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Course Review, Design and Development Policy

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Section 1 - Purpose

(1) This Policy applies to all undergraduate and professional entry courses and subjects of Charles Sturt University (the University). It applies to courses being developed as new courses, and courses being reviewed within the institutional cycle of review. This Policy should be read in conjunction with the Course Accreditation Policy, Assessment Principles Policy and Moderation Policy.

(2) The University has formal course design and development requirements to assure the quality of its courses and subjects, through the incorporation of best practice principles in course design and development work.

(3) In conjunction with the Course Accreditation Policy, course design and development for undergraduate and professional entry courses of one or more Full Time Equivalent (FTE) year’s duration includes both the processes to be used in undertaking a review, design, or development of courses and subjects, and the governance arrangements to have the review, design and development approved.

(4) While setting out principles and requirements for the review, design, and development of non-professional entry postgraduate courses, this Policy does not identify optimum processes nor governance arrangements for these courses.

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Section 2 - Glossary

(5) For the purpose of this Policy:

  1. Assessment - means the process of attributing value to the outcome of any assessment task that a student undertakes. Refer to the Assessment Policy - Coursework Subjects and Assessment Principles Policy;
  2. Authentic Assessment Tasks – refers to assessment tasks that address known standards and evidence; drawn on multiple bodies of knowledge and skills; enable mastery of the essential aspects of real professional/discipline performance; and result in deep learning and improvement of future performance;
  3. Baseline – is the foundation process of any course review, and results in a framework for the course and its design that sets the terms of reference for the course. Data to inform the analysis is drawn from a range of sources including professional requirements, the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015, suggestions from external and internal advisory groups, market research and the University’s student data;
  4. Capstone Learning and Teaching Strategies/Assessments - means authentic, rich tasks, activities, or artefacts that enable students to demonstrate how they meet all course standards by the end of their course;
  5. Commitments - means simple rules based on agreed course team values, beliefs and/or dispositions that emerge from the Baseline analysis and guide the team as they progress through the course design process.
  6. Components - are a part of the course review, design and approval process enabled by CourseSpace. Currently the CourseSpace components include Review, Administration tools, Baseline, Integrated Standards, Course Learning Outcomes, Assessment Tasks, Subjects, Feedback and Accreditation;
  7. Constructive Alignment – means that the Components in the teaching system, especially the teaching methods used and the assessment tasks, are aligned to the learning activities assumed in the intended outcomes (Biggs, 2003);
  8. Course - means a coherent collection of subjects (units/modules) that make up a recognised final award (example, Bachelor Degree, Graduate Diploma);
  9. Course Design – refers to a process of iterative, collaborative design and constructive alignment of course Learning and Teaching Strategies to meet the needs of student learning; professional accreditation bodies; University Standards for courses; Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 (3.1, 3.2, 3.3.1, 5.1.3, 5.3) and best practice curriculum design principles for quality. The University course design components for undergraduate and professional entry courses build the design of a course in three phases which can be supported by the CourseSpace software. Feedback from and approval of the design by Faculty Courses Committee occurs at the Waypoint for each design phase;
  10. Course Development – refers to a process of iterative and collaborative construction of course Learning and Teaching Strategies and learning resources in the learning management system based on approved course designs for undergraduate and professional entry courses, and in preparation for subject delivery. Where a course is to be offered in line and face-to-face mode, the online mode of learning will be designed first, and inform the design of other modes of delivery;
  11. Course Enrolment Patterns – means the pathways through a designed sequence of subjects that the majority of students will follow.  In courses with majors and minors, course enrolment patterns can be defined in terms of subject levels and pools of subjects from which students may choose subjects;
  12. Course Learning Outcomes – means what students will have achieved when they have completed the course. They are developed from the generic standards that form the frame of reference for the course, and are unique to this course. They are a manageable set out achievable and measurable intents;
  13. Course Lifecycle Handbook – refers to the manual that explains the Course Design Process in detail – please refer to the Course Design Process which is located within the Course Lifecycle Handbook. It is supported by a set of How to Manuals - Course Design Process that provide step-by-step instructions for the process, and the use of CourseSpace;
  14. Course Review – is the process of reviewing the structure, course aims, subject outcomes, content and assessments in the context of data available about student progress, student satisfaction, needs of the profession and best practice in teaching and learning, in order to ensure that the course meets Higher Education Standards, Charles Sturt University Graduate Outcomes and professional bodies standards where relevant. It is a collaborative, critical process led by a Course Director and involving the academic teaching team and advisors from the divisions across the University.  The process of review is described in the Course Lifecycle Handbook and Course Accreditation Policy.  A course review requires external advice throughout the process of the review. The extent of the course review is decided during the initial analytical stage of the process. If substantial changes are required, the review is characterised as a major review;
  15. CourseSpace – is course design software that provides individual spaces for the design of each course, supporting the course design process and the course development process;
  16. Evidence of Learning – describes the achievable tasks that support a demonstration of the Course Learning Outcomes. Evidence of Learning descriptions inform the design of assessment tasks at the subject level of ensure course learning outcomes and integrated standards are being met;
  17. Feedback – underpins a process of self-evaluation and perspective seeking by course team members, peers, external advisors, and University leadership during the process of course review and/or design. A set of research-informed feedback questions have been developed to support feedback processes in all course reviews;
  18. Integrated Standards – are processes afforded by CourseSpace to manage the multiple sets of standards that need to be met (such as professional accreditation, Graduate Learning Outcomes web page and AQF) as a single set of integrated standards. The integrated standards become the Course Learning Outcomes and provide a complete term of reference or framework for the course design;
  19. Iterative Design – is the process of course design and development.  It is a cyclic process that begins with the desired student attributes (required for example by industry, Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) and/or Charles Sturt University's Graduate Learning Outcomes)and then either works backwards from outcomes to assessment to Learning and Teaching Strategy design, or builds forward from existing elements in the course, revisiting the baseline decisions to critically evaluate existing material during the process;
  20. Learning Design – is the process whereby pedagogies, their related strategies and activities, are applied to meet specific learning outcomes for a subject;
  21. Learning Outcomes – are specific statements about what a student is expected to know or do, as a result of completing a specified learning experience and assessment task in a subject to a satisfactory standard;
  22. Modification – means a course or subject change which occurs without a contribution from an external stakeholder, but which requires approval at either Course Director, School Board or Faculty Courses Committee level;
  23. Module – is a planned set of learning activities required to fulfil the learning requirements of one or more learning and teaching strategies. Modules enable the scaffolding and scheduling of the learning for a subject;
  24. Module Design - includes the framing of the pedagogy and content into learning activities and learning resources, following subject design in the course design process;
  25. Online Learning Model - set of elements - refers to a set of elements designed to increase student engagement, retention and overall satisfaction in the online mode of delivery;
  26. Stage Documentation - is used to record decisions in relation to course review. Stage 1 is planning and analysis, Stage 2 is setting new outcomes and Faculty-wide consultation and Stage 3 is finalising and implementing;
  27. Standards – are statements that describe the expectations for students on graduation, established by professional bodies to define the required knowledge, behaviours and attitudes graduates must demonstrate on graduation. These may be integrated to produce one set of course outcomes, or aligned individually to the course design;
  28. Subject – refers to a unit of learning that articulates the Course Learning Outcomes and fulfils the integrated standards and commitments of a course. It consists of a subject description and constructively aligned learning out comes, learning and teaching strategies and assessment tasks;
  29. Threshold Levels – refer to to the internal consistency of the course in meeting design requirements. This means that the relevant team members and any other stakeholders have given feedback that indicates an overall agreement with the content and information at defined points during the design process;
  30. Waypoints for Approval – are approval points during the course design process using CourseSpace. These are formative:  Waypoint 1 approves Baseline, Integrated Standards and Course Learning Outcomes. Waypoint 2 approves assessments and subject design.  Waypoint 3 is summative and includes Faculty Courses Committee approval of the overall course design, and of Staged and Course and Subject Information Management System (CASIMS) documents documentation; and
  31. Workplace Learning – refers to students’ active participation and purposeful engagement with professional roles and responsibilities in real world or virtual professional environments, including simulated environments.
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Section 3 - Policy

Principles of Course Design and Development

(6) This Policy is founded on the following principles:

  1. course design and development and the University is a system approach, which is an institution-wide, quality-assured, collaborative approach within a construct of aligned learning outcomes, assessments and student learning experiences;
  2. course design and development are components of an iterative course lifecycle process of continuous improvement. Other components of the course lifecycle include review, delivery and evaluation, such that evaluation and feedback on each component informs the other components. The scope of the review is dependent on the analysis of course data during the initial Baseline / Stage 1 component, including external or internal benchmarking processes, and including student feedback data, both of which may indicate the need to rework existing course design, or begin a new design;
  3. course performance, market analysis, market trends, et cetera, are part of a faculty planning process assisted by other relevant divisions of the University that informs course review and design of existing and / or new courses / subjects;
  4. where relevant, courses are designed with an acknowledgement of the need for online learning opportunities and assessments. Subjects, including the learning and teaching strategies employed, are designed beginning with online considerations, incorporating the online learning model and learning designs;
  5. course learning outcomes and the evidence of learning define the evidence of students’ meeting of course-level standards or outcomes through the development and demonstration of their capabilities and achievements by the end of the course;
  6. course teams must utilise student feedback in the process of design and should where possible, include student representatives as members of the course design team. Student feedback and evaluations feed into course design and modification processes;
  7. collaborative team and working processes form the basis of course design and development activity. Team membership will include representatives from the Division of Library Services, the Academic Language, Literacy and Numeracy Team (ALLaN) and from the Division of Learning and Teaching who will attend regular meetings of the team. Other course team members are drawn from faculties, schools, divisions and the field to provide a range of specialist knowledges;
  8. course design utilises the processes of iterative design, including constructive alignment. For example, assessment is deliberately designed to meet course integrated standards required by industry, Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) and / or Charles Sturt University's Graduate Learning Outcomes. Assessment is then used to inform the design of subject learning outcomes and learning and teaching strategies. It is a cyclic process;
  9. all Charles Sturt University subjects contain authentic and criterion-referenced and standards-based (CRSB)assessment tasks that map to course-level standards and subject-level learning outcomes and have clearly defined assessment criteria and performance standards that make explicit to the student what they need to achieve in order to receive a passing grade for the task (in line with the Assessment Principles Policy and Moderation Policy);
  10. course review design and development requires a judicious use of University resources. It is within the scope of academic work and allocated separately as part of normal workload. It includes work that is included in the course design and development processes, and related professional learning. The design process encompasses careful planning, thoughtful leadership and a mapping of resource to ensure accountability at all levels of the process;
  11. design approval processes include formative approval (Waypoints 1 & 2) and the summative approval (Waypoint 3) approval through Faculty Courses Committee.  Development of the course to implementation is approved through a Subject Integrity process at School level;
  12. integrated course-level standards that draw on Charles Sturt University Graduate Learning Outcomes, Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) learning outcomes and / or professional or discipline standards are to be defined for all Charles Sturt University Undergraduate and professional entry courses of one or more years Full Time Equivalent duration. Postgraduate courses may draw on AQF learning outcomes and may choose to include some / all Charles Sturt University Graduate Learning Outcomes and / or professional standards as appropriate. These integrated course-level standards are embedded in subject-level learning outcomes and assessment criteria, and demonstrated in assessment tasks throughout the course to ensure development and progressive demonstration of relevant student capabilities;
  13. courses are designed, where relevant, to include workplace learning with authentic partnerships with the field or industry. Workplace learning is scaffolded across the course, through intentional integration with a range of subjects that support student learning and experience;
  14. within subjects in courses, students experience a range of learning opportunities that include diverse experience relating to their future employment. Learning is designed to utilise a range of pedagogical approaches that are appropriate for the content and supported by research; and
  15. the course design process is informed through regular feedback from all relevant stakeholders at specific points in the design process, especially students. Feedback is gathered with a focus on design elements and alignment, and is then used to improve course design.

Course Design and Development Requirements

(7) All Charles Sturt University courses must incorporate the requirements of the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 related to courses. This includes standards on course design (in particular, HES 3.1, 3.2.3, 3.3.1, 5.1.3, 5.3. The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) Guidance Notes for the HES contain more detailed information on how the Standards should be implemented.

(8) All Charles Sturt University courses must meet the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) for the relevant qualification level in the Australian education and training system. The AQF provides descriptors for each qualification level.

(9) Where a Charles Sturt University course must meet professional or discipline based content standards, the design will be mapped against the standards. These standards may be provided by an accrediting body or selected by the Course Leadership Team as the basis of the course design and alignment.

(10) Charles Sturt University courses that require professional accreditation must be ensure graduate eligibility for registration or employment through meeting stated entry requirements, and address all program requirements and professional standards that are embedded in the regulations.

(11) All Charles Sturt University undergraduate courses and professional entry courses greater than one Full Time Equivalent (FTE) year must address the Graduate Attributes Policy. The course mapping will demonstrate where the course has aligned itself to Graduate Learning Outcomes. Postgraduate courses must draw on relevant learning outcomes required at that level by the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) for Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) accreditation and any professional standards required for industry accreditation. Use of Charles Sturt University Graduate Learning Outcomes is encouraged but is optional.

(12) The University has policies that impact on course design, which must also be incorporated within course design and development. The Course Director will ensure that these requirements are mapped as part of the Baseline component of the course design process.  For example, all undergraduate degrees and professional entry degrees must contain designated subjects within subject learning outcomes, Learning and Teaching Strategies and assessment tasks that ensure that the course design meets the requirements of the following policies and strategy resources:

  1. Academic Integrity Policy;
  2. Assessment Policy - Coursework Subjects;
  3. English Language, Literacy and Numeracy Policy;
  4. Indigenous Australian Content in Courses Policy; and
  5. first year experience strategies.

(13) Assessment tasks that map to Charles Sturt University Graduate Learning Outcomes or elaborated professional / course standards can only be changed with the authority of the Course Director and relevant Head of School (or School Board) in order to maintain course design alignments. Refer to the Course Lifecycle Handbook section on modification approval.

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Section 4 - Procedures

(14) This Policy should be read in conjunction with the Course Lifecycle Handbook. The Handbook contains detailed procedural information about Charles Sturt University course design and development processes. Please refer to the Course Design web page which is located within the How to Manuals - Course Design Process.

Part A - Governance of Course Design and Development

Courses Committees of Faculty Boards

(15) The Faculty Courses Committees, as committees of the Academic Senate, provide scrutiny of all course and subject design and documentation, except Higher Degree Research programs.

School Boards

(16) School Boards are the principal academic body of each School. School Boards consider and make recommendations to the Faculty Courses Committee with respect to all matter relating to the subjects taught by the School and may also provide advice in relation to courses.

(17) Subject profiles need to be approved by School Boards prior to Faculty Courses Committee course design approval.

(18) New subjects to be developed following a course review will be quality assured by the online moderation system and approved by the School Board against design specifications. The subject integrity check will approve the staged development of new subjects in a course over the required period of time. A moderator nominated by the Head of School will approve the subject in line with the usual process of subject quality assurance before going to the School Board for endorsement and then Faculty Courses Committee for approval.

Indigenous Board of Studies

(19) The Indigenous Board of Studies has responsibilities for approval and oversight of subjects containing indigenous content, as specified in the Indigenous Australian Content in Courses Policy. Courses and subjects will be approved by Indigenous Board of Studies prior to a summative design approval by Faculty Courses Committee (Waypoint 3).

Timelines

(20) Timelines for final approval of nominated courses shall be as for all courses and subjects of the University (refer to the Course Accreditation Policy). The course design process timeline outlines the course design process and approval Waypoints. The course development process timeline outlines the course development process and the subject integrity checking process (refer to the Course Lifecycle Handbook).

Part B - Review, Design and Accreditation

(21) The processes of course review and course design are central to the accreditation of courses by the University. This Policy should be read in conjunction with the Academic Senate Course Accreditation Policy and with the Course Lifecycle Handbook, which contains detailed procedural information for the course design process.

(22) The course accreditation process at Charles Sturt University governs the outcomes of the course review and design processes. This is via approval of a design at formative points, and final approval on submission to full course documentation at Faculty Courses Committee.

(23) The Course Review and Modification Decision Tree outlines the level of design or modification that may be required by a course during its lifecycle. Following University, Faculty and / or Course leadership consideration, a course may require a major review, which may entail a new design or a redesign; otherwise changes are considered a modification. Refer to the Course Accreditation Policy and with the Course Lifecycle Handbook, which contains detailed procedural information for the course design process.

(24) There is a course review process supported by review stage documentation (Stages 1-3).  The course design process is a three-phased process. These two processes work in concert with each other as indicated in the table below:

Process
Approval
Stage 1 Planning and initial analysis
Course Design Process: Preparation Phase and Phase 1 Baseline, including setting up Course and Subject Information Management System (CASIMS) documentation
 
Stage 1 meeting - Continuation of course or not - minuted
Executive Dean, Associate Dean, Academic and Head of School
 
Stage 2a Seeking advice and seeking new outcomes
Course Design Process: Phase 1 course design process (Integrated standards and Course Learning Outcomes design)
 
Stage 2b Faculty Consultation
Stage 2 Associate Dean, Academic sign off of Faculty consultation – no approval meeting
Waypoint 1 approval Faculty Courses Committee
Course Design Process: Phase 2 Assessments & Subjects
 
Waypoint 2 approval Faculty Courses Committee
Course Design Process: Phase 3 Modules
 
Indigenous Board of Studies & ELLAN approval
School Board approval
Stage 3 Finalising and implementing
Completing CASIMS documentation
Stage 3 meeting - Executive Dean, Associate Dean, Academic & Head of School
 
Final course approval
Waypoint 3 Final approval Faculty Courses Committee - including Course and Subject Information Management System (CASIMS) doc
 

(25) It is the responsibility of the Faculty Courses Committee to ensure that all feedback requirements have been met and are complete. Faculty Courses Committee, or a subgroup of Faculty Courses Committee appointed by the Chair, review the design specification and feedback in CourseSpace and provide comment and a recommendation that the course has met the requirements of each Waypoint.

(26) Feedback received on courses in design must indicate overall agreement with the content, on each component prior to submission to the Faculty Courses Committee. This feedback must be within the timelines for the process.

(27) Course Directors shall report to Faculty Courses Committee on the progress of course review and the course design components at the three approval Waypoints.

(28) Course Directors shall report to Faculty Courses Committee on modifications to courses post Waypoint 3 approval.

(29) Course details for governance and reporting are entered into a Course and Subject Information Management System (CASIMS) course document, using the information recorded in CourseSpace during the design process. Waypoint 3 in the course design process includes parallel approval of the completed course design in CourseSpace, and the Course and Subject Information Management System (CASIMS) documentation. The course design process as recorded in CourseSpace, and the administration / governance information recorded in the Course and Subject Information Management System (CASIMS) documents together for the information required for summative approval of the course by the Faculty Courses Committee.

Organisation of Course Review and Design Process

(30) The review and / or design of each course through the course design process is overseen by a Course Director appointed by the Executive Dean.

(31) Once approval has been given to proceed with a course review or design, if required, a CourseSpace is created for the course to enable course review and design or modification. The Course Director and the course design team complete the design and approval process in Course Space and the relevant documentation in Course and Subject Information Management System (CASIMS), for approval by the Faculty Courses Committee. If a CourseSpace is not required, the review is documented by the Course Director to ensure both transparency of the process and a record of the process.

(32) The Associate Dean, Academic will direct the Course Director to establish a timeline and plan for the course review or design. The Course Director will convene the Course Leadership Team and Course Design Team required to complete the course design and advisory process articulated in the Course Lifecycle Handbook.

  1. The Course Leadership Team may comprise:
    1. Associate Dean, Academic;
    2. Head of School;
    3. Course Director;
    4. Educational Designer;
    5. Course Design Lead; and
    6. Discipline Leader.
  2. The Course Design Team may comprise:
    1. Course Director;
    2. Course Design Lead;
    3. Educational Designer;
    4. Discipline Leader/s;
    5. student representative;
    6. subject developers; and
    7. advisors.

(33) Heads of School are responsible for allocating workload for course and subject design and professional learning, and for including design work in the Employee Development and Review Scheme process of staff.

(34) The Course Director will lead the Course Leadership and Course Design Team through the process, resulting in the completion of all course design and approval requirements and reporting progress and issues to the Associate Dean, Academic.

(35) Where the process has been completed in CourseSpace, following approval by Faculty Courses Committee a copy of a course’s CourseSpace will be versioned and the CourseSpace re-opened for modification and ongoing improvement.

(36) Where a course is shared between Faculties, the Associate Dean, Academics will direct the Course Director to develop a plan to include representatives from the Faculties involved. The Course Leadership and Course Design Teams would also then include representatives from all of the Faculties involved.

Review and Design of Courses Outside of the Charles Sturt University Course Design Process

(37) Where a course is designed outside of the course design process, a Course Director is directed by the Faculty to enter a process of review, and to form a course team to complete the process.

(38) Under the direction of the Course Director, and with guidance from the Associate Dean, Academic, the course team reviews the course, informed by the Course Accreditation Policy. The outcome of the review is documented in Course and Subject Information Management System (CASIMS).

(39) During the process of course design, the Course Director reports at set points by completing Staged documentation and submitting it to their respective faculty leadership for approval by the Faculty Courses Committee.

Shared Subject Design

(40) Where a subject is shared between courses in Schools or Faculties, the Associate Dean, Academics, in collaboration with the Course Directors concerned, will appoint a single Course Director to oversee design of the subject.

(41) The host Associate Dean, Academic will direct the lead Course Director to develop a plan for and complete the subject design in the CourseSpace or relevant subject bank, in collaboration with the Course Directors (or nominees) of courses sharing the subject.

(42) The subject design shall be approved by the relevant School Board and by the relevant Faculty Courses Committee as part of the course approval process. Approval information is passed on to relevant Faculty Courses Committees for noting.

Inter-Faculty and Inter-School Teaching

(43) Where inter-Faculty and / or intra-Faculty teaching will be required as part of the final design, the requirements of the Academic Senate policy on such teaching will be implemented by the course design and course leadership teams.

Part C - Development and Accreditation

Development Phase and Waypoints

(44) Course development is a process central to the quality of course delivery at the University and ensures that the integrity of approved course designs is represented in subjects as they are developed and delivered. Development may be a staged process across the years of the course.

(45) A subject integrity check is required following a course review, design and development process and prior to the delivery of a subject. It is initiated by the Course Director in consultation with the Head of School and relevant subject convenors / coordinators and with reference to the relevant policies, including the Assessment Policy - Coursework Subjects and the Moderation Policy.

(46) Subject Integrity will be undertaken as part of the normal subject review process for new subjects. It will occur prior to the first offering. The subject review process attests to the integrity of the design and the development process.

(47) The Course Director and Subject Convenor shall report to the School Board and Head of School on progress toward subject integrity. Where subject integrity has not been maintained, the Head of School is responsible for changes being made. If there are significant changes which must be approved by the Faculty Courses Committee, the subject will be included on the next Faculty Courses Committee agenda for approval of the modifications, and minutes as approved. For changes not requiring this level of approval, a record of the changes will be noted by the Course Director.

Organisation of Development Process

(48) Once Faculty Courses Committee has approved a course design (either Waypoint 3 or completed Course and Subject Information Management System (CASIMS) documentation) the course development process commences.

(49) The Associate Dean, Academic  will direct the Course Director to establish a timeline and work plan for the course development process to be described in the CourseSpace Planner. The Course Director will convene the course development team and is required to complete the course development and approval process articulated in the Course Lifecycle Handbook.

(50) Other participants in course development may include the Learning Design Unit Manager, Education Designer or Designers, Discipline Lead or Leads, Subject Convenors, Media Services, Advisors and a student representative.

(51) Heads of School are responsible for allocating workload for course and subject development and related professional learning. Heads of School are responsible for including development work in the Employee Development and Review Scheme process of staff, and signing off on subject integrity.

Shared Subject Development

(52) Development of shared subjects will follow the standard procedure as specified in this Policy and the Course Lifecycle Handbook, with collaboration between the Course Directors (or their nominees) from the courses sharing the subject.

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Section 5 - Guidelines

(53) This Policy should be read in conjunction with the Course Lifecycle Handbook. The Handbook contains detailed procedural information about Charles Sturt University course design and development processes. Processes are also articulated in the How To Manual and supported by the Course Design web page.