"Profiles in PBL" is a web database where PBL engineering programs from around the world share the details of their PBL programs. Our goal is to showcase more than 100 PBL profiles. The profiles will serve as inspiration for PBL programs to learn from one another and for engineering educators world-wide who are considering PBL. This database has been developed in collaboration between The Aalborg UNESCO Centre and Iron Range Engineering, Itasca Community College.

RMIT University


Melbourne, VIC, Australia



Professor Margaret Jollands

Associate Dean Student Experience

How would you describe your PBL?


What is most important to your PBL?


How is PBL implemented?

Within 6 of 29 required courses (students also complete 3 elective courses)

How do students acquire principles of discipline?

The BEng chemical program at RMIT has 8 courses per year for 4 years, a total of 32 courses. The learning outcomes are designed to meet Engineers Australia accreditation requirements. Technical knowledge is progressively in various traditional and project based learning courses. First and second year includes 5 science and mathematics courses. There is a spine of design courses from first to final year. Students must also complete 3 elective courses from elsewhere in the University.

How is student learning facilitated within PBL?

The BEng chemical program at RMIT was designed in a way that the design skills are developed progressively in various courses starting from the first semester. Design skills are developed in incremental progression through six project based learning courses spread over the four years of the program. Conventional problem-based learning courses focus on open-ended real world problems which might require completing a number of small projects. However, the focus of these project-based courses is completing engineering projects with clearly defined outcomes. During the course of these projects, students could face open-ended or ill-defined technical problems for which they have to find solutions using the knowledge that they have built in prior courses in the program. In this way they also develop competence in critical analysis and skills in problem definition (Parthasarathy & Jollands 2009)

Program Overview

Institution Type:


Degree Type:

ISCED 4: Post-secondary non-tertiary education

Program Length:

Four Years

Semesters in which PBL is Used:


Hours per week on Project:


PBL Overview

Problem structure:

Very unstructured

Formulation of problems:

Some projects are faculty created, one is created by an NGO partner

Team composition selection:

Academic staff

Projects assigned by:

Academic staff

How is space dedicated to student teams for problem/project completion?

Space available, but not dedicated nor reservable

Degree of Interdisciplinarity:


Role of instructor:


Unique Features

Focus on design skills

One project based on a humanitarian engineering need

One project based on designing a complete chemical plant

Assessment Methods

Written Exams

Oral Exams

Classroom Presentations


How assessment is implemented :

Most PBL courses have group assessment only with individual marks moderated by peer assessment factor.