The prestigious Bachelor of Philosophy (PhB) degree is being restructured after the disestablishment of the program run by the College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS).

The Bachelor of Philosophy degree is “an exciting research-focused degree at the ANU. It is an integrated program leading to an Honours award. It is designed for intellectually ambitious students who aspire to study at the highest level.”

The CASS degree, introduced in 2003, was disestablished after a long period of low enrolments. The first year course for the CASS PhB degree had limited enrolments even through to 2015. The degree’s listing on the ANU’s programs and courses web portal notes that “ANU permanently ceased accepting applications or transfers into this program on 20 June 2018.” The low enrolments have lead to it being discontinued for 2020.

The review into the degree began in 2018, with the recommendations being handed down by the then Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic, Marnie Hughes-Warrington in December 2018.

ANUSA Vice-President Campbell Clapp said that the aim of the review was “to ensure that the PhB is providing a unique and satisfying experience to students, whilst also meeting the standards of an undergraduate degree and providing appropriate structure to an undergraduate degree.”

There are 12 recommendations from the report, indicating what could be changed about the degree to keep it relevant for students. Recommendation 2 suggests that the degree should be renamed to the ‘Research and Development’ degree to indicate the integral role of research in the degree. This is complemented by Recommendation 9, which concerns marketing of the PhB degree so that it is recognisable as a research degree to allow for prospective students to make more considered decisions.

Recommendation 7 suggests lowering the entry requirements down to an ATAR of 96, as opposed to the current 99 ATAR score. This comes on the basis of evidence suggesting that students who achieve an ATAR of 96 are more likely to obtain a 6.0 GPA while studying at university. Recommendation 11 proposes that the restructured ‘Research and Development’ degree could be combined with other degrees as part of ANU’s flexible double degree program. Recommendation 12 advocates for Work Integrated Learning to be emphasised, with at least one 6-unit Internship course being undertaken by each student.

The report and recommendations on a whole emphasises the importance of having research based degrees for undergraduates, and indicates hope for the continuation of research based degrees at the ANU in the future, even if the PhB is no more.