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Category Academic
Type Guideline
Approved by Board of Graduate Studies, 4 July 2013
Date Guideline Took Effect 4 July 2013
Last approved revision 10 February 2016
Sponsor Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)
Responsible officer Manager, Policy and Compliance

Please note that compliance with University Guidelines is expected in normal circumstances, and any deviation from Guidelines – which should only be in exceptional circumstances – needs to be justifiable.


The purpose of these guidelines is to provide guidance to the University concerning the introduction of 180-point Masters' degrees. The Guidelines should be read in conjunction with information on Coursework Masters' degrees in the Committee on University Academic Programmes (CUAP) Handbook.

Organisational scope

These guidelines are for the use of the academic (teaching) Divisions.


Board of Graduate Studies.
Grade average
The average grade achieved in 72 points at 300-level in the major subject requirements of an undergraduate degree.
A description of the knowledge, skills and their application in relation to a qualification or a paper.
The New Zealand Qualifications Framework.
1 point represents study in formal instruction or independent study for 10 hours for undergraduate study or for 12 hours for postgraduate study.


Divisions should note the following guidelines and construct their own frameworks and principles for the development of 180-point Masters' programmes to be offered over the equivalent of a maximum of three semesters, while protecting, or with the deliberate intention to phase out, their current postgraduate offerings and in the knowledge of the national and international landscape for their qualifications.

  1. Degree titles should be either generic, e.g. Master of Applied Sciences with appropriate endorsements or named subjects, or should focus on niche areas that are expected to be attractive to international students and those already in the workforce.
  2. A persuasive justification would be needed for separately named degrees, but it could be appropriate for a niche market and/or where no corresponding undergraduate subject exists.
  3. It is not intended that there will be a wide range or a large number of generic or named Masters' degrees available at Otago.
  4. Post-qualification routes should be clear. Each degree will be either a terminating qualification or provide two pathways, one terminating and one that can be a route to PhD study.
  5. Inclusion of a research component is not mandatory. The maximum research component allowed is worth 60 points, normally where there is no Honours programme available in the subject.
  6. Programmes should be composed primarily of existing 400- and 500-level papers.
  7. 500-level (NZQF level 9) papers should be at an identifiably higher level than 400-level (NZQF level 8) papers.
  8. The considerable difference in outcome level between 300-level (NZQF level 7) and 500-level (NZQF level 9) should be recognised.
  9. The intensive nature of a 12-month programme should be acknowledged in regard to entry requirements, the level and sequencing of papers within the programme, inclusion of research, and protection of research time for academic staff.
  10. The minimum grade average for entry must be stated (normally B+ in 300-level papers).
  11. External assessment of student work for 180-point programmes is required, but external examination of any research component is not mandatory.
  12. An exit qualification should be considered when the 180-point Master's degree exceeds a calendar year in duration.

Related policies, procedures and forms

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification contact:

The Secretary to the Board of Graduate Studies

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