Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
Log in
You are here: Home News AQF Opens Door to More Masters Flexibility

AQF Opens Door to More Masters Flexibility

The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) has announced a simplification of the previously complex Volume of Learning (VoL) specification for Masters degrees, effective 1 June 2014. The new description allows more flexibility and professional discretion, and is more consistent with the descriptions for other qualifications.

This is a matter that COPHE representatives advocated for during the initial consultation process.

The revised Masters Degree Specification is included in the Addendum to the AQF Second Edition January 2013: Amended Qualification Type: Masters Degree.
This Addendum replaces pages 59-62 of the AQF Second Edition.

Change 1

The volume of learning descriptors for the Masters Degree (Research) and the Masters Degree (Coursework) have been simplified by deleting the former complex prescriptions. The VoL descriptors now comprise a single sentence:

Volume of learning 

The volume of learning of a Masters Degree (Research) is typically 1 – 2 years.

The volume of learning of a Masters Degree (Coursework) is typically 1 – 2 years. 

The volume of learning of a Masters Degree (Extended) is typically 3 – 4 years following completion of a minimum of a 3 year level 7 qualification.


Change 2

The statement on the volume of learning under the heading Responsibility for accreditation and development (last dot point at page 62) AQF Second Edition 2013 has been amplified:

  • The volume of learning is sufficient for graduates to achieve the learning outcomes for a qualification of this level and type. The volume of learning must take into account the level of the previous qualification and / or knowledge and skills required for entry and whether the purpose is for deepening or broadening knowledge and skills.

For details see the AQF website:

For more helpful details, refer to the AQF Explanations document.


Existing Masters programs that comply with the previous AQF specifications will also comply with the new requirements. The new specifications however allow more flexibility in setting the Volume of Learning (notional duration) within the typical range of 1 – 2 years, or 1200 - 2400 hours. Those developing or accrediting qualifications are still required to demonstrate that students achieve the learning outcomes in the AQF criteria, including Knowledge, Skills and Application. For instance, a Masters degree will still need a research or capstone component, as required by the Skills descriptor.

COPHE welcomes the changed requirements that allow more pedagogic judgment in course design to meet the educational and professional needs of students and employers.

COPHE Briefing prepared by Paul O’Halloran, COPHE Advisor - June 2014

News image