Curtin Uni (Perth, Aust)

September 18th, 2011 by QS in Science team Categories: Curtin University No Responses

Print Version_Curtin_case study_Nov2011

Curtin University is a public, multi-campus university and a member of the Australian Technology Network of Universities.  It became a university in 1987 and is now Western Australia’s largest university.  Curtin University has five faculties and in 2009 the university had 44,500 students (including offshore students) of which 7,660 were in Science and Engineering.


Science at CurtinScience is located in the Faculty of Science and Engineering.  The Bachelor of Science is a 3 year program in which each student must complete a major and has the opportunity to combine two majors.

Mathematics requirements for entry into Science: Students enrol in a particular stream of the BSc.  Some streams have a mathematics prerequisite, for example, general science, and some streams have no mathematics prerequisite.

The Curtin University  case study gives an overall view of the Bachelor of Science and is structured on the model of educational change based on the work of Michael Fullan.

Initiation of Change

“Who prompted need for QS in science and why?”

The main push for change came from the Dean of Science as a result of the very large number of Bachelor of Science programs, including different science degrees in the same discipline.  This was assisted by an initiation of change at the university level as discussed  by Oliver, et al (2010) and which created the right climate for review and change in science.

Vision for Change

In 2006 the Dean of Science released a discussion paper which outlined some models for the unification of the Bachelor of Science programs. A uniform model has now been adopted, with several sets of patterns for first year, each of which prepares students for a related set of majors and allows students to easily take a double major.

“What do QS in Science look like?”

Curtin University has graduate attributes which are embedded in the degree programs.  There is an overarching set of graduate attributes for science, and these have been articulated in the context of the relevant discipline for each major.  Every program  and every major has been curriculum mapped.

Implementing for Change

“How is need for QS in Science translated into practice?”

The BSc at Curtin University allows students to major in many different science disciplines.  Students choose from four themes.  Each theme is a structured program for first year which prepares them for a broad area of study without locking them into one particular discipline.  Each first year is structured to cover various basic skills.

Curriculum Structure for building QS:

1st level features a data analysis subject and a mathematics subject, regardless of the theme that the student has chosen.

2nd level features at least one unit of the student’s chosen discipline each semester.

3rd level features at least one unit of the student’s chosen discipline each semester.

Extra Curricular QS: None.

Interdisciplinary QS: The Dean of Science is ensuring cross disciplinary communication by the use of cross disciplinary committees.

Evaluating the Change

“How effective has the change to build QS in Science been?”

There are subject evaluations such as Curtin’s online student feedback system, the eVALUate unit survey, which do not give a holistic view of the change process.  The Course Experience Questionnaires will not evaluate the new degrees for a couple of years. The board of examiners will have a role in evaluation, and it will be easier in the future as several boards are being replaced by a single board of examiners.

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Thanks to Jo Ward, Professor of Mathematics, Dean of Sciences/ Head of School of Science at Curtin University for collaborating with us to document this case study.
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This case study is up to date as of October 2011.  The interview to gather this data was conducted in  July 2011.