View Current

Higher Education Courses Approval and Review procedure

This is the current version of this document. To view historic versions, click the link in the document's navigation bar.

Section 1 - Preamble

(1) This Procedure is effective from 5 December 2017.

(2) This Procedure includes the following schedule:

  1. Schedule A: Major Course Reviews Panels Composition.
Top of Page

Section 2 - Purpose

(3) This Procedure documents the University's higher education courses approval and review processes. (Refer to the Academic Programs Approval and Review website)

Top of Page

Section 3 - Scope

(4) This Procedure applies to higher education award and non-award courses offered by the University.

Top of Page

Section 4 - Policy

(5) This Procedure is pursuant to the Higher Education Courses policy.

Top of Page

Section 5 - Procedure

Course Approvals


(6) Proposals for new courses, and revisions, continuations and discontinuations of existing courses require two stages of approval:

  1. Strategic approval: based on consideration of the fit of the proposal with the University’s strategic direction and anticipated financial viability. The Course Strategy Group will provide advice to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education (DVCE) on strategic approvals, as required where they have a significant impact. A Course Reference Group may also be established to assist the DVCE in the evaluation of course proposals.
  2. Academic approval: to ensure compliance with academic requirements of the University and the Higher Education Standards Framework.

New award courses

(7) Approval of new award courses require both strategic approval and academic approval. Strategic approval is required before academic approval is granted.

(8) Strategic course proposals will be:

  1. developed by faculties, using the approved strategic course proposal template
  2. endorsed by the Executive Dean
  3. endorsed by the Pro Vice-Chancellor Research Training and Performance Enhancement (PVCRT&PE) in the case of higher degrees by research (HDR), and courses intended as HDR pathways
  4. approved by the DVCE on strategic grounds.

(9) Academic course proposals, incorporating course specifications, will be:

  1. developed by faculties using the approved academic course proposal and course specification templates
  2. endorsed by the Faculty Board
  3. approved by the Academic Board on academic grounds.

(10) Proposals for new combined courses where one or both component courses are also new will be developed and approved using the processes set out in clauses 7-9.

New combined award courses from existing award courses

(11) Proposals for new combined award courses created from existing approved award courses will be:

  1. developed by faculties using the approved new combined course proposal template
  2. endorsed by the relevant Faculty Executive Dean/s
  3. approved by the DVCE on strategic grounds
  4. approved by the Academic Board on academic grounds.

Award course revisions

(12) Proposals for revisions listed in clauses 14 and 15 to award courses will be developed by faculties using the approved course revision proposal template and endorsed by the:

  1. Faculty Executive Dean
  2. PVCRT&PE in the case of HDR or pathways to HDR.

(13) Any revision which proposes changes to course specifications must be accompanied by relevant sections of the course specifications, with proposed changes marked.

(14) The following revisions to existing award courses require strategic approval by the DVCE:

  1. course or award title
  2. arrangements for course delivery by or with third parties, including Deakin’s controlled entities
  3. location or mode of delivery including online
  4. addition of new fully-nested Graduate Certificates or Graduate Diplomas to existing Masters course
  5. other changes that introduce new or revised course requirements that may disadvantage enrolled students.

(15) The following revisions to existing award courses require academic approval by Academic Board (in addition to strategic approval if also listed in clause 14):

  1. course or award title
  2. admission and selection criteria
  3. course structure or duration
  4. addition of new fully-nested Graduate Certificates or Graduate Diplomas to existing Masters course
  5. other changes that introduce new or revised course requirements that may disadvantage enrolled students, where academic in nature.

(16) Faculty Boards approve proposals for:

  1. any changes to award course specifications not covered by clauses 14 or 15
  2. new or revised units that result in credit towards an award course unless they result in a revision to a course covered by clauses 14 or 15.

(17) The PVCRT&PE approves any changes to HDR course specifications not covered by clauses 14 or 15.

Non-award courses

(18) New or revised non-award courses, units or modules that may lead to admission to an award course require academic approval by the Academic Board.

(19) New or revised non-award courses, units or modules offered without charge require strategic approval by the DVCE.

(20) All other proposals for new or revised non-award courses, units or modules require approval by Faculty Boards.


(21) Where a proposal for a new course or revision to an existing course involves an academic partnership relating to course delivery the academic partnership must be approved in accordance with the Academic Partnerships procedure.

Course and unit reviews

(22) A tiered approach to reviews is implemented to ensure the ongoing viability, quality and strategic alignment of courses offered by the University. This includes:

  1. ongoing monitoring and review of the quality of units (under clauses 25-26)
  2. ongoing monitoring of course development and delivery by course teams
  3. annual reviews of coursework programs (under clauses 27-28)
  4. periodic comprehensive (major) reviews of coursework programs which are required before course continuation (under clauses 29-31)
  5. reviews of HDR courses (under clauses 35-38).
Reviews may result in the discontinuation, suspension or revision of courses or units.

(23) Course teams will develop a plan for each coursework program or group of related coursework programs that includes course specifications, evidence of course performance and priorities for improvement. Course and unit reviews are conducted with reference to the course plan/s.

(24) The DVCE will provide an annual report to Academic Board summarising the outcomes of major and annual reviews and external professional accreditation of courses and actions arising from those reviews.

Unit monitoring and review

(25) The quality of units in coursework programs or HDRs will be monitored through the administration of an approved student survey in accordance with the Evaluation of Teaching and Units procedure and other evidence of student engagement and achievement.

(26) Schools and relevant course teams will review the outcomes of the student survey and evidence of unit performance each time a unit is offered and the Unit Chair will develop and implement a plan to address issues identified with reference to criteria stipulated by the DVCE and faculty. Where negative outcomes are sustained, the unit may be discontinued or intakes into the unit may be suspended until issues are addressed to the satisfaction of the DVCE.

Annual course reviews — coursework programs

(27) Course teams will conduct annual reviews of courses or groups of related courses and provide to Faculty Boards a brief response to any negative change in viability or quality, including proposals for revisions to the course plan.

(28) Faculty Boards provide a summary of areas for attention or action in accordance with criteria stipulated by the DVCE. Repeated negative annual course review outcomes may trigger a major course review or course discontinuation.

Major course reviews — coursework programs

(29) Faculties will conduct major reviews of each course and prepare reports in accordance with an approved template. These reviews will take place usually every five years and at least every seven years. The reviews will be informed by:

  1. recommendations from panels convened for the purpose (in accordance with Schedule A: Major Course Reviews Panels Composition)
  2. external referencing of the success of student cohorts and student satisfaction against comparable courses
  3. external referencing of assessment methods and grading (under clauses 40-42)
  4. strategic priorities of the University
  5. the results of regular interim monitoring of the quality of teaching, student progress and unit delivery.

(30) The DVCE in consultation with faculties will prepare annual schedules for major course reviews. The DVCE may grant a full or partial exemption from a major course review where a course has undergone a review by a professional accreditation body in the previous 12 months or in other exceptional circumstances.

(31) Major course review reports will include proposals and timelines for changes to course specifications and other actions to improve course quality where issues have been identified.

Course continuations

(32) All existing courses must be approved for continuation before the expiry of the previous approval period (normally five years). Faculties will develop applications for course continuation in accordance with an approved template. Applications will be accompanied by a major course review report developed in accordance with clauses 29-31

(33) Proposals for course continuation require endorsement by Faculty Boards and approval by the DVCE on strategic grounds. These proposals, accompanied by course specifications for the upcoming period, also require approval by the Academic Board on academic grounds.

(34) Interim course continuations may be granted in exceptional circumstances by the DVCE.

Reviews of higher degrees by research

(35) The Research and Research Training Committee (RRTC) will monitor the performance of HDRs and conduct periodic quality assurance reviews as appropriate.

(36) The RRTC will review the research training activities of faculties and institutes annually in accordance with a process approved by Academic Board.

(37) The RRTC will report annually to the Academic Board in relation to the performance of HDRs, the outcomes of quality assurance reviews and research training reviews.

(38) Comprehensive reviews of HDRs will be conducted every five years. The reviews will be informed by:

  1. recommendations from panels convened for the purpose by the PVCRT&PE that include members external to the University
  2. external referencing of the success of student cohorts and student satisfaction against comparable courses
  3. strategic priorities of the University
  4. the results of regular interim monitoring as set out in clauses 35 and 36.

Reviews by professional accreditation bodies

(39) Faculty Boards provide to the DVCE annual reports on new or continuing courses that have undergone a review by a professional accreditation body in the previous 12 months.

External referencing of assessment — coursework programs

(40) During the period for which a course has been approved, faculties will:

  1. externally reference assessment methods and the grading of student achievement using a methodology approved by the Faculty Board (or nominee) which meets or exceeds the requirements set out in clauses 41 and 42, and
  2. report on the outcomes and resulting improvements to assessment in the next major course review report.

(41) The methodology adopted for external referencing of assessment will meet the following requirements:

  1. Sufficient units will be selected from the course or suite of related courses to demonstrate achievement of learning outcomes related to discipline knowledge, problem solving, critical thinking and communication (in line with the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) specifications.
  2. External reviewers will be selected who are suitably qualified and have current knowledge and skills in the relevant discipline and experience of course leadership.
  3. The reviewers will evaluate the validity of assessment tasks and level of achievement demonstrated in samples of student work (de-identified where possible) with reference to nationally agreed external standards (including the AQF and discipline standards where applicable).
  4. The reviewers will be provided with necessary contextual information, including the learning outcomes, the University's grading schema and marking criteria/rubrics.
  5. The review will involve the verification of student grades or the remarking of work with grades and marking removed.

(42) Appropriate adjustments to the requirements specified in clause 41 may be made where student outputs are assessed in real time (e.g. performances). Other variations to the requirements specified may be approved by the DVCE (or nominee) on a case-by-case basis. Professional accreditation may satisfy the requirements of clause 41.

Course discontinuations and suspensions of intake

(43) Proposals to suspend intake to or to permanently discontinue a course may arise from annual or major course reviews or other faculty or University reviews. Faculties will develop proposals for course discontinuation or suspension of intake in accordance with an approved template. The proposal will include a transition plan, endorsed by the Faculty Board, to ensure that students are not disadvantaged by any change. Discontinuation or suspension of intake proposals require endorsement by Faculty Executive Dean (and, in the case of HDRs, the PVCRT&PE) and approval by the DVCE.

Responsibilities to students affected by coursework discontinuations or revisions

(44) Students affected by course discontinuations or revisions include those enrolled in the course, on intermission from the course, who have been offered a place in the course or who have deferred an offer of a place in the course.

(45) Students affected by the revision of a course will be transferred to the revised version of the course at the earliest opportunity where practical.

(46) Students affected by the discontinuation of a course will be provided with reasonable opportunities to complete the course, or to transfer to an equivalent or suitable alternative course. The period during which students must complete a discontinued course will be determined by the Faculty Board. This will be the time needed for enrolled part-time students to complete the course, up to twice the full-time equivalent duration of the course.

(47) The faculty will contact students affected by the discontinuation or revision of a course to provide reasonable notice of the change and advise them of available options and the maximum period for completion (in the case of discontinued courses), taking into account the University's obligations under the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act. Where these obligations are unclear, faculties should seek advice from the University's International Quality and Compliance Unit. Deakin International will contact international students who have not yet enrolled.

(48) Individual study plans will be developed for students enrolled in a discontinued course or whose progress may be affected by a course revision.

(49) When approval is granted for the discontinuation of a course or suspension of intake, no new offers will be issued for places in the course for enrolment periods from the date of approved suspension or discontinuation. The Faculty Executive Dean may make exceptions for students who are likely to incur significant costs as a result of the discontinuation or suspension of the course.

(50) Students who transfer to an alternative course will be granted credit for units deemed equivalent that they have completed as part of the discontinued course, in accordance with relevant University policies and procedures.

(51) Students who do not wish to continue at the University will be refunded fees they have paid for the discontinued or suspended course, except for any units they have attempted.

Top of Page

Section 6 - Definitions

(52) For the purpose of this Procedure:

  1. combined course: approved combination of courses of the University that leads to the conferral of two awards in accordance with Regulation 5.2(2) Higher Education Award Courses—General.
  2. coursework program: a course of study excluding higher degrees by research.
  3. course specification: a defined and approved set of course design and delivery elements required for each course under the Higher Educations Standards Framework.
  4. course team: a group of at least four continuing or fixed-term (term of three years or greater) Academic staff members, including representatives from each campus on which the course is offered and at least one active researcher, appointed by the Faculty Board to coordinate the design, ongoing development and review of a course (with the exception of higher degrees by research).
  5. Executive Dean: includes any Institute Director.
  6. faculty: includes any institute that is approved under University Regulations to offer specific categories of higher education courses.
  7. Faculty Board: includes any institute board of studies.
  8. higher degree by research (HDR): a program of advanced study and research approved by the Academic Board.
  9. higher education award course: a course that leads to a higher education award of the University.
  10. higher education non-award course: a course, unit or module, offered by the University that does not lead to an award of the University.
  11. unit: a component of a course (excluding HDR research projects) having a discrete designated code and title in which students enrol and complete specific work requirements. A unit:
    1. is commonly a quarter of a trimester workload
    2. carries a specific value towards an award.