Special Topic Unit

Important information

If you are thinking about enrolling in a Special Topic unit, be advised that it requires you to undertake some preparation prior to the trimester concerned.

  1. Decide on a topic that you wish to investigate.
  2. Make sure the topic is not one that's already addressed in other course units. We suggest you consult your Course Coordinator.
  3. Read the information in this document carefully before completing Steps 1 and 2 only in the Special Topic Unit form.
  4. Submit the form on-line as advised before the start of trimester.

Please link to the Special Topic Unit application form, then complete and submit the form online.

What are Special Topics?

The School of Education has Special Topic units in several of its courses. Normally, these units are available to assist students in special circumstances, for example, to enable them to complete their course requirements on schedule.

Special Topic units are unlike other units because you have to initiate the learning process and negotiate a specific learning contract with an academic supervisor. You will not receive the usual teaching materials such as a unit handbook or CD from the University. The learning contract becomes your teaching materials. It will specify what you have to do, and the deadline dates.

Special Topic units provide you with the opportunity to undertake an in-depth investigation of a specific topic of personal interest, and one that is not already addressed in other course units. Special Topic units suit students who are curious, well motivated and possess:

  • good self-organisation and time management skills;
  • sound academic writing skills;
  • skill in using library electronic data base search facilities;
  • problem solving and analytical skills; and
  • internet and word processing skills.

You will be assigned an academic supervisor who will support and guide you through your study program. S/he will also assist you in developing a plan of work that is manageable in the time available and in keeping with your expertise. Regular communication with your supervisor is critical to success in Special Topic units.

What I need to enrol?

As soon as possible, and preferably well ahead of the start of trimester, you should:

  1. Identify a topic that genuinely interests you, and clarify why.
  2. Use the Course and Unit Catalogue to check the units in your course. Are you reasonably sure your topic is not addressed in other units? You could also consult your Course Coordinator for advice.
  3. Clarify what you wish to specifically investigate. Write this down as one or more questions or objectives.
  4. Complete Steps 1 and 2 only of the School of Education Special Topic Unit form. This form, once completed, will become your learning contract.
  5. Submit the partially completed School of Education Special Topic Unit form online to the School's Academic Manager before the start of trimester. We will liaise with the teaching team most closely connected to your topic to identify an academic who is available to be your supervisor. You will then receive the name and contact details of your supervisor via your UNE email address. Your supervisor will receive a copy of your partially completed Special Topic Unit form.
  6. Your supervisor will contact you via your UNE email address to organise a face-to-face or telephone meeting. The meeting will commence with a general discussion about your interests and tentative idea for the Special Topic unit. You and your supervisor will then negotiate the specific tasks and deadlines for your program. This will be added to your Special Topic Unit form (or learning contract). Your supervisor will guide you in making the program manageable in the time available and in getting engaged with relevant literature. A routine for regular communication will be established.
  7. You, your supervisor and the Course Coordinator will sign the form and each keep a copy of your learning contract.

Your details and the learning contract information will be added to the School's Special Topic units database. A copy of your Special Topic Unit form will also be filed in the UNE Records Management Office.

Assessment Policy

UNE and School assessment policy applies to Special Topic units, including those related to grades, appeals, extensions and SET application procedures.

In a Special Topic unit (6 credit points), students will complete two assessment tasks.

For initial teacher education students, the overall word limit is 4000. For postgraduate students, it is 6000.