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WCIV605 Introduction to the Research Task



Unit rationale, description and aim

Postgraduate 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 an essay 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 essay. The word count is smaller than that expected for the Liberal Arts Research Project, but the unit is guided by the principle that a smaller quantity of words in no way denotes a less rigorous form of research and reflection. Therefore, the Learning Outcomes and Graduate Attributes are as rigorous and demanding as in a larger research project. 

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 6,000-to-9,000-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 will normally include:

  • Ethics
  • Primary and secondary research approaches
  • Goal setting and time management
  • 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 essay 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 essay of 6,000-to-9,000 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 essay, 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 Extended Research Essay are designed to culminate in the Extended Research Essay: a 6,000-to-9,000-word original, written essay 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 essay 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. The supervisor will continue to support the student's development of scholarly agency, and achievement of all assessment tasks in this unit. 

The first hurdle task is the Draft Chapter of the Research Essay. Students will produce a thoughtful, graduate-level first chapter of the Research Essay 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 essay. Both of these assessments continue and sustain the regular and formative feedback loops through which the supervisor monitors the student’s performance. The Assessment item will be a completed 6,000-to-9,000 word essay and will be internally assessed.

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 First Chapter of Research Essay

Requires students to produce the draft of a developed, thoughtful, graduate-level first chapter of the Research Essay in consultation with the chosen supervisor.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO5

GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

Hurdle Task: First Draft of Research Essay

Requires students to produce the first draft of a developed, thoughtful, graduate-level Research Essay (see below) in consultation with the chosen supervisor.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Assessment Task: Extended Research Essay

(6,000-to-9,000 words)

An original, research-based scholarly essay on a topic developed in close consultation with a supervisor, and internally assessed.


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 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)

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