Policies and procedures

Policy No.
Teaching And Learning
Authoring Organisational Unit
Academic Secretariat
Date Approved
12/01/2007 Revised 07/11/2012
Next Review Date
Approving Body
Academic Council

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The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Coding System for Courses, Unit Sets and Units

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

This policy describes the principles underpinning the coding system for courses, unit sets and units.


In this policy and any associated procedures,

the University means The University of Western Australia

a unit is a discrete component of study which normally has a value of six credit points. With special approval, some units may have a value that is a multiple of six points. A unit with a standard six credit point value represents 150 hours of student workload, including contact hours, personal study time and examinations.

a unit set refers to a sequence of units within a course (e.g. a major or a specialisation)

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

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

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

Policy statement:

1 General principles

1.1 The University's coding system for courses, unit sets and units must be:

  • meaningful,
  • transparent,
  • simple and easily identified,
  • flexible,
  • intelligible to students and other users, and
  • consistent with internal and external legislation.

1.2 Codes are expressed in one of the following forms: Alpha, Numeric or Alphanumeric.

1.3 Proliferation of codes is to be avoided.

1.4 The allocation of codes for courses, unit sets and units must occur in accordance with the specifications provided in the Coding Specifications Table ( Appendix A).

1.5 The allocation of codes must occur prior to review and approval of a course, unit set, and/or unit by the relevant board(s).

1.6 Coding is undertaken by Student Systems, Student Services, in consultation with faculties, where relevant.

2 Unit codes and titles

2.1 Subject to 2.2, a unit must have only one code and title irrespective of the course in which it is taught.

2.2 A unit taught at different levels and therefore differentiated in terms of some aspect(s) of teaching and assessment has different numeric codes to reflect the respective levels at which it is offered but must have the same title and alpha prefix.

2.3 The title of a unit must be short and descriptive rather than generic.

2.4 Unit codes are not designed to reflect the course in which the units are offered or the organisational entity offering them.

2.5 Unit codes include an alpha prefix which indicates the broad discipline area of the unit.

2.6 The set of approved alpha prefixes is published on the University Policies Website.

2.7 Faculties may propose a new alpha prefix or changes to an existing prefix, where there is very good justification. (For example, a faculty may wish to commence teaching in an area new to the University or to classify a unit more narrowly or broadly than provided for by the existing prefix.)


1. Creating or amending an alpha prefix

1.1 A recommendation for a new prefix or change to an existing prefix must be made through the Dean of the Faculty to the Academic Secretary.

1.2 Prior to submitting a request for a change, the Dean must ensure that the proposed alpha code has been discussed with the Office of Strategy, Planning and Performance in terms of the field of education and with heads of schools in the Faculty.

1.3 In the case where more than one faculty is involved in the teaching of the unit, all deans must agree to the proposed change.

1.4 Any recommendations to amend an alpha prefix are normally made by the Faculty as part of the annual review of its curriculum offerings.

1.5 Recommendations to create a new alpha prefix for a new unit are part of the procedure for the establishment and approval of new units.

2.8 The justification provided for a change in the alpha prefix must address any implications that the proposal may have (for example, the references to prerequisites in the Handbook; the potential to cause confusion as units may have multiple codes over time; and the resources needed to implement new codes).

2.9 A faculty must not change the alpha prefix of a unit that is taught by more than one faculty without consulting with the other faculty(ies) concerned.

2.10 Any recommendations to amend an alpha prefix are normally made by the Faculty as part of the annual review of its curriculum offerings.

2.11 Any disagreements about the suitability of a proposed new alpha prefix are referred by the Academic Secretary to the Chair of Academic Board for resolution.

3 Level of a unit

3.1 The Level of a unit is determined based upon:

  • the amount of prior knowledge required to undertake the unit; or
  • the maturity of learning required to study the unit successfully.

3.2 The Level of a unit must be assigned, subject to 1.4, in accordance with the mapping provided in the Unit Level Specifications Table ( Appendix B).

4 Recoding

4.1 Courses, unit sets and units are recoded in accordance with the specifications provided in the Recoding Specifications Table ( Appendix C).

Related forms: (Link)

TRIM File No:



Contact position:

Academic Secretary

Related Policies or legislation:

University policy on Graduate Diploma Courses (UP11/19)

University Policy on Graduate Certificate Courses (UP11/18)

University Policy on Clinical Doctorates (UP11/35)

University Policy on Professional Doctorates (UP07/105)

University Policy on Higher Degree by Research Preliminary Courses (UP11/20)

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