Honours Assessment and Postgraduate Coursework Awards Policy

Policy Learning and Teaching Honours Assessment and Postgraduate Coursework Awards Policy

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Intent

It is recognised that these generic rules may not be compatible with all undergraduate degrees. Heads of School who wish to recommend different procedures in respect of honours must present such procedures to the Academic Board for approval and ratification.

Scope

This policy refers to all Honours and Postgraduate coursework awards. This policy applies to Honours and Postgraduate coursework degrees where the thesis/dissertation/research project (hereafter referred to as the thesis) comprises 6 credit points or more of the total course (in practice this represents 25% or more of the final year for most disciplines).

Definitions

Refer to the Glossary of Terms for Policies in the Student and Teaching & Course Management chapters of the Policy Library.

Policy and Procedures

Information for honours and postgraduate coursework students

1. Irrespective of the size of the expected honours and postgraduate cohort, all schools and/or disciplines should produce separate comprehensive Honours and Postgraduate Booklets containing information on the following: content and structure of course; selection and admission requirements; assessment, examination and grading processes, including appeals procedures; time penalties; and supervision. Further information, such as a guide to thesis writing, staff research interests, safety guidelines and so on, may also be included.

Duration of program

2. Schools may offer honours and postgraduate programs with first or second semester entry depending on demand and other considerations such as seasonal timing of fieldwork. The duration of each honours and postgraduate program and the normal dates of commencement, milestone, thesis submission and grade finalisation should be published in the Honours or Postgraduate Booklet. The timetable for part-time students should assume that they receive the same amount of formal supervision over a period normally no more than twice the number of weeks allowed for full-time students.

3. Each faculty should determine whether the duration of the honours program should be uniform across schools within degrees.

4. Honours and Postgraduate courses where students wish to be considered for an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) should be timetabled so that results will be normally finalised by 30 November.

Penalties for late submission of work for assessment

5. A uniform formula of escalating penalties should be imposed by all Schools and Disciplines for submission of a thesis after the date specified in the relevant Honours or Postgraduate Booklet. This formula should be 5% of the total mark available per day“” including part-days, weekends and public holidays. Discretion in imposing penalties is retained by supervisors in cases of genuine need. This penalty must be clearly outlined in Booklets.

Research component

6. Students studying in Honours or Postgraduate coursework degrees who wish to apply for an APA must undertake  a thesis equal to or greater than 6 credit points (in practice this represents 25% or more of the final year for most disciplines).

7. Students in courses in which the thesis percentage falls below this minimum will be judged on a case-by-case basis by the Higher Degrees by Research Sub-Committee in the awarding of APAs and centrally allocated JCU scholarships.

8. Unless subject to accreditation requirements, thesis word length should reflect the proportion of the course it comprises. Normally this would be 1,000 to 1,250 words per credit point; i.e. 6 credit points represents 6,000 to 7,500 words, 12 credit points 12,000 to 15,000 words, 15 credit points 15,000 to 18,750, and 18 credit points 18,000- 22,500 words.

9. A school may elect to allow students to write up their research in the format of a literature review and a paper for a professional journal where the total thesis word length is consistent with clause 8.

Examination of research component

10. All Schools should require honours and postgraduate coursework students to give an oral presentation on research related to their thesis to the staff and other students in their discipline or area.

11. A minimum of two people should examine each thesis. Examination by supervisor(s) is not allowed. Supervisors are required to report on the student’s candidacy. (Schools should develop guidelines for this supervisor’s report).

12. Schools should develop written criteria for grading honours and postgraduate theses. These criteria should be included in the Booklet.

13. Each school should develop a Moderation Plan to deal with disparate thesis marks for approval by its Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor.

14. Each Examiner should provide a written report to the School Honours or Postgraduate Coursework Coordinator by the time marks are approved.

Overall mark for Honours

15. Provisional marks for honours theses should be taken to an Examiner’s Meeting of all available members of the Discipline. All honours Grades should be confirmed at this Examiner’s Meeting.

16. No single component of the honours assessment should alone determine the final grade of honours.

17. All Schools and Disciplines should operate on the following for honours grades:

Hons I

85-100

equivalent High Distinction

 

Hons IIA

75-84

equivalent Distinction

 

Hons IIB

65-74

equivalent Credit

 

Hons III

50-64

equivalent Pass

 

Fail

< 50

  

All Schools should develop qualitative criteria to differentiate between each grade.

18. Examiners should be encouraged to use the full marking range to differentiate outstanding and weak students.

Ranking within Honours Class I

19. Rankings within First Class are defined as follows. (These rankings are the basis for allocation of scholarships and University medal nominations.)

Group IA - Outstanding

Outstanding in all components of the thesis (research project) which must demonstrate originality and flair.  The very best.

Group IB - Superior

Superiority and originality in thesis (research project), but falling outside the very best.

Group IC - Very Good

Solid performance in the thesis (research project) but demonstrating less flair and originality than Groups IA or IB.

Group ID - Good

Variable performance in the thesis (research project) which on balance is first class.

Any student who has achieved a First Class honours mark, but has not submitted a First Class thesis, should be automatically placed in Group ID.

Because considerable variation exists across the University in the components of an honours program, the primary basis for determining the above rankings within First Class honours will be the research project component, including the thesis, irrespective of the relative thesis weighting. Performance in coursework or non-thesis related work should not be taken into consideration for the purpose of this ranking.

20. Schools are required to provide the Graduate Research School with an updated record of their five year record of honours First Class rankings, by the first Friday in December each year. Over a five year period the proportion in each ranking would be expected to be approximately 25%.

University medal nominations

21. The Graduate Research School will forward a list of students who have received First Class level A and level B honours to Examinations for medal consideration.

Marks and Grades for Postgraduate Courses

22. All Schools and Disciplines should operate on the following for postgraduate dissertation grades:

High Distinction

85-100

Distinction

75- 84

Credit

65- 74

Pass

50- 64

Fail

< 50

All Schools should develop qualitative criteria to differentiate between each grade.

23. Internal and external examiners should be encouraged to use the full marking range to differentiate outstanding and weak students.

24. Ranking for coursework degree as part of the APA award process

Group IA – Outstanding

Masters by Coursework qualification with High Distinction for the dissertation component (minimum 6 credit points) and at least Distinction for each of the remaining subjects plus senior-authored publication in a refereed journal or conference proceedings, or a successful solo exhibition/performance in a recognised public gallery/venue.

Graduate Diploma of Research Methods qualification with High Distinction for the dissertation component (minimum 6 credit points) and at least Distinction for each of the remaining subjects plus senior-authored publication in a refereed journal or conference proceedings, or a successful solo exhibition/performance in a recognised public gallery/venue.

Group IB –Superior

Masters by Coursework qualification with High Distinction for the dissertation component (minimum 6 credit points) and at least Distinction for each of the remaining subjects plus senior-authored publication in a journal or conference proceedings, or a successful solo exhibition/performance in a recognised commercial gallery/venue.

Graduate Diploma of Research Methods* qualification with High Distinction for the dissertation component (minimum 6 credit points) and at least Distinction for each of the remaining subjects plus senior-authored publication in a journal or conference proceedings, or a successful solo exhibition/performance in a recognised commercial gallery/venue.

Group IC - Very Good

Masters by Coursework qualification with High Distinction for the dissertation component (minimum 6 credit points) and at least Distinction for each of the remaining subjects but no publications.

Graduate Diploma of Research Methods* qualification with High Distinction for the dissertation component (minimum 6 credit points) and at least Distinction for each of the remaining subjects but no publications.

Group ID – Good

Masters by Coursework qualification with High Distinction for the dissertation component (minimum 6 credit points) and at least Credit for each of the remaining subjects.

Graduate Diploma of Research Methods* qualification with High Distinction for the dissertation component (minimum 6 credit points) and at least Credit for each of the remaining subjects.

Group IIa

Masters by Coursework qualification with Distinction for the dissertation component (minimum 6 credit points) and at least credit for each of the remaining subjects.

Graduate Diploma of Research Methods* qualification with Distinction for the dissertation component (minimum 6 credit points) and at least credit for each of the remaining subjects.

Group IIb

Masters by Coursework qualification with Credit for the dissertation component (minimum 6 credit points) and at least credit GPA overall.

Graduate Diploma of Research Methods* qualification with Credit for the dissertation component (minimum 6 credit points) and at least Credit GPA overall.

*Graduate Certificate of Research Methods plus 4 year degree.        

Benchmarking

25. In cases where honours and postgraduate theses are not examined by external examiners it is the responsibility of the School to seek regular external benchmarking of theses. A range of theses from each School or Discipline should be externally examined once every five years. Benchmarkers should include representatives from universities with established high reputations in the discipline(s) or areas concerned.

Regular audits of practice

26. The Academic Board should receive a triennial report from each Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor on the compliance of each School in their Faculty with these Honours and Postgraduate Coursework Policies and Procedures (and any variations approved by Academic Board) at its March Meeting in the relevant year to enable the Board to assess compliance with these guidelines.

Guidelines for examination timelines

27. A timetable for the examination of theses submitted by the due date should be included in the Honours or Postgraduate Coursework Booklet which should also advise students of the likely delays if they fail to submit the thesis by the due date. If a new date is negotiated with the School, the student should be notified in writing, within five working days of submitting the thesis, of the expected date for finalisation of the result. This date should normally be within one month of submission, but may be increased to two months if submission occurs close to an extended University break. The finalisation of the result should be processed in accordance with the University policy – Finalisation and Publication of Subject Results.  The supervisor(s) should also be advised by the School of the grade for the thesis and see the examiners’ written reports.

Timetable for appeals

28. Students should be advised of the details of the Faculty and University processes and timeframes for appealing the grade for any piece of honours assessment in the Honours or Postgraduate Booklet.

Checklist for “Honours or Postgraduate Thesis (Dissertation/Research Project) Assessment – Compliance with Generic Requirements”

To be completed by each School for consideration by Academic Board.

Award ………………………………………………………………………………………………

Submission from (name of School): ……………………………………..………………….

Date:…………………………………………………………………………………………………

Topic

School procedures compliant with Generic Requirements

School seeks permission to vary from Generic Requirements

Honours or Postgraduate booklet produced as specified

  

Date when final results available allows students to be considered for APAs in early December

  

Penalty for late submission of thesis complies with Generic Requirements

  

Thesis represents at least 6 credit points and comprises 1,000-1,250 words per credit point

  

Students required to give oral presentation on research

  

At least two examiners (who are not supervisors of the student) for each thesis

  

Supervisors provide a report of student candidacy

  

Written criteria for grading  theses included in Booklet

  

Faculty and University processes and timeframes for appealing the grade of any piece of assessment included in Booklet

  

Moderation Plan for thesis and grades developed and approved by Faculty Executive

  

Examiners’ meeting conducted as specified in Generic Requirements

  

No single component of Honours assessment determines final grade

  

Honours and Postgraduate grade cut-off scores comply with Generic Requirements

  

Examiners actively encouraged to use full marking range to differentiate outstanding and weak students

  

Each examiner required by the time marks are finalised to provide written report to School Honours or Postgraduate Coordinator who will provide written feedback to supervisors

  

School agrees to provide five year record of rankings within first class Honours to Research Committee

  

Where examiners external to JCU are not used, the School agrees to externally benchmark range of theses for each discipline/area at least once every five years.

  

Timetable for finalization of results for theses, submitted by due date and late submissions, included in the Honours or Postgraduate Booklet

  
   

Approval Details

Policy sponsor:

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic

Approval authority:

Academic Board

Version no:

12-1

Date for next review:

12/03/2017

Modification History

Version no.

Approval date

Implementation date

Details

12-1

12/03/2012

13/03/2012

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