Curriculum Architecture

Curriculum Architecture

SUMMARY

The Curriculum Architecture Policy governs the design and structure of new academic courses and amendments to existing courses. It provides a consistent and coherent structure which supports the quality and integrity of the University’s academic courses and helps to ensure that students are provided with an exceptional academic experience.

The Policy aligns with the MQ Model: Undergraduate, Postgraduate, Micro-credentials and Vertical Double Degrees Curriculum Architecture Principles.

The Policy and Curriculum Architecture Principles were approved by Academic Senate on 24 July 2018, and are effective for Academic Courses delivered from 1 January 2020.

POLICY

1     PURPOSE

This Policy governs the design and structure of new academic courses and amendments to existing courses. It provides a consistent and coherent structure which supports the quality and integrity of the University’s academic courses and helps to ensure that students are provided with an exceptional academic experience.

2     BACKGROUND

The Macquarie Curriculum Architecture provides coherent, simple, and accessible curriculum structures that offer students clarity on their study pathway, and clarity for staff designing and delivering University courses. It supports the achievement of the University’s strategic vision of a ‘connected curriculum that will provide opportunities for students to graduate with depth of disciplinary knowledge and breadth of transdisciplinary understanding, as well as with big ideas thinking, transferable skills and relevant real-world experience’ as described in our Learning and Teaching Strategic Framework: 2015 – 2020. It also aligns with our Indigenous Strategy (2016-2025), to ensure the University delivers an ‘indigenous connected curriculum’.

3     SCOPE

This Policy applies to all Macquarie University academic units and courses (award and non-award) including courses that are approved by the University and delivered with a third party provider at either an onshore or offshore delivery location or delivered entirely through an online platform. Higher Degree Research programs, the Bachelor of Philosophy, Master of Research, the Foundation and English language preparation programs are out of scope of this Policy.

4     DEFINITIONS

Commonly defined terms are located in the University Glossary. The following definitions apply for the purpose of this Policy:

Attendance Mode – refers to how courses are offered; either internally, externally, or on-line. Course authorities must work within obligations specified by the Education Services for Overseas Students Act, 2000 for courses offered to international students.

Capstone — A final year unit of study or learning experience which integrates the material presented across a course of study.

Concentration – refers to a sequence of study within a specialisation.  A concentration is a minimum of 40cp.

Course – refers to a sequence of study which leads to a higher education award. All courses are owned by Academic Senate on behalf of the University. Faculties/Offices act as stewards for courses on behalf of Academic Senate. Faculties/Offices are responsible for the design, delivery, review, and development of courses in compliance with University policies and procedures.

Course Learning Outcomes express the set of knowledge, skills and the application of knowledge and skills a person has acquired and is able to demonstrate as a result of completing the course.

Course Authority – refers to the delegated members of a Faculty/Office who are the stewards of the course.

Core zone – contains a course’s specific depth requirements to meet the disciplinary, trans-disciplinary, or professional area of study. The core zone includes all compulsory requirements for a course (excepting the foundation zone in postgraduate courses) and may include essential units, elective units chosen from defined option sets, and any required sequence of study such as majors, minors or specialisations. The core zone delivers the course learning outcomes in conjunction with any other breadth/maturity requirements.

Designated minor – refers to a purpose-built sequence of study approved by Academic Senate that is not available as a major or specialisation.

Double degree – refers to a student completing the core zones of two single degrees at the same AQF level. Students are not required to complete the flexible zone requirement of either course.

Essential Unit — refers to a specific compulsory unit that all students enrolled in the course must complete.

Elective Unit - refers to a unit in the core zone which is chosen from a defined option set.

Flexible zone (undergraduate) – contains a course’s “free choice units”. A student can use their flexible zone to enrol in any unit within the University for which they meet the pre-requisites.

Flexible zone (postgraduate) – contains a course’s breadth and/or maturity requirements.

Foundation zone — contains a course’s foundational requirements (knowledge and ways of performing) for a student from a non-related background.

Free choice units – refers to any unit offered by the University for which a student is qualified to enroll.  Free choice units are completed in the flexible zone.

Generalist degree – refers to an AQF Level 7 qualification comprising 240 credit points of study. Refer to the Qualifications Issuance Policy for nomenclature requirements.

Major – refers to a mandatory sequence of study within a generalist degree course. A major must be 80 credit points of which 30 credit points must be at 3000 level. Majors contribute to the acquisition of a course’s learning outcomes. Majors are approved by Academic Senate and are included in the course major schedule.

Minor – refers to a sequence of undergraduate units drawn from an approved major or specialisation but with a smaller volume of learning requirement. A minor must be 40 credit points of which 20 credit points must be completed at 2000 level or above. A minor has the same name as the major or specialisation from which its units are drawn. A minor does not require approval by Academic Senate. (see also Designated Minors)

Micro-credential – refers to the recognition of attainment for the completion of individual micro-unit(s) of study.  A micro-credential is not a formal AQF award.

Micro-unit – refers to a non-standard unit of study. The volume of learning in a micro-unit can be set at 15 hour (1cp) multiples ranging from 15 hours (1cp) to 75 hours (5cp).

Micro-course – refers to a non-AQF recognition of attainment for the completion of 20cp of study.  A micro-course can be terminating or articulate to an AQF qualification.

Specialist degree – refers to an AQF Level 7 or 8 qualification comprising 240 or 320 credit points. Refer to the Qualifications Issuance Policy for nomenclature requirements.

Specialisation – refers to a sequence of study in undergraduate specialist degree courses and postgraduate degree courses. In undergraduate specialist degree courses, Specialisations are at least 120 credit points of which at least 40 credit points must be completed at 3000 level or above. In postgraduate specialist courses, Specialisations are 50 per cent of the size of a course’s core zone. Specialisations within a course must be the same size. Specialisations are approved by Academic Senate and are included in the course specialisation schedule.

Study Mode — refers to how a course is undertaken either as full-time or part-time study. Course authorities must work within obligations specified by the Education Services for Overseas Students Act, 2000 for courses offered to international students.

Study Zones — refers to the composition of a course. In undergraduate courses this consists of the core and flexible zones.  In postgraduate courses this consists of the core, flexible, and foundation zones.

Unit – refers to the individual components of study within a course. Undergraduate and postgraduate units utilise a system of 10 credit points or multiples thereof. A 10 credit point unit must fulfil the Commonwealth expectation that a unit of study will consist of 150 hours of activity for an enrolled student.

Vertical Double degrees – refers to integrated double degrees across AQF Bachelor levels 7/8 and Masters level 9.

5     POLICY STATEMENT

5.1       QUALIFICATIONS

The University delivers a range of courses that lead to designated Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) higher education awards. The University also delivers non-AQF recognised micro-courses and foundation courses.

The levels of higher education courses delivered by the University are specified in Table 1.

Course

AQF Level

Minimum/Maximum Credit Value

Expected Duration (on Full-Time Basis)

Sub-Bachelor
   

Diploma

Level 5 Diploma

80 CPs

(with a minimum of 80 CPs at 1000 level)

1 year

Undergraduate
   

Generalist Degree Course

Level 7 Bachelor Degree

240 CPs

(with a minimum of 40CP at 3000 level)

3 years

Specialist Degree Course

Level 7 Bachelor Degree

240 CPs

(with a minimum of 40CP at 3000 level)

3 years

Level 8 Bachelor Degree (Honours)

320 CPs

(with a minimum of 80CP at 3000 level or above)

4 years

Postgraduate
   

Graduate Certificate

Level 8 Graduate Certificate

40 CPs

(at 6000 level or above)

0.5 year

Graduate Diploma

Level 8 Graduate Diploma

80 CPs

(with a minimum of 40CP at 8000 level)

1 year

Masters Degree

Level 9 Masters Degree (Coursework)

80 CPs*

120 CPs*

160 CPs*

(with a minimum of 80CPs at 8000 level)

1 year*

1.5 year*

2 years*

Masters Degree (Extended) (Extended Masters)

Level 9 Masters Degree (Extended)

Minimum 200 CPs

(with a minimum of 80CPs at 8000 level)

2.5-4 years

Vertical Double Degrees

Level 9 Masters Degree (Coursework)

Minimum 320 CPs
(with minimum of 100 CPs at 8000 level).

4-5 years

Table 1: Levels of courses delivered by the University                            * Depending on entry point

5.2       SUB-BACHELOR COURSE REQUIREMENTS

5.2.1    Unit Level Requirements

In a sub-Bachelor Diploma course a student can only count a maximum of 80 credit points at 1000 level or above.

5.3       UNDERGRADUATE COURSE REQUIREMENTS

Undergraduate degree courses can be undertaken in one of two modes:

  1. Single Degree
  2. Double Degree

Undergraduate degree courses can be designed in one of two degree types:

  1. Generalist
  2. Specialist

5.3.1    Unit Level Requirements

In a 240 credit point undergraduate degree course students can only count a maximum of 100 credit points at 1000 level.

In a 320 credit point undergraduate degree course students can only count a maximum of 120 credit points at 1000 level.

A course must be designed with a minimum of 40 credit points at 3000 level or above in a 240 credit point course.

A course must be designed with a minimum of 80 credit points at 3000 level or above in a 320 credit point course.

5.3.2    Capstone Requirements

All undergraduate courses will have a capstone requirement.

A capstone will reside in the core zone in an essential unit of a course.

A capstone may also be combined with a PACE unit.

It is expected that a capstone unit will reside at 3000 level or above, and that all capstone units will have a breadth/maturity prerequisite of at least 60 credit points at 2000 level or above.

5.3.3    PACE Requirements

All undergraduate courses will have a PACE unit requirement.

A course’s compulsory PACE requirement will reside in the core zone as either an essential unit or an elective unit chosen from a distinct PACE option set.

5.4       UNDERGRADUATE COURSE STRUCTURE

All single undergraduate degree courses will have the following study zones:

  1. Core Zone (depth component).
  2. Flexible Zone (breadth/maturity component).

5.4.1    SINGLE UNDERGRADUATE GENERALIST DEGREE COURSE REQUIREMENTS

5.4.1.1             Course Structure

For single undergraduate generalist degree courses the core and flexible study zone requirements are:

  1. core zone is 160 credit points
  2. flexible zone is 80 credit points

Course authorities will determine the composition of the core zone within the boundaries informed by requirements for essential units, elective units, elective units chosen from option sets, majors, specialisations and minors.

5.4.1.2             Majors

The core zone of all undergraduate generalist degree courses will include a major.

A major will appear in the course’s major schedule.

The structure of majors in a course will be determined by the course authority and will be consistently applied across the major schedule.

Majors can appear in the major schedule for more than one course but must be identical in all offerings. If the major is not identical it will require a different name in subsequent courses.

Majors may contain their own essential and/or elective units.

5.4.1.3             Other Core Zone Elements

In single undergraduate generalist degree courses a core zone may consist of any or all of the following elements:

  1. Essential Units
  2. Elective Units (chosen from Option Sets)
  3. Minors.

5.4.1.4             Essential Units

Single undergraduate generalist degrees courses may have a maximum of 80 credit points of essential units in the core zone (notwithstanding any essential unit requirement for the major).

A course core zone essential unit cannot appear in a major. However, a course core zone essential unit can be a prerequisite for units within a major.

A core zone elective unit cannot be double counted towards a major.

5.4.1.5             Minors

A minor or a designated minor may be a required component of a core zone.

A student cannot qualify for a major and a minor, or a specialisation and a minor with the same name.

A student may not qualify for two minors with the same name.

5.4.1.6             Flexible Zone Requirements

Each generalist degree contains an 80 credit point flexible zone. This consists of free choice units which a student may utilise in either a non-structured or structured sequence of study (23.1) Students can determine how to design their flexible zone.

In a non structured sequence of study students are able to complete a wide range of units for which they are eligible to enrol.

In a structured sequence of study students are able to complete a second major from the course’s major schedule or a minor from across the majors and specialisations of the University for which they are eligible to enrol.

5.4.1.7             Majors in the Flexible Zone

Students can use their flexible zone to complete a second major from their course’s major schedule.

A student may extend a minor requirement in their core zone to a major through use of the flexible zone.  The completion of the major must meet any core zone minor requirement.

5.4.1.8             Minors in the Flexible Zone

A minor or a designated minor may also be available in the flexible zone.

Students can use their flexible zone to complete a minor. Minors are drawn from any major/specialisation (including outside the student’s course) for which units are available in the flexible zone.

A list of all minors available to flexible zones will be made available to students.

5.4.2    SINGLE UNDERGRADUATE SPECIALIST DEGREE COURSE REQUIREMENTS

Unlike generalist degrees, single undergraduate specialist degree courses may have a larger core zone. The core and flexible zones must be specified in multiples of 40 credit points, representing the equivalent of one session of full-time student load. Minimum requirements are:

  1. core zone is at least 160 credit points
  2. flexible zone is no more than 80 credit points

The core zone in a specialist degree course must only be as large as required to meet the course’s pedagogical needs.

It is possible that due to the need to deliver the specified learning outcomes or external accreditation requirements, a specialist degree course may have insufficient space to set a flexible zone.

In single undergraduate specialist degree courses the core zone may consist of any or all of the following elements:

  1. Essential Units
  2. Elective Units (chosen from Option Sets)
  3. Specialisations
  4. Concentrations (an internal component of a specialisation)
  5. Minors.

5.4.2.1             Essential Units

Specialist degree courses can have up to 100 per cent of the core zone consisting of essential units.

A core zone essential unit cannot appear in a specialisation. However a core zone essential unit can be a prerequisite for units within a specialisation.

A core zone elective unit cannot be double counted towards a specialisation.

5.4.2.2             Specialisations

A undergraduate specialist degree course may have a specialisation and if it does the specialisation will be a component of the core zone.

Specialisations are approved by the Academic Senate and are included in the course’s specialisation schedule.

A specialisation can appear in more than one course’s specialisation schedule but must be identical in all offerings. If the specialisation is not identical it will require a different name in subsequent courses.

Specialisations may contain their own essential and/or elective units.

5.4.2.3             Concentrations

Course authorities will determine if specialisations will have concentrations.

A concentration can be either an identified set of essential units within the specialisation or can be drawn from an option set.

5.4.3    DOUBLE UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE COURSE REQUIREMENTS

Double undergraduate degrees allow students to combine two undergraduate courses and achieve a reduction in the volume of learning by forgoing the flexible zone of either or both courses.

Where it is not possible to accommodate the core zone of both courses within standard durations the combination should be excluded.

Outside stated University exclusions, students may choose any combination of undergraduate degrees for which they are qualified to be admitted.

All students must be advised that due to unit or pre-requisite unavailability, timetable clashes, clinical placements, or other possible course restrictions (beyond their individual unit performance) they may be unable to complete their chosen double degree combination within expected normal full-time duration of the courses. Course authorities must monitor combinations to manage systemic timetable clashes.

Some double degree combinations may lead to professional recognition.  In some double degrees for example, when a specialist course with an accreditation requirement is combined with a generalist course that helps to fulfil the requirements for accreditation, the double degree combination can influence student options in the second course’s core zone.

Units completed in a double degree may meet the requirements of both courses of study. This is known as unit sharing.

Unit sharing at 2000 level or above is limited to 40 credit points for 320 credit point combinations, with an additional 20 credit points for each additional 80 credit points of study.

Double degree combinations (including majors/specialisations where applicable) that exceed these requirements will be placed on the exclusions register.

Unit sharing will not produce a discount in the overall volume of learning required by the student to meet the requirements of both degrees.

At any stage of their candidature a student may choose to cease their enrolment in a double degree and transfer to the stand-alone version of either constituent course (if a single degree version exists).

Students who transfer from a double degree will have any completed units counted towards the breadth requirement of a single course up to the maximum breadth credit point requirement.

Depending on the stage of their enrolment, a student may not receive the full credit for all units previously undertaken.

Double degree combinations do not require approval by Academic Senate.

5.5       POSTGRADUATE COURSE STRUCTURE

5.5.1    GRADUATE CERTIFICATES

For a Graduate Certificate (as an entry qualification) the course requirements are 40 credit points.

Graduate Certificates do not recognise specialisations.

5.5.2    GRADUATE DIPLOMAS

For a Graduate Diploma (as an entry qualification) the course requirements are:

  1. a foundation zone of 40 credit points and a core zone of 40 credit point; or
  2. a core zone of 80 credit points.

A student completing a Graduate Diploma course can only complete one specialisation. A specialisation in a Graduate Diploma must be exactly half the credit points of the core zone.

5.5.3    MASTERS

Masters courses can be undertaken in one of three modes:

  1. Single Degree
  2. Double Degree
  3. Vertical Double Degree (see Vertical Double Guidelines)

5.5.3.1             Single Degree Structure

All single Masters courses may have the following study zone structure:

  1. Core Zone
  2. Flexible Zone
  3. Foundation Zone

5.5.3.2             Core zone

In Masters courses the units in the core zone will always be at 8000 level.

5.5.3.3             Flexible zone

In Masters courses the units in the flexible zone can be a mix of 6000 and 8000 units.

5.5.3.4             Foundation zone

In Masters courses the units in the foundation zone should be 6000 level units or above.

For a Masters degree, course requirements can comprise the following study zones depending on the volume of learning being undertaken by the student and the field of study: (PG7.4)

  1. Core zone: at least 80 credit points
  2. Flexible zone: 40 credit points or zero
  3. Foundation zone: 40 credit points or 80 credit points (see Vertical Double Guidelines).

A Masters may have a specialisation, which will be a component of the core zone.

A student completing a Masters course can only complete one specialisation.

5.5.4    MASTERS DEGREE (EXTENDED)

An Extended Masters course only has a core zone.

Extended Masters courses may have a specialisation.

A student completing an Extended Masters may complete more than one specialisation.

5.5.5    VOLUME OF LEARNING AND ADMISSION POINTS

Entry to a Masters degree course is dependent on a student meeting the course’s admission requirements at one of the four volume of learning admission points.

Admission Point

AQF Level

Expected Duration (on Full-Time Basis)

Admission Requirement

80 cp Masters Degree

Level 9 Masters Degree (Coursework)

1 year

a. Hold a related merit-based honours (AQF 8),   Graduate Diploma (AQF 8) or HDR degree

OR

b. Hold two of the following three criteria:

  1. A related bachelor’s degree (AQF 7)
  2. Approved informal and/or non-formal prior   learning
  3. Performance in their bachelor’s degree   (related or different) of an MQ equivalent WAM of +65

120 cp Masters Degree

Level 9 Masters Degree (Coursework)

1.5 years

a. Hold a related bachelor’s degree (AQF 7)

OR

b. Hold a non-related bachelor’s degree (AQF 7) and one of the following criteria:

  1. Approved informal and non-formal prior   learning
  2. Performance in their non-related bachelor’s   degree of an MQ equivalent WAM of +65

160 cp Masters Degree

Level 9 Masters Degree (Coursework)

2 years

As set by the course authority and in compliance with AQF volume of learning standards.

Minimum 200 cp Masters Degree (Extended)

Level 9 Masters Degree (Extended)

2.5 – 4 years

As set by the course authority and in compliance with AQF volume of learning standards.

A course authority can decide to offer a course at only one admission point based on University needs.

5.5.5.1             Exit Awards

Graduate Certificates and Graduate Diplomas can act as exit awards for the relevant Masters course.

When a Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma is being utilised as an exit award, any study zone requirements for that award as an entry qualification do not apply.

To qualify for an exit award, a student must meet the course learning outcomes for that award.

5.5.6    DOUBLE MASTERS DEGREE COURSES

Double postgraduate degrees allow students to combine two postgraduate courses and achieve a reduction in the volume of learning by forgoing the flexible zone of either or both courses.

Where it is not possible to accommodate the core zone of both courses within standard durations the combination should be excluded.

Outside stated University exclusions students may choose any combination of postgraduate degrees for which they are qualified to be admitted.

Students must gain entry to both courses.  This can be at different admission points.

In combining two courses the only volume of learning discount, excepting formal Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), will be the forgoing of any flexible zone requirement.

Units completed in a double degree can meet the requirements of both courses. This is known as unit sharing.

This form of unit sharing, however, is limited and may be the trigger for why a combination is not permitted.

Unit sharing will not produce a discount in the overall volume of learning required by the student to meet the requirements of both degrees.

Only 20 credit points at 8000 level units will be allowed to be shared in 160 credit points double postgraduate degree offerings.

At any stage of their candidature a student may choose to cease their enrolment in a double degree course and transfer to the stand-alone version of either constituent course (if a single degree version exists).

Double degree combinations do not require approval by Academic Senate.

5.6       MICRO-CREDENTIALS

Students do not have to be enrolled in a course to complete a micro-unit of study.

Students will be able to claim recognition of their studies (Certificate of Attainment for a Unit(s) or micro-course, or a designated AQF award) when they meet the volume of learning requirements.

Course authorities may permit open access to designated micro-units on offer. Successful completion of a micro-course (20 credit points) would permit a student to “earn access” to admission to an AQF award, and a commensurate discount in the volume of learning subject to all other admission requirements being met.

Micro-units will usually be flexible blended learning offerings that can cater to fully online students but may also take advantage of short intensive on-campus study opportunities.

Regardless of their size, all micro-units must have a commensurate assessment requirement.

Micro-units and micro-courses may be available to offshore international students.

The Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) will approve standardised study periods for micro-units and micro-courses.

Credit-bearing micro-courses are owned by Academic Senate on behalf of the University. Faculties and Offices act as stewards for courses on behalf of Academic Senate. Faculties are responsible for the design, delivery, review, and development of courses in compliance with University policies and procedures.

Micro-units and micro-courses (20 credit points) will be approved at the Faculty level. Micro-units and micro-courses delivered outside faculties will be approved by Academic Senate.

New micro-units and micro-courses will be tabled at Academic Standards Quality Standards Committee for noting.

The Faculties/Offices will advise the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) of new micro-units and micro-courses.

AQF programs utilising micro-credentials will be approved through the existing shared governance structures.

5.7       ADDITIONAL INSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENTS

The University may embed compulsory co-curricular not-for-credit short modules into courses.

6     RELEVANT LEGISLATION

Higher Education Support Act 2003

Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011

Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000

Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Regulations 2001

National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018

7     KEY RELATED DOCUMENTS

Academic Statements Schedule (under development)

Academic Senate Rules

Faculty Rules

General Coursework Rules

Indigenous Strategy 2016-2025

Learning and Teaching Strategic Framework: 2015 – 2020

Recognition of Prior Learning  Policy / Procedure for Assessing Recognition of Prior Learning Applications /Development of Articulation and Related Credit Arrangement Procedure / Schedule of Minimum Requirements at Macquarie / Schedule of Exceptions to Currency / Schedule of Equivalencies: Formal Learning for Undergraduate Programs

Qualifications Issuance (Academic Statements) Policy (under development)

Admission to Coursework Programs Policy / Admission of Domestic Applicants to Coursework Programs Procedure / Deferment of a Coursework Program Offer Procedure /  Readmission to a Coursework Program Procedure

Course Transfer (Undergraduate Coursework) Policy / Procedure

The MQ Model: Undergraduate, Postgraduate, Micro-credentials and Vertical Double Degrees Curriculum Architecture Principles

Unit Guide Procedure

Designing a capstone unit

8     NOTES

8.1

Contact Officer

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Programs and Pathways)

8.2

Implementation Officer

Executive Director Student Experience and Registrar

8.3

Approval Authority / Authorities

Academic Senate

8.4

Date Approved

24 July 2018

8.5

Date of Commencement

Effective for Academic Courses delivered from 1 January 2020

8.6

Date for Review

July 2021

8.7

Documents Superseded by this Policy

N/A

8.8

Amendment History

6 November 2018 - inclusion of Vertical Double Degrees Curriculum Architecture Principles within Key Related Documents.
4 Sept 2018 – Academic Senate (Res. 18/77) approve amendment to section 5.3.2 Capstone Requirements to specify “that all capstone units will have a breadth/maturity prerequisite of at least 60 credit points at 2000 level or above.”
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