Curriculum Refresh - Key Themes

Curriculum Refresh - Key Themes

The key themes for the Curriculum Refresh Project were drawn from the University Plan. This page provides a short summary, the reference group experts and a link to relevant resources for each theme.

Curriculum Development – Design and Assessment

The key themes for the Curriculum Refresh Project were drawn from the University Plan. These themes help make JCU’s curriculum distinctive and include reviewed assessment practices and progression criteria, constructive alignment and good practice principles. External quality assurance, such as the Australian Quality Framework (AQF) is referred to during curriculum development and mapping.

Curriculum and assessment reference group experts were:
Professor Richard James
Professor Paul Ramsden
Professor Sally Brown
Professor Phil Race

First Year Experience

The First Year Experience (FYE) is a term used to describe students' experiences in their first year at university. JCU aims to promote a university-wide, co-ordinated approach to systematically research and monitor the first year student experience at JCU, and to co-ordinate and strengthen the range of first year activities (support, technical, administrative and academic) in Faculties and Divisions. JCU’s FYE Project Reports. Sally Kift was a member of JCU’s Curriculum Refresh reference group and her work is key to the understanding of FYE in the context of JCU’s Curriculum Refresh.

Flexible Learning

Flexible learning provides students with choices in pace, place and types of learning that use technology to respond to student needs and expectations. Market research into flexible learning needs was conducted as part of the Curriculum Refresh Project in 2010. The outcome of this research can be viewed in the Flexibility Project Report (includes survey data) – requires log-in.

Graduate Attributes

At its meeting on 24 June 2013, Academic Board approved the following Graduate Attributes Statement and Guidance Points for undergraduate and postgraduate coursework degrees at James Cook University. A transition plan for implementation of the Statement (to have effect from Semester 1, 2014) and disestablishment of existing policy on Graduate Attributes has also been approved.

James Cook University Graduate Attributes Statement

The graduates of James Cook University are prepared and equipped to create a brighter future for life in the tropics world-wide.

JCU graduates are committed to lifelong learning, intellectual development, and to the display of exemplary personal, professional and ethical standards. They have a sense of their place in the tropics and are charged with professional, community, and environmental responsibility. JCU graduates appreciate the need to embrace and be acquainted with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples of Australia. They are committed to reconciliation, diversity and sustainability. They exhibit a willingness to lead and to contribute to the intellectual, environmental, cultural, economic and social challenges of regional, national, and international communities of the tropics.

Indigenous Perspectives

Key themes for the Curriculum Refresh Project were drawn from the University Plan, which recommends: Curriculum that integrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, perspectives and experience across the curriculum through consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and staff. People and Societies in the tropics is one of the four pillars of the University’s Strategic Intent.

JCU Citation Winners, Ms Sharon Moore and Ms Lyn Mackay see Citation for ‘For the development of transformative pedagogies through ‘courageous conversations’ within the cultural interface to motivate student engagement and promote reconciliation, question and poster (PDF, 341 KB).

Our reference group experts for Indigenous perspectives were: Professor Martin Nakata and Professor Henrietta Marrie.


JCU has a strong commitment to internationalisation and intercultural knowledge in the context of the curriculum, research, staff development, student and staff mobility, and the overall student experience.

JCU defines internationalisation of the curriculum as “embedding of international perspectives, examples and assessment into subject and curricula content, contextualisation of subjects, and courses that allow graduates to practice overseas”.

One of the aims of the Curriculum Refresh Project is to examine and improve internationalisation of the curriculum with special emphasis on our place as ‘Australia’s university for the tropics’.

Our reference group experts were: Mr Taholo Kami and Professor Sally Brown.

Sustainability and the tropics

Sustainability is a global balancing act between economic growth, social wellbeing and environmental conservation. Complex worldwide environmental problems make sustainability increasingly important.

One of the aims of the Curriculum Refresh Project is to embed sustainability into the curriculum, with particular emphasis a multi-disciplinary approach.

Work integrated learning and capstones

WIL – or Work Integrated Learning – can take many different forms including clinical placements, practicums, fieldwork, internships, vacation work or volunteer work. These opportunities equip students with practical skills and experience to succeed after graduation. Visit our Work Integrated Learning web page for a complete overview of this topic.

Capstone activities can consist of a range of experiences undertaken in a student’s final year. They may include, but are not limited to, service learning, simulations, work integrated learning and independent projects. They are viewed as a ‘crowning subject’ that pulls together learning from throughout a course. Capstones are designed with final year curriculum principles in mind, with work-ready skills a primary consideration. They should enable students to integrate knowledge and apply what they have learned throughout their degree.

The Melbourne Model uses Gardner’s (1998) definition of capstone experiences as:

  • Freestanding courses
  • Components of existing advanced courses in discipline specific studies
  • Out-of-class programs, events or activities (all of which may be assessable or non-assessable forms of learning)

Sally Kift, Elizabeth Van Acker and Chris Sykes presented at JCU’s capstones workshops, held in November 2011. View the presentation (PDF, 734 KB) from Chris Sykes.