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Honours Year Programs Procedures

Please note that these procedures are under review (2009-10). Finalisation of the review is dependent on the outcomes of the AQF Council's review of the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Administration

Faculties/departments should:

  • formulate and explicitly state the objectives of their Honours programs. The content of the program and the assessment should clearly reflect the objectives.
  • Faculties/departments should identify the particular purposes and character that distinguish their Honours program from other undergraduate and postgraduate coursework programs.
  • Where feasible, collaboration across institutions should be encouraged so that the range of specialist courses and the pool of students for them can be increased.
  • ensure that the expectations and responsibilities of project supervisors and students are clearly set out in a code of practice similar to that developed by the university for doctoral programs, suitably modified for the honours level. They should ensure that staff and students are familiar with these guidelines.
  • prepare a handbook setting out the aims, nature and benefits of the Honours program, together with details of staff interests, the role of supervisors, facilities available, course requirements and assessment procedures, thesis requirements (including word limit) and assessment criteria, weightings of the various components, submission dates, and guidelines for such activities as laboratory or field work. In particular, faculties/departments should develop explicit criteria for the assessment of theses, including definitions of performance at the various grades of honours.
  • provide to potential honours students early in their undergraduate program a systematic information and advice program. As well as individual advice and encouragement, documents should be provided which set out entry requirements, expectations, the structure of the program and facilities. In particular, admission criteria should be carefully spelt out.
  • work to ensure comparability across institutions by exchange of information and staff, and where appropriate, involvement of professional associations.
  • undertake regular comparison of grade distributions with those of faculties/departments in similar institutions if this information is available.
  • consider subjecting their programs to regular external review or appointing external assessors to provide ongoing monitoring of the conduct and standards of honours programs, where feasible.
  • evaluate their Honours program in terms of success in achieving its objectives, the comparability of its standards, and its equity across students.

Admission

When a Faculty/Department wishes to admit a student without the normal qualifications, a case should be made to the Dean of the Faculty for permission. Permission for variations to admissions requirements may also be requested from another person or persons recommended by the Faculty for the purpose of approving variations to admissions requirements. Should permission be granted to admit the student, a subsequent brief written statement of reasons for this decision should be prepared and submitted to the Dean for ratification, perhaps through a relevant faculty committee. Faculties should monitor the outcomes for students admitted in this way.

Supervision and Assessment

The Supervisor's role as an examiner should be delineated, and policy on the number of examiners and the use of external examiners clearly specified. Faculties should provide a statement of current practice to their students.

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.

Written records on student work should be maintained in faculties/departments to facilitate comparability from year to year. These records should go beyond the data on scores awarded to include written comments on students' performance, and statements of criteria used for grading performance.

Scope

These procedures apply to all fourth year honours bachelor programs. These procedures do not apply to degrees awarded 'with honours' that do not involve an additional year and do not represent a separate honours program.

In several faculties, students are required to complete special units or a research project if they wish to qualify for an honours degree, but this does not involve an additional year and does not represent a separate honours program. This degree is awarded 'with honours'. These guidelines are not designed for these types of courses. In faculties where these awards are offered, the faculty should consider developing a similar set of guidelines, relevant to their own programs, using these as a basis.

Related Documents

Governing Documents

Responsibilities for Implementation

  • University wide -Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education)
  • Faculty wide - Deans, Associate Deans (Teaching), Heads of Department/School

Review Schedule

Academic Board will review these procedures in conjunction with any review of Honours Year Programs Policy.

Approved

Approved by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and Planning) on 2 December 2002

Change to "Responsibilities for Implementation" made by Education Committee Meeting 6/2005, 26 October 2005.