Program Design - Policy

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1.0   Purpose and Scope

  1. A function of The University of Queensland (UQ or the University) under the University of Queensland Act 1998 (UQ Act) is to confer higher education awards regulated under the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). The higher education awards conferred by UQ are prescribed in the University’s Awards Policy.

  2. This policy sets out the principles and requirements that inform the structure and design of all undergraduate and postgraduate coursework programs (hereafter programs) leading to the conferral of a UQ higher education award. All undergraduate coursework programs are expected to be compliant with this policy by 2021, and all postgraduate coursework programs by 2023.

  3. This policy should be read and applied in conjunction with the following:

    1. Program Design Procedure; and

    2. Program Approval Procedure.

  4. This policy does not apply to Higher Degree by Research (HDR) or Higher Doctorate programs.

2.0   Principles and Key Requirements

2.1   Program Design Principles

  1. Programs at UQ will be aligned to the University’s values and will—
    1. be underpinned by a set of program specific graduate attributes that are developed through the courses in the program;

    2. comply with the requirements of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) including—

      • volume of learning, and

      • learning outcomes (i.e. knowledge, skills, application of skills and knowledge);

    3. be relevant and responsive to community and industry needs;

    4. take advantage of the University's research strengths;

    5. encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration and leveraging of expertise;

    6. provide students with clarity about expectations;

    7. provide a coherent and streamlined student experience; and

    8. use nomenclature that is—

      • unambiguously and readily identifiable with the qualification type, discipline, and (where applicable) the professional orientation of the program;

      • in the case of postgraduate coursework programs, consistent across a suite of postgraduate coursework awards and differentiates research from coursework;

      • easily recognisable by prospective students, employers and other stakeholders;

      • compliant with the AQF Qualifications Issuance Policy; and

      • consistent with nomenclature that has national and international acceptance.

  2. The Program Design Procedure outlines the specifications and conditions applicable to the types of programs offered at UQ including nomenclature, duration, building blocks and qualification-specific components (e.g. research training for coursework masters programs), and program requirements.

2.2   Program Approval and Review

  1. In developing programs UQ will ensure—

    1. programs and plans are consistent with the University's academic and/or strategic priorities;

    2. programs and plans incorporate appropriate—

      • learning experiences and learning outcomes,

      • teaching approaches,

      • assessment, and

      • evaluation of student learning;

    3. the quality and integrity of UQ’s programs meet the highest academic standards;

    4. direct consultation occurs with—

      • all relevant academic units that can contribute to respective areas of discipline expertise, including adherence to the requirements of the Collaborative Service Teaching Policy;

      • all relevant organisational units and their leaders in relation to resource implications (e.g. UQ library, schools, institutes and faculties teaching into the program);

      • the office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement); and

      • relevant external and accreditation bodies, where applicable; and

    5. compliance with all relevant legislation, such as the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (TEQSA Act) and the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS Act), and mandatory government requirements.

  2. The University-wide framework for approval of academic programs and courses is outlined in the Program Approval Procedure.

  3. The University ensures the systematic and regular review of curricula, teaching and program quality, and risk. All programs undergo annual academic quality assurance review, and a comprehensive review as per the Academic Program Review Procedure.

3.0   Roles, Responsibilities and Accountabilities

3.1   Vice-Chancellor

The Vice-Chancellor exercises delegated authority from Senate to approve the inroduction and discontinuation of coursework programs, on the advice of the Academic Board. The Vice-Chancellor also approves requests to vary or exempt a program from any of the principles outlined in this policy and the accompanying procedures. The Vice-Chancellor may delegate powers to a member of the University Senior Executive as outlines in the Program Approval Procedure.

3.2   University Senior Executive Team (USET)

Members of USET are responsible to the Vice-Chancellor for the quality and effectiveness of the University’s programs, and are responsible for coordination and implementation of changes to the University’s program portfolio.

3.3   Academic Board

The Academic Board (the Board) is the principal academic advisory body to the University Senate.  The Board provides expert advice to the Senate, the Vice-Chancelor and the Senior Executive on all matters relating to and affecting University teaching, research and educational programs.

3.4   Faculties

  1. The Executive Dean has overall accountability for the administration and quality assurance arrangements of academic programs offered by the Faculty, including—

    1. the strategic aspects of new and major program initiatives before more detailed academic aspects of the programs are developed and referred for approval; and

    2. the scheduled review of programs, including offshore program offerings and arrangements with third party providers (both onshore and offshore institutions).

  2. The Associate Dean (Academic) oversees the annual quality assurance process of the Faculty and its Schools in consultation with the Executive Dean, and the Heads of Schools.

4.0   Monitoring, Review and Assurance

  1. The quality of the standardised structure and design of the University’s programs is assured through implementation of:

    • the academic program approval process;

    • the annual academic quality assurance process;

    • the comprehensive cyclical review of academic programs (refer to the Academic Program Review Procedure for more information); and

    • regular student feedback and student evaluation, such as student satisfaction surveys.

  2. The Program Bulletin provides access to the relevant forms, details of submitted program proposals, and the progress of these submissions through the approval process.

  3. The Academic Board through the Committee for Academic Programs Policy (CAPP) is responsible for monitoring university-wide compliance with, and review of this policy for its effectiveness and ongoing relevance with UQ strategic objectives.

5.0   Recording and Reporting

  1. Design features and structural details relating to all programs offered by the University are published in the Programs Catalogue.

  2. Records relating to the structure and design of the University’s programs, including approved variations and proposals initiated through the Program Approval Procedure, must be lodged in accordance with the Information Management Policy.

6.0   Appendix

6.1   Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) – a single comprehensive national qualifications framework that represents the national policy for regulated qualifications in Australian education and training.

AQF Qualifications Issuance Policy – the official AQF policy that stipulates the structure and content of qualification titles awarded by authorised organisations as part of Australia's national qualification framework.

CAPP – Committee for Academic Programs Policy

Course – a distinct unit of study within a program, for which a grade is given. Each course is identified by its alphanumeric code, a title and a fixed unit value.

Curriculum – Curriculum is the intersection of knowledge, skills, and attitudes focused on what is taught, learned and created through the purposeful selection and structuring of content in courses and programs.

Plan – a prescribed combination of courses within a program being either a field of study, major, extended major, specialisation, minor or extended minor.

Program – a sequence of study leading to the award of a qualification such as an undergraduate degree or diploma, and/or a postgraduate coursework qualification.

Academic Registrar


Program Design - Procedure

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1.0   Purpose and Scope

  1. This procedure sets out the requirements for the structure and design of all undergraduate and postgraduate coursework programs leading to the conferral of a UQ higher education award.

  2. This procedure applies to all new undergraduate and postgraduate coursework programs (hereafter programs) offered at the University. This procedure does not apply to Higher Degree by Research (HDR) or Higher Doctorate programs.

2.0   Process and Key Controls

  1. The requirements specified in this procedure provide a standardised and consistent approach to program development in conjunction with the Program Design Policy, and ensure that the design and structure of coursework programs align with the strategic objectives of the University and comply with the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).

  2. Other key controls that support program development at UQ include:

    1. The UQ Program Development Framework

    2. Program Approval Procedure;

    3. The annual academic quality assurance process; and

    4. Academic Program Review Procedure.

3.0   Key Requirements

3.1   Program nomenclature

Nomenclature must be consistent with Section 2.1 of the Program Design Policy and the requirements outlined below.

3.1.1   Award title nomenclature

  1. Formal award titles must be displayed as follows:

the qualification type of the degree (e.g. Bachelor of) is listed first followed by an indication of the discipline (e.g. Science). For example, Bachelor of Science.

  1. Where relevant, the formal title of the award is augmented by a secondary descriptor to indicate the major(s) and/or extended major(s) and/or specialisation and/or field(s) of study. For example—

    1. For a major: Bachelor of Science with a major in Mathematics

    2. For an extended major: Bachelor of Arts with an extended major in History

    3. For a specialisation: Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) with Honours Class I in Chemical Engineering

    4. For a field of study: Master of Science in the field of Physics

    5. For a combination of a specialisation and a major: Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) with Honours Class I in Civil Engineering with a major in Structural Engineering

    6. For a combination of majors: Bachelor of Arts with majors in English and History

    7. For a combination of fields of study: Master of Commerce in the fields of Applied Finance and Information Systems

    8. For a combination of a field of study and majors: Bachelor of Advanced Humanities (Honours) with Honours Class I in Music with majors in Art History and Music

    9. For a combination of a field of study and an extended major: Bachelor of Advanced Humanities (Honours) with Honours Class I in Western Civilisation with an extended major in Western Civilisation.

  2. Minors and extended minors are listed on academic transcripts but are not listed on the testamur (refer to the Awards Procedure for more information).

  3. Where a new program or plan is proposed, faculties are expected to undertake appropriate consultation about the use of the proposed title with key stakeholders, both internal and external to the University.

  4. The following principles apply to all nomenclature—

    1. The descriptor 'Advanced' is only used—

      • for bachelor’s honours (minimum of 64 units in duration) and master’s level qualifications; and

      • where it can be demonstrated that the program outcomes are more advanced, and that the admission standard is higher than for programs in a similar discipline area that do not have this descriptor.

    2. The descriptor, ‘Research Extensive’ is only used in postgraduate coursework programs and where a 16-unit research project is required.

    3. Ampersands must not be used.

    4. The use of parenthetical descriptors must be appropriately justified.

    5. All or part of a program title appears also in the secondary descriptor only where an established and recognised pattern of usage can be demonstrated, e.g. Bachelor of Health Sciences in Public Health.

    6. Descriptors such as 'standard', 'general', ‘undeclared’ etc. are used for administrative purposes only and are not part of formal nomenclature.

    7. The same or similarly named programs and/or fields must be clearly differentiated through inclusion of appropriate text in the published program and plan information (for example, Master of Physiotherapy, Master of Physiotherapy Studies).

    8. Where more than one coursework award at the same level is offered in a discipline, the differences will be clearly identified by the program title (for example, Master of Health Economics, Master of Economics and Public Policy).

    9. While it is usual to list the qualification type before the discipline, the reverse order may be used where this is accepted nationally and/or internationally (for example, Juris Doctor).

3.1.2   Bachelor’s honours program nomenclature

In addition to the requirements under Section 3.1, bachelor’s honours programs must be titled using the formal title followed by the honours descriptor, the class of honours and, if appropriate, by the major(s) and/or extended major(s) and/or specialisation, and/or field of study. For example—

  • Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) with Honours Class I in Mechanical Engineering

  • Bachelor of Occupational Health and Safety Science (Honours) with Honours Class IIIA

  • Bachelor of Arts with Honours Class IIB in the field of History

3.2   Program type and duration

  1. The types of programs offered by The University of Queensland are outlined in Table 1 (Program Types and Duration) below. These are aligned to the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).

  2. Programs are only available in a single duration. Prior learning (for example, relevant professional experience) may be recognised for the purpose of granting a reduction in the duration of a program at the time of entry. Refer to Section 3.6.2 and the Recognition of Prior Learning Policy for more information.

  3. Program durations must be multiples of 8 units and meet the requirements shown in Table 1 (Program Types and Duration).

Table 1: Program Types and Duration


AQF level

Minimum units

Maximum units

Duration of FTE study
(8 units per semester)





1 to 2 years (2 to 4 semesters)

Associate degree




2 years (4 semesters)