Coursework Curriculum Design - Academic Policy | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Coursework Curriculum Design - 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
31 May 2016
Last amended
5 September 2016
Review date
31 July 2021
Related documents
Linked documents
Superseded documents
  • Coursework Program and Awards - Academic Policy
Related legislation / standards
  • Australian Qualifications Framework
  • Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2021 (Cth)

1. Purpose of policy

To state the principles which form the basis of the design of the University’s curriculum and to identify the curriculum types supported by the University. This enables a transparent institutional framework for those designing curriculum and those assessing its quality.

2. Policy scope and application

This policy applies to all programs, courses, and study components offered by the University, excluding higher degrees by research (HDR).

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:

Curriculum is the architecture of the body of knowledge, skills and applications, students engage with across the entire suite of learning activities and experiences in order to successfully complete a program

Curriculum design is a process of intentionally crafting the architecture of the entire suite of learning activities and experiences that a student will undertake in order to successfully complete a program, courses or study component to achieve the stated learning outcomes.

Graduate qualities are the qualities of being and thinking and the transferable skills that the university community values and agrees its graduates should exhibit on completion of their program.

Inherent academic requirements of a program are those fundamental skills, capabilities and knowledge that students must be able to demonstrate in order to achieve the learning outcomes of the program without compromising the academic integrity of that program.

4. Curriculum Types

4.1 The University is committed to providing high quality and well-designed curriculum that meet the needs of its students and the community. Types of curriculum include:

  • Programs
  • Study Components – Major, Minor, Extended Major and Specialisation
  • Courses

4.2 The University’s curriculum meets the University’s requirement for accreditation or approval as identified in the Program Accreditation and Course Approval - Governing Policy.

4.3 Details on the curriculum types supported by the University can be found in the Coursework Curriculum Design – Procedures.

5. Curriculum design

5.1 The design of curriculum embodies a philosophy of learning and teaching, articulates a clear set of learning outcomes and describes how the planned learning processes and environment will support the student to achieve those learning outcomes. Programs are organised as an intentional arrangement of courses and study components, which may incorporate required, sequenced and optional elements. Curriculum design is informed by the scholarship of learning and teaching; discipline knowledge and practice; University goals and values; and learner needs.

5.2 The University supports a collaborative approach to the development of curriculum. Collaboration and consultation with internal and external stakeholders is a key process to ensure the quality of the curriculum.

5.3 The design of the curriculum is influenced by specific priority areas and initiatives identified by the University in the strategic plan.

6. Principles informing curriculum design

The curriculum at the University is based on four principles. The curriculum is designed to be:

  • learning-centred
  • standards based
  • constructively aligned
  • career and future focussed.

These principles guide the development and renewal of the University’s curriculum and form the basis for the academic consideration of new curriculum by the bodies involved in the approval process identified in the Program Accreditation and Course Approval - Governing Policy and related procedures.

6.1. Curriculum is learning-centred

The curriculum is learning-centred when the learning outcomes, learning activities, including assessment, resources, pedagogy and staff are focussed on supporting and enabling learning for all students. This involves several elements; therefore the curriculum is designed to:

  • support learners’ engagement;
  • be flexible enough to accommodate the needs of individual students without compromising academic standards
  • take advantage of blended learning approaches and technology; and
  • encourage active and collaborative learning.
6.2 Curriculum is standards based

6.2.1 Curriculum embeds and ensures academic standards. It is designed to meet the Higher Education Standards Framework, which includes the Fields of Education (FOE) Structure and Definitions and the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) requirements.

6.2.2 The curriculum reflects the relevant knowledge field identified in the Fields of Education (FOE) Structure and Definitions.

6.2.3 The curriculum meets the AQF – Knowledge, Skills, Application of Knowledge and Skills and Volume of Learning for the appropriate level of the award.

6.2.4 Curriculum meets the established discipline specific national learning and teaching academic standards and threshold learning outcomes where these are available.

6.2.5 Curriculum meets the academic requirement of professional accrediting bodies where these are available.

6.2.6 Curriculum complies with University policies and procedures relating to learning and teaching, curriculum structural requirements and student related priorities.

6.2.7 Academic standards are achieved by regular benchmarking internally and externally with similar curriculum and where appropriate through relevant professional bodies’ reaccreditation processes.

6.3 Curriculum is constructively aligned

6.3.1 Constructive alignment is the systematic alignment of teaching, learning activities and assessment with the intended learning outcomes for the program, study component or course.

6.3.2 A constructively aligned curriculum focuses on developing students’ knowledge, skills and application of skills by increasing the level of challenge, complexity and independence over time.

6.3.3 The graduate qualities inform the intended learning outcomes for programs which in turn inform the development of study component and course learning outcomes. The graduate qualities as expressed in learning outcomes provide learners with the opportunity to be:

  • creative and critical thinkers, generating original ideas and concepts, and appreciating innovation and entrepreneurship
  • empowered, having both the capacity and confidence to pursue the attainment of full potential
  • engaged, contributing positively to diverse communities through service and leadership
  • ethical, acting with integrity in intellectual, professional and community pursuits
  • knowledgeable, building disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge through a scholarly approach incorporating global and regional perspectives
  • sustainability-focused, responding to ecological, social and economic imperatives

6.3.4 Normally, the realisation of graduate qualities is supported by application and demonstration of a range of generic skills, including communication, collaboration, problem solving, organisation, applied technologies and information literacy. There may be additional skills that are inherent academic requirements of the program.

6.4 Curriculum is career and future focussed

6.4.1 The curriculum enables the student to both develop knowledge, skills and qualities needed for engaging with the complexity and diversity present in a rapidly changing world, making a positive contribution to the community.

6.4.2 The curriculum explicitly provides the student with the ability to apply knowledge and skills that enhance their employability either through meeting employer needs or self-employment on graduation.

6.4.3 The curriculum provides the student with the initial skills and knowledge for entry to professions/industry but to also to position the student for their future career progression.

6.4.4 The curriculum incorporates required disciplinary knowledge and the practical skills of the relevant profession and graduate employers. This is informed by regular engagement through advisory groups, consultation and curriculum partnerships.

6.4.5 The curriculum includes experiential learning activities that contain either workplace practice, or a simulation of such practice or a combination of both that provide students with knowledge and skills as preparation for employment (Work Integrated Learning (WIL) – Academic Policy).