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Curtin University
Courses Handbook 2016 - [ Archived April 2016 ]

This handbook contains information for courses and units at Curtin in 2016.

Definition of Terms

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Admission is to allow a person entry to undertake a course of study at the University.

Academic Status (Good Standing, Conditional or Terminated) is determined at the end of each study period by a Board of Examiners for each student enrolled in an award course.

An Academic Transcript is the official University record of a student’s results and is printed on official University transcript paper.

An Additional Requirement is a course requirement that must be completed or met before a student is allowed to commence a unit, such as a first aid certificate.

An Alternative Examination is any examination that is scheduled separately from the central or school scheduled examinations in order to meet special requirements for an individual student or group of students. It must be approved by either the Counselling and Disability Services or the University Examinations Office, and held whenever possible, within the standard University examination periods.

Alumni (alumnus - singular, masculine; alumna - singular, feminine) are individuals who have been granted a degree or other qualification approved by the Academic Board of the University, including honorary doctorate degrees.

An Anti-requisite Unit is a unit of study that a student cannot enrol in because they have already completed, or are currently completing a similar unit.

Assessment is the methods and procedures by which a student's academic progress and performance is measured in a unit.

Assessment tasks are any tasks or activities that may be used to gauge the progress of student learning and determine the student’s result for the unit. Assessment tasks can include essays, student presentations, literature reviews, laboratory reports, examinations, computer-based assessments, oral examinations, class quizzes, clinical experiences, individual projects, tests (written, practical and oral), formal examinations, field work, group projects and assignments, and may involve self and peer assessment. Class attendance is not a form of assessment.

Assigned Base Score/Rank is a notational ATAR for admission to the University, allocated by the University Admissions Centre to non-school leaver applications in accordance with guidelines approved by the Academic Services Committee.

Attendance mode

Units may be offered in a variety of attendance modes. They may be online, or face-to-face with online resources.

Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) ranges between 99.95 and zero, and is a student’s rank position relative to all other students. It is based on the number of students who sat the WACE examinations in any year and also the number of year 12 school leaving age people in the total population.

The Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (AVCC) is the Council of University Presidents representing Australian universities nationally and internationally (also called Universities Australia).

Automatic Credit is the transfer of equivalent or identical units from one Curtin course to another Curtin course.

An Availability describes when, where, how and to whom a course, unit or thesis is offered. It contains information relating to processing dates, quotas and tuition patterns.

An Award Certificate or Testamur is the official University certificate bearing the Curtin graduation seal conferred by Council, which confirms the completion of an award course of study.

An Award Course is a structured combination of units approved by the University Academic Board; when completed it qualifies the student for an award from Curtin University.

An Award Number is the sequential number allocated to an award conferred by the University Council.

An Award with Distinction is granted by the Board of Examiners in recognition of outstanding performance in the course and is not normally awarded to more than 10 per cent of graduates in that course.

An Award with Honours can be earned either as the outcome of an additional year of study to a bachelor degree, or as the outcome of an honours program that is studied concurrently with a normal pass degree of four years or more in a discipline.

A Board of Examiners is a committee that is constituted for each award course to ensure the assessment and determination of performance of each student enrolled in that course is conducted in a fair and equitable manner.

A Bridging Course is a program of study that is conducted prior to the commencement of a formal award course. It is designed to assist potential students who have otherwise met matriculation requirements to satisfy course selection, or English literacy requirements.

A Bridging Unit is a unit of study designed to provide students with the required level of skills and knowledge necessary to undertake further studies.

Census Date refers to the date set by the University when academic and financial penalties are applied.

A Centrally Scheduled Examination is an examination that is scheduled and coordinated by the University Examinations Office.

A Challenge Examination is where a school offers the student an opportunity to sit an examination to see whether the student has the necessary competencies to be granted an exemption. A fee will apply.

A Class is any scheduled teaching activity involving face-to-face contact and includes lectures, tutorials, laboratory sessions and seminars.

Collaborative Awards are Curtin degree programs that are delivered in collaboration with other higher education institutions. Normally these lead to the award of a Curtin degree for which the award or testamur reflects the collaborative development and delivery of the education program. The term Collaborative Award is also used to refer to degree programs where Curtin University is the collaborating partner, but not the initial enrolling partner.

A Commonwealth Assistance Notice is the University’s official notification of a student's financial liability as at the census date for the relevant study period.

A Completion Date is the date on which a Board of Examiners determines a student has completed all course requirements.

Compulsory Student Activity means any class or activity that a student is expected to attend as part of the normal tuition pattern for a unit or program of study. It may include activities such as a school-arranged examination, or a test or quiz that the student is expected to attend in order to successfully complete the requirements of a unit or program of study.

Conditional is an academic status determined by the Board of Examiners. The student is permitted to continue in the course and to re-enrol under conditions determined by the head of school. Continuing in a course and re-enrolment are subject to any other restrictions or prohibitions imposed on the student (for example, a prohibition on enrolment due to outstanding fees or misconduct).

A Conferral Date is the date on which the Council of the University confers an award on a graduand.

A Co-requisite Unit is a unit that must be enrolled in concurrently with another specified unit.

A Core Unit is a compulsory unit specified in the course structure.

The Council of the University is the governing authority of the University established by the Curtin University of Technology Act 1966.

A Course Weighted Average (CWA) is a weighted average percentage mark for all grade and mark units in which the student is enrolled in a course, including units credited as Automatic Credit or Designated Credit.

Credit for Recognsied Learning (CRL) is credit that may be granted to a student in recognition of prior learning and/or experiences. It includes: General Credit, Elective Credit, Credit Transfer, Designated Credit and Exemptions.

Credit Transfer refers to the principle of accepting a student's academic record, in whole or in part, as either identical to, or the equivalent of, a part of a Curtin University course.

Cross-institutional refers to a student who undertakes part of their course of study at a host institution. The home institution awards the degree.

Deferred Assessment (a DA interim result) is the formal approval by the Board of Examiners for a student to complete an outstanding assessment task for a unit at a later date.

A Deferred Assessment Examination is an examination a student is required to sit if they have been granted a deferred assessment.

A Deferred Assessment Task is an assessment task a student is required to complete if they have been granted a deferred assessment.

A Degree with Distinction is recognition by the Board of Examiners of outstanding performance in a course and is not awarded to more than 10 per cent of graduates within a given course.

Designated Credit is granted for studies from award courses, reciprocal exchange programs, extension and short courses registration, and approved agencies, which are deemed to be equivalent in status to Curtin units.

Direct Entry is an application for admission that is made directly to the University rather than through the TISC system.

A Distinction is a grade that is granted for exceptional academic performance.

A Double Degree is an approved combined study program leading to two awards.

A Double Major is two full majors within one course.

An Elective Unit is a unit of study chosen by a student that is not specified in the course structure.

An Enabling Course is offered for the purpose of enabling a non-overseas student to undertake an award course in a student place funded either partially or fully by the Commonwealth.

English Competency requirements are essential literacy provisions for admission to courses at Curtin. Competency requirements are published and reviewed annually.

An Enrolment Advice is a statement acknowledging the receipt and acceptance of initial enrolment, and any enrolment amendments.

An Equivalent Unit is a unit equivalent to another specified unit, but not designated an anti-requisite unit.

An Examination is a formal, supervised assessment used to assess students’ learning outcomes. It comprises at least 30 per cent of the overall unit mark and normally takes place at the end of a study period.

An Examination Answer Booklet is a booklet normally provided by the University, in which the student records answers to examination questions.

The Examinations Office, located within Student Central, is responsible for scheduling and coordinating centrally scheduled examinations, and releasing final results.

Exempt is when a student is not required to undertake part of a unit or units of study because of prior studies or work experience.

Extension studies enable matriculated and non-matriculated applicants to undertake study in a limited number of units. These units are available on a fee-paying, not for degree basis, and may be later used in a degree course application.

A Faculty is a generic term for an academic area consisting of Schools and Departments.

Foundation Courses are designed to prepare potential students who do not otherwise meet matriculation requirements, qualify for admission to undergraduate courses.

General Credit refers to the process where previous studies exempt a student from having to complete unspecified units in a course.

Good Standing is an academic status determined by the Board of Examiners. The student is permitted to continue in the course and to re-enrol. The entitlement to continue in a course and to re-enrol is, in all cases, subject to any other restrictions or prohibitions imposed on the student (for example, a prohibition on enrolment due to outstanding fees or misconduct).

A Grade is either: a numeric code used to signify the percentile range of the awarded mark (if applicable) or, an alphabetic code used to indicate the outcome of an assessment or an interim status.

A Graduand is a student who has completed the requirements of the course and is awaiting conferral of their award by the Council of the University.

A Graduate is a person who has had their award conferred by the Council of the University.

Exceptional Circumstances refer to circumstances beyond the control of the student and circumstances that could not have been anticipated.

Head of School means the senior academic position in charge of a school.

A Higher Education Graduation Statement (Graduation Statement) is a document provided by Australian Higher Education Institutions to graduating students on completion of the requirements for a particular higher education award. It provides a description of the nature, level, context and status of studies taken by the individual. Its purposes are to assist in both national and international recognition of Australian qualifications and to promote international mobility and professional recognition of graduates.

Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA) is a Commonwealth Act the University and all students must comply with. Continued enrolment at the University is conditional on full compliance with the associated regulations.

An Honours Award can be earned by: completing a year of study in addition to a three-year bachelor degree in a discipline; or, successfully completing an honours stream that is studied concurrently in the final years of a four-year (or more) bachelor degree in a discipline; or, in limited instances, from outstanding academic performance in a four-year bachelor degree.

An Honours Year of Study can be either: a year of study in addition to a three-year bachelor degree in a discipline; or, an honours stream that is studied concurrently in the final years of a four-year (or more) bachelor degree in a discipline.

An Intermediate Award is an approved exit point from a higher-level award course. It recognises completion of units that make up the requirements of an approved course, where the student has completed these units as part of a higher-level course. It is also known as the principal award.

A Letter of Course Completion is an official document issued by the Academic Registrar stating that the student has met all academic requirements for the course.

A Major is a series of units that pursue learning depth and provide a coherent and rigorous enquiry of a single discipline or area of study.

A Mark is the number used to signify the percentage awarded for the assessment.

Mature Age Candidates, for the purposes of admission to the University are those who will be 20 years of age, or older, before 1 March of the year of admission to the University.

A Minor is a series of units in the same subject, including at least two units at second year level or higher. Please read the Rules for Minors for more information.

A Non-Award Course is a program of study that does not lead to a formal award. It may comprise a unit or units of study from an award course, and may be counted as credit towards an award course in some cases.

OASIS is an acronym for Online Access to Student Information Services, the student portal through which students are provided with access to a wide range of eServices.

OCC is an acronym for the Official Communication Channel.

The Official Communications Channel is the means by which official correspondence is delivered electronically to students within OASIS.

An Open-Book Examination is an examination where appropriate, prescribed materials are approved for use in the examination.

Open Universities Australia provides online higher education and is owned by a consortium of Australian universities.

An Optional Unit is a unit that is not in the course structure, but may be chosen from a specified list by a student.

Other Study Periods are additional course requirements, for example, obtaining a first-aid certificate.

OUA is an acronym for Open Universities Australia.

Preparatory Programs is a term that covers bridging, enabling and foundation programs.

A Prerequisite Unit is a unit that must be passed before the student can enrol in another specified unit.

Pro Vice-Chancellor (PVC) is the senior academic position in charge of a faculty.

A Result comprises a grade and, where applicable, a percentage mark.

A Sanction is a warning that is applied to a student’s record to alert staff and the student to outstanding requirements, such as non-payment of fees or charges, that may prevent the student from accessing results, re-enrolling or graduating.

School is the generic term for an academic area, and covers faculties, schools and departments.

School Leaver Candidates are those applying for admission to the University on the basis of an ATAR/WACE or an interstate or international equivalent, and who will be younger than 20 years of age before 1 March in the year of admission to the University.

A School Scheduled Examination is an examination scheduled and coordinated by the School, rather than the University Examinations Office. School Scheduled Examinations will normally be held outside the University’s standard examination period.

A Semester Weighted Average (SWA) is a student’s weighted average percentage mark for all grade/mark units in which they are enrolled in any one study period. The term Semester Weighted Average is used even if the study period is not a semester, for example, a trimester.

Special Tertiary Admissions Test (STAT) refers to a range of specially designed tests administered by TISC to assist universities assessing the suitability of mature age candidates for admission to tertiary study. School leaver candidates may also use the STAT to satisfy literacy requirements in certain circumstances.

A Stream is the specialised structure of units within a course.

A Student Declaration is a declaration to abide by all the rules of the University that students sign on application to the University.

A Student Identification Card (Student ID card) is a card issued by the University that provides campus access, library borrowing rights and proof of identity.

A Study Package describes what the University teaches, for example: courses, majors, streams, minors, units and theses.

A Study Period is the period of time when a unit is available, for example: Semester 1, Semester 2, Trimester 1.

A Study Plan is an outline of a student’s recognition of prior learning (if applicable), past and present, and their intended enrolment.

Study Week is the week before the commencement of the centrally scheduled examination period, during which students are expected to prepare for examinations or practical assessments.

Supplementary Assessment (an ‘X’ interim result) is the formal approval by a Board of Examiners for a student to undertake an additional assessment task to provide an opportunity for the student to pass the unit.

A Supplementary Assessment Examination is an examination that a student who has been granted a Supplementary Assessment, is required to sit.

A Supplementary Assessment Task is an assessment task that a student who has been granted a Supplementary Assessment, is required to complete.

Terminated is an academic status determined by the Board of Examiners. The student is terminated from the course and is not permitted to continue in the course or to re-enrol in the course without approval from the Academic Registrar (Director, Student Services).

Tertiary Entrance Aggregate (TEA) is the sum of the best four scaled marks taking into account unacceptable subject combinations. The TEA is out of 400.

Tertiary Entrance Rank (TER) provides the ranking that is used for allocating places in university courses. It is calculated from the tertiary entrance aggregate (TEA). It is now referred to as ATAR.

Tertiary Entrance Score (TES) for school leavers was calculated using a student's best four or five tertiary entrance subject scores. For mature age tertiary entrance applicants, the score was calculated using two tertiary entrance subject marks. It is now referred to as TEA.

A Tuition Free Week is a week within a study period when classes and other compulsory student activities are not scheduled, unless specifically approved in accordance with policy.

Tuition Pattern refers to the different types of learning environments, for example, lectures, tutorials, practicals, laboratories and fieldwork.

A Unit is a discrete component of study within a subject area that is part of a course.

A Unit Coordinator is an academic staff member responsible for a particular unit.

A Unit Outline is a document containing essential and administrative information about a unit of study, including details of learning outcomes, assessments and schedules.

The University refers to Curtin University.

The University Academic Calendar consists of two standard semesters of 12 teaching weeks, each with: one week free from class contact (teaching free week), a study week when no examinations are held and, immediately following study week, a two-week examination period.

The University Standard Examination Period is the two-week examination period at the end of each semester as outlined in the University academic calendar.

The Vice-Chancellor’s List recognises academic excellence. It comprises students who have been selected on the basis of results from the top one per cent of a course in a specified period (for example, a study period or calendar period) and who have achieved a SWA of 85.00 or higher, covering an enrolment of at least 75 credits.

Withdrawal (WD) is a notation on the Academic Transcript to indicate the student has withdrawn from a unit after the relevant census date.


Information in this publication is correct at the time of printing but may be subject to change.

In particular, the University reserves the right change the content and/or method of assessment, to change or alter tuition fees of any unit of study, to withdraw any unit of study or program which it offers, to impose limitations on enrolment in any unit or program, and/ or to vary arrangements for any program.

This material does not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.

Curtin accepts no responsibility for and makes no representations, whether express or implied, as to the accuracy or reliability in any respect of any material in this publication.

Except to the extent mandated otherwise by legislation, Curtin University does not accept responsibility for the consequences of any reliance which may be placed on this material by any person.

Curtin will not be liable to you or to any other person for any loss or damage (including direct, consequential or economic loss or damage) however caused and whether by negligence or otherwise which may result directly or indirectly from the use of this publication.

International students

International students studying in Australia on a student visa can only study full-time and there are also specific entry requirements that must be met. As some information contained in this publication may not be applicable to international students, refer to for further information. Australian citizens, permanent residents and international students studying outside Australia may have the choice of full-time, part-time and external study, depending on course availability and in-country requirements.