Bachelor Honours Degree - Academic Policy - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Bachelor Honours Degree - Academic Policy

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Approval authority
Academic Board
Responsible Executive member
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)
Designated officer
Director, Centre for Support and Advancement of Learning and Teaching
First approved
23 February 2010
Last amended
23 February 2016
Review date
2 February 2021
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Linked documents
Bachelor Honours Degree - Procedures
Related legislation / standards
Higher Education Support Act 2003 (Cth)
Australian Qualifications Framework

1. Purpose of policy

This policy sets out the structure and requirements of undergraduate programs leading to the award of a bachelor honours degree by the University.

2. Policy scope and application

2.1 This policy applies to all staff and decision-making bodies involved in the development, approval and delivery of programs leading to the award of a bachelor honours degree.

2.2 This policy also applies to undergraduate students enrolling in a program leading to the award of a bachelor honours degree.

3. Definitions

Please refer to the University’s Glossary of Terms for policies and procedures. Terms and definitions identified below are specific to this policy and are critical to its effectiveness:

Honours Coordinator means a member of academic staff who administers an Honours program or programs.

Honours Supervisor means a member of academic staff who supervises an honours student’s research.

4. Aims of bachelor honours degrees

4.1 Bachelor honours degrees qualify undergraduate students who apply a body of knowledge in a specific context to undertake professional work and serves as a pathway for research and further learning.

4.2 Bachelor honours degrees may:

(a) provide an undergraduate pathway to a higher degree by research,

(b) provide an advantaged pathway to professional employment in highly competitive graduate positions, and/or

(c) meet professional accreditation requirements

4.3 Honours program structures serve the particular needs of disciplinary and/or professional training.

5. Types of bachelor honours degrees

Three types of bachelor honours degrees may be offered at USC:

  • End-on Honours – a program of 96 units of AQF Level 8 studies, usually taken as one year full-time (or part-time equivalent) following the completion of a three year bachelor degree.
  • Embedded Honours (Differentiated Pathway) – 96 units of AQF Level 8 studies, taken as a specified plan within a bachelor program of four (or more) years (totalling at least 384 units).
  • Embedded Honours (Four Year) – a bachelor program of four (or more) years (at least 384 units) that meets the AQF Level 8 qualification requirements across the whole of the program.

6. Structure of programs

6.1 The structure and content of bachelor honours degrees aligns with the Knowledge, Skills, Application of Knowledge and Skills and Volume of Learning as described in the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) – AQF Level 8.

6.2 Programs are structured to include:

(a) Advanced disciplinary knowledge: This includes disciplinary study in which the level of learning expected of bachelor honours students is greater than that of students completing an ordinary bachelor degree. It may or may not involve coursework units.

(b) Research training: This may include research methodology, theory development and material about research practice, as well as practice in the formulation of research proposals, in research techniques, and in research ethics. There is a consistent theme of a capacity to engage in higher-level discipline problem-solving (relative to the level of an ordinary bachelor degree).

(c) A substantial independent research thesis/project of at least 24 units: A project for which students take significant autonomy for planning and conducting research, leading to an extended piece of work, usually presented in the form of a thesis or dissertation, research paper and literature review, manuscript and associated documentation, project, or creative work and exegesis.

6.3 The specifications of these components and their assessment will be in keeping with the conventions and standards of scholarship in the relevant discipline.

6.4 Standards established by professional bodies for the accreditation of bachelor honours degrees may result in these programs being non-compliant with USC procedures. In these cases, the justifications for non-compliance are required to be provided as part of the documentation for accreditation of these programs by the University.

7. Honours results classification

7.1 Bachelor honours degrees may be awarded with Honours Class I, Honours Class IIA, Honours Class IIB, or Honours Class III. Some disciplines may identify a preference for an unclassified Honours, in lieu of Honours Class III.

7.2 At the time of accreditation, the program information must identify which courses will be used for calculation of the honours classification, and the weightings for each of those courses.

Table 7.3 - Standard percentage ranges for honours classification of different types of honours programs
Standard percentage ranges for Honours classifications End-on Honours program   Embedded Honours (Differentiated Pathway) Embedded Honours (Four Year)
80% - 100% Honours Class I Honours Class I Honours Class I
70% - 79% Honours Class IIA Honours Class IIA Honours Class IIA
60% - 69% Honours Class IIB Honours Class IIB Honours Class IIB
50% - 59% Honours Class III Honours Class III Honours, unclassified
Less than 49.5% Honours degree not awarded Honours degree not awarded   Honours degree not awarded