AQF finally recognises one year Law Masters degrees

There has been a long struggle for Law Schools over compliance with the Australian Quality Framework which has till now required Masters degrees  to be typically 2 years in length (unless students already held an Honours  or Graduate Diploma qualification).

An email from the AQF today announces that the wording of the Masters specification has been changed.  The FAQ attached says:

Question: What are the changes to the Masters Degree specification?

Answer: The revised Masters Degree Specification is included in the Addendum to the AQF Second Edition January 2013: Amended Qualification Type: Masters Degree. This Addendum replaces pages 59-62 of the AQF Second Edition.

Change 1

The volume of learning descriptors for the Masters Degree (Research) and the Masters Degree (Coursework) have been simplified by deleting the former complex prescriptions. The volume of learning descriptors now comprise a single sentence:

Volume of learning The volume of learning of a Masters Degree (Research) is typically 1 – 2 years. The volume of learning of a Masters Degree (Coursework) is typically 1 – 2 years. The volume of learning of a Masters Degree (Extended) is typically 3 – 4 years following completion of a minimum of a 3 year level 7 qualification

Change 2

The statement on the volume of learning under the heading Responsibility for accreditation and development (last dot point at page 62) AQF Second Edition 2013 has been amplified:

  • The volume of learning is sufficient for graduates to achieve the learning outcomes for a qualification of this level and type. The volume of learning must take into account the level of the previous qualification and / or knowledge and skills required for entry and whether the purpose is for deepening or broadening knowledge and skills

Question: Are the volume of learning requirements of the Masters Degree in any way affected by the changes?

Answer: No. There is no change to policy. The AQF Volume of learning explanation has been updated to provide further guidance for the Masters Degree.

Question: Why were the changes made, who was involved and what are the benefits?

Answer: Stakeholders had expressed concerns that the former statement on the volume of learning was over complex, unnecessarily prescriptive and removed focus from the important aspect – the learning outcomes.

The new Masters Specification was developed with the advice of the higher education members of the AQF Council and in consultation with the Universities Australia AQF Standing Group, TEQSA and representatives of other higher education providers, including CoPHE and ACPET.

The changes make the Masters Degree Specification more user-friendly and bring greater consistency and clarity to the AQF. The volume of learning statement for the Masters Degree now is consistent with that for other AQF qualifications. The amplification of the statement on the volume of learning (see the Addendum page 8) makes it consistent with the statement for the Graduate Certificate and the Graduate Diploma qualification types which often are nested within the Master Degree (Coursework). The removal of the prescriptive elements maximises professional discretion in the design and development of programs of learning leading to a Masters Degree.


Alex Steel


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