Policies and procedures

Policy No.
Student Administration
Authoring Organisational Unit
Academic Secretariat
Date Approved
Next Review Date
Approving Body
Academic Council

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The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Courses - Coursework Dissertation

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

This policy sets out the principles underpinning the administration, examination and management of dissertations as part of fulfilling the requirements of the following coursework courses: Bachelor's Honours degree courses; Master's degree courses (by coursework and dissertation); and Clinical Doctorates (by coursework and dissertation). This policy does not apply to master's courses with a thesis component and higher degrees by research courses.


The University means The University of Western Australia

research output means the production of work that may be wholly in written form or in the form of a composition, performance, exhibition or creative or other approved work

dissertation means the output of research in a course in which the output constitutes at least 25 per cent but less than 66.6 per cent of the requirements of the course in question.

clinical doctorate means a course requiring the equivalent of three years full-time study which provides an opportunity for those with a first professional qualification and professional experience to undertake advanced level supervised clinical practice and research in their professional field. Clinical doctorates are not Research Training Scheme (RTS) compliant and consist primarily of advanced coursework.

Policy statement:

1 General Principles

1.1 Where a dissertation forms part of the course requirement of a coursework course, it must be represented in accordance with the specifications as set out in Table 1:

Table 1

AQF Level

UWA Course Type

Volume of learning

Credit point value of the dissertation component




Bachelor's honours degree course

48 credit points

24 credit points


Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours ) - integrated


Master's degree course by coursework and dissertation

48 credit points

At least 12 credit points but not more than 30 credit points (5 units)

72 credit points

At least 18 credit points but not more than 42 credit points (7 units)

96 credit points

At least 24 credit points but not more than 60 credit points (10 units)

Clinical Doctorates

144 credit points

At least 36 credit points but not more than 90 credit points (15 units)

With the exception of master's courses with a thesis component, students without adequate research preparation may enrol in a master's course with a dissertation component, subject to successfully demonstrating adequate research preparation, to the level specified in the course rules which normally is a minimum level of credit, during the course but prior to commencing the dissertation component.

2 Forms of dissertation

2.1 A dissertation is typically one of the following forms, as determined by the discipline:

a) a 12,000 - 18,000 word text object (with embedded figures and tables); or

b) a research manuscript of at least 6,000 words in a format suitable for publication in a reputable journal of the discipline; or

c) a creative object constructed within a research framework (a musical composition, a piece of creative writing, an architectural design, or a work of art), accompanied by an exegesis of at least 2,000 - 4,000 words, which includes:

i. documentation of the creative object;

ii. a summary of the research proposal;

iii. a discussion of the research methodology; and

iv. the place of the research in the field or discourse of the discipline.

2.1.1 The dissertation component must cover the following, all of which must be assessed:

a) a research proposal;

b) a literature review;

c) a description of relevant research methods;

d) a digital object, called the research dissertation, which may or may not include some or all of the other items on this list, and which represents the scholarly archived record of the research and its outcomes;

e) an oral presentation; and

f) appropriate use of the discourse conventions of research in the discipline.

3 Student administration, supervisors and supervision

3.1 A student undertaking dissertation must be enrolled as a student of the University during the period of their study.

3.2 A student may spend part of the prescribed period of study at another institution, subject to availability of adequate supervision and access to facilities and resources, and approval of applications by the relevant faculty.

3.3 A student, within the first six months of their enrolment in the course or earlier if required in the rules for the course, must submit the names(s) of the student's supervisor for approval by the faculty.

3.4 Students undertaking a dissertation must be provided with information and advice concerning the acquisition and utilisation of supervision that clearly indicate the responsibilities of both the student and the supervisor within this relationship.

Advice given to students undertaking a dissertation must occur in line with the good practice guide as set out in Appendix A.

4 Submission

4.1 A publication by a student may be submitted as an appendix in support of a dissertation in a master's degree course by coursework and dissertation.

4.2 A student is not permitted to withdraw, alter or add to a dissertation, including jointly authored work, after it has been submitted for examination, unless there are exceptional circumstances and with permission of the faculty.

4.3 Submission deadlines for dissertations must be set in accordance with specific University requirements, where applicable.

4.3.1 A penalty for late submission applies unless the student has been granted special consideration.

4.3.2 The honours research dissertation unit(s) must normally be completed within two consecutive semesters whether the student is enrolled on a full-time or part-time basis.

A dissertation, which must be submitted digitally and in print, must be accompanied by a signed declaration by the student that it is their own work.

Where submitted items for a Master's dissertation have been jointly authored:

the work done by the student must be clearly indicated and certified as such by the co-authors; and

the co-authors must certify that they agree to inclusion of work that they have co-authored.

A single deadline for submission of honours dissertations must be set in line with the deadline set by the University for submission of all honours marks.

In the case of joint honours, the disciplines concerned must consult and agree upon the deadline.

5 Examination

5.1 External examination of dissertations is promoted and actively encouraged.

5.2 Examiners of a dissertation must provide a brief report outlining:

i. the main strengths and weaknesses of the dissertation; and

ii. the student's demonstrated levels of independence and initiative.

5.3 The honours coursework dissertation criteria contained in Schedules 1, 2 and 3 must be used to assess an honours dissertation, and must be distributed to honours students prior to the commencement of their studies, and to examiners of honours coursework dissertations.

5.4 The appointment of examiners for the examination of a dissertation must be undertaken in accordance with the schedule, as set out in Table 2:

Table 2

Dissertations / Thesis submitted as part of:

Number of examiners

External examiner requirement

Honours degree course

At least two

Optional (where practicable may include appointment of an external examiner)

Master's degree course (by coursework and dissertation)

Clinical Doctorates (by coursework and dissertation)

At least one must be external to the University

5.5 The University establishes a common procedure for the formulation of a final mark, grade or classification including a procedure to resolve disagreements between examiners, if the marks awarded are not in the same mark range (i.e. within five percentage points). In such an event the examiners may be required to:

a) identify, discuss and evaluate difference of opinion that underpin the disagreement, and

b) minimise the influence of any input that appears to be based on misconception or unsustainable agreement.


If the examiners' independent reports/marks/grades differ, the faculty, board or committee that considers the reports may, where applicable:

ask examiners to consult among themselves with the objective of resolving their differences, or

submit a further joint report; or

establish an adjudication process as set out in Appendix B

6 Honours Dissertation Classification

6.1 Honours dissertation must be classified in accordance with the University Policy on Assessment (Part 5).

7 Accessibility to dissertation

7.1 Dissertations, which contain written work that is clear and concise, must be clearly and appropriately referenced and be recorded in a form that is permanently available and accessible, via Schools/Disciplines within Faculties, to other scholars.

7.1.1 The University Library may consider, on a case by case basis, requests from faculties to make dissertations referred to in 7.1 accessible via the University Library.

Related forms: (Link)

TRIM File No:


Contact position:

Academic Secretary

Related Policies or legislation:

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