The Foundation Schools

In 1971, the Interim Council decided that the first four Schools to be established would be:

  • School of Australian Environmental Studies
  • School of Humanities
  • School of Modern Asian Studies
  • School of Science

It was felt that the creation of the School as the basic organisational unit suited the needs of a modern university. It was anticipated that as Griffith grew and as academic and community needs changed, Schools may divide to produce new academic combinations and create new Schools

The initial focus of each of the Schools, as set out in the 1971 Annual Report, was as follows:

School of Australian Environmental Studies

  • To foster understanding of (a) the nature of the Australian environment; (b) the interrelationship of its parts; (c) the laws or other processes by which the parts influence on one another.

School of Humanities

  • To explore the notion of human values, their development and their communication.

School of Modern Asian Studies

  • The development of political, commercial, industrial and cultural contact with Asian societies.

School of Science

  • The theme of Materials and Civilisation. Additional themes, such as Sensory Perception or  Communication were to be developed later. The School was to develop a framework of physical science for which 20th century science and technology could be appreciated as a social activity of major importance.

By 1973 Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen had been appointed to lead each School (as below) and recruitment of other staff had commenced:

Also by 1973, the following concentration areas had been decided upon:

School of Australian Environmental Studies

  • Urban ecology and societal processes
  • Resources ecology
  • Systems science and applicable mathematics

School of Humanities

  • Comparative Literature
  • History
  • Italian Studies
  • Communications and the media
  • Comparative cultural studies

School of Modern Asian Studies

  • Modern Chinese
  • Economics
  • Management and technology
  • Social and political history
  • Geography

School of Science

  • Chemistry
  • Biological chemistry
  • Chemical physics
  • Physics

Original Teaching Aims and Awarding of Degree details

The following excerpt is taken from the Griffith University Staff Prospectus (c.1973) brochure and outlines the initial organisational teaching aims and grading structure planned for the University's courses and programs:

Teaching and Learning - Aims and Assumptions

  1. Particularly during the first year of a degree course, studies in the academic area chosen by a student should not be in isolated subjects, but should be integrated.
  2. Emphasis will be placed on providing support facilities for university teachers. The University will develop the capacity to assess its own teaching effectiveness. A Centre for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching will be included in the early stages of development of the University.
  3. The University should provide for a range of educational situations including conventional teaching, and both formally arranged and informal small group and individual learning. Students and staff should belong to stable academic groups. The planned size of the University is 6,000 to 8,000 students organized in groups each with maximum membership of about 1,500 staff and students.
  4. The University will provide for part-time students, but the distinctions between part-time and full-time study will be minimised. It is not planned to offer external studies during the early years of the University.

The Pass Degree

The degree of Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) will be awarded in the Schools of Australian Environmental Studies and Science and the degree of Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) will be awarded in the Schools of Humanities and Modern Asian Studies.

The general form of the pass degree teaching programmes will be similar in each school, though the different nature of each school requires some detailed variation to be made. For purposes of illustrating the pass degree course, the course proposed for the School of Humanities is described here briefly. Information on degree courses in the schools is contained in separate information sheets for each of the four schools.

The unit of measurement which the University uses to assess the amount of work required satisfactorily to perform a course is termed a semester unit. The completion of a semester unit is seen as requiring about ten hours per week of an average student's time over one semester, or the equivalent of this. Thus a course requiring five hours of work per week for two semesters would also be a semester unit.

In each school, the pass degree consists of 24 semester units of work. Full-time students will normally take 4 semester units per semester, thus completing their degree in three years. Part-time students will normally take 2 semester units per semester thus completing their degree in 6 years.

In the School of Humanities, in the first full-time year, or the first two part-time years, 4 semester units will be given to a Foundation Course and 2 semester units to a Supporting Course.

These courses must be successfully completed by all undergraduate students in the School.

The remaining 18 semester units of a pass degree in the School of Humanities will be given to one Main Study which will consist of an integrated set of courses within which there will be two areas of concentration. A full-time student will be required to commit himself to one concentration at the end of his first semester and to the other at the end of his second semester. A part-time student will normally make similar commitments at the end of his third and fourth semesters respectively. A Main Study will normally be commenced by a full-time student in the second semester of his first year and by a part-time student in the second semester of his second year. This is in line with the Council's decision that students will not be required to take binding decisions about their specialised study interests at the beginning of their first year.

The Foundation Course in the School of Humanities will establish an intellectual framework within which the student will be able to integrate his later studies and will be designed:

  1. to break down parochialism in all the forms it takes.
  2. to show that the division of university work into "subjects" is primarily an administrative convenience.
  3. to show the ways in which the work of the School is related to what goes on outside the University.

The Supporting Course might be described as a general introduction to the methodology of the humanities. The course will be designed to make the student conscious of the ways of arguing and thinking that are characteristic of the humanities. In the early years of the School of Humanities, concentrations will be available in Comparative Literature, History, Comparative Cultural Studies, Communication and the Media, Italian Language and Culture and Mathematics and Logic. Integration of courses will be achieved in a variety of ways, one way proposed being a "Review Seminar."

Honours and Higher Degrees

Commencing in 1975, each school of the University will accept a limited number of students from other universities for postgraduate work towards research masters and doctoral degrees. Students who have completed the requirements for a pass degree in 1978 will be able to proceed to an additional year of study in 1979 for an honours degree.

Figures and Forecasts

The University has received funds from the Australian and Queensland Governments which will permit an undergraduate intake of about 450-500 students in 1975, and will allow this rate of intake to be maintained in the following few years. The University expects it will accept in the order of 335 full-time students and 130 part-time students in 1975. By 1978, the University will probably have about 1,100 full-time and 500 part-time undergraduate students. The forecast intake of postgraduate students in 1975 is 19 full-time and 11 part-time students. By 1978, it is anticipated that the total number of postgraduates will be of the order of 85 full-time and 60 part-time students.

At the start of 1974, the University will have eight members of faculty of professorial status. Throughout 1974, other faculty will be appointed. By March, 1975, the number of faculty should be about 50. Early staff-student ratios are planned to be about 1:6, becoming 1:11 after four or five years.