Glossary of Terms

Some of the terms used at University can be confusing, and very specific to University life. Below is a brief explanation of some of the key terms used by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, if you require any further clarification please feel free to contact at the Faculty.

A more extensive glossary of terms used at the University of Sydney can be found on the University Start website.

Award Course Graduate Session
Census Date Graduation Specialisation
Corequisite Honours Table A
Credit Points Major Table B
Dean Part Time Study Testamur
Degree Postgraduate Undergraduate
Full Time Study Prerequisite Units of Study – Junior
Graduand  Semester  Units of Study - Senior

Award Course

An Award Course is the name for the overall course that you are enrolled in. It is often referred to as the degree that you are doing. For example; Bachelor of Arts or Master of Public Policy.

Census Date

The census date is a date in each semester or session (see below) by which all enrolment requirements must be finalised. The census date is also the last date you can withdraw for a unit of study without incurring a financial or academic penalty.

A list of census dates for different sessions and semesters can be found on the HECS and domestic fees website.


A corequisite is a unit of study that must be taken in the same semester or year as another given unit of study (unless the other unit has already been completed). Corequisites are shown in the Tables of units of study, listed in the handbook.

Credit points

All units of study have a credit point value assigned to them. In the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences units of study are generally worth 6 credit points each. There are some units of study, for instance MATH (Mathematics) units, which are worth less than 6 credit points. It is important to check the credit point value of each unit before enrolling.

It is worth remembering that degrees have limits to the number of credit points you can take overall, and also how many of these can be junior and senior units (see units of study). These limits are important to consider when you are planning your degree.


The Dean is the head of a faculty, or the principal/director of a college, such as the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, or Sydney College of the Arts. The Dean is the highest academic office in the Faculty.


A degree is another name for Award Course (see above).

Full-Time study

A full-time study load is between 18 and 24 credit points per Semester. In order to complete your degree according to the standard timetable, you are expected to complete 24 credit points per Semester.


A student who has completed the requirements of the award course they are enrolled in, but who have yet to graduate (ie attended their graduation ceremony or received their testamur in absentia)


Once a student has been conferred their testamur or degree, they become a graduate.


If you elect to attend a graduation ceremony you will receive your testamur at a formal presentation (usually held in the Great Hall). Please see the Graduations Office website for further details.


Honours is an intensive year-long program of advanced study based around research. Honours is undertaken after successful completion of a Bachelor degree and where the overall mark is a minimum credit average (65%). Entry into Honours is selective and work at this level is challenging. Students should plan for their Honours year as early as possible to ensure that the appropriate units are undertaken during the Bachelor degree. Honours units of study can be recognized by their unit codes, which begin with the number 4.


A Major is a field of study, chosen by you, to represent your principal interest. Your major(s) is recorded on your final degree conferred by the University. To earn a Major in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, you will normally need to successfully complete 36 senior credit points within the one subject area. Majoring in a subject area will give you a significant knowledge base in that field, and equip you with the tools to go on to further study if you wish.

Part-Time study

A part-time study load is 6 to 12 credit points (one or two units of study) per semester. If you are planning on completing your degree part-time, please be aware that there are time limits set in which a degree must be completed (eg, you have 10 calendar years in which to complete an undergraduate degree).

Local students who are enrolled on a part-time basis may not be elligible for travel concessions.


Postgraduate is a term used to describe a course leading to an award such as a graduate diploma, a master’s degree or a PhD, which usually requires prior completion of a relevant undergraduate bachelor degree (or diploma) course. A 'postgraduate' is a student enrolled in such a course.


A prerequisite is a unit of study that must be successfully completed before another unit of study can be attempted. Prerequisites can be mandatory (compulsory) or advisory. In most cases in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, senior units of study have a prerequisite of having completed 12 junior credit points in the same subject area.


At the University of Sydney, classes run for two semesters each year, from March to June (Semester 1) and from August to November (Semester 2). At enrolment, you will be asked to choose your subjects for both Semester 1 and Semester 2. In Tables A and B, the Semester in which a subject is offered is listed under “Session”.


A session is a period of time that a class runs. In most cases the session will be either 1 or 2, and this relates directly to the Semester that the class runs. There are other instances where a class offered may be run in a different session (ie Summer or Winter School). Please be aware of the session that the class is offered when selecting units of study during enrolment.


A Specialisation is similar to a major in an undergraduate degree, only it refers to postgraduate coursework study. If you are completing a Master of Arts, and you are studying English units, then your specialisation is English. This specialisation will be reflected on your testamur at graduation.

Table A

Table A refers to the units of study that are listed in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Handbook, and come from subject areas taught within the Faculty. Among other requirements, you must have at least one Table A major to complete your degree. Not every subject area listed in Table A is available to all students. For instance, only students enrolled in the Bachelor of International and Global Studies degree may enrol in INGS units. These restrictions will be noted in the handbook.

Table B

Table B refers to units of study from other faculties that are available to Arts and Social Sciences students. Units are available from the Faculties of Education and Social Work, Science, Law and the Sydney Business School. Not every subject area listed in Table B is available to all students. For instance, only students enrolled in combined Law degrees may enrol in LAWS units. These prohibitions are noted in the resolutions of the degree that you studying and in the handbook.


A testamur is the certificate of award provided to a graduand, usually at a graduation ceremony. The University award conferred is displayed along with other appropriate details.


Undergraduate is the term used to describe both a course leading to a diploma or bachelor’s degree, and also to a student enrolled in such a course.

Unit of Study - junior

Junior units of study are first year units, and can be recognised by their unit codes, which all begin with a 1: for example, SCLG 1001 (Introduction to Sociology 1). First year students should only enrol in 1000-level units. There are, however, some exceptions, including students enrolling in the BA (Advanced) (Honours) degree, or those with previous study in foreign languages or who are transferring from another university (see a student adviser about advanced standing or applying for credit).

Unit of Study - senior

Senior units of study are second and third year subjects, and can be recognised by their unit codes, which begin with either a 2 or a 3, for example HSTY2676 (Australia and the World) or GCST3604 (Cultural Theory). These units of study will count towards the credit points required for a Table A major.