Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit





Unit rationale, description and aim

Postgraduates with demonstrated experience in the independent design and completion of novel research projects are highly valued in a variety of professional contexts. This unit forms the first part of the development of an independent, graduate-level, supervised, interdisciplinary project demonstrating significant original research.  

In this unit, students will work toward the development of a prospectus and annotated bibliography for a thesis that responds to a researchable question and contributes new knowledge. The student will work with their supervisor in negotiating a topic. With their guidance, the student will develop advanced skills in accessing, synthesizing, and evaluating primary and secondary data as relevant to their thesis. This unit serves as the introduction to both the larger Liberal Arts Research Project (WCIV607) and the Extended Research Essay (WCIV608). Such a design builds flexibility into the course and allows a student to choose their pathway upon completion of this unit.      

This unit aims to support the development of advanced theoretical and technical knowledge and skills through a process of self-directed and scholarly investigation that supports further learning and/or professional practice in the relevant fields. 

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.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 – Autonomously formulate a complex research project prospectus according to the methodological and ethical conventions of the fields of study (GA3, GA5, GA7)

LO2 – Apply advanced cognitive and technical research skills in the chosen fields of study, by producing an annotated bibliography on graduate-level topic (GA8, GA10)

LO3 – Critically analyse and evaluate an original research problem in the form of a thesis prospectus (GA4, GA5, GA6)

LO4 – Transmit an advanced scholarly, theoretical and/or technical contribution to knowledge in the form of a thesis prospectus (GA4, GA9, GA10)

LO5 – Learn and apply advanced communication skills of clear and precise thesis prospectus writing (GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10).

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics covered in thesis supervision sessions will normally include:

  • Ethics
  • The introduction to significant original research
  • Primary and secondary research approaches
  • Goal setting and time management
  • Skills in reporting and analysis
  • Scholarly critique
  • Argumentation
  • Citation
  • Using advanced technologies to organise sources and bibliographies
  • 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 a researchable topic

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

In this unit, students work closely with an appointed supervisor from the Master of Liberal Arts (Western Civilisation) program to negotiate a topic of significance and develop a question along with a methodological approach and methods to guide their research. Students are expected to work autonomously in developing this preliminary work on their thesis by applying theories, concepts, data, and skills relevant to advancing an understanding of the topic under investigation. Supervisors will engage their students in regular cycles of reflection and critical self-appraisal. In addition, supervisors will guide students in developing techniques to find further resources available within ACU, and the relevant scholarly community and industry, to support their learning, the development of their thesis, and their professional competence. 

This unit has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the time-period of this unit.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessments for the Introduction to Research Project are designed to establish rigorous, graduate-level preparation, at an early stage in the course, for an original, written thesis. During this period of study, the student will formulate a research proposal, articulate that proposal in effective oral and written communication, and be provided with regular formative assessment of their proposal by their supervisor. The student will also prepare an annotated bibliography in consultation with the supervisor. In all cases the supervisor will seek and respond to drafts of student writing as well as invite the student to question and debate prominent arguments, theories and evidence that pertain to your research question/problem. 

To this end, the first assessment requires the student to offer a thoughtful, carefully researched, graduate-level oral presentation. The purpose of the presentation is to offer an oral proposal of a research thesis and allow the chosen supervisor the opportunity to provide questions and feedback. The second assessment allows for development and refinement of the prospectus that was originally presented in the oral proposal, and will result in a rigorous, graduate-level, written prospectus. The final assessment is an annotated bibliography of the topic developed for the research proposal. The annotated bibliography is designed to demonstrate graduate-level of mastery of research methods.

Minimum Achievement Standards

The assessment tasks and their weighting for this unit are designed to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome. In order to pass this unit, students are required to submit all assessment tasks, meet the learning outcomes of the unit and achieve a minimum overall passing grade of 50%.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Oral Presentation

Requires students to produce a developed, thoughtful, graduate-level oral presentation, of roughly 30-minutes, outlining the proposal of a research thesis, followed by thoughtful engagement with a supervisor’s questions and feedback.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 2: Research Proposal

Requires students to produce a developed, significant, original, graduate-level research proposal in consultation with the chosen supervisor.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

Assessment Task 3: Annotated Bibliography

Requires students to produce an annotated bibliography in order to demonstrate graduate-level mastery of skills in research methods. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

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

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

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

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 edn (Los Angeles: Sage, 2019)

Leavy, P., The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research, 2nd edn (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 Relationship (Toronto: Canadian Scholars, 2018)

Sullivan, Graeme, Art Practice as Research: Inquiry in Visual Arts, 2nd edn (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2010)

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs