Governance

Policies and procedures

Policy No.
UP11/46
Function
Teaching And Learning
Authoring Organisational Unit
Academic Secretariat (University Secretariat)
Date Approved
20/12/2011 Revised 30/01/2014
Next Review Date
01/12/2017
Approving Body
Academic Council

The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Changes to Units

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

The purpose of this policy is to ensure appropriate principles are considered when changing: the level and/or title of a unit, unit rules, outcomes, number of contact hours, teaching period, responsible organisational entity, unit coordinator, teaching responsibility, unit availability within a calendar year; or proposing rescission of a unit or changes that would affect compliance with the ESOS Act.

Definitions:

For the purposes of this policy and any associated procedures,

a responsible organisational entity (usually a school) has the role of designing, coordinating and/or teaching a unit

corequisite unit, in relation to another unit, means a unit that:

(a) must be undertaken at the same time as the other unit is undertaken; or

(b) must have been successfully undertaken before the other unit is undertaken

curriculum means the structure and delivery of a program of studies and the individual units and academic details relating to the units

ESOS Act means Educational Services for Overseas Students Act (Commonwealth)

incompatible unit, in relation to another unit, means a unit the content of which is substantially similar to the content of the other unit and which must not be undertaken:

(a) at the same time as the other unit is undertaken; or

(b) if the other unit has been successfully undertaken and is being credited to the student's current course

knowledge paradigm is a University-approved statement on the distinctive epistemology of an area of knowledge. Thus the main focus of an Arts course is on how human beings create, recognise, and negotiate social meanings and values; the main focus of a Commerce course is on factors that drive economic behaviour at individual and organisational levels; the main focus of a Design course is on devising and producing objects, places, spaces and processes; and the main focus of a Science course is on understanding, reasoning about and improving the natural world through systematic observation, experimentation, modelling and calculation

make a unit unavailable means the unit is temporarily not offered for new enrolments, but will be offered again at a future date.

make a unit available means the unit that was once made unavailable becomes available for new enrolments.

prerequisite unit, in relation to another unit, means a unit that must be successfully undertaken before the other unit may be undertaken

relevant board(s) means a Board of the University relevant to the case in point. For the purposes of this policy relevant board(s) means the faculty board in the case of a unit that is available only to students enrolled in courses that do not form part of the new courses framework, or a board of studies in the case of a unit to be offered to students in a new undergraduate degree course, or the Board of Coursework Studies in the case of a unit to be offered to students in postgraduate courses forming part of the new courses framework. The relevant board(s) may include a position or a body of people with authority to carry out the function concerned.

rescission of a unit means the unit is not offered for new enrolments and is discontinued.

teaching period is a scheduled duration, within an academic year, in which a unit of study is offered and includes approved non-teaching study breaks, pre-examination study breaks and examination periods

teaching responsibility refers to the school(s) through which the unit is taught

the University means The University of Western Australia

Policy statement:

1 General Principles

1.1 Changes to units must only be made where there are sound academic or administrative reasons and ensure:

(a) that potential impact on students is minimised;

(b)high standards of teaching;

(c)efficient delivery of academic teaching; and

(d)compliance with relevant legislation.

1.2 When making relevant changes to units, the University must adhere to Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) regulations (http://www.deewr.gov.au/), which require that a university state by specified dates what units will be taught.

Note: At the time this policy was approved, those dates were:

  • 1 October of the previous year for units with a census date between 1 January and 30 June; and
  • 1 April of the current year for units with a census date between 1 July and 31 December.

1.2.1 It is only in exceptional circumstances that a university can be exempt from the DEEWR requirement.

1.3 The following changes require consultation and approval by relevant board(s). As such they must be planned ahead and submitted on an annual basis in accordance with the University's specified procedures and associated deadlines:

(a) changing the level of a unit;

(b) rescinding a unit;

(c) changing unit outcomes;

(d) making changes that affect ESOS compliance;

(e) changing the title of a unit;

(f) changing the responsible organisational entity; or

(g) changing teaching responsibility.

1.4 The following changes, depending upon their impact on the course, require either consultation and approval by relevant board(s), or approval through a 'Fast Track' approval process with limited consultation:

(a) changing unit rules such as prerequisites, corequisites or incompatibility of a unit;

(b) changing the teaching period; or

(c) making units available or unavailable in a calendar year.

1.5 The following changes may be approved, as required, by the relevant faculty:

(a) changing the Unit Coordinator; or

(b) changing the number of contact hours.

2 Changing the level of a unit

2.1 A change to the level of a unit requires submission of a new unit proposal for consideration and approval by the relevant board(s), and a proposal to rescind the former unit.

3 Rescission of a unit

3.1 The relevant board(s) may approve the rescission of a unit under the following circumstances:

(a) the content of the unit is outdated;

(b) the unit is no longer required;

(b) the unit has been replaced by another unit;

(c) there is no academic expertise available to teach the unit;

(d) the unit is part of a course which is no longer being taught; or

(e) the relevant content of a unit has been subsumed into a new unit.

3.2 The relevant board(s) may approve the rescission of a unit in other circumstances on a case by case basis.

4 Changing unit outcomes

4.1 Where units are part of an undergraduate major or a postgraduate course, any change to the outcomes of a unit must be:

(a) aligned to the learning pedagogy and assessment of the undergraduate major or postgraduate course; and

(b) in the case of an undergraduate unit, consistent with the knowledge paradigm associated with the undergraduate degree in which the unit will be made available.

4.2 The relevant board(s) may approve a change to the unit outcomes for a unit which is part of an undergraduate major or a postgraduate course where there are proposed changes to the:

(a) outcomes of the undergraduate major or postgraduate course to which the unit belongs;

(b) structure of the undergraduate major or postgraduate course to which the unit belongs; or

(c) academic content of the unit.

4.3 Where a change to unit outcomes is proposed for a unit within an undergraduate major or a postgraduate course:

(a) it must be mapped to the outcomes of the undergraduate major or postgraduate course; and

(b) the assessment must be tailored to the changed outcomes.

4.4 The relevant board(s) may approve a change to the unit outcomes for an unattached unit where there are proposed changes to the:

(a) academic content of the unit; and

(b) status of a unit (such as a change to the type of broadening unit).

5 Changes that affect ESOS compliance

5.1 The relevant board(s) may approve changes to the mode of teaching of a unit where there are sound academic or administrative reasons, such as:

(a) improving unit outcomes,

(b) more efficient or effective teaching;

(c) changes in student enrolment; or

(d) availability of teaching expertise.

5.2 Approval for a change to the mode of teaching of a unit must be considered in light of the University's compliance with the ESOS Act and in particular the need to ensure that at least 75% of the course is taught face-to-face in the case of international students on student visas.

6 Changing the title of a unit

6.1 The relevant board(s) may approve a change to the title of a unit in the following circumstances:

(a) a new unit title is necessary to reflect minor changes to the content (but no changes to outcomes), and does not warrant it being classified as a new unit;

(b) a new unit title is necessary to avoid confusion with another unit title; or

(c) a new unit title better reflects the academic objectives of the unit.

6.2 The relevant board(s) may approve a change to the title of a unit in other circumstances on a case by case basis.

7 Changing the responsible organisational entity

7.1 The faculty may approve a change to the responsible organisational entity for the unit, which may include but is not limited to the following circumstances:

(a) where changes have been made or will be made to the academic content of the unit which requires a change in the teaching responsibilities of the unit; or

(b) to accommodate organisational realignment.

8 Changing teaching responsibility

8.1 Teaching responsibilities can be split between schools but in any change schools must ensure that 100% of the teaching is accounted for (refer to University Policy on Duplication of Unit Content at: http://www.universitypolicies.uwa.edu.au/search?method=document&id=UP10%2F1).

8.2 The faculty, or faculties where the schools involved are not in the one faculty, may approve a change in teaching responsibility where:

(a) there has been a change in the academic content of the unit which is or will be collaboratively taught; or

(b) staffing or administrative reasons necessitate the change.

8.3 Any change in teaching responsibilities must not adversely impact on the standard of teaching nor compromise the learning outcomes.

9 Changing unit prerequisites / corequisites

9.1 The relevant board(s) may approve a change to a unit prerequisite / corequisite where:

(a) there are proposed structural changes to an undergraduate major or a postgraduate course;

(b) the academic content of the unit requiring the prerequisite / corequisite is being changed;

(c) the content of the prerequisite / corequisite has changed; or

(d) a prerequisite / corequisite is unavailable in a teaching period.

9.2 Any change to a prerequisite / corequisite within an undergraduate major or a postgraduate course must:

(a) ensure that the basis of the proposed change is academically sound;

(b) ensure sequential building of academic knowledge within the structure of an undergraduate major or postgraduate course;

(c) provide learning progression and academic coherence; and

(b) be in accordance with the approved structures for an undergraduate major or postgraduate course (Refer to Undergraduate Degree Course rules at:

http://rules.handbooks.uwa.edu.au/rules/UGDegreeCourseRules and the University Policy on Volume of Learning and Structures for postgraduate Coursework Courses (UP13/8)

10 Changing unit incompatibility

10.1 The relevant board(s) may approve a change to unit incompatibility where the content of one or more units that were considered incompatible has changed such that the units concerned are no longer considered incompatible.

11 Changing the teaching period

11.1 The relevant board(s) may approve a change to the teaching period where the change is necessary due to:

(a) the availability of teaching staff or other resources; or

(b) the projected number of students enrolled in the unit.

11.2 The relevant board(s) may approve a change to the teaching period of a unit where the change could prevent or delay students from completing their course or otherwise adversely impact on students, providing it is satisfied with the arrangements that have been made to address these issues.

11.3 All proposals to change unit offerings to teaching periods that do not conform to the University's standard semester dates require the approval of the relevant board(s).

11.4 Any proposal to change the offering of a unit to an intensive format or non-standard semester must ensure that the unit has comparable academic standards to units taught in standard semesters and complies with the University Policy on Credit Point Value of Units ( http://www.universitypolicies.uwa.edu.au/search?method=document&id=UP11%2F12).

12 Making units unavailable in a calendar year

12.1 The relevant board(s) may approve a request for a unit to be made unavailable in a calendar year where:

(a) there are unforeseen circumstances (e.g. damage to facilities or equipment);

(b) the minimum enrolment numbers as advertised have not been reached; or

(c) the unit is only taught in alternative years.

12.2 A unit must not be made unavailable in a calendar year where the proposed unavailability unduly impacts on students' ability to undertake the relevant requirements of an undergraduate major or a postgraduate course.

12.3 The last dates for making units unavailable in a calendar year are:

  • Level 1 (Semester 1) - Last day of week preceding the first week of Semester 1
  • Level 1 (Semester 2) - Last day of week preceding first week of Semester 2
  • Higher level units (Semester 1) - Last day of week beginning 4 weeks before the first day of Semester 1
  • Higher level units (Semester 2) - First day of Semester 2.

13 Making Units available in a calendar year

13.1 The relevant board(s) may approve a unit being made available in a calendar year where the circumstances leading to the initial listing of the unit as unavailable have since changed.

14 Changing the unit coordinator

14.1 The faculty may approve a change to a unit coordinator, as required, where there are sound academic or administrative reasons.

15 Changing the number of contact hours

15.1 Any proposed change to contact hours must not contravene the requirement that a unit represents 150 hours of student workload. (Refer to University Policy on Credit Point Value of Units at: http://www.universitypolicies.uwa.edu.au/search?method=document&id=UP11%2F12)

15.2 The faculty(ies) may approve a change to the number of contact hours where it will result in improved teaching, more effective achievement of student learning outcomes or greater efficiency.

15.3 If the number of contact hours is to be reduced, the change must not result in any reduction in the standard of teaching or compromising of the learning outcomes.

Procedures:

Process for changes to units

Related forms: (Link)

TRIM File No:

F39827

Contact position:

Academic Secretary

Related Policies or legislation:

University Policy on the duplication of unit content (UP10/1)

University Policy on Credit Point Value of Units (UP11/12)

University Policy on Volume of Learning and Structures for Postgraduate Coursework Courses (UP13/8)