SAO Assessment

Assessment Tasks

Assessment for Swinburne Astronomy Online units do not include examinations: assessment is made up of a balanced mix of essays, projects, computer-managed tests and newsgroup contributions. In most (non-Major Project) units, the final grade breakdown is as follows:

  • essay (in AST80004, AST80005, AST80006, AST80008): contributes up to 50%
  • two online tests (Computer Managed Test; CMT): contribute up to 20%
  • project (in AST80001, AST80002, AST80003, AST80015, AST80016, AST80017): contributes up to 50%
  • newsgroups: contribute up to 30%

In AST80018 an assessment item, 'Time Assignment Submission' includes a groupwork component, and in total contributes up to 50%.

Students are given a wide range of project topics to choose from, including a number of projects specifically focussed on curriculum development, data analysis, amateur observing, astronomy & society, and some even use the Centre's supercomputer. Students also have the opportunity to design their own project topics. To see the result of one of our more unusual 'own project' choices, visit the Sagan Memorial Planet Walk Website at, designed and put together by SAO participant Richard 'Doc' Kinne.

Newsgroup participation involves regular postings of queries and responses about the course content and textbook reading. A lively and informative dialogue is built up between participants, as well as with the unit instructors.

Grade Scale

Final grades in all SAO units are awarded on the scale*:

    High Distinction HD 80% - 100%
    Distinction D 70% - 79%
    Credit C 60% - 69%
    Pass P 50% - 59%
    Not Pass N 0% - 49%

*Note that these scales have changed from Semester 1, 2014. Grades given prior to this (Semester 2, 2013 and before) will not be retrospectively changed.

Minimum Pass Requirement

SAO has a minimum pass requirement that has been endorsed by the Faculty of Science, Engineering & Technology. In order to pass any SAO Unit, students must achieve a final total mark of 50% or more, plus students must achieve at least 35% in each individual "Major Assessment Component". A Major Assessment Component is any piece of assessment which carries a weighting of at least 15% of the total mark available for the Unit. This means that each assessment task (newsgroup contributions, essay, CMTs and project) are all considered Major Assessment Components and thus students much achieve a grade of at least 35% in each of these assessment tasks in order to pass the unit. If the minimum performance standard is not met, a final grade of 45% will be awarded for the Unit.

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