unit – attendance must be clearly specified in the unit outline and the unit synopsis, and full details of the requirement must be available to students at the commencement of the unit
  • an optional component of a unit – if fulfilment of the assessment task normally requires attendance, students unable to attend must be provided with alternative and equivalent assessment.

Field trips include all field excursions and industrial visits. Details of financial arrangements for and reimbursement of student expenses relating to field excursions are provided in E/7.2.

Reasonable adjustments to these requirements may be made for students, consistent with QUT's policies on disability and anti-discrimination (A/8).

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3.1.9 Curriculum structures

Requirements for structuring courses and Study Areas enable faculties to offer courses that provide flexibility for students while also tailoring courses and their award titles to meet specific career paths and industry requirements.

Courses and Study Areas must be designed such that they are consistent with principles for curriculum design (C/4.2) and provide students with:

  • coherent learning outcomes (knowledge, skills and application of knowledge and skills) that meets the relevant AQF qualification level and type
  • an interrelated set of units that introduces, develops ad provides evidence of achievement of course learning outcomes
  • assessment tasks that cohesively link the learning outcomes, content, and learning and teaching approaches at the unit and course levels
  • course structures that are easy to navigate and provide consistent and clear pathways for completion
  • courses that are tailored to meet specific industry requirements, but which avoid excessive overlap between courses
  • consistent opportunities for advanced standing that promote articulation of awards both within the University and between institutions
  • a balance of professional requirements and opportunities for work integrated learning as well as opportunities for cross-disciplinary study.

Guidelines for curriculum design and curriculum structures are provided on the Learning and Teaching Unit website.

(a) Sequencing and structuring

Course structures provide students with consistent and simple pathways for completion, and are expected to adhere to the following requirements:

  • completion requirements for all students within the course are based on the same course structure
  • Study Areas A and Study Areas B are each assigned a set credit point value within a course (C/3.1.3)
  • the course structure allows students to complete all course requirements through enrolment in QUT units unless entry requirements are established that require all students to have undertaken previous study which is then granted as advanced standing.

(b) Credit points

Where possible, course structures are designed to minimise overlap between courses to ensure that requirements for maximum advanced standing can be met (E/4.2). Courses are designed to ensure that they do not overlap with another course at the same level by more than the amount specified below:

  • Bachelor degree – 96 credit points
  • Graduate certificate, graduate diploma, masters degree – 50% of credit points.

Study Areas within a course should not overlap by more than 50% of the credit points.

Where faculties choose, for purposes of tailoring offerings to specific industry requirements, to offer courses where unit overlap exceeds the above requirements, they may choose to establish course entry requirements so that students are prevented from attaining more than one award. Where faculties choose to allow students to complete a second course offered at the same level and by the same faculty, students are required to complete a minimum number of credit points while admitted to the second course in order to meet its award requirements. This requirement would normally be met by students completing a different study area to that completed in the first course. The minimum number of credit points required is as follows:

  • Bachelor degree – 96 credit points
  • Graduate certificate – 24 credit points
  • Graduate diploma – 36 credit points
  • Masters degree – 48 credit points.

(c) Unit coding

Units codes are in the format @@@### where @ is an alphabetic character and # is a numeric character. The first two characters indicate the faculty or school administering the unit. Faculties may choose to use the numeric characters to indicate the year of the course in which the unit is normally taught. The third character indicates the level of the course in which the unit is normally taught or for special offering designation to different cohorts. Units may be offered to more than one cohort of students, but separate unit codes are required where a unit is offered to a general entry cohort and a corporate cohort, or at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Separate codes may also be used for cohorts of international exchange students.

Separate unit codes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels apply unless an exception has been approved by University Academic Board as part of the curriculum development, approval and accreditation process (C/4.1). Exceptions are determined by a clear academic rationale which may include analysis of relevant data for the cohort. Exceptions must be clearly communicated to students.

Corporate cohorts

Where a separate unit code is required for a corporate cohort taught at the same award level through a corporate award course (C/3.4), the following requirements apply:

  • Multiple corporate cohorts may be managed through the same corporate unit code
  • The corporate unit will have the same unit title and learning outcomes as the general entry version
  • The corporate unit may incorporate separate delivery and learning approaches and assessment designed for the specific student cohort, but is expected to maintain equivalence of learning outcomes with the general entry unit
  • A corporate unit and general entry unit offered at the same award level are considered to be equivalent and students are entitled to advanced standing for equivalent units if they transfer from one course to another at the same level.

Postgraduate cohorts

Separate unit codes are required for undergraduate and postgraduate cohorts, and the following requirements apply:

  • The postgraduate unit must contribute to the learning outcomes of the postgraduate course and, in combination with other units, must enable students to demonstrate achievement of the course learning outcomes for the relevant AQF qualification level and type
  • If the minimum specified volume of learning is allocated to a qualification, units must be predominately or entirely at the level of the qualification type
  • The design of postgraduate units must take into consideration and accommodate the different expectations, learning styles, prior knowledge, and life experiences of postgraduate students and include appropriate unit learning outcomes, learning and teaching approaches, content and assessment
  • A student will not receive advanced standing into a postgraduate course for units undertaken in an undergraduate course
  • Students in the undergraduate and postgraduate units in coursework awards must be taught as separate cohorts. They may not be taught 'concurrently' or timetabled together.

(d) Opportunities for cross-disciplinary study

Course structures must allow for student choice and provide a balance of professional requirements and opportunities for work integrated learning and cross-disciplinary study through the following:

  • Courses with more than one Study Area A (major) should aim to include a core component that is consistent across all Study Areas A and allows students to delay their choice of major.
  • Study Areas B are used to provide students with opportunities to undertake study from another discipline
  • Consideration should be given to including disciplines from beyond the course or faculty within the Study Area B choice
  • Study Areas A will provide little or no choice of units to provide consistency for students and meet professional requirements. Study Areas B may provide choices of units to provide flexibility for students and allow for timetabling requirements
  • Where possible, course structures should allow a minimum of 48 credit points where students can take University minors or University-wide unit options
  • Research pathways should be provided within undergraduate courses where relevant.

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Related Documents

MOPP C/3.2 Award classifications

MOPP E/2.1 QUT Student Code of Conduct

MOPP E/4.3 Enrolment programs

MOPP E/7.2 Expenses related to student excursions

MOPP E/10.1 Graduation requirements

MOPP E/10.2 Award parchments

QUT Handbook

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Modification History

Date

Sections

Source

Details

20.09.13 C/3.1.9 University Academic Board Policy revised to require separate unit codes and teaching for undergraduate and postgraduate cohorts - effective 01.01.14
24.05.13 C/3.1.3, C/3.1.4 University Academic Board Policy revised to align to regulatory environment including the TEQSA & CRICOS standards
25.05.12 All University Academic Board Policy revised to align to regulatory environment including the AQF and in response to operational feedback

19.02.11

All

Vice-Chancellor

Policy revised to include approved name change for Office of Teaching Quality to Learning and Teaching Unit

23.07.10

C/3.1.3,
C/3.1.8

University Academic Board

Policy revised to include SAMS terminology and processes

13.11.09

C/3.1.7

University Academic Board

Revised policy

14.11.08

All

University Academic Board

Revised policy effective from 01.01.09 (replaces former policies C/3.1, C/3.4, C/7.3, C/7.9) (endorsed by University Teaching and Learning Committee 21.10.08)

19.05.06

All

University Academic Board

Revised policy (endorsed by Teaching and Learning Committee 02.05.06); replaces former policies C/3.1, C/3.7, C/3.8 and C/3.9

21.05.02

All

Academic Policy and Programs Unit

Updated and linked to QUT Handbook

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