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WCIV605 Introduction to the Research Task



Unit rationale, description and aim

Post-graduate students need to be able to identify, respond to and solve complex and emerging problems and challenges in a wide range of professional contexts by engaging in original and methodologically appropriate research.

In this unit, students will develop and complete a thesis that responds to a researchable question and contributes new knowledge. Students will work with their supervisor in sustaining a project and, with their guidance, will develop advanced skills in accessing, synthesizing, and evaluating primary and/or secondary data as relevant to their thesis.

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 field. 

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 develop a complex research project according to the methodological and ethical conventions of the field of study (GA3, GA5, GA7)

LO2 – Apply advanced cognitive and technical research skills in the chosen field of study (GA8, GA10)

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

LO4 – Transmit an advanced scholarly, theoretical and/or technical contribution to knowledge in the form of a 12,000-to-15,000-word thesis (GA4, GA9)

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

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
  • Primary and secondary research approaches
  • Goal setting and time management
  • Shaping a literature review
  • Skills in reporting and analysis
  • Scholarly critique
  • Argumentation
  • Citation
  • Writing, editing, and preparing the thesis for examination.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

In this unit, students will work closely with an appointed supervisor from the Master of Liberal Arts (Western Civilisation) program to develop and complete the process that began with WCIV605: Introduction to Research Project. In that unit, students developed the prospectus of a research project and produced an annotated bibliography to guide their research. In this unit, students are expected to work autonomously in developing and completing their thesis by applying theories, concepts, data, and skills relevant to advancing an understanding of the topic they are investigating. The student’s supervisor will engage the student in regular cycles of reflection and critical self-appraisal to develop incrementally a sophisticated and scholarly thesis of 12,000-to-15,000 words. In addition, the supervisor will guide the student in developing techniques to find further resources available within ACU, and the relevant scholarly community and industry, to support their learning, the development of the 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 450 hours in total across the period of study.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessments for the Liberal Arts Research Project are designed to culminate in the Research Thesis: a 12,000-to-15,000-word original, written thesis based on work carried out over the period of study that evidences advanced knowledge and skills necessary for further learning or professional practice in the Arts and Humanities. Over this period of study, the student will be provided with regular formative assessment of their progress by their supervisor who will seek and respond to drafts of their writing as well as invite the student to question and debate prominent arguments, theories and evidence that pertain to their research question/problem. 

In WCIV605: Introduction to Research Task, the student is expected to have presented the prospectus of a research thesis and an annotated bibliography. In response to these materials, and by regular and formative feedback loops, the supervisor will have been, and will continue to monitor the student’s performance of the learning outcomes for this course, support their development of scholarly agency, and achievement of all assessment tasks in this unit. 

The first hurdle task is the Draft Chapter of the Research Thesis. Students will produce the draft of a thoughtful, graduate-level first chapter of the Research Thesis in consultation with their supervisor. The second hurdle task gives the student a chance to respond to feedback on that first chapter in order to develop a first draft of the entire Research Thesis. Both of these hurdle tasks continue and sustain the regular and formative feedback loops through which the supervisor monitors the student’s performance. 

Finally, the Research Thesis itself is the culmination of the unit and serves to reinforce all of the aims and course learning outcomes mentioned above. The assessment task, together with the whole assessment regime, aligns with the standard tertiary practice for AQF-Level 9, master’s-level work in the Arts and Humanities. The thesis examination will involve an assessment of the student’s ability to formulate, analyse, evaluate, and apply knowledge addressing a significant original research problem. The thesis examination will also assess the student’s application of cognitive and research skills through clear and precise scholarly writing. The Research Thesis will be assessed by two (2) or more external academics. 

The Liberal Arts Research Project will be awarded when all assessments are completed and the thesis has been examined.

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

Hurdle Task: Draft Chapter of the Research Thesis

Requires students to produce the draft of a graduate-level chapter of the Research Thesis.  


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8,

Hurdle Task: First draft of the Research Thesis

Requires students to produce a developed and thoughtful first draft of the Research Thesis.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO5

GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

Assessment Task 1: Liberal Arts Research Project

(12,000-to-15,000 words)

An original, significant, research-based scholarly report on a topic developed in close consultation with a supervisor, and to be externally assessed by two (2) or more research-active academic staff. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

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 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 Relationship (Toronto: Canadian Scholars, 2018)

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

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