Policies and procedures

Policy No.
Student Administration
Authoring Organisational Unit
Academic Secretariat
Date Approved
02/12/2015 Revised 06/12/2017
Next Review Date
Approving Body
Academic Council

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The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Courses - Postgraduate Coursework

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

This policy sets out the principles underpinning the development of and changes to postgraduate coursework courses.


In this policy and any associated procedures,

the University is/means the University of Western Australia.

articulation means where a course forms part of a sequence of related courses.

articulated course means a course comprising a sequence of related postgraduate courses in a specific discipline area offering progression from one course level to another with credit granted for all units passed at the appropriate standard that have been completed in or credited towards the course of the previous level in the sequence, or which provides for the award of a relevant lower level qualification where a student has withdrawn from an articulated course having met the requirements of the corresponding lower level course.

a broad disciplinary field means a field of study that is taught and researched at the University (e.g. Engineering).

a narrow disciplinary field means a branch of an existing field of study(e.g. Chemical Engineering).

specialisation means a particular discipline chosen from within a broad field of study (e.g. Chemical Engineering within Engineering). It is usually applied to the chosen disciplinary focus on an honours or postgraduate course (e.g. as a distinctive variant within a generic master's course), but in a few cases may refer to a set of specialised units within an undergraduate course major. For the purpose of this policy a specialisation consists of at least four units.

a conversion unit means a unit designed to provide knowledge and skills for those with little or no formal prior study or professional experience in the discipline area of the course.

clinical master's (extended) 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 master's (extended) are not Research Training Program (RTP) compliant and consist primarily of advanced coursework.

core unit means a unit that is compulsory in a course.

conversion course means a course designed to provide knowledge and skills for those with little or no formal prior study or professional experience in the discipline area of the course.

course means a plan of study which a student must successfully undertake before qualifying for a degree, diploma or certificate.

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.

generic degree course structure means a course which has a standard structure and rules that include at least two specialisations.

level of a unit indicates the amount of prior knowledge required to study the unit successfully.

master's degree course means a master's degree course by coursework; a master's degree by coursework and dissertation or master's degree by coursework or coursework and dissertation.

master's degree by thesis and coursework means a research degree in which the research represents 66.6% or more, but less than 100% of the degree course requirements.

named degree course structure means a course available upon successful completion of a master's course where at least 50% of the required units relate to the narrow disciplinary field specified in the degree name.

option means a unit chosen from among a range of given options.

professional doctorate is RTP compliant and embodies an original contribution to knowledge by way of a research thesis (for example, through the discovery of new knowledge, the formulation of theories or the innovative re-interpretation of known data and established ideas). It can include up to one third of coursework offered at master's level or beyond and provides an opportunity for those with a first professional qualification and professional experience to undertake advanced studies and research in their professional fields. The thesis is concerned primarily with deducing implications for practice and policy, while not neglecting the possibility of testing theory, extending existing theory, or developing new theory.

a professional practice master's (extended) is a course normally requiring the equivalent of at least three years of full-time study post a bachelor's degree and comprising Level 4 and Level 5 units. Admission is on the basis of a degree of this University or equivalent and may involve a sequential pathway (including a specified undergraduate major). The degree is the first professional qualification for those entering into Medicine, Dentistry, Law, and Podiatric Medicine. Though consisting predominantly of coursework, these courses are named Professional Practice Master's (Extended) on the basis of the duration of study required and established international nomenclature. Award: Doctor of... or in case of Law the award: Juris Doctor (AQF Level 9).

Research Training Progam (RTP) is a performance-based funding program administered by the Department of Education and Training. Domestic students under the Research Training program are exempt from paying student contributions and tuition fees, if UWA so decides. Research Training Program courses consist of master's and doctoral courses whose research component is at least 66.6 per cent of the total course.

thesis means the output of research in a course in which the output constitutes more than 66.6 per cent per cent of the requirements of the course in question.

unique unit means a unit that represents a capstone experience in a master's course which must include at least one unique unit normally undertaken in the final semester of the course or part-time equivalent.

Policy statement:

1 Types of Postgraduate coursework courses

1.1 The University ensures that its postgraduate coursework courses which may include, but are not limited to, the following are aligned to the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) requirements:

AQF Level

AQF Course Type

UWA Postgraduate course types

Nomenclature of Award titles


Graduate Certificate

Graduate Certificate

Graduate Certificate in XXX

Graduate Diploma

Graduate Diploma

Graduate Diploma in XXX


Master's (Coursework)

Master's degree course by coursework

Master of XXX

Master of XXX (YYY) - for generic degree course structures (where XXXX represents the agreed abbreviation for the broad disciplinary field and YYY corresponds to the specialisation in a generic master's degree course or specific focus of the narrow disciplinary field of a named master's course)

Master's degree course by coursework and dissertation

Professional Practice Masters(e.g. Master of Engineering)

Master's (Extended)

Master's degree course (Extended) (e.g. Master of Psychology (extended))

Professional Practice Master's (Extended) (e.g. Juris Doctor; Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Dental Medicine, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine)

Doctor of XXX

Juris Doctor

Clinical Master's (Extended) (e.g. Doctor of Clinical Dentistry)

Doctor of XXX

Master's (Research)

Master's degree course by thesis and coursework - RTP compliant

Master of XXX


Doctoral Degree

Professional Doctorates by thesis and coursework - RTP compliant

Doctor of XXX

1.2 Within the context of maintaining the University's reputation as a university of the highest international standing, faculties must ensure that postgraduate coursework courses:

a) reflect national and international best practice, including professional requirements;

b) employ appropriate teaching and learning methods;

c) apply the same standard rules irrespective of course location;

d) either develop a new academic, professional or vocational area of study or extend skills and knowledge in an area;

e) are developed in response to needs and demands to upgrade knowledge in areas of changing technology or expertise, where appropriate;

f) have standardised student workload requirements;

g) have a structure and nomenclature that are uniform across the University; and

h) provide students access both to cognate and non-cognate courses, where appropriate.

2 Curriculum development

2.1 The development of a postgraduate coursework course must address key criteria including, but not limited to, the following:

Criteria No

Criteria type



Educational Principles

All postgraduate coursework courses must embed the University's Educational Principles .


Learning Outcomes

The learning outcomes of postgraduate coursework courses must be developed in accordance with the AQF level specific criteria comprising the following:

a) Knowledge;

b) Skills; and

c) Application of knowledge and skills.



Admission requirements must be in accordance with the University Policy on Admission: Coursework.


Volume of Learning

a) All courses must establish the volume of learning in accordance with Schedule 1 and must comprise postgraduate units only (units of Level 4 or above).

b) Where courses are designed to accommodate students for whom it is a conversion course and students for whom it represents further study in a cognate area, consideration must be given to determining a minimum and a maximum volume of learning. For example, a master's coursework course may have a volume of learning of both 1.5 years [72 credit points] and 2 years [96 credit points].

c) A conversion course referred to in 4 (b) may comprise the following types of conversion units that must be additional to the approved minimum volume of learning:

● units of introductory content that are taught and assessed appropriately at postgraduate level; and / or

● undergraduate units (Levels 1 - 3).

(See diagrammatic representation in Schedule 2)


Structure and Type

a) Postgraduate coursework courses, where applicable, must take the form of either a:

(ii) named degree course structure; or

(ii) generic degree course structure that shares a common set of units and includes at least two specialisations relating to the disciplinary area.

b) Faculties must explore the merits of designing and offering a generic degree course structure, in the first instance.


Structural Requirements

Postgraduate coursework courses, must meet the structural requirements as set out in Schedule 1.


Articulation (where available)

Postgraduate coursework courses may form part of an articulated course in accordance with the University Policy on Courses: Articulation.



(where relevant)

Faculties must ensure that UWA norms are maintained when deliberating with professional associations concerning the content and requirements of the course.


A flowchart on the procedure for development of a postgraduate coursework course is available at this link

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

2.3 A master's degree course may be developed to allow for a student to progress from honours to a master's course, provided:

a) the progression occurs prior to graduation from honours;

b) the honours course contributes to the academic development in the discipline of the master's degree course by providing appropriate foundation for units in the master's course;

c) the content of the honours coursework and dissertation is directly related to content of the master's degree course; and

d) at least 50% of the total number of units required to complete the master's degree course are undertaken at Level 5.

2.3.1 The honours coursework and dissertation components, as part of the progression from honours to master's degree course, may attract credit in accordance with the University Policy on credit transfer, advanced standing and recognition of prior learning.

2.3.2 A dissertation that is credited towards a master's degree course may constitute the master's dissertation in full or in part, and only in part if it is for a master's thesis. If in part, the components must be clearly identifiable and separately examined.

2.4 Substitution of units in postgraduate coursework courses may occur in accordance with the University Policy on Substitution of Units in Coursework Courses.

3 Award of Master's degree with distinction

3.1 A student who has achieved a weighted average mark (WAM) of at least 80% in a master's degree course is awarded the relevant degree with distinction.

3.2 Academic Council, on the recommendation of the relevant board, may approve a proposal to not provide for the award of a master's degree with distinction if the same degree can be awarded for a course undertaken by way of thesis and coursework.

3.3 The WAM calculation includes units of Level 4 and above that are:

a) attempted as part of the master's degree course and that are awarded a final percentage mark;

b) undertaken in an articulated course and that are awarded a final percentage mark; and

c) completed at this University and that are credited to the master's degree course.

4 Changes to postgraduate coursework courses and units

4.1 A proposal for a change to a postgraduate coursework course and/or associated units must include:

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

(ii) consultation and approval by the relevant board(s), and where a proposed change may have implications for another faculty, the faculty proposing the change must ensure that appropriate consultation takes place prior to submitting the proposal.

4.2 The circumstances in which changes to postgraduate coursework courses may be undertaken are set out in Schedule 3.

4.2.1 Any change to postgraduate coursework courses 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.

4.3 Any change to the details of units offered within postgraduate coursework courses must be in accordance with the University Policy on: Changes to Units.


A flowchart on the procedure for changes to a postgraduate coursework course is available at this link.

Related forms: (Link)

TRIM File No:


Contact position:

Academic Secretary

Related Policies or legislation:

University Policy on Admission: Coursework (UP16/5)

University Policy on Courses - Coursework Dissertation (UP15/6)

University Policy on Courses - Research Thesis (UP15/8)

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

University Policy on Courses: Articulation (UP12/27)

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