Program design procedure

Intent

The Program design procedure sets out the requirements for design of programs, including:

1. use of stakeholder feedback and quality assurance data in program design

2. language of instruction

3. program volume of learning, duration and maximum time

4. inherent requirements

5. program structure

6. majors and minors

7. transition and skills development

8. global mobility

9. university undergraduate electives

10. career development

11. capstone experience

12. benchmarking of coursework programs

13. research pathways

14. bachelor honours

15. masters by coursework

16. work integrated learning

17. intermediate awards

18. design of nationally recognised VET training package qualifications and accredited courses

19. associate degrees

20. double degrees

21. dual awards

22. joint awards

23. partnered coursework awards

24. program guides

25. program configuration

26. award titles

27. award level and grade point average

For program entry requirements, see the Selection and admission policy and procedure.

For limits on the amount of credit that may be granted towards awards, see the Credit policy, Credit transfer procedure and Recognition of prior learning and recognition of current competency procedure.

Scope

  • Higher degree by research programs and courses
  • RMIT accredited coursework programs and courses
  • Nationally recognised training package qualifications, skill sets and accredited courses
  • Short courses and non-award courses

Exclusions

  • VCE and VCAL programs
  • RMIT quality assured programs for enterprise clients

Procedure steps and actions

1. Use of stakeholder feedback and quality assurance data in program design

1.1. Staff designing amendments to a program, or a new program, should take into account feedback on the program or related programs from students, staff who teach in the programs, the industry or profession and accrediting bodies (where relevant), and data from program review and quality assurance systems.

2. Language of instruction

2.1. RMIT programs are delivered in English unless a case for an exception is approved by Education Committee: see the Program and course life-cycle procedure. In these cases, the curriculum must justify delivery in a LOTE.

See the Selection and admission procedure for English language entry requirements for programs delivered in English, and for language entry requirements for programs delivered in a LOTE.

3. Program volume of learning, duration and maximum time

3.1. All award programs will comply with the volume of learning in the relevant AQF qualification specification.

3.2. AQF volume of learning is expressed in years. For the purposes of this section, a year is considered to be two semesters. Programs offered in trimesters or intensively may meet volume of learning requirements in a shorter time.

3.3. Full-time and part-time normal durations of programs are set out in the Program duration and maximum time instruction.

3.4. Students are required to complete all study to fulfil the requirements of their program within certain time-limits, to ensure

  • currency of knowledge for RMIT graduates and
  • that the University has capacity to accept new students.

The Program duration and maximum time instruction sets out rules for calculating students’ maximum time to complete a program, a table of normal durations and maximum times, and a process whereby exceptions may be approved for some students.

4. Inherent requirements

4.1. In accordance with the Disability Standards for Education, the inherent requirements of every program must be defined so that:

  • applicants for the program can make an informed decision as to whether they are capable of completing it, and
  • discussions with students about reasonable accommodations for disability are based on a clear definition of the program’s inherent requirements.

5. Program structure

5.1. All award programs are designed to deepen students’ learning and skills as they progress through the program.

5.2. Programs are structured to

    5.2.1. achieve program learning outcomes

    5.2.2. ensure a good student learning experience, and

    5.2.3. ensure efficiency of delivery, administration and a positive student experience, and so that students can enrol online independently.

5.3. Program structures can only comprise the following elements:

  • core courses (courses that must be passed to obtain the award)
  • option courses (courses from a list or lists in the program guide, of which a stated number must be passed to obtain the award)
  • university electives (courses the student may choose freely from across the University, and which must be passed to complete the credit points total required for the award)
  • majors (see section 6 below)
  • minors (see section 6 below).

5.4. The same core courses are required for a program in any location where the program is offered, except where additional core courses are necessary to satisfy a national registration requirement. Elective courses in a nationally recognised training package qualification or accredited course may be core courses in the RMIT version of the qualification or course.

5.5. To enable students to enrol online independently, minimise timetable clashes and avoid the need for specialised program advice to students, programs should be structured as simply as possible. To this end:

    5.5.1. Schools must consult Course and Program Administration in the Academic Registrar’s Group early in planning changes to program structures.

    5.5.2. Coursework program structures must be consistent with one of the program structure models in the Program and course configuration rules instruction, unless an exception is approved by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic).

6. Majors and minors

6.1. The terms major and minor are used for combinations of courses that a student may undertake as an optional discipline specialisation or interdisciplinary specialisation within a program.

    6.1.1. A major consists of a minimum of 96 credit points of courses in a field of study or discipline.

    6.1.2. A minor consists of a minimum of 48 credit points of courses in a field of study or discipline.

6.2. Where a student has fulfilled the requirements of a major, and has completed the program, the major is recorded on the student’s transcript, but does not appear on the testamur for the award.

6.3. A student cannot claim a minor which they also claim as a major.

7. Transition and skills development

7.1. Programs are designed to take into account the need of entrants for discipline and employment-related literacies, numeracy and information literacy. See the Table of program attributes (DOCX 24KB) for the types of program that must support student transition to university in this way.

7.2. Associate degree and bachelor degree programs include at least one course in each full-time year of the program structure, in which at least 20% of the assessment assesses students’ discipline/employment-related communication skills. See the Table of program attributes (DOCX 24KB) for the types of program that must include such courses.

7.3. Where one program is a pathway to another, both programs are designed so that students acquire the skills they need to be successful in the second program.

8. Global mobility

8.1. Bachelor degree and bachelor honours programs (other than one year honours programs) are structured so as to permit students a global mobility experience. See the Table of program attributes (DOCX 24KB) for the types of program that must be structured in this way.

8.2. Where programs require students to undertake travel at their own expense, the rationale for this must be provided in the program proposal, and, once the program is approved, must be stated prominently in all program information provided to applicants.

9. University undergraduate electives

9.1. To ensure breadth of learning, undergraduate programs are required to include university electives. One year honours programs and postgraduate programs are not required to include electives. See the Table of program attributes (DOCX 24KB) for the types of programs that must have university undergraduate electives, and the number of electives required.

9.2. A university undergraduate elective is a course that the student may choose without constraint from any undergraduate course available as an elective across the University. Program Guides must not prescribe specific courses as electives.

9.3. Associate degree, bachelor degree and four year bachelor honours programs offer the following minimum credit points total of university undergraduate electives:

  • associate degree: 12 credit points
  • bachelor degree (three or four years) or four year bachelor honours: 24 credit points

See the Table of program attributes (DOCX 24KB) for minimum elective requirements in types of programs.

9.4. Education Committee may approve applications for exemption of a program from the university undergraduate electives requirement on the basis that:

    9.4.1. professional accreditation requirements prevent electives being offered within the normal program duration, or

    9.4.2. in a dual award or double degree program, requirements for meeting prescribed learning outcomes within a reduced volume of learning prevent electives being offered.

10. Career development

10.1. To support employment outcomes for graduates, undergraduate programs, include reflective career planning elements throughout the program structure, including reflection on:

  • (early in the program) career options, goals and the profession or industry to which the program leads
  • (mid-program onwards) work integrated learning experiences and how to fill skill gaps
  • (late program) making the transition to employment.

10.2. Vocational education programs include the same reflective career planning elements as a specific objective in the training and assessment strategy.

11. Capstone experience

11.1. Award programs at AQF level 6 and above, other than advanced diplomas, graduate diplomas and graduate certificates, have courses that include a capstone experience. See the Table of program attributes (DOCX 24KB) for the types of program that must provide a capstone experience.

11.2. Courses with capstone experiences include summative assessment tasks that evidence program level learning outcomes and graduate attributes, including relevant communication skills.

11.3. Capstone experiences may include work integrated learning.

11.4. Capstone experiences may be present in more than one course.

12. Benchmarking of coursework programs

12.1. Each RMIT accredited coursework program at AQF level 5 and above is externally reviewed at least once every five years.

12.2. This review includes:

  • external review of the program learning outcomes and of the summative assessment tasks using a representative sample of student work demonstrating performance at the various grading levels, and
  • evidence that any actions required as outcomes of previous program annual reviews or external reviews have been completed.

12.3.  A report of this review is provided to the relevant standing committee of Academic Board.

13. Research pathways

Each discipline area will offer a program such as a bachelor (honours) or a masters by coursework with the option of undertaking a clearly defined research component as a pathway to research study in the discipline. This requirement does not apply, however, to discipline areas in which only vocational education programs are offered.

14. Bachelor honours

14.1. Bachelor honours programs may be four years in duration or a one year program following completion of a related bachelor degree.

14.2. Bachelor honours programs include a minimum of 96 credit points of courses deemed to have AQF level 8 learning outcomes.

14.3. These programs are designed to be a pathway to higher degrees by research. They include components of research principles and methods and a component of independent research or project work or practice-related learning or an equivalent piece of scholarship. These components of the program must total a minimum of 36 credit points.

14.4. Research activities in honours programs include the use of structured research methodology, of relevant literature or sources of information, and the construction or creation of an artefact that can be assessed. Research activities may be undertaken as part of WIL or in the form of a studio.

14.5. For detailed requirements for supervision, submission and assessment of the research component of bachelor honours year programs, see the Research component in coursework programs instruction.

15. Masters by coursework

15.1. The volume of learning of a masters by coursework program is 192 credit points.

15.2. This volume of learning may be reduced where students enter the program on the basis of:

    15.2.1. a bachelor degree in the same discipline, by 48 credit points

    15.2.2. a bachelor honours degree in the same discipline, by 96 credit points

    15.2.3. a graduate certificate or graduate diploma in the same discipline, by up to 96 credit points.

    These reductions in the volume of learning may be effected by granting exemptions for courses to individual students, and/or by setting a bachelor degree or bachelor honours degree in the same discipline as the entry requirement, and offering the program with a reduced volume of learning.

15.3. No exemptions to reduce the volume of learning, on the basis of entry qualifications, are available for graduate diplomas or graduate certificates that are exit awards within a masters by coursework. Students must complete, or receive credit transfer for, the courses required for a graduate diploma or graduate certificate to be eligible for the award of this.

15.4. All masters by coursework programs must include a minimum of 96 credit points of courses deemed to have AQF Level 9 learning outcomes.

15.5. All masters by coursework programs include components of research principles and methods and a component of independent research, project work, practice-related learning or an equivalent piece of scholarship. These components of the program total a minimum of 12 credit points.

    15.5.1. To constitute a research pathway under section 11 above, however, a masters by coursework must provide students with the option of completing a research component comprising at least 24 credit points of courses deemed to be at AQF level 9.

15.6. Research activities in masters by coursework programs include the use of structured research methodology, of relevant literature or sources of information, and the construction or creation of an artefact that can be assessed. Research activities may be undertaken as part of WIL or in the form of a studio.

15.7. For detailed requirements for supervision, submission and assessment of the research component of masters by coursework programs, see the Research component in coursework programs instruction.

16. Work integrated learning

16.1. Work integrated learning (WIL) describes a range of models and approaches to learning and assessment that integrate discipline theory, knowledge and skills with the practice of work within an intentionally designed program. WIL may take the form of a practical placement, practicum, co-operative education, clinical placement, fieldwork, industry or community project, service learning, work-based learning or other activities involving an industry or community partner. It may take place online or in simulated workplace environments. WIL activities are aligned to program learning outcomes and are summatively assessed.

16.2. All coursework award programs at AQF level 3 or equivalent and above, except one year honours programs, include a WIL experience.

16.3. The following types of program include, as core courses in which WIL activities compose 50% or more of the assessment, at least the following minimums:

    16.3.1. certificate III, certificate IV, diploma or advanced diploma: one unit of competency or cluster of units (Apprenticeships and traineeships are exempt from this requirement, since these by their very nature involve direct engagement with community and industry.)

    16.3.2. associate degree, graduate diploma, masters by coursework: 12 credit points

    16.3.3. bachelor degree, four year bachelor honours degree: 24 credit points

    16.3.4. double degrees comprising bachelor degrees and/or bachelor honours degrees, 24 credit points. The WIL courses in double degrees must, however, provide the learning outcomes of the core WIL courses of both component RMIT single degrees.

    See the Table of program attributes (DOCX 24KB) for a visual depiction of these requirements.

16.4. In programs where WIL activities are spread across more than two courses, at least two core courses must have the WIL activity as 50% or more of their assessment.

16.5. Application for exemption from the above requirements of WIL components in programs can be granted by the relevant standing committee of Academic Board. Applications for exemption will only be considered when

  • professional accreditation requirements prevent WIL being offered within the normal program duration or
  • in a dual or double degree where requirements for meeting prescribed learning outcomes within a reduced volume of learning prevent WIL experiences being offered.

16.6. For requirements for delivery of WIL, and responsibilities of staff and students in relation to WIL, see the Work integrated learning procedure, instructions and processes.

17. Intermediate awards

17.1. An intermediate award is an award for which the requirements are a subset of the requirements for a longer, parent award.

17.2. In RMIT accredited programs, intermediate awards are normally nested within the parent award: students are enrolled in the parent award program, but may opt to exit with the intermediate award once they have fulfilled its requirements.

    17.2.1. Where, however, a case is approved for an exception as part of the program proposal, the intermediate awards may be sequenced: students are admitted into an intermediate award program, and once they have completed it, progress to the parent award program. In these cases students receive credit towards the parent award, for the courses they have completed for the intermediate award.

17.3. Enrolments in nationally recognised training package qualifications are sequenced where prescribed by the training package and/or the funding requirements.

17.4. A program guide is created for each intermediate award, even where these are only available as exit awards.

18. RMIT versions of nationally recognised VET training package qualifications and accredited courses

The training and assessment strategy template sets out the RMIT University program design principles and requirements for RMIT delivery of nationally recognised VET training package qualifications and accredited courses.

19. Associate degrees

19.1. Associate degrees lead to vocational and/or paraprofessional outcomes, and are closely aligned with industry needs through industry participation in design and delivery. Wherever possible, they include workplace learning.

19.2. Associate degrees normally provide a guaranteed pathway into one or more related bachelor degrees (vertical articulation), and are also designed to be attractive to students, and valued by employers, as a stand-alone award.

19.3. Associate degrees use relevant national industry and professional standards as reference points for the specification of vocational outcomes, and may be mapped to nationally recognised vocational qualifications at AQF levels 5 and 6 to facilitate transfer between qualifications and flexible exit points.

19.4. For the availability of credit from associate degrees towards bachelor degrees, and from diplomas and advanced diplomas towards associate degrees, see the Credit policy.

20. Double degrees

20.1. A double degree is a collaborative arrangement whereby a student undertakes two RMIT awards concurrently, usually with a volume of learning less than would be the case if the awards were undertaken as separate programs.

20.2. Double degrees may combine two existing AQF level 7 bachelor degrees, two existing AQF level 8 bachelor honours degrees, or one of each.

20.3. The following design principles apply to double degrees:

    20.3.1. The program structure includes all core program requirements for each component single degree. The WIL courses in double degrees must provide the learning outcomes of the core WIL courses of both component RMIT single degrees.

    20.3.2. The program meets minimum requirements for external accreditation of the component single degrees where relevant.

    20.3.3. The curriculum design of the double degree evidences the learning outcomes of both component single degrees.

    20.3.4. The double degree program plan is presented as one integrated structure in the program guide.

    20.3.5. Full-time students are not required to overload by more than one course per semester.

20.4. Two testamurs, one for each award, are issued to students who successfully complete the double degree program. For award levels of these testamurs, see section 25.6 below.

21. Dual awards

21.1. Dual awards are coursework programs delivered in collaboration between RMIT and another institution, on the basis of a formal agreement. This type of award involves students undertaking study at both RMIT and the partner institution.

21.2. In a dual award, students who complete the program requirements successfully are eligible for a single award conferred by RMIT and a single award conferred by the partner institution.

21.3. A dual award may require a lower volume of learning than would be required for the two award programs undertaken separately.

21.4. The curriculum design of the dual award will clearly evidence the learning outcomes of the RMIT award.

21.5. The following design principles apply to dual award programs.

    21.5.1. The two institutions collaborate to develop, deliver and ensure the quality of the program.

    21.5.2. The program structure includes all core program requirements, including all WIL requirements, of the component RMIT award, or partner program courses with equivalent learning outcomes.

    21.5.3. The program guide specifies:

    • the learning outcomes of the RMIT award, and
    • the courses from each collaborating institution that students must complete.

    21.5.4. There is a documented approach to assessment and standards of each award.

    21.5.5. The program meets minimum requirements for external accreditation where this may be relevant.

    21.5.6. Full-time students are not required to overload by more than one course per semester.

22. Joint awards

22.1. A joint award is a single award delivered jointly by RMIT and another institution, on the basis of a formal agreement. Students complete the requirements of the joint award by completing courses offered by both institutions.

22.2. Students who complete the requirements successfully are eligible for a single award with a single testamur, conferred jointly by RMIT and the partner institution.

22.3. The following design principles apply to joint award programs.

    22.3.1. The two institutions collaborate to develop, deliver and ensure the quality of the program.

    22.3.2. The program guide specifies

    • the program learning outcomes
    • courses from each collaborating institution that students must complete.

    22.3.3. There is a documented approach to assessment and standards.

    22.3.4. The program meets minimum requirements for external accreditation where this may be relevant.

    22.3.5. Full-time students are not required to overload by more than one course per semester.

23. Partnered coursework awards

Where an RMIT coursework award is delivered in partnership with another institution,

23.1. the core course requirements are the same, although a reduced range of program electives and student electives may be available, and

23.2. the possible models under which partner staff can teach in the program, and the conditions for these, are set out in the Program and course delivery and management procedure.

24. Program guides

24.1. A program guide is created for each program plan leading to a coursework award. The program guide sets out the program requirements a student must fulfil to be eligible for the award.

24.2. The Program Manager is responsible for ensuring that the information in program guides is correct and up to date. For coursework programs, the Discipline Head (where relevant) and Deputy Dean/Head of School, Learning and Teaching oversee the provision of program guides. For higher degree by research (HDR) programs, the HDR Coordinator and Deputy Dean/Head of School, Research and Innovation oversea the provision of program guides.

24.3. The program guide informs students about whether the program requires in person attendance or can be undertaken entirely online.

25. Program configuration

The Program and course configuration rules instruction state the detailed requirements for configuration of programs, program plans, program titles, awards, majors and minors.

26. Award titles

26.1. Award titles are the title of the award as stated in full on the testamur. See also the Schedule of award title abbreviations (PDF 252KB, 9p).

26.2. Award titles are consistent with the requirements of the AQF Qualifications Issuance Policy.

26.3. For any program that has been accredited externally, the accredited title must be used. Nationally recognised VET training package qualifications must have the title stated in the training package.

26.4. Coursework award titles may include a tag: an additional phrase in parentheses describing the discipline specialisation of the award.

26.5. Honours degree titles include the word ‘(honours)’ at the end of the title.

26.6. Double degree titles start with the title of the component single degree offered by the School that manages the double degree program.

26.7. Where graduate certificates and graduate diplomas are exit awards from a masters degree, or are part of a sequence leading to a masters degree, their titles are consistent with the masters degree title, except where an exception is approved on the basis of the criteria for new titles below.

26.8. For higher doctorates generic titles must be used.

26.9. For doctoral degrees by research the title of Doctor of Philosophy is used.

26.10. The following criteria are used by committees to consider the case for new award titles specific to programs. The new title either meets the following four criteria:

    26.10.1. will be recognised globally and in specific relevant markets (provide evidence),

    26.10.2. is clearly distinguished from titles of other RMIT qualifications at the same level, in the same market,

    26.10.3. makes clear the relationship with other RMIT qualifications to which this qualification is linked in a pathway, and

    26.10.4. is at the level of a discipline rather than a sub-discipline specialisation, and thus remains meaningful over the long term

    or meets the following criterion:

    26.10.5. meets professional accreditation or national registration requirements for the program.

26.11.  A graduand shall receive an award under the title approved for that award and in the form approved by the University.

    26.11.1. Graduates are entitled to use the approved title abbreviation for their award.

    26.11.2. The curriculum database is the authority for the style of program titles used on testamurs.

27. Award level and grade point average

27.1. The level of award classification is determined by the Program Assessment Board once all requirements of an award program have been met, and not before.

27.2. The following types of award are awarded unclassified (pass only):

  • an award for a nationally recognised training package qualification or accredited VET course
  • doctor of philosophy (including thesis with publication)
  • higher doctorate.

27.3. The following types of award are awarded as a pass with distinction where the candidate has achieved a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or above for all courses in the program, or as a pass where the candidate has achieved a cumulative GPA of less than 3.0.

  • associate degree*
  • AQF level 7 bachelor degree (see, however, the rules for double degree award level calculation in section 27.6 below)
  • graduate certificate
  • graduate diploma
  • masters by coursework.

[* The rule that associate degrees are awarded with distinction applies to students who commence their enrolment in an associate degree from 1 January 2016 onwards. For students who commenced their associate degree enrolment before 1 January 2016, the degree is awarded unclassified (pass only).]

27.4. Bachelor honours degrees are awarded with the following levels of honours, or as a pass only, where the weighted average mark (WAM) of candidates’ courses is within the ranges stated. In four year bachelor honours degrees, the WAM calculation includes only the courses identified as to be used in the calculation.*

    27.4.1. WAM of 80 or more, Honours First Class (H1)

    27.4.2. WAM of 70 – 79, Honours Class 2A (H2A)

    27.4.3. WAM of 60 - 69, Honours Class 2B (H2B)

    27.4.4. WAM of 50 – 59, pass.

[* This section applies only to students who commence their enrolment in a bachelor honours program from 1 January 2016 onwards. For students who commence their bachelor honours enrolment before 1 January 2016, the process stated in the previous Awarding degrees with honours or pass with distinction policy applies.]

27.5.Masters by research degrees are awarded with the following levels of honours, or as a pass only, where candidates’ mark in the research project is within the ranges stated below.*

    27.5.1. 80% to 100%, Honours First Class (H1)

    27.5.2. 70% to 79%, Honours Class 2A (H2A)

    27.5.3. 60% to 69%, Honours Class 2B (H2B)

    27.5.4. 50% to 59%, pass.

[* This section applies only to students who commence their enrolment in a masters by research program from 1 January 2016 onwards. For students who commence their masters by research enrolment before 1 January 2016, the degree is awarded unclassified (pass only).]

27.6.  When students complete double degree programs, the award level for each component single degree is determined separately. The courses used in the GPA calculation to determine the award level for each component bachelor degree are the courses (a) managed by the School which offers the component single degree and (b) not managed by the School that offers the other component single degree.

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