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  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Online Scheduled



Unit rationale, description and aim

Graduates with demonstrated experience in the independent design and completion of novel research projects are highly valued in a variety of professional contexts. This unit is an interdisciplinary study of the theory and practice of research and writing, with a particular focus on research technique, literature searches, methodology, theoretical frameworks, academic writing and presentation. Its objectives are to establish the principles and ethics of research, including research with and about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and world Indigenous peoples; to introduce literacy skills central to independent research; to explain practice-based research and the relationships between creative media and research, and to master the skills of research thesis or exegesis/dissertation planning and writing. The unit learning outcomes all relate to the course learning outcomes by engaging students in the requirements, components, methodological, cultural and theoretical issues and strategies necessary to design, research and present a thesis, or a practice-based research project with exegesis/dissertation.

The aim of this unit is to support the development of the knowledge and skills that will scaffold the completion of an extended independent research project at the Honours level.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Apply advanced skills in print and electronic library research to the evaluation of literature relevant to the thesis or exegesis/dissertationGC1, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12
LO2Formulate a novel research problem and employ the research skills necessary to conduct that investigationGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12
LO3Critically analyse a variety of research methods, including ethical research practices, methods of data collection and theoretical frameworks and select those relevant to the thesis or exegesis/dissertationGC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC5, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12
LO4Create and communicate in written and oral form a presentation of original research that demonstrates cultural competency and substantial progress towards the completion of an undergraduate research thesis, or creative project with exegesis/dissertationGC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC5, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12


Topics will include:

  • Using advanced technologies to organise sources and bibliographies
  • Critically considering ethical research principles and applying for ethics approval
  • Formulating and planning a thesis topic and research problem
  • Identifying, locating, organising and analysing relevant research material for the project
  • Conceptualising and choosing research methods
  • Identifying and using theoretical frameworks to shape research
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and world Indigenous research principles and methodologies and relevant cultural protocols
  • Researching and writing a literature review
  • Writing a thesis proposal
  • Giving an oral presentation of research findings.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The development of an original thesis requires self-directed, sustained and autonomous research, reflection and writing. However, recognising that learning is enhanced when learners collaborate with others through processes of questioning, hypothesising and explaining, this unit offers both group-based learning modes as well as individual tasks. Students will participate in workshops, seminars, computer workshops and library tasks and will also work with supervisors/teaching staff through web-based or face-to-face consultations. Workshops and seminars will provide students with the opportunity to draw on interdisciplinary expertise from academic staff, to engage with a range of different methodologies and ontologies, as well as to share and workshop their own projects and work with each other. All of these teaching and learning strategies are designed to support students as they work towards the completion of their final Honours research project.

150 hours in total with a normal expectation of 24 hours of directed study and the total contact hours should not exceed 24 hours. The directed study might include lectures, tutorials, webinars, podcasts etc. The balance of the hours then become attendance at seminars or workshops delivered by guest speakers or key researchers and private study.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment in this unit is designed to introduce students to knowledge and skills that will scaffold the completion of an independent undergraduate research thesis. The first assessment task is a Literature Search and Evaluation that is designed to develop the information and search skills necessary to building a foundation in scholarly literature for a research project, and the analytical skills required to articulate the relationship between an emerging research project and key works in the relevant field. 

The second assessment task is a Thesis Proposal that requires students to develop a persuasive proposal for their undergraduate research project that articulates a well-formulated research question, demonstrates critical engagement with relevant literature, and provides a clear rationale for the methodology and theoretical framework chosen for the project. 

The third assessment task provides students with the opportunity to apply the research skills and knowledge they have developed in the unit to the creation of a ‘work-in-progress’ paper, presented in oral and written form, that demonstrates substantial progress towards the completion of their Honours research project.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Capabilities

Assessment Task 1: Literature Search and Evaluation (or equivalent)

This assessment is designed to develop students’ skills in finding a variety of sources relevant to a research project using multiple search techniques. Students are also required to articulate the significance of a selection of scholarly works for their project.


LO1, LO2GC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12

Assessment Task 2: Thesis Proposal (or equivalent)

The thesis proposal assesses students’ ability to formulate a research problem and to synthesise and contextualise their ideas in the research context of their topic and field of study.


LO1, LO2, LO3GC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC5, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12

Assessment Task 3: Written and Oral Work-in-progress Day Paper (or equivalent)

The work-in-progress day paper is an opportunity for students to develop an extended piece of original research that demonstrates their research progress. The oral presentation will receive critical and supportive feedback from a variety of staff and students. This assessment will test students’ ability to apply their advanced print and electronic research skills to craft a clearly structured oral presentation and a written essay.


LO2, LO3, LO4GC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC5, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12

Representative texts and references

Byrne, D. Research Ethics. Los Angeles: Sage, 2016.

Fink, A. Conducting Research Literature Reviews: From the Internet to Paper. 6th ed. Los Angeles: Sage, 2020.

Hammond, M., and J.J. Wellington. Research Methods: The Key Concepts. 2nd ed. London and New York: Routledge, 2021.

Hokowhitu, Brendan, Aileen Moreton-Robinson, Linda Tuhiwai-Smith, Chris Andersen, and Steve Larkin, eds. Routledge Handbook of Critical Indigenous Studies. London and New York: Routledge, 2020.

Iltis, A. S., and D. McKay. The Oxford Handbook of Research Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.

Kumar, R. Research Methodology: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners, 5th ed. Los Angeles: Sage, 2019.

Leavy, P. The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.

Martin, K. L. Please Knock Before You Enter: Aboriginal Regulation of Outsiders and the Implications for Researchers. Teneriffe, Qld: Post Pressed, 2008.

McGregor, D., J. Restoule and R. Johnston. Indigenous Research: Theories, Practices, and Relationships. Toronto: Canadian Scholars, 2018.

Moreton-Robinson, Aileen, ed. Critical Indigenous Studies: Engagements in First World Locations. University of Arizona Press, 2016.

Sullivan, Graeme. Art Practice as Research: Inquiry in Visual Arts. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2010.

Walliman, Nicholas. Research Methods: The Basics. London: Routledge, 2018. 

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