Honours programs: examination of research component instruction (Rescinded)

This instruction has been rescinded effective 31 December 2015 and will be replaced by section 27.4 of the Program design procedure from 1 January 2016. The methods of determining award levels and levels of honours in the Program design procedure will apply to students who commence their enrolment in the relevant program from 1 January 2016.

Instruction statement

To provide guidance on the conduct of the examination and assessment of the research component of honours programs.

This procedure is applicable to all bachelor degree honours programs at RMIT.

Exclusions

This instruction applies only to fourth year honours degrees and bachelor degree programs of four years full-time normal duration or longer that are awarded with honours.

Instruction steps and actions

This instruction has been rescinded effective 31 December 2016 and will be replaced by section 27.4 of the Program design procedure from 1 January 2015. The methods of determining award levels and levels of honours in the Program design procedure will apply to students who commence their enrolment in the relevant program from 1 January 2016.

Instruction (including key points)

Responsibility

Timeline

1. Before examination

1.1. The School will appoint at least two examiners for all honours program research components. Examiners may be internal or external to the University.

Dean/head of school

Before submission of research component

1.2. The principal supervisor will determine whether the honours research component is suitable in content and format to be submitted for examination and if so will sign off on this.

1.3. If the principal supervisor does not believe the honours year research component is suitable for examination and the student believes otherwise, every effort will be made to negotiate an agreed outcome. Where agreement cannot be reached, the student will be permitted to submit provided the submission is accompanied by a statement signed by the student acknowledging that they are submitting against the advice of their supervisor.

Principal supervisor

Before submission of research component

2. Appointment of examiners

2.1. The principal supervisor, in consultation with the program team, will recommend the examiners for the honours program research component.

Principal supervisor

Before submission of research component

2.2. Examiners will be approved by the honours program manager or the Dean/Head of School or nominee.

2.3. All examiners must have relevant knowledge, expertise and interest in the student’s discipline area. Examiners must have appropriate qualifications and research experience to examine an honours research project: examiners must normally hold a masters degree or a higher degree by research in the discipline area and/or have had work published in recognised peer-reviewed journals.

Dean/head of school and/or honours year program manager

Before submission of research component

2.4. Neither the principal supervisor, an associate supervisor, nor anyone else with conflict of interest may act as an examiner unless exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated. In the event that such exceptional circumstances are claimed, the approval of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic) is required.

2.5. The honours program manager will forward to the examiners advice outlining the:

    a. stated objectives of the honours year research component

    b. criteria for assessment

    c. Honours Level Classification Rubric (see Appendix)

    d. return date and contact person for any matters which may need clarification

2.6. The appointment of examiners and any changes of arrangements must be managed in accordance with the relevant School processes.

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

As soon as practicable after the research component is submitted

3. Criteria for assessment

An honours research component will be assessed on the following criteria:

3.1. the student's ability to articulate the nature and scope of the research study in accordance with the stated objectives,

3.2. the extent to which the honours research component achieves the stated objectives,

3.3. the student's ability to demonstrate a critical appreciation of the literature relevant to the honours research component,

3.4. the extent to which the student develops a consistent and coherent argument relevant to the field of study (if by thesis), or their ability to reflect and contextualise (if by project/exegesis),

3.5. the student's capacity to demonstrate critical analysis in applying research approaches and, where appropriate, interpreting results,

3.6. the quality of the presentation of the dissertation or project with exegesis, including where appropriate:

    a. clarity of expression

    b. the relevance and accuracy of citations, references etc, and

    c. the accuracy and appropriateness of the presentation of results.

3.7. in the case of project/exegesis, the manner in which the project is realised and the scholarly reflection upon it, including:

    a. the conceptual understanding of the relevant field,

    b. the ideas and/or imagination demonstrated,

    c. the technical competence,

    d. the resolution of the artefacts,

    e. the complexity and difficulty demonstrated,

    f. its situation within the field

3.8. the student’s adherence to high standards of academic integrity and honesty as outlined in the policies, procedures and principles described on the Academic Integrity website

Honours year program manager

Forwarded to examiners with research component

4. Examiner’s reports

4.1. Examiners are expected to return their reports within two weeks of receiving the honours research component for examination, as directed by schools.

4.2. Examiners should provide written reports, which include a short statement of the reasons for the grade of honours awarded to the thesis. The reports should also contain a section to be provided to students.

4.3. The principal supervisor will be given the opportunity to comment on the examiners' reports.

4.4. Examiners will be invited to nominate if they wish to remain anonymous.

4.5. The examiners’ reports (but not the marks) will be provided to the student in order to foster the learning experience.

Examiners

Within two weeks of receiving the research component

5. Resolving discrepancy

5.1. Where there is a discrepancy of two or more classification levels between two examiners' recommended grades, the Dean/Head of School or nominee will appoint a third examiner. The three examiners’ reports and marks will then be referred to the Course Assessment Committee for determination of a final grade.

5.2. The third examiner may be from within the University or external to the University, and must have expertise in the area of research and experience in the marking of theses or projects and exegeses.

5.3. The third examiner will not be provided with details of the student’s original assessment.

Dean/head of school

As required

6. Determining the Honours Level Classification

6.1. The examiners’ written reports, the supervisor’s written response to the examiners’ reports, and the grades for the coursework component are to be reviewed by the program assessment board and the final classification determined for each student by that committee.

6.2. In determining a student’s final honours classification, the program assessment board will observe the principles articulated in the policy and procedures for Moderation and Validation of Assessment, and the criteria stipulated in the rubric for the classification of the research component.

Program Assessment Board

7. Honours level classification rubric

7.1. The table below provides an assessment framework for:

  • examiners of the research component of bachelor degree honours programs, and
  • Program Assessment Boards’ determination of the final overall grade of the honours program

This framework articulates the achievement standards required for awarding the respective honours levels.

Honours Level Classification: Assessment framework for examiners of the research component of honours programs

Honours
level

Standard of Work

Notional
Mark

Grade
Point
Average

Honours 1st
Class (H1)

Excellent

  • Work of exceptional quality showing clear understanding of subject matter and appreciation of issues; well formulated; arguments sustained; figures and diagrams where relevant; appropriate literature referenced; strong evidence of creative ability and originality; high level of intellectual work.
  • Excellent analysis, comprehensive research, sophisticated theoretical or methodological understanding, impeccable presentation.

80-100%

4.0

Honours 2A
(H2A)

Very good

  • Work of high quality showing strong grasp of subject matter and appreciation of dominant issues though not necessarily of the finer points; arguments clearly developed; relevant literature referenced; evidence of creative ability and solid intellectual work.
  • Very good work that is very well researched, shows critical analytical skills, is well argued, with scholarly presentation and documentation.
  • Work that shows limited room for improvement.

75-79%

3.5 – 3.99

Honours 2B.
(H2B)

Good

  • Work of solid quality showing competent understanding of subject matter and appreciation of main issues though possibly with some lapses and inadequacies and with clearly identifiable deficiencies in logic, presentation or originality.
  • Some evidence of critical analysis and creative ability; well researched, prepared and presented.
  • Work that shows some room for improvement.

70-74%

3.0 – 3.49

Honours 3
(H3)

Satisfactory

  • Completion of key tasks at an adequate level of performance with demonstrated understanding of key ideas and some analytical skills. Satisfactory presentation, research and documentation.
  • Work that shows room for improvement in many areas.
  • Adequate report, reasonable quality but showing a minimal understanding of the research area with deficiencies in content or experimental rigour; little evidence of creative ability or original thought.

50-69%

1.0 – 2.99

Fail (NN)

Not satisfactory

Work that fails to demonstrate a satisfactory understanding of the research area, adequate critical analysis, and/or competence in addressing the objectives of the program.

Not eligible for honours.

0-49%

Below 1.0

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