Policies and procedures

Policy No.
Teaching And Learning
Authoring Organisational Unit
Academic Secretariat
Date Approved
17/02/2010 Revised 03/11/2010
Next Review Date
Approving Body
Academic Council

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The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Duplication of Unit Content

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

This policy sets out the general principles that govern the development of units with a view to minimising duplication of unit content. Procedures for resolving disputes where duplication of unit content may occur are included in this policy.


In this policy,

"Discipline" is a recognised subject area or branch of knowledge.

"Service Teaching" occurs where a unit or part unit is taught by a School other than the School which is normally or primarily responsible for teaching units in the course/major concerned.

"Provider" is the School providing the service teaching.

"Receiver" is the School receiving the service teaching.

"Collaborative teaching" describes a specific arrangement where two or more schools agree to jointly teach a unit.

Policy statement:

1 Underlying principles for the development and teaching of units

1.1 The University is committed to providing teaching at the highest international standards of quality.

1.2 The University is committed to embedding and fostering the relationship between teaching and research across the range of its disciplines and in all its courses.

1.3 The University is committed to the effective and efficient use of scarce resources.

2 Disciplinary Expertise

2.1 Recognised disciplinary expertise is demonstrated bv a School's:

  • historical specialisation in the discipline
  • tradition of teaching in the discipline or closely related areas, at both introductory and advanced levels and/or
  • history of research in the discipline

2.2 School(s) with the appropriate disciplinary expertise will normally contribute to the teaching of units in the discipline concerned.

3 Assessing unit viability

3.1 The efficient and effective use of resources requires that Schools considering offering units that duplicate disciplinary expertise held elsewhere consider both academic and resource implications, such as:

  • whether there are existing units that are appropriate
  • the relationship of the unit to the major
  • the School's relationship to the discipline
  • the advantages/disadvantages to students of a unit offering
  • the potential costs of competing with other Schools for students
  • the costs to staff within the School
  • the size of the potential student cohort attracted to the unit

4 Avoiding / minimising duplication of unit content

4.1 Responsibility for avoiding / minimising duplication of unit content and teaching effort lies with Schools delivering units and Faculties or Boards administering courses.

4.2 A proposer developing a unit must engage in appropriate consultation to minimise duplication of unit content.

4.3 Duplication of unit content can be minimised by:

  • collaborative teaching or/and
  • service teaching

5 Minimising duplication of unit content through collaborative teaching

5.1 Collaborative teaching may occur:

  • where a unit has a focus which spans different disciplines
  • where it is recognised that more than one School has teaching expertise in a discipline, albeit with a different focus or context

5.2 Mutual responsibilities of Schools in a collaborative teaching arrangement include:

  • teaching at international standards of quality
  • carrying out and sharing unit evaluations and being responsive to feedback
  • consulting with collaborators in relation to any proposed change to the unit

6 Minimising duplication of unit content through service teaching

6.1 A service teaching arrangement may be negotiated when the content of a new unit proposed by a School lies within the disciplinary expertise of another School.

6.2 A service teaching arrangement must be negotiated so that it is beneficial to the Schools, the course and the students affected.

6.3 The University recognises that a service teaching arrangement can occur in several forms, which include but are not limited to the following:

  • a generic unit controlled, designed and fully service taught by the provider
  • a unit controlled, and fully service taught by the provider but customised with involvement from the receiver to provide relevant and appropriate context of the discipline, examples and applications

6.4 Responsibilities of a provider include:

  • providing high quality service teaching that takes account of the needs of the receivers
  • involving receivers, as required, to ensure the unit's relevance
  • providing unit evaluations and being responsive to feedback from the receivers and students
  • consulting with receivers when changes to the unit are proposed

6.5 Responsibilities of receivers include:

  • contributing to the development of the unit in question
  • involvement in the teaching of the unit, as required, to ensure the unit's quality and relevant
  • providing feedback on the service teaching provided
  • inviting provider(s) to participate in any discussion with respect to the unit

6.6 Procedures for negotiating service teaching arrangements are shown below.

7 Resolving intra-faculty or inter-faculty disputes on unit duplication

7.1 Where duplication of units is identified within a Faculty, the Dean must consult with the Schools concerned to resolve any issue(s).

7.2 Where duplication of units is identified between Faculties, Deans are encouraged to resolve inter-Faculty disputes without recourse to intervention by the University.

7.3 Intra-Faculty or inter-Faculty consultations must occur within the context of the University's academic and resource policies and processes.

7.4 Dispute resolution procedures are set out below.


Annually the provider must invite the receiver to attend a meeting at which feedback on service teaching arrangements must be sought.

The receiver can request that a meeting be held at any time to resolve specific issues.

Negotiations between he provider and receiver regarding establishing/changing service teaching arrangement(s) must consider a number of aspects, including the following:

• the discipline and its background

• the context in which the unit is placed

• any shared teaching arrangement including lecturing, tutorials and assessments

• timeframes for consultation in situations where changes to the unit are proposed

• financial arrangements

Where either the provider or receiver is dissatisfied with any aspect of the arrangement, the Heads of Schools, in consultation with relevant Deans will be responsible for determining mutually agreed improvements and strategies for their achievement.


Where duplication of unit content has been identified and a dispute between the relevant stakeholders has arisen, the following steps must be taken:

Step One:

Disputing parties, in consultation with their relevant Head(s) of School(s), must determine the scope of the dispute. Consideration must include but is not limited to:

• Nature and type of duplication - general disciplinary crossover, such as repetition of whole units or teaching of the same material within apparently different units

• Academic and financial viability of the unit - see clause 3.1

• Extent of expertise available in Schools where unit duplication occurs

• Pedagogical and academic reasoning for duplicating unit content

• Consideration of collaborative/service teaching arrangements

Step Two:

• If stakeholders cannot reach agreement following step ONE, they must make their case in writing to the relevant Deans through their Head(s) of School(s).

• A meeting between the relevant Deans and the disputing parties must be convened to determine whether the dispute can be resolved or whether a submission needs to be made to the Education Committee to assess the academic merits of the case, or to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor to address other matters such as staffing and/or resources.

• Where a case needs to be referred to the Education Committee, the relevant Deans must make a joint written submission that must include a detailed outline of the nature, extent, and outcomes of discussion between stakeholders.

Step Three:

• In situations where the Education Committee is able to resolve the dispute by carrying out appropriate negotiations through its Chair, with stakeholders, the Chair of Education Committee must present a report containing its decision to Academic Council for noting.

• In situations where the Education Committee is unable to resolve the dispute or if any disputing parties are dissatisfied with the decision of the Education Committee, the case is referred to Academic Council for further consideration.

Step Four:

• In situations where a case is referred to Academic Council for consideration, the Chair of the Council must convene a sub-committee with two representatives from Faculties not involved in the dispute, to assess the case. The disputing parties must be invited to discuss the case with the sub-committee.

• The Chair of the sub-committee must present its recommendation(s) to Academic Council for consideration.

• The Chair of Academic Council must advise relevant Faculty Deans of the academic decision(s) of the Council.

• The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will take account of Academic Council's deliberations when addressing staffing and/or resourcing issues relevant to the dispute.

Related forms:

TRIM File No:


Contact position:

Academic Secretary

Related Policies or legislation:

Academic Council Resolution 106/96 - General Principles for Dealing with Service Unit (

University's policy statement on Selecting Teaching Modes - Policy Number UP09/1 (

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