View Current

Associate Degree Policy

This is not a current document. It has been repealed and is no longer in force.

The Associate Degree Policy is being retired with immediate effect. Please refer to the Curriculum Design and Approvals Policy

Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) This policy outlines the purpose and structure of University associate degrees that are approved by Western Sydney University and offered by Western Sydney University - The College.

(2) This policy should be read in conjunction with the current policies governing the admission, enrolment, progression and graduation of students.

(3) In establishing associate degrees, the Academic Senate and Western Sydney University - The College Board are seeking to provide coherent and consistently structured quality academic programs that lead to an award qualification and, where applicable, an articulation pathway into the relevant bachelor level programs.

(4) The following principles underpin the University's approach to its associate degrees:

  1. Focussed programs
  2. High quality
  3. Coherence and defined areas of concentration
  4. Consistency with the University's standards
  5. Facilitation of student movement across the tertiary education sector.

(5) The policy applies to 160 credit point associate degrees offered by Western Sydney University - The College.

Top of Page

Section 2 - Definitions

(6) For the purpose of this policy:

  1. Associate Degree - the award with which the student graduates.
  2. Core Program - the compulsory set of units to be undertaken in the relevant course of study.
  3. Units - the discrete learning modules that comprise the course of study.
  4. Elective - any non compulsory unit undertaken in a course of study.
Top of Page

Section 3 - Policy Statement

Part A - Aims of the Course

(7) Associate degrees will be designed for people who have a high level of expertise and technical skill in their profession and who seek a higher education qualification to support their career development in a related more senior role or as a pathway to a higher-level qualification.

(8) A University associate degree course will provide the fundamental underpinnings of one or more disciplines and provide the academic skills and attributes necessary to access, comprehend and evaluate information from a range of sources. The course will be designed to facilitate learning for technical practitioners to adapt knowledge and skills in a range of contexts, and to develop individuals as self-directed learners.

(9) University associate degree courses will aim to produce graduates who are capable of cognitive, technical and creative skills that demonstrate a depth of understanding of knowledge and ideas of the discipline.

(10) Normally, associate degrees will comprise 160 credit points.

Generic Skills and Knowledge

(11) The content of associate degrees will reflect the University's objectives in having its students attain competence in specified generic skills and knowledge. Those skills and knowledge are defined in the University's policy on Graduate Attributes.

Part B - Course Approval

(12) The approval process for associate degrees is adapted from the process for the approval of units and courses in the Award Courses and Units Approval Policy. Approval to develop new associate degrees to be taught by Western Sydney University - The College must be endorsed by Western Sydney University - The College Board, as well as by the University Executive and Academic Senate's Academic Planning and Courses Approvals Committee (APCAC). A concept proposal and a full course proposal should be endorsed by Western Sydney University - The College Academic Committee as well as by the relevant School Academic Committee and APCAC. Following endorsement by those academic committees, the full course proposal will be referred to Academic Senate, for final consideration and approval.

Award Titles for Associate Degree

(13) University associate degree awards conform to the nomenclature for award titles prescribed at Level 6 of the Australian Qualifications Framework: Associate Degree of (field of study) - e.g. 'Associate Degree of Creative Industries'.

(14) The name is a recognised term used for a degree offered by a substantial number of other Australian universities or, where appropriate, by a substantial group of universities beyond Australia that represents a significant area of study that the University wishes to acknowledge in this way.

Abbreviated Titles

(15) The abbreviated award title for an approved associate degree will accord with the following nomenclature employed in the Australian Qualifications Framework Issuance Policy:

AssocD (field abbreviated)

(16) Course names and identifiers for the same award undertaken by part-time and full-time candidates must be identical.

Part C - Structure of Associate Degrees

Principal Components of the Associate Degree

(17) Courses for Associate Degree awards will have two components:

  1. the core program, which will be defined as the prescribed or compulsory core of the degree program at the time the program is approved, and
  2. the elective program, which will be chosen by students from among units defined as electives, from time to time.

(18) The core program is a compulsory core of 120 credit points - that is, three quarters of the degree. The core program in an associate degree award is a set of units that establishes a defining area of concentration or specialisation within the degree course. The core program must be approved by Academic Senate as having demonstrable coherence. The core program of a degree course may be:

  1. a program of prescribed units, all of which a student must complete successfully to fulfil requirements for the award;
  2. a program of some prescribed units and a number of unit options or alternatives, to be chosen by students from a prescribed pool.

(19) The core will comprise no more than 60 credit points of level one units and at least 60 credit points of level 2 units.

The Elective Program

(20) An "elective" is any non-compulsory unit. Free choice of electives may be permitted within some courses but, if permitted, can only be a maximum of 25% of the units (40 credit points) contributing to the award.

(21) The elective program in an associate degree course will comprise a selection of non-prescribed units from which the student may choose according to their interests and career objectives.

(22) Electives may be chosen from level 1 and level 2 units. However, prerequisites may apply.

(23) An exception to the requirement for an elective component of 40 credit points in an associate degree may be approved where professional requirements of the relevant articulated bachelor degree or other substantiated considerations dictate that the core comprises more than 120 credit points.

(24) A unit "option" or "alternative," that is taken from within a prescribed pool, as part of the core, is not considered to be an "elective".


(25) A unit is assigned a value of 10 credit points.

Part D - Admission

(26) Applicants may be regarded as eligible for admission if they have completed the NSW HSC and attained the required ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank), or have completed other equivalent qualifications such as a recognised Certificate III or Certificate IV and vocational experience and attained the required entrance standard set for entry to the course. This may include bridging/preparatory courses, para-professional and other post-secondary qualifications.

(27) Associate degree courses may also require an applicant to have specific relevant industry experience. The specific requirements for each course will be detailed in the course documentation presented to Academic Senate at the time of approval.

(28) Refer to the Admissions Policy for more details.

Advanced Standing

(29) The Advanced Standing Policy requires that "where an award is less than three years full time duration, the student must complete half the total number of credit points for the award as an enrolled student of the University". No advanced standing will be granted for study completed more than ten years ago, other than in exceptional circumstances.

(30) Advanced standing is not given for mandatory units within a course unless the student has completed clearly comparable units at an equivalent tertiary institution. Where a student has not completed clearly comparable units, advanced standing can only be given for non-mandatory units (electives) (if any) in the program.

(31) Appropriate academic advice, to identify those units a student must complete in order to be eligible to graduate, must be provided and recorded at the time a student is accepted into a program.

Part E - Progression and Graduation

(32) During the course, progress will be measured at the completion of each teaching session. Refer to the Progression and Unsatisfactory Academic Progress Policy.

(33) Graduation of students will be in accordance with protocols specified in the Graduation Policy.

Top of Page

Section 4 - Procedures

(34) Nil

Top of Page

Section 5 - Guidelines

(35) Nil