Policies and procedures

Policy No.
Student Administration
Authoring Organisational Unit
Academic Council
Date Approved
04/10/2013 Revised 05/04/2017
Next Review Date
Approving Body
Academic Council

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The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Courses - Undergraduate

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

This policy sets out the course requirements for the University's undergraduate degree courses and the principles underpinning the development of and changes to relevant undergraduate curriculum.


In this policy and any associated procedures,

the University is/means The University of Western Australia

AQF means Australian Qualifications Framework.

a degree-specific major determines the degree in which the student's course belongs to (see Table 1). A student who chooses to take more than one major must designate one of them as degree-specific major.

an area of knowledge is a group of proximal disciplinary fields that delineates broadening units at UWA. The five areas of knowledge are: Design and Creative Arts; Life and Health Sciences; Mathematical and Physical Sciences; Management and Commerce; and Society and Culture (see Table 2).

a bachelor's degree is a qualification awarded on successful completion of an undergraduate course comprising at least three years of undergraduate study. In order to meet the requirements for this degree under the new degree structure (BA, BSc, BDesign, BCom) a student must complete 24 units, of which no more than 12 will be at Level 1 and no fewer than four will be at Level 3. The course must include at least one major and four broadening units of which at least one must be from the approved Category A list. The BPhil (Hons), which is also a bachelor's degree, is a four-year course requiring 32 units.

broadening units are normally offered in one or more areas of knowledge that do not include the area of knowledge of a student's degree-specific major but specific provisions apply in the case of 'Category A' broadening.

a Category A broadening unit-

(a) is a broadening unit that has as its main focus some aspects of the globalised and culturally diverse environment; or

(b) is a Language Other Than English (LOTE) unit; or

(c) is a unit offered by the School of Indigenous Studies: or

(d) is a unit (equivalent to six credit points, i.e. 150 hours of student workload) undertaken as part of an approved study abroad or student exchange program for credit and that is wholly taught by and undertaken at the host institution; or

(e) has mathematics and/or statistical theory as its core teaching content, as listed in Schedule 1; or

Category B broadening units comprise potentially all units that faculties are willing to offer to students from across the University, subject to prerequisites being met.

Bphil (Hons) means the Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) degree course

a course means a plan of study necessary to qualify for a degree, diploma, certificate or other qualification approved by the Senate.

Cycle 2 courses are postgraduate courses, usually requiring two years of full-time study after a Cycle 1 course and leading to a master's degree.

diploma means a course to the value of 48 points comprising the requirements of a major offered in an undergraduate degree course of the University.

Dissertation means the output of research, which may be wholly in written form or in the form of a composition, performance, exhibition or creative or other approved work. For a Postgraduate Coursework course (AQF Level 9) the output constitutes at least 25 per cent but less than 66.6 per cent of the requirements of the course in question. For Honours (AQF Level 8) the output of research constitutes 50 per cent of the requirements of the course.

UWA Educational Principles comprise a list of academic values that are intended to imbue student learning at all levels and seek to nurture excellence, enable creativity and intellectual exploration, and promote effective citizenship among UWA students and graduates.

end-on Honours means an honours degree course comprising eight standard units (48 points) taken after a student had completed the requirements of an undergraduate pass degree.

exegesis means a critical explanation or interpretation of a text object, manuscript or creative work submitted for examination as the student's honours research dissertation.

Honours Courses are an additional year of study or part-time equivalent after a student's bachelor's degree with a significant research training component of at least half the point value of the honours course.

knowledge paradigm is a University-approved statement on the distinctive epistemology corresponding to an undergraduate pass degree. Thus the main focus of a Bachelor of Arts course is on how human beings create, recognise, and negotiate social meanings and values, places, spaces and processes; the main focus of a Bachelor of Commerce is on factors that drive economic behaviour at individual and organisational levels; the main focus of a Bachelor of Science degree course is on understanding, reasoning about and improving the natural world through systematic observation, experimentation, modelling and calculation; and the main focus of a Bachelor of Biomedical Science degree course is the study of the biological basis of human structure and function and the application of this knowledge to disease, well-being and society.

LOTE means a language other than English

a single major is an approved discipline-based sequence of eight units within an undergraduate degree course. These units are spread across Levels 1, 2 and 3, the normal pattern being two units at Level 1, two at Level 2 and four at Level 3 (or Level 3 units to the value of 24 credit points).

a double major is an approved discipline-based combination of unit sequences drawn from related fields. It shares a common Level 1 foundation of two units and may therefore comprise 14 units rather than the 16 that two majors require. The units are spread across Levels 1, 2 and 3, the normal pattern being two units at Level 1, four at Level 2 and eight at Level 3.

including a unit means an existing unit is now offered in a major/honours specialisation in which it is currently not offered.

making an honours specialisation unavailable means the specialisation is temporarily not offered for new enrolments, but will be offered again at a future date.

making an honours specialisation available means the specialisation that was once made unavailable is now available for new enrolments.

a mature-aged student is one who is 20 or older in the year of entry at 1 March (for first semester entry) or 1 August (for second semester entry).

PhD is the Doctor of Philosophy degree course.

relevant board(s) means a Board of the University relevant to the case in point. The relevant board(s) may include a position or a body of people with authority to carry out the function concerned.

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

rescission of an honours specialisation means the honours specialisation is not offered for new enrolments and is discontinued.

removing a unit means the unit continues to be offered but not in certain specialisations.

a specialisation designates a particular discipline chosen from within a wider field of study (e.g. Chemical Engineering within Engineering). It is usually applied to the chosen disciplinary focus of an honours or postgraduate course (e.g. a distinctive variant within a generic master's course), but in few cases may refer to a set of specialised units within an undergraduate course major.

student categories means the following: Commonwealth-supported, domestic fee-paying, international student visa holders and international students (non-visa holders)

undergraduate degree course means an undergraduate pass degree course or the Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) degree course.

a unit is a discrete component of study normally representing 150 hours of student workload, including contact hours, personal study and examinations. It is equivalent to 6 points of credit. By special approval, some units may have a value that is a multiple of 6 points.

transition period means the period during which students in courses that do not form part of New Courses 2012 can complete their courses in accordance with the relevant rules and policies.

Policy statement:

1 General Principles

1.1 Within the context of maintaining the University's reputation and highest international standing, undergraduate degree courses must:

a) have a structure that is simple and flexible, and is standardised across the University;

b) ensure the number of units and courses provided by the University is viable;

c) ensure efficient delivery of academic teaching and administration of courses, for the benefit of staff and students;

d) reflect international expectations;

e) provide flexible pathways to postgraduate courses for students;

f) meet the educational needs of students and the wider community, at the highest possible standard;

g) provide broad based knowledge and skills for students;

h) provide pathways that enable students to make a considered choice about their focus and preferred profession or academic orientation; and

i) place emphasis on inquiry-based learning and research skill development, thus introducing students to the research culture of the relevant discipline.

1.2 Admission requirements for the relevant undergraduate degree courses must be set in accordance with University Policy on: Admission: Coursework.

1.3 Students are not permitted to enrol concurrently in award courses unless allowed by the relevant board in line with the University Policy on: Concurrent Enrolment .

1.4 Undergraduate degree courses may be taken on a part-time or full-time basis in accordance with the University Policy on Full-time and part-time enrolment and overload.

1.5 Time limits for courses must not exceed those stipulated in the Courses - Time Limits (Coursework) policy.

2 Undergraduate Degree Courses

2.1 The University's undergraduate degree courses are aligned to the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) as follows:

AQF Level

AQF course type

UWA Undergraduate Degree Course types

Volume of Learning



Graduate-entry Diplomas:

• Diploma in Arts

• Diploma in Commerce

• Diploma in Science

Diploma in Modern Languages

48 credit points


Advanced Diploma

Advanced Diploma

• Advanced Diploma in Indigenous Legal Studies

• Advanced Diploma in Medical and Aboriginal Health Sciences

72 credit points


Bachelor Degree

Undergraduate Bachelor's Pass Degree:

• Bachelor of Arts

• Bachelor of Biomedical Science

• Bachelor of Commerce

• Bachelor of Science

144 credit points


Bachelor Honours Degree

Bachelor's Honours Degree (End-on Honours):

• Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

• Bachelor of Commerce (Honours)

• Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Honours)

• Bachelor of Science (Honours)

48 credit points

Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours)

192 credit points

Graduate-entry Diploma

2.2 Graduate-entry diploma, which is normally undertaken over at least three semesters, enables graduates to complete further undergraduate studies in the respective area of knowledge.

2.2.1 Specified credit from an incomplete award may be granted towards a Graduate-entry diploma within the limits permitted in the University Policy on: Credit Transfer, advanced standing and recognition of prior learning (UP11/34).

2.2.2 Credit is not granted towards a graduate-entry diploma course on the basis of units successfully undertaken as part of a previously completed award.

2.2.3 Where a unit that forms part of the chosen major has already been completed by the student and counted towards a degree course, the student must take a replacement unit approved by Chair, Academic Board on the recommendation of the relevant discipline.

2.2.4 Successful completion of the graduate-entry diploma may lead to an end-on honours course.

Advanced Diploma

2.3 An Advanced Diploma course provides a pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students preparing them for entry to UWA's professional postgraduate courses.

2.3.1 Students who complete the requirements of an advanced diploma with the appropriate level of achievement as approved by the Academic Council on the recommendation of the relevant board, and who meet any other admission requirements approved by the Academic Council, are admitted to the relevant postgraduate professional degree.

Bachelor's Degree

2.4 Each undergraduate pass degree:

a) must be of three years' equivalent full-time duration and may lead to an additional year of an end-on honours course;

b) comprises a list of majors which provide for the nomenclature of the degree.

2.4.1 Flexibility in applying the principles underpinning the New Courses 2012 is to be exercised for transitioning students as outlined in the University Policy on: Courses Transition Arrangements (Undergraduate) UP11/36.

End-on Honours

2.5 An end-on honours course, and especially the research dissertation, trains and assesses students' abilities to contribute to the future development of their discipline through research that extends existing knowledge and/or through the original and creative application of knowledge in a way likely to impact upon future thinking in their fields of study.

2.5.1 The award of honours of the appropriate class may result from the completion of an end-on honours degree.

2.5.2 End-on honours students who fail or do not complete the course, but who have completed the requirements of the pass degree:

a) retain the relevant pass degree if they have taken it out prior to admission to the honours course; or

b) may apply to be awarded the pass degree if they have not yet taken it out.

2.6 A school must execute a benchmarking exercise to appraise content, processes and outcomes associated with honours degree courses.


At least once during each period between school reviews a benchmarking exercise must be undertaken.

2.7 Scholarships for honours degree courses must be administered in accordance with the following procedure:


Where the dissertation represents other than 50 per cent of the whole mark, heads of school are required to provide the mark and the percentage of the whole mark represented by the dissertation.

Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours)

2.8 The Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) course:

a) of which honours is an integral part, is designed to enhance the University's attractiveness to exceptionally high achieving students and its reputation for providing education at the highest international standards of excellence;

b) provides a challenging course of four years' equivalent full-time duration with an especially intensive research focus;

c) produces graduates with high calibre research and communication skills;

d) demands a high level commitment to academic excellence, community and international engagement;

e) comprises an academic program, as set out in Schedule 2, that is designed by the Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) Academic Coordinator in conjunction with staff from the research discipline of the student's selected major;

f) has only one intake which occurs at the beginning of the year.

2.8.1 Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) students may have greater flexibility than usual to negotiate individually some aspects of their study program (for example through affiliation with major research groups) and the University provides careful quality assurance in relation to course approval and teaching arrangements relating to the BPhil (Hons).

2.8.2 Students in the Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) course are offered ongoing affiliation with a University college (involving certain support privileges).

2.8.3 Students in the course have guaranteed entry into any UWA postgraduate course, including second-cycle professional degree courses, subject to:

a) successful completion of the Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) course;

b) meeting discipline-related entry requirements including successfully completing selection processes; and

c) in the case of entry to a higher degree by research, availability of supervision.

2.8.4 The degree of Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) is only awarded with an Honours classification of 2A or above.

2.8.5 A student in the Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) who is awarded an Honours classification below 2A is awarded the degree to which their degree-specific major belongs, with the relevant classification of Honours.

2.9 An honours student may progress to a master's degree course as outlined in the University Policy on: Courses - Postgraduate Coursework.

3 Undergraduate degree requirements

3.1 The University ensures that students meet course requirements to take out the relevant award as follows:

UWA Undergraduate degree / awards

Degree requirements - To take out the relevant award students must successfully complete:

Graduate-entry Diploma

• units, normally to the value of 48 points, from the same disciplinary field, comprising a single major, excluding any complementary units;

• additional units to satisfy prerequisites and/or co-requisites

Advanced Diploma

• Level 1, 2 and/or 3 units, to the value of 72 points, which must have a distinctive disciplinary rationale which relates to the academic objectives of the course.

Bachelor's Degree

Bachelor of Arts

Bachelor of Commerce

Bachelor of Design

Bachelor of Science

(1) 24 units (144 credit points) of which:

• no more than 12 units undertaken at Level 1;

• at least 12 units undertaken at Levels 2 and 3 including at least 4 Level 3 units;


(a) Four broadening units of which at least one is a Category A unit; and up to two Category A units may be undertaken from within the knowledge area of the degree-specific major.

(b) A unit that forms a component of major sequences

offered in different areas of knowledge cannot

contribute to broadening requirements for any of

those areas of knowledge, except as set out in 3.1 (2) (a)

(c) A unit listed for broadening purposes can also be

taken as an elective by students; and

(3) A degree-specific major.

(4) Students commencing an undergraduate degree course of the University are required to take at least one Level 3 unit of their major or two in the case of a double major at the University.

End-on Honours

Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

Bachelor of Commerce (Honours)

Bachelor of Design (Honours)

Bachelor of Science (Honours)

• In accordance with the University Policy on Courses: Coursework Dissertation, an end-on honours specialisation comprising 8 units (48 credit points) of which:

° 4 coursework units undertaken at Level 4 and/or Level 5 including at least 2 Level 4 units; and

° 4 dissertation units undertaken at Level 4 and/or Level 5, and normally completed over two consecutive semesters.

Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours)

• 32 units (192 credit points) of which:

° no more than 12 units undertaken at Level 1; and

° at least 12 units undertaken at Levels 2 and 3 including at least 4 Level 3 units;

• 4 broadening units as set out in 3.1 (2);

• normally at least 1 LOTE unit;

• a degree-specific major;

• in accordance with the University Policy on Courses: Coursework Dissertation, an honours specialisation comprising 8 units of which:

° 4 coursework units undertaken at Level 4 and/or Level 5 including at least 2 Level 4 units; and

° 4 dissertation units undertaken at Level 4 and/or Level 5, and normally completed over two consecutive semesters.

• a research project leading to studies in research methods and project management in their second and third academic years;

• appropriate assessment to demonstrate outstanding skills in both spoken and written communication in their second, third and fourth year;

• the University's residential program on commencement of the degree course; and

• 1 semester of study-abroad (which may include a research placement) that must normally be undertaken after the Level 1 units are completed and before the Level 3 units are completed (a scholarship is available for this purpose).

4 Development of new curriculum proposal

4.1 The development of a new:

4.1.1 undergraduate major must address key criteria as set out in Schedule 3.

4.1.2 honours specialisation must address key criteria as set out in Schedule 4.


A flowchart on the procedure for the development of a new:

undergraduate major is available at this link ;

honours specialisation is available at this link:

4.1.3 The development of a 'Category A' broadening unit must address key criteria as set out in Schedule 5.

4.2 Approval must be sought from the Academic Council for the development of new curriculum proposals referred to in 4.1.1 and 4.1.2.

5 Changes to existing curriculum

5.1 A proposal for a change to an Advanced Diploma, undergraduate major or honours specialisation and/or associated units must include:

a) a persuasive justification (that is, academic or administrative reasons); and

b) consultation and approval by the relevant board(s).

5.2 The circumstances in which changes to a major or honours specialisation may be undertaken are set out in Schedule 6.

5.3 Any changes to a major or honours specialisation must be planned ahead to ensure:

a) that any necessary action, such as implementing transitional arrangements, are taken to minimise any potential adverse impact on students;

b) high standards of teaching;

c) efficient delivery of academic teaching; and

d) compliance with relevant external or internal legislation or policy.

5.4 Any change to the details of units must be in accordance with the University Policy on: Changes to Units.

5.5 Changes to existing curriculum are approved by the Curriculum Committee under delegated authority from the Academic Council.


A flowchart on the procedure for changes to existing undergraduate curriculum is available at this link:

Related forms: (Link)

TRIM File No:


Contact position:

Academic Secretary

Related Policies or legislation:

University Policy on Courses - Postgraduate Coursework UP15/7

University Policy on Courses - Coursework Dissertation UP15/6

University Policy on Courses - Transition Arrangements (Undergraduate) UP11/36

University Policy on Admission: Coursework UP 16/5

University Policy on Changes to Units UP11/46

University Policy on Concurrent Enrolment UP11/42

University Policy on Full-time and part-time enrolment and overload UP11/7

University Policy on Courses: Time limits (Coursework) UP11/10

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