Policies and procedures

Policy No.
Teaching And Learning
Authoring Organisational Unit
Graduate Research and Scholarships
Date Approved
01/06/2011 Revised 07/11/2018
Next Review Date
Approving Body
Academic Council

The University of Western Australia

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University Policy on: Courses - Higher Degree by Research Preliminary

Overtype “Policy Name” with the name of the policy.  This must convey specifically, accurately and succinctly what the policy addresses eg Award of Honours, Study Leave.

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

The purpose of the policy is to set out the principles for the management and administration of Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Preliminary courses.

A HDR Preliminary course provides an opportunity for a student to develop and demonstrate the necessary knowledge and research skills to undertake a Higher Degree by Research (HDR) course administered by the Graduate Research School or a faculty.

This must be in Normal, Policy style.

Provide a brief summary of the reasons for the policy and issues it addresses.  This section is designed to stand alone.  The aim is to provide the reader with enough information to make a decision about whether or not this is the policy they are looking for.  It must not be longer than 200 words.

Example 1

This policy defines the nature and purpose of study leave provisions for academic staff and sets out eligibility criteria and other conditions that apply.

Example 2

This policy seeks to rationalise the award of honours across the University by addressing such issues as: entry standards, course content and structure, supervision, assessment, examination, grades, classifications, benchmarking and the maintenance and provision of documentation relating to these matters.  It is based on resolutions of the Academic Board flowing from the 1999 report of the Honours Working Party.


the University means The University of Western Australia

appropriate supervision for the HDR Preliminary course means that the proposed supervisor is on the UWA Register of Supervisors

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.

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.

independent examiners are independent academic staff members, who are not the student’s supervisor and has the requisite expertise to carry out a competent  examination

higher degree by research is a Research Doctorate or Research Masters course for which at least two-thirds of the student load for the course (i.e. at least 66.6% of the course requirement) is required as research work, as defined in the Commonwealth Scholarships Guidelines (Research) 2017

research output means the production of work that may be wholly in written form (dissertation component) or in a form that also includes a formally assessed presentation, composition, performance, exhibition or creative or other approved work

research doctorate means an Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Level 10 Doctoral Degree (Research) qualification as described by TEQSA.

research master’s means an AQF Level 9 Master’s Degree (Research) qualification as described by TEQSA

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


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Policy statement:

1 Course structure

1.1 The relevant board of a faculty or the Board of the Graduate Research School (BGRS) may, on the recommendation of the relevant head of school, require an applicant to complete a HDR Preliminary course (non-award course) before deciding whether or not to accept the applicant for a higher degree by research.

1.2 A HDR Preliminary course is a supervised conversion course of advanced study and/or research administered by a faculty to a value 48 credit points of which:

a) at least 24 credit points must comprise Level 4 and/or Level 5 units  resulting in a research output; and

b) the remaining credit points comprise coursework units to provide for developing relevant preparatory knowledge.

1.3 The coursework units referred to in 1.2 (b) may comprise levels 1 – 3 undergraduate units or higher level units that prepare the student to undertake their research degree course.

1.4 Each faculty must appoint a member of academic staff to be the Course Coordinator for the HDR Preliminary in that faculty.

2 Admission

2.1 An applicant seeking admission into a HDR Preliminary course:

a) must normally have successfully completed a tertiary qualification with a WAM of at least 65 per cent;

b) may receive admission credit of up to 24 credit points for prior study in a relevant discipline.

2.2 Before accepting a student into a HDR Preliminary course the faculty must take reasonable steps to ensure that appropriate supervision is available for the HDR Preliminary course and for continuation into a HDR.

2.3 A student in a HDR preliminary course may be enrolled full-time or part-time.

2.4 A student enrolled in a HDR Preliminary course must apply for re-enrolment each year until they have completed the requirements, but the relevant board of a faculty may —

a) having considered a written application, waive this requirement for any year; or

b) having considered a report from the head of the school concerned, reject the application for re-enrolment.

3 Assessment and results

3.1 A research output in a HDR Preliminary course must be assessed by at least two independent examiners, of whom one may be external to the University, and none must be the student’s supervisor.

3.1.1 In an event where marks awarded by the two examiners are not within ten percentage marks of each other and the examiners are unable to reconcile the difference, a third independent marker must be appointed.

3.2 A faculty must record a result for each unit in a HDR Preliminary course.

3.2.1 The result for the research output must be a percentage mark and a grade.

3.3 Students who have satisfied the course requirements at the appropriate level of achievement as determined by the Board of Examiners of a faculty must have a completion recorded on their academic record.

4 Time limits and progression

4.1 A student who does not complete the requirements of a HDR Preliminary course within the time limit specified in the University Policy on Courses: Time limits (Coursework) (UP11/10) may re-enrol only on resolution of the faculty concerned on the recommendation of the head of the appropriate school.

4.2 In addition to meeting any other entry requirements, to progress from a HDR Preliminary course into a HDR course administered by the Graduate Research School or a faculty, a student must have successfully produced a research output with a mark of at least:

a) 70 per cent to undertake a research doctorate; or

b) 65 per cent to undertake a research master’s

4.3 Any variation to the minimum requirements set out in 4.2 must be considered by:

a) the relevant faculty board for progression into HDR courses administered by the faculty; or

b) the Board of Graduate Research School for progression into HDR courses administered by the Graduate Research School.

Policy or Procedure?

Policies are statements of the principles1 which govern decision-making.

Procedures are the functional steps used to implement policies.

1 Principles in this context are to be understood as being both broad and detailed.

The policy statement makes clear the intent of the policy.  It must be written in clear, precise and direct language.  Short sentences are preferable.  Any specialist words or acronyms must be defined at the beginning of the statement.  (A guide to writing styles will be available soon.)

If the policy includes procedural elements you will need to identify these as Procedures by including this word above the relevant text.  The procedures style from the styles drop-down list must be applied to the whole of the procedures text, including the word Procedures.  Note: Administrative procedures can be approved by the relevant Director.

Related forms: (Link)

Provide links to any forms associated with the policy (eg Approved Leave form) and/or to information on on-line submission.

Note: Forms are a means through which policy is processed, not made.  Forms must reflect policy and must not be used to create policy.

Policy No:


This is the TRIM record number.  Note: This is not the TRIM file number.  If this is a new policy, apply for the policy number (contact [email protected]) after the policy has been approved by the relevant position or body and before it is submitted for storing in TRIM.

Approving body or position:

Academic Council

Include the name of the body or position with responsibility for approving the policy.  This must be one of the following:


Academic Board/Council


Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education)

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation)

Registrar and Executive Director (Academic Services) Executive Director (Finance and Resources)

Date original policy approved:

June 2011

Insert date of approval of original policy.  If this information cannot readily be ascertained insert “as per file”.

Date this version of policy approved:

7 November 2018

When the policy document has been approved by the relevant body or position insert date of approval.

Date policy to be reviewed:

November 2023

If the proposing body has not determined a date for review of the policy, a default date of ten years from the date of the latest revision approval will apply.  Enter the appropriate date.

Date this version of procedures approved:

7 November 2018

If the document contains procedures, include the date that these were last updated.  Procedures are approved by the relevant Director.

TRIM File No:


Insert the appropriate TRIM file number.  All policies must have a TRIM file for storing information relating to policy development and other related information.  Note this is not the policy number.  Apply for a TRIM file number at http:/

Contact position:

Academic Secretary

State the name of the position that is to be contacted for any queries regarding the policy, eg University Secretary.  Note: As this will link through to the University’s Contact Directory, the position name must be given exactly as it appears in that directory.

Related Policies or legislation:

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

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

University Policy on Adequate Research Preparation (UP11/25)

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