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Monash University Policy Bank

Course Design Policy


To describe the framework and principles that inform the design of coursework and research higher degree award courses at Monash.


All campuses (including offshore)
All award courses accredited by Academic Board from 1 July 2011
All Monash staff

Policy Statement

[The Course Design Policy replaced the previous Course Structure Policy for all new courses and major amendments from July 2011. The previous policy and its procedures, which apply only to courses existing at July 2011, may be accessed for reference purposes here:
Course Structure Policy 
Course Structure Procedures 
Both documents will be rescinded in 2015.]

Monash offers courses that:

  • are consistent with the Australian (and where relevant Malaysian (MQF) and South African (HEQF)) Qualifications Frameworks, and which demonstrate alignment with the Bologna Process;
  • align with the strategic and educational priorities of the University;
  • are consistent with the academic standards of the University, as set out in University policies;
  • develop graduate attributes; and
  • demonstrably achieve learning outcomes that are appropriate to the qualification type.


Monash offers courses that lead to the following AQF awards which are approved by University Council:

  • Diploma
  • Bachelor Degree
  • Bachelor Honours Degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Graduate Diploma
  • Masters Degree (Coursework and Research)
  • Doctoral Degree

Coursework Course Award Design at Monash

Monash courses and awards are consistent with the Coursework Course Design Guidelines. Where a course varies from the Guidelines, faculties must be able to demonstrate how learning outcomes appropriate to the qualification type will be achieved. Where an exception is required from any of the principles outlined in the Course Design Policy, a case that includes documented evidence of need must be made to Coursework Admissions and Programs Committee (CAPC) for coursework degrees and to Research Graduate School Committee for research degrees, and subsequently approved by Academic Board. Monash's register of award exceptions will be published annually. In addition to the University's requirements, awards delivered at Sunway and/or Monash South Africa or other offshore locations must meet the legislative requirements of the relevant country.

In rare cases, University Council may approve the offering of a non-Australian Qualifications Framework aligned award.

Student Workload and Credit Points for Coursework Courses

Each Monash coursework course leading to the same award title, irrespective of major, specialisation, campus or mode of offering must have the same credit point value, structure and requirements.

The average student workload is 48 hours per week for each of the two standard semesters. This includes time spent in scheduled classes and self-directed study time. A student's enrolment in units totalling 48 credit points represents 1 EFTSL (100 percent). A 6-credit point unit corresponds to an average of twelve hours of scheduled classes and self-directed study per week. Heads of Schools/Departments, in association with the Associate Dean (Education) determine the configuration of scheduled classes needed to ensure the attainment of course learning outcomes. 6 Monash credit points corresponds to 7.5 European Credit Transfer (ECTS) credits.

Faculties may provide students with the opportunity to take a reduced or accelerated study load in each semester.

Faculties will monitor the progress of students on reduced loads, to ensure that they complete course requirements within time limits for candidature. International students are only permitted to undertake a reduced load after the demonstration of compelling or compassionate circumstances, if course structure, progression rules or unit availability require completion of 24 credit points; or to implement a faculty intervention strategy for students at risk of unsatisfactory academic progress due to academic or learning difficulty.

Students may seek faculty permission to undertake accelerated study load in specified courses but this is normally limited to students who have completed at least 48 credit points of study at Monash in one calendar year and who have achieved a credit average or higher in the most recent year. Students are not permitted to complete more than 72 credit points in any calendar year. Exceptions may be made in relation to high-achieving students in courses approved for accelerated delivery by Academic Board. Students will not take more than 72 credit points per calendar year, 30 credit points in either semester 1 or 2, or 24 credit points in any other teaching period.

The maximum time allowed to complete a course is determined by the following formula: maximum course length = full-time study course duration x 2 + 2 years. Lower time limits may be established if required.

A pass is the expected minimum level of achievement for progression, but faculties are also permitted to make a case for a higher level standard to CAPC. A distinction average is the expected minimum level of achievement for progression into coursework research track degrees. These standards, and any prerequisites, co-requisites, prohibitions, unit, major or minor sequences are published in the University Handbook.


The standard credit point value of units at Monash is 6. Units worth multiples of 6 (eg 12, 18, 24) may also be permitted to meet professional accreditation or clinical requirements, or to support coursework research track training. Monash offers 6 levels of units:

1. Bachelor degree year 1. These provide foundation studies;
2. Bachelor degree year 2. These provide ‘introductory specialist' studies that build upon the outcomes of units at level 1;
3. Bachelor degree year 3. These provide ‘advanced specialist' studies that build upon the outcomes of units at level 2;
4. Bachelor degree year 4 or above or Bachelor honours degree; Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma;
5. Masters (coursework; research; or extended); and
6. Doctoral degree

If a unit is made available to students in more than one type of award (eg diploma and bachelor degree), the learning outcomes of both award types must be reflected in the unit learning outcomes. This requirement does not cover exit awards (eg a student enrols in a masters course but exits with a graduate diploma).

Core units must be offered at least once each academic year. Multi-level units are only permitted when there is a clear qualitative distinction in assessment requirements between the levels, and that distinction is published in the unit guide and the University Handbook.

Zero credit point units are only permitted under the following circumstances:

  1. the work undertaken by the student is not at Monash University (viz. students undertaking work experience in industry at a business).Zero credit point units are only permitted for the establishment of work experience in industry units where fee assessment of the student would be inappropriate due to minimal resources being committed to the experience.
  2. the student is undertaking a joint research degree program and is at that time located at and consuming the resources of the partner institution;
  3. as a required element of a research degree program;
  4. the work undertaken by the student at Monash involves minimal resources by the University (e.g. equivalent to 2 credit points or less, no supervision by academic staff, minimal to nil assessment of work);
  5. an activity has to be undertaken by a student as a compulsory pre-requisite to undertake a future coursework, load bearing unit (e.g. Hurdle requirements);
  6. students require an extension to an already enrolled thesis unit and for which they should be charged as they are consuming University resources. (e.g. Thesis extension units where ‘enrolled credit points' equal a value >0 and achievable credit points equal a value of 0);
  7. the unit is established to allow the recording and approval of a final Honours grade; or
  8. the unit is established to allow the recording of successful participation in an approved Monash Passport co-curriculum program.

Double Coursework Degrees

Monash may offer double degrees courses in its own right - within and between faculties - and in partnership with universities of excellent global ranking, or of demonstrated global excellence in the field, both at undergraduate and graduate level (Table 2).

For two separate awards to be approved to be offered as a double-degree course at Monash the minimum requirements of each award (as approved by Dean and specified in the Course and Unit handbook as set out by the single award regulations) must be satisfied.  In particular, in a double-degree course, the structure must include:

  • all core requirements for each of the single awards, ie units, major and minor sequences; and
  • all course-specified electives where these must be taken from a designated field of study.

To minimise the time to complete the two awards, credit is granted for units or a block of units, which are components of one of the awards where:

  • they are assessed as being equivalent in terms of volume, depth and breadth of content to units specified within the other award; and/or
  • there are elective units for either award that are not defined as being within a particular field of study by either single award specification.

The minimum length of an undergraduate double degree course must be at least as long as the longest of the two component award courses plus 48 credit points.  The minimum length of a graduate double degree course must be at least as long as the longest of the two component degree courses plus 24 credit points.

Research-Track Pathways

Monash offers coursework research track courses consistent with the design guidelines outlined in Table 3. These courses are:

  • Bachelor Advanced
  • Bachelor Advanced Honours Degree
  • Masters Advanced (coursework masters)

Entry requirements for coursework research track courses are published in the University Handbook.

Jointly Awarded Research Degrees

In partnership with one or more university of excellent global ranking, or of demonstrated global excellence in the field, Monash offers jointly awarded research degrees. Candidates undertake a research project which meets the course and examination requirements of both institutions and consequently graduate with a single degree which is jointly recognized and awarded from both Monash and the partner institution.

Off Campus Courses and Units

All courses and units delivered in off campus mode will utilise learning technologies, with student-staff engagement facilitated at least through the use of asynchronous discussion tools. Technological requirements needed to complete an off campus course or unit will be published in the University Handbook.

Management of Coursework Courses

Academic governance is the responsibility of the degree awarding faculty.

All courses are assigned a managing faculty, which has principal rights and responsibilities for the management of the program. The managing faculty will ensure that:

  1. The course has a coordinator, and governing committee.
  2. There is provision for dispute resolution and participation in relevant decision-making bodies by other faculties with significant teaching involvement.
  3. Delivery, monitoring and review of the course are undertaken in alignment with University statutes, regulations, policies, procedures and timelines.
  4. In the case of double-degrees courses the Managing Faculty has responsibility to manage administrative interaction between the student and the partner faculty.

Supporting procedures

Coursework Courses and Units Accreditation Procedure

Supporting guidelines

Responsibility for implementation

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education)
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching)
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Research Training)
President, Academic Board
Associate Deans (Education)
Associate Deans (Research Training)



Key Stakeholders

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education)
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement)
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching)
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Research Training)
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Planning and Quality)
Associate Deans (Education)
Associate Deans (Research Training)
Heads of schools/departments

Approval body

Name: Academic Board
Meeting: 2/2013
Date: 17-April-2013
Agenda item: 7.2

Endorsement body

Name: Coursework Admissions and Programs Committee
Meeting: 1/2013
Date: 13-February-2013
Agenda item: 6


Accelerated Delivery (Course Duration): A course comprising more than 48 credit points in any academic year

Accelerated Study: undertaking more than the prescribed number of units of study or credit points in a teaching period or academic year.

AQF: Australian Qualifications Framework

AQF levels: describe the relative complexity and/or depth of achievement and the autonomy required to demonstrate that achievement. AQF level 1 has the lowest complexity and AQF level 10 has the highest complexity. (AQF definition)

Award: means a degree, diploma, certificate of the university and is conferred on a student by the University Council.

Capstone Unit: Capstone units are units that provide students with an opportunity to reflect upon their studies, apply the skills learned throughout their course and demonstrate that they have achieved the learning outcomes of the course. Activities and assessment in capstone units provide “real-life” or research experiences to graduating students and combine disciplinary knowledge and generic skills. This may involve for example, a substantial project, an industry placement or internship, advanced practicum or the preparation of a portfolio.

Cognate Award: a qualification in a related field of study.

Co-requisite: A unit that must be undertaken at the same time as OR completed prior to another unit before a student is permitted to commence undertaking the other unit.

Core Unit: A unit that must be completed successfully to satisfy course completion requirements.

Course: The accumulation of units, according to a set of rules, that leads to the award of a qualification (eg Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Engineering).

Coursework: Coursework is a method of teaching and learning that leads to acquisition of skills and knowledge that does not include a major research component (AQF definition)

Credit points: A standard system of credit points based on student workload is used throughout the university. One credit point implies a student workload of approximately two hours per week over a standard semester; a six credit point unit taught in a semester therefore implies twelve hours work a week by the student in varying combinations of formal class contact and self-directed study.

Domestic student: A person enrolled in an undergraduate or postgraduate academic program at an Australian campus who is an Australian or New Zealand citizen, or who holds Permanent Residency status in Australia; or a Malaysian student at Monash University Sunway Campus; or a South African student at Monash South Africa.

Discipline: a defined branch of study and learning (AQF definition).

Double degree: an approved course of study which leads to the award of two degrees.

EFTSL: Equivalent Full-Time Student Load – a measure of student study load where 1 EFTSL is equivalent to 48 credit points.

Extended Delivery (Course Duration): A course comprising fewer than 48 credit points in any academic year.

Field of Study: A classification of units based on similarity in terms of the vocational field of specialisation or the principal subject matter of the course.

Formal Classes: Classes that are part of a unit’s curriculum, ie: Lectures, tutorials, practical classes, work experience, industry projects and seminars/forums.

HEQF: South African Higher Education Qualifications Framework

Intermission: A break in studies that when granted reserves a place in the course for a student when the intermission has ended providing that the student re-enrols during the designated periods.

Learning Outcomes: the expression of the set of knowledge, skills and the application of the knowledge and skills a person has acquired and is able to demonstrate as a result of learning. (AQF definition)

Major (also referred to as ‘Specialisation’): The focal area of study undertaken in a degree. In some faculties the major may be highly structured, with requirements of units to be completed in a specific discipline area, while other faculties define their majors more in terms of credit points and level of units.

Managing faculty: The faculty that is assigned responsibility to coordinate administrative matters for each single or double degree program (including but not restricted to admission, enrolment, course advice, academic progress and academic referral). Only one faculty can manage a course/enrolment; for example the Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws has the managing faculty of Law.

MQF: Malaysian Qualifications Framework

Multi listed unit: A unit listed as being taught at two or more levels, where academic content across these levels is a minimum of 80% identical, but learning objectives and assessment regime differ.

Prerequisite: A requirement which must be satisfied before a student is permitted to commence undertaking a unit.

Prohibition: Prevention of a student enrolling into a unit which has been determined as being equivalent or similar in academic content, learning objectives and assessment regime to another unit.

Senior Secondary Certificate of Education: A qualification type which state and territory authorised statutory bodies are responsible for issuing under registered nomenclature (AQF definition). This includes the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE).

Specialisation: The term ‘specialisation’ is synonymous with the term ‘major’.

Standard Delivery (course duration): A course comprising 48 credit points each year.

Unit: A component of a course of study which is taught and examined as a discrete entity but does not include a thesis for a higher degree by research which is governed by regulations of the Research Graduate School Committee. A unit is represented by a single unit code.

Volume of Learning: Identifies the notional duration of all activities required for the achievement of the learning outcomes specified for a particular AQF qualification type. It is expressed in equivalent full-time years (AQF definition – partial).

Legislation Mandating Compliance

All relevant legislative instruments that stipulate requirements with which members of the Monash community (all of whom are subject to the law) are obligated to comply.

Monash University Statute
Monash University Act 2009
Monash University (Council) Regulations Part 4
Monash University (Academic Board) Regulations Part 2
Monash University (Vice-Chancellor) Regulations Part 3


Related policies

Assessment in Coursework Programs Policy
Credit Policy (Including Recognition of Prior Learning)
Collaborative Coursework Arrangements Policy
Coursework Courses and Units Accreditation Policy
Course Titling and Abbreviation Policy
Course and Unit Handbook Policy
Doctoral and MPhil Handbook
Educational Technologies Policy
Grading Scale Policy
Monash Graduate Attributes Policy
Unit Coding Policy
Qualifications Categories Policy 

Related documents

Australian Qualifications Framework
National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students
Monash Directions 2025
Monash Coursework Design Guidelines (Tables 1-3) 
Education Strategic Plan 2011-2015 
Protocol for the Development and Management of Cross-Disciplinary Courses Delivered by Multiple Faculties

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Review Date



Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education)


Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching)

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Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching)

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