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Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit introduces the underpinning knowledge, philosophies, roles and practice of midwifery as the foundational midwifery unit within the Bachelor of Midwifery. Students develop their knowledge of women's health, normal human anatomy and physiology and health assessment, including the alterations and changes in normal pregnancy. Students are introduced to foundational midwifery assessment skills. Collaborative and autonomous aspects of midwifery practice are explored in relation to primary health care principles and the scope of midwifery practice. The concept of community engagement will be introduced in this unit as an element of reflective practice and promoting the common good.

The foundations of midwifery unit is required by students to embed fundamental knowledge around what it is to be a midwife, inclusive of the autonomous and collaborative aspects of midwifery practice in relation to primary health care.

This unit provides opportunities for students to integrate theoretical and practical knowledge in simulation laboratories and experience the first of six units that include supervised clinical practice. Foundation midwifery practice skills will be developed and extended through scenario-based learning in the laboratory. Additionally, students will commence to participate in and learn from the Continuity of Care Experience (CCE). This unit is required by students to assist them to develop knowledge and skills regarding a woman-centred approach to care in midwifery.

The aim of this unit is to:

  • provide the foundations on which clinical assessments are based, and model the way in which students will contextualise their theoretical knowledge through clinical practice.
  • introduce students to contemporary midwifery concepts, and to inform their understanding of the roles of the midwife in primary health care. 

We recognise that people who access maternity care may have diverse gender identities, that those who do can experience marginalisation and oppression, and that using appropriate terminology can help with these community members’ recognition and visibility, acknowledge the variety of pregnancy and birth experiences people may have, and respect individuals’ preferences. To reflect this, terms such as ‘pregnant person’, ‘birthing person’, ‘childbearing people’, ‘parent’ and ‘chestfeeding’ may be used in the midwifery courses at ACU in addition to ‘woman’, ‘mother’, ‘maternity’, ‘maternal’ and ‘breastfeeding’, which are used not to exclude those who do not identify as a woman, but in recognition that women continue to be marginalised and oppressed in many places around the world and to respect their own individual preferences.

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
LO1Demonstrate an understanding of the roles of the midwife in primary care and primary health care to professional, legal and ethical standards of midwiferyGC1, GC4, GC5, GC11
LO2Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of community engagement as related to reflective practice and the common goodGC1, GC6, GC11
LO3Demonstrate academic literacy skills as applied to evidence-based midwifery practiceGC1, GC2, GC7, GC9, GC11
LO4Demonstrate beginning communication skills appropriate for interactions with women, families and colleaguesGC4, GC6, GC10, GC12
LO5Apply foundational knowledge of anatomical, physiological and psychosocial alterations and adaptations of pregnancy to introductory health assessment skillsGC1, GC2, GC9, GC11, GC12
LO6Apply the underpinning philosophies of midwifery to woman-centred midwifery practiceGC1, GC2, GC3, GC5, GC6, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12

NMBA Midwife Standards for Practice 

NMBA (2018) Midwife Standards for Practice developed in this unit are:

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

Standard 1: Promotes health and wellbeing through evidence-based midwifery practice 

1.1; 1.2; 1.3; 1.4; 1.5; 1.6; 1.7

LO1, LO2, LO3

Standard 2: Engages in professional relationships and respectful partnerships

2.1; 2.2; 2.3; 2.7; 2.8

LO1, L03, LO4, LO6

Standard 3: Demonstrates the capability and accountability for midwifery practice

3.1; 3.2; 3.3; 3.5; 3.8

LO1, LO3, LO4, LO5

Standard 4: Undertakes comprehensive assessments

4.1; 4.2; 4.3; 4.4

LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6 

Standard 5: Develops plans for midwifery practice

5.1; 5.2; 5.4

LO2, LO3, LO4, LO6 

Standard 6: Provides safety and quality in midwifery practice

6.2; 6.3; 6.4

LO3, LO4, LO6

Standard 7: Evaluates outcomes to improve midwifery practice  

7.1; 7.2; 7.3

LO2, LO5


Topics will include: 

Legal and professional practice 

  • Introduce published codes and standards for the midwife 
  • Introduce the role of Ahpra for midwives 
  • Documentation and use of health informatics and health technology 
  • Med+Safe medication calculations
  • Introduction to course requirements including Community Engagement (CE), clinicial experience and the Continuity of Care Experience (CCE) 
  • Behavioural expectations 
  • Documentation 
  • Confidentiality and informed consent  
  • Scope of practice 
  • Professional boundaries 
  • Assertive communication skills

 Midwifery knowledge and practice 

  • Role of the midwife  
  • Primary care across the childbearing continuum 
  • Autonomous midwifery practice 
  • Collaborative midwifery practice 
  •  Philosophies of midwifery 
  • Woman-centred care 
  • Partnership with women 
  • Relational continuity of care 
  •  Psychosocial aspects of childbearing 
  • Pre-conception care 
  • Psychosocial alteration and adaptation  
  • Anatomical, physiological alterations and adaptations  
  • Conception, embryology and fetal development 
  • Pregnancy 
  •  Beginning health assessment skills and documentation  
  • Health history taking 
  • Psycho-social assessment 
  • Assessment of vital signs 
  • Abdominal examination  
  • Urinalysis 
  • Antenatal screening 
  •  Professional interpersonal communication  
  • Interpersonal self-awareness 
  • Developing a therapeutic partnership 
  • Communication microskills 
  • Active listening 
  • Advocacy and assertiveness 
  • Responding to difficult emotions (e.g. anger, sadness) 
  •  Clinical decision making 
  • Clinical decision making theories and frameworks related to: 
  • Problem solving 
  • Critical thinking 
  • Reflection 

 Midwifery as primary health care  

  • Women in society 
  • Role and function of the midwife in health and wellbeing of the childbearing family 
  • Midwifery as a public health strategy 
  • Primary Health Care (PHC): Principles, philosophy and strategies   
  • Theoretical bases for health promotion and health education in childbearing 
  • The importance of birthing on Country for Indigenous Australian women

 Reflective and ethical practice 

  • NMBA Codes of Ethics and Professional Conduct for midwives 
  • Professional boundaries for midwives 
  • Evidence-based midwifery 
  • Reflective practice 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit fosters student-centred active learning and accommodates diverse student needs. It includes a combination of self-paced, online learning and real-time classes. Early and additional feedback on learning, and tailored support, are provided to facilitate students’ transition to university. Modes of delivery in this unit include group learning activities such as skills demonstrations, simulated practice, supervised clinical practice, participation in the Continuity of Care Experience (CCE), self-directed study, learner-centred resource sessions, tutorials/workshops, online classrooms, story sharing and other Aboriginal ways of learning, and clinical laboratory activities. 

Consistent with adult learning principle the teaching and learning strategies used within these modes of delivery will provide students with foundational knowledge and skills relevant to professional midwifery practice. These strategies will also support students in meeting the aim, learning outcomes and graduate attributes of the unit and the broader course learning outcomes. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively with peers. Scenario-based learning, case-based learning, problem-based learning and inquiry-based learning are all used to support the development of students' independent learning ability.

Students entering university need significant support to transition into a learning and teaching environment where they are required to drive their own learning. To guide students in their learning, feedback is required to identify what is being done well, what requires additional work and to identify progress toward required learning outcomes. Located in the first year of the program, this theory unit includes significant face-to-face teaching hours to assist students in linking midwifery theory with practice. Learner-centred resource sessions are utilised to convey content and central principles while tutorials/workshops and clinical laboratory activities deliver interactive learning sessions. These sessions include formative feedback to build foundational tertiary study skills while also providing an opportunity to establish group-work and community learning skills. 

Group learning activities are utilised to convey content and central principles while laboratories and simulation deliver interactive learning sessions which assists students to apply theory to clinical practice and build self-reflection skills. The supervised clinical practicum of 80 hours provides a safe environment where students can provide assisted woman-centred care essential for successful graduate practice.


Attendance at all lectures, practical classes and simulations is expected. Attendance records of all practical and tutorial classes are maintained with a minimum of 80% attendance required for Tutorial and 100% required for Laboratory classes.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures consistent with University assessment requirements will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes.

Assessment methods will primarily evaluate the student’s understanding of the discipline of midwifery and introduce beginning clinical skills required for undertaking a health assessment. An early assessment in week four of the semester will provide students with an opportunity for feedback regarding their progress in the development of academic writing in the midwifery context. Students are expected to present an oral presentation discussing a clinical skill, thereby demonstrating the relationship between theory and practice. The examination enables students to demonstrate a sound knowledge base in addressing content and process questions related to unit content. Development of a professional midwifery portfolio will allow the students to showcase their learning experiences (clinical experiences and Continuity of Care Experience) in a professional manner ensuring that documentation meets the professional legal requirements for practice experiences.

These assessments are required to build student knowledge and skills which, by the conclusion of this program, will enable the student to graduate as a safe and effective midwife.

In order to pass this unit, students are required to comply with all attendance requirements, submit all assignments on or before the due date (unless an Extension has been approved by the LIC), achieve an aggregate mark of at least 50%, submit all required placement documentation by the due date, 5 (five) days after clinical placement, and be assessed as ‘satisfactory’ in the final assessment of the placement.

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for students to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome.

Mandatory Documentation for Clinical Placement

To ascertain what mandatory documentation is required, please consult the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) website to assess pre-placement requirements

Mandatory documentation should then be uploaded to student's InPlace record by the required due date. This is to meet ACU and Health Care Facility requirements. Submission instructions and the due date for midwifery requirements can also be found on the above link.

If students are unable to meet the requirements of the unit, they are advised to consider applying for “Re- credit of Student Learning Entitlement (SLE) and Refund of Fees in Special Circumstances”

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1 - Written Assignment  

Enables students to demonstrate achievement of skills in academic writing and referencing and to articulate their knowledge and understanding of beginning clinicals skills in midwifery.  


LO1, LO2, LO3

Assessment Task 2 - Oral Presentation 

Enables students to achieve sound communication skills and demonstrate understanding of key issues in foundational midwifery practice.  


LO4, LO5, LO6

Assessment Task 3 - Examination

Enables students to demonstrate overall knowledge and understanding of content in the unit.


LO3, LO5, LO6

Assessment Task 4 - Professional Midwifery Portfolio

Enables students to showcase their clinical experiences in a professional manner, inclusive of the Continuity of Care Experience, ensuring that documentation meets the professional and legal requirements for practice.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

Representative texts and references

Johnson, R., & Taylor, W., De-Vitry Smith, S., Bayes, S. (2018). Skills for Midwifery Practice Australian & New Zealand Edition (1st ed.). Elsevier. 

Marshall, J., & Raynor, M. (Eds.). (2020). Myles Textbook for Midwives (17th ed.). Elsevier.

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia [NMBA]. (2013). Code of ethics for midwives. International Confederation of Midwives. 

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia [NMBA]. (2018). Code of conduct for midwives. Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. 

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia [NMBA]. (2018). Midwife standards for practice. Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. 

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia [NMBA] and Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives [CATSINaM] (2018). NMBA and CATSINaM joint statement on culturally safe care. Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. 

Pairman, S., Tracey, S., Dahlen, H., & Dixon, L. (2018). Midwifery: Preparation for Practice (4th ed.). Elsevier.

Rankin, J. (Ed.). (2020). Myles Midwifery Anatomy and Physiology Workbook (2nd ed.). Elsevier. 

Rankin, J. (Ed.). (2017). Physiology in childbearing with anatomy and related biosciences (4th ed.). Elsevier.

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