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Academic Quality and Standards

Course Design Policy


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


All award courses
All teaching locations

Policy Statement

This policy applies to all courses accredited, amended or re-accredited by Academic Board since 25 February 2016. The previous version of the Course Design Policy may be accessed for reference purposes here.

Monash Graduate Attributes

Monash courses are underpinned by Graduate Attributes that reflect the philosophy of Sir John Monash to "...equip yourself for life, not solely for your own benefit but for the benefit of the whole community." [1923].

All Monash courses are designed to prepare Monash graduates to be:

1. responsible and effective global citizens who:

a) engage in an internationalised world

b) exhibit cross-cultural competence

c) demonstrate ethical values

2. critical and creative scholars who:

a) produce innovative solutions to problems

b) apply research skills to a range of challenges

c) communicate perceptively and effectively

Course design principles

All Monash courses:

  1. align with the academic profile and priorities of the University and the portfolio of courses offered;
  2. foreground the progression of knowledge and the development of expertise;
  3. develop in students an orientation towards and capacity for research for professional and scholarly purposes;
  4. have clear, demonstrable learning outcomes;
  5. are consistent with the academic standards of the University, as set out in University policies, regulations and the Statute;
  6. are consistent with the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), and, where relevant, the Malaysian (MQF) or other national qualifications frameworks and legislative requirements of the country where the course is offered.

Monash awards and courses

Monash offers undergraduate courses leading to the following degrees and awards:

  • Diplomas - are offered through pathway courses providing access to bachelor courses or as courses providing complementary studies to students enrolled in bachelor courses.
  • Bachelor degrees - are offered through comprehensive and specialist courses.

    • A comprehensive bachelor course provides choice across a broad field of study. Depth is developed in a selected narrow field but with the opportunity for further breadth across the broad field. Depth and breadth is achieved through majors, minors and electives.
    • A specialist bachelor course provides focus and depth through specialisation. Focus and depth is achieved through the progressive development of knowledge in distinct themes and the integration of this knowledge in a narrow field of study. Specialist bachelor courses include:
      - courses offering an accredited program of study which is a condition to be entitled to practice in a profession;
      - courses with a high level of prescription and focus from an early stage.
  • Bachelor honours degrees - are offered through one-year honours courses, four-year, or longer, specialist bachelor honours courses and bachelor advanced honours courses.
    • A one-year honours course follows an AQF Level 7 bachelor course and develops in students the skills and knowledge needed to plan and execute a research project with some independence.
    • A specialist bachelor honours course requires four years of study, or more, and meets AQF Level 8 learning outcomes.
    • Bachelor advanced honours courses are offered as companion courses for high achieving students for a small strategic set of AQF Level 7 bachelor courses of three years duration.

Monash offers postgraduate courses leading to the following degrees and awards:

  • Graduate certificates and graduate diplomas are offered through a small strategic selection of expert graduate courses that extend professional or scholarly expertise and/or prepare graduates to practice in a regulated profession. Graduate certificates and graduate diplomas may also be available as alternative exit awards from professional entry or expert master's courses.  
  • Master's degrees provide focused and purposeful study leading to depth of expertise. Master's degrees are offered through professional entry master's courses, expert master's courses and graduate research master's courses.

    • Professional entry master's courses are accredited to prepare graduates to practice in a regulated profession and lead to a master's degree (coursework) or a master's degree (extended).
    • Expert master's courses extend professional or scholarly expertise and lead to a master's degree (coursework).
    • Graduate research master's courses extend specialist and research expertise, require substantial independent research and lead to a master's degree (research).  
  • Doctoral degrees lead to the creation of new knowledge and/or contribution to existing knowledge in new and creative ways so as to generate new concepts or methodologies.

Monash may offer courses leading to awards that are not included within the AQF. Academic Board accreditation is required for all courses leading to non-AQF University awards.

For instance, University Council may award postgraduate certificates and postgraduate diplomas.

  • Postgraduate certificates and postgraduate diplomas - courses leading to these awards must have learning outcomes comparable with AQF Level 8 learning outcomes and may only be offered in locations where the award complies with the regulatory requirements of the country.

A single course may have a number of different entry points and may lead to a number of different specified awards or recognition of majors.

Monash offers double degree courses in its own right - within and between faculties - and in partnership with universities of excellent global ranking, or of global excellence in the field.

Titles of courses and awards must accurately represent the type of award or degree and the field of study, discipline or profession.

Supporting procedures

Course Design Procedures
Course and Award Nomenclature Procedures

Supporting guidelines


Responsibility for implementation

Vice-Provost (Education Programs)
Vice-Provost (Learning and Teaching)
Vice-Provost (Graduate Education)
Academic Board
Associate/Deputy Deans (Education)
Associate Deans (Graduate Research)
Heads of schools/departments



Key Stakeholders

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement)
Pro Vice-Chancellor and President (Malaysia)
Vice-Provost (Education Programs)
Vice-Provost (Learning and Teaching)
Vice-Provost (Graduate Education)
President, Academic Board
Associate/Deputy Deans (Education)
Associate Deans (Graduate Research)
Heads of schools/departments

Approval body

Name: Academic Board
Meeting: 1/2016
Date: 24-February-2016
Agenda item: 12.3

Endorsement body

Name: Coursework Admissions and Programs Committee
Meeting: 1/2016
Date: 03-February-2016
Agenda item: 7.2

Name: Graduate Research Committee
Meeting: 1/2016
Date: 11-February-2016
Agenda item: 10.5


Accreditation: The University’s process for course approval using criteria established by Academic Board to ensure courses meet academic standards. External Accreditation or Professional Accreditation is the evaluation of a course or qualification undertaken by a body external to the University and aimed at gaining recognition in an industry or profession.

Alternative exit award: An alternative exit award may be granted instead of the usual award of a course and is normally at a lower level, providing an exit pathway prior to completion of the full course. Alternative exit awards are not available for direct enrolment.

AQF Levels: Indicate the relative complexity and/or depth of achievement of graduates of an award and the autonomy required to demonstrate that achievement. AQF Level 1 has the lowest complexity and AQF Level 10 has the highest complexity.  AQF Levels are not used to describe individual units or year levels within courses.

Award: Means a degree, diploma, certificate or other award of the University, as set out in the Monash University (Council) Regulations, and is conferred or granted by the University Council.

Course: The accumulation of units according to a set of rules, that leads to the granting of one or more award (e.g. Bachelor of Arts, Master of Business).

Double degree course: An approved course of study which leads to two awards.

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)

Re-accreditation: The University’s process for reviewing the accreditation of existing courses.

Theme: Specialist bachelor, specialist bachelor honours and master’s courses are defined through themes. Themes provide graduates with bodies of knowledge, including concepts and techniques, which are progressively developed through the course and integrated in practice in a specialist field or profession.

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 (Council) Regulations Part 4 - Awards

Related policies

Collaborative Coursework Arrangements Policy

Coursework Course and Unit Accreditation Policy

Related documents

Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2011

Australian Qualifications Framework Second Edition January 2013

Malaysian Qualifications Framework

South African Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework

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

Focus Monash: Strategic Plan 2015-2020

Date Effective


Review Date



Vice-Provost (Education Programs)


University Policy

Content Enquiries

University Policy Use

Version Number: 2.0


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