Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science

The information on this page applies to future students. Current students should refer to their faculty handbooks for course information.

The Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science is a flexible, three-year course designed to provide you with a broad liberal education in both the humanities and the sciences. A liberal studies stream is an integrated part of the course, and focuses on developing your skills in communication, analysis and ethics. This is the ideal course if you have a wide variety of interests in both the arts and sciences, and don't want to restrict yourself to just one specialist area of study.

As part of this course, you choose either an arts or a science major. Depending on which major you choose, your studies will be complemented by subjects from the other area. There is a large breadth of subject areas available, giving you a great deal of choice when choosing what to major in, and what complementary subjects you choose. On top of this, you can also undertake a small number of units from other faculties.

Course outline

View a sample study plan/course structure table.

Study plan


The Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science may be undertaken three years full-time or six years part-time. In the course you will complete at least one major in science or arts.

Full-time students enrol in junior units of study with a maximum 48 credit points (cp) during first year. A typical unit of study has a value of 6cp. If you intend to major in a humanities or social sciences subject area you will enrol in 24cp of junior units of study from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Handbook Table A, and 12cp of junior units of study from the Faculty of Science Handbook Table 1. Conversely, if you intend to major in a science subject area you will enrol in 24cp of junior units of study from the Faculty of Science Handbook Table 1 and 12cp of junior units of study from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Handbook Table A.

In second and third year, you will continue to focus on your chosen major, and complete your studies with 36cp from the designated liberal studies stream, which includes units from the areas of analytical thinking, communication, ethics, scientific enquiry, technological literacy and culture, society and global citizenship.

Further course information

Progression rules

(1) The Faculty will monitor students for satisfactory academic progress.
(2) In this Faculty a student shall not have made satisfactory progress in any semester if the student:
(a) fails to complete successfully 50% or more of the credit points in which the student was enrolled for that semester; and /or
(b) fails to complete successfully on the second or later attempt the same unit of study; and/or
(c) fails to complete successfully any compulsory or barrier unit(s) of study, field or clinical work, practicum, or professional experience; and/or
(d) is consequently unable to complete the degree within the maximum permitted time while carrying a normal student load.

What is an elective?

An elective is a unit of study (subject) which you are allowed to enrol in as part of your course and which will count towards the completion of your course. It differs to a core unit in that you have a choice about which electives, amongst a given set of electives, you want to study.

In the Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science, you can choose up to 2 electives from faculties other than arts and science, and you can also choose 3 electives within the liberal studies stream.

See the Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science study plan table to get an idea of how electives fit in amongst your other units of study.

Course opportunities

The course includes opportunities to participate in the University's Study Abroad and Exchange Program, the Science Link-Up and Mentoring (SLAM) Program and the Science Talented Student Program (entry by invitation from the Dean of Science), and opportunities specific to majors or subject areas, such as the Year in Industry program offered by the School of Chemistry.

Study Abroad and Exchange Program

Science Link-Up and Mentoring (SLAM) Program

Science Talented Student Program

Year in Industry Program

Course outcomes and further study

Graduate opportunities

Upon graduating from the Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science, you will be well equipped to pursue a career closely linked to your specialist field of study, particularly if you have taken an honours year, or you may choose to consider a career in management, administration or teaching.

One reason Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science graduates are especially in demand is because employers recognise that the course not only provides graduates skills in their specialist area, but also with adaptable skills and the ability to think creatively about difficult issues. The liberal studies units undertaken by all students have been identified by potential employers as being desirable in a wide range of careers, both in the private and public sector.

Depending on your major, some fields you might find yourself working in include: academia, administration, education, business, information technology, management, human resources and recruitment and more.

Course accreditation

Most majors within the Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science are recognised by the relevant professional association. For example, if you complete a major in chemistry you are eligible for graduate membership of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI).

Further study

After completing the Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science, you have a whole range of postgraduate study opportunities available to you. Postgraduate studies enable you to concentrate further on your major area of interest, to diversify your studies, or to study for a professional qualification such as the Master of Commerce.

This course also provides ideal preparation for postgraduate study in the University of Sydney's graduate medicine, law or commerce programs. The right subject combination will also enable you to go on to study in a professional area such as nuclear medicine, psychology, nutrition and dietetics or teaching.

About honours

Honours is a widely recognised and highly regarded additional year of undergraduate study available to you after you complete your undergraduate course. It’s a unique opportunity for you to explore your research potential and put the theory from your undergraduate studies into practice. An honours qualification is not only well regarded in academia, but also in industry where further, concentrated studies in a specialised area is highly sought after.

Honours can be undertaken in almost any area of science and arts, depending on what you specialised in as part of your undergraduate studies. It involves designing a research program in your chosen area of interest in consultation with one or more supervisors. Depending on the nature of your project you may also have to undertake some courses in experimental design or do some technical training to use a particular piece of equipment.

Other study options

It is possible for non-degree students to enrol in a unit of study (subject) offered in the Faculty of Science without being enrolled in an award course (degree). This provides a valuable opportunity for professionals to update their knowledge to enhance career pathways or for personal interest. Non-degree students pay full tuition fees, take the unit of study with award course students, and are assessed at the same level. Non-degree applicants meet the same prerequisites as students enrolled in an award course at the University of Sydney (or have completed equivalent units of study at another institution) to be able to enrol in any particular unit of study.

More information about non-degree study.

Units of study may also be undertaken cross-institutionally by students, subject to the approval of the Dean. Cross-institutional candidates are enrolled in an award course at another university and have approval from their home institution to complete a unit or units of study at Sydney, to be credited toward their degree.

More information about cross-institutional study.

Admission

Admission requirements

Admission to this course is on the basis of a secondary school leaving qualification such as the NSW Higher School Certificate (including national and international equivalents), tertiary study or an approved preparation program. English language requirements must be met where these are not demonstrated by sufficient qualifications taught in English. Special admission pathways are open for domestic mature aged applicants who do not possess a school leaving qualification, educationally disadvantaged applicants and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Applicants are ranked by merit and offers for available places are issued according to the ranking.

Assumed knowledge

Depends on the subject areas chosen.

How to apply

Domestic students

How to apply

Applications for the University's undergraduate courses are made through the Universities Admission Centre (UAC). On-time applications for the March Semester close on the last working day of September.

Further requirements

Assumed knowledge depends on subject areas chosen. Some units of study assume a level of knowledge of the subject area.

International students

How to apply

Overseas applicants may apply:

(i) directly to the University's International Student Office using the online application form, or
(ii) through a University overseas representative (education agent), or
(iii) through the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC), for students applying on the basis of a current Australian Year 12 secondary school examination, or studying either an International Baccalaureate** in Australia or a New Zealand Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 3.

** All International Baccalaureate (IB) applicants seeking admission to the University of Sydney may now apply either directly to the International Student Office using the online application form or through UAC.

Further admission requirements

Assumed knowledge depends on subject areas chosen. Some units of study assume a level of knowledge of the subject area.

Fee disclaimer

Domestic students

Indicative Undergraduate Student Contribution Amount

This student contribution amount for a Commonwealth Supported Place is an indication only of the fees that are payable by you in the calendar year you commence your course, commencing in 2014 for a standard annual full time load of 48 credit points (1.0 EFTSL). The exact student contribution that you pay will depend on the specific units of study in which you ultimately enrol. If you are a Commonwealth supported student and was enrolled in a University course before 1 January 2013 your student contribution may differ.

For further information about how to calculate your specific total student contribution, please refer to the University's Future Students' website.

Annual review

Importantly, student contribution amounts are subject to annual review by the University, and are likely to increase each year of your period of study (subject to a Commonwealth specified cap), effective at the start of each calendar year.

Additional incidental fees

For some courses there are incidental fees additional to the student contribution. Some of those fees are significant, for example, faculty-specific materials, tools, protected clothing, and equipment. For further information about these additional incidental fees, please visit the University's Future Students' website.

Potential for inaccuracy

Whilst every reasonable effort has been made to include correct and up to date information here, you are also advised to consult directly with the Student Centre for domestic students or the International Office for international students so that they can provide you with specific and up to date information about those fees.

International students

Indicative international tuition fees for undergraduate students

This international tuition fee is an indication only of the fees that are payable by you in the calendar year you commence your course, commencing in 2014, for a standard annual full time load of 48 credit points (1.0 EFTSL). The exact tuition fees that you pay will depend on the specific units of study in which you ultimately enrol.

For further information about how to calculate your specific total tuition fees, please refer to the University's Future Students' website.

Annual review

Importantly, tuition fees are subject to annual review, and are likely to increase each year of your period of study, effective at the start of each calendar year.

Additional incidental fees and health insurance

For some courses there are incidental fees additional to the tuition fees. Some of those fees are significant, for example, faculty-specific materials, tools, protected clothing, and equipment. For further information about these additional incidental fees, please visit the University's Future Students' website.

In addition to the fees indicated here for the course of study, International Students studying on an Australian Student Visa must have appropriate health insurance for the duration of their studies on a Student Visa through an approved provider of the Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) scheme. This is a requirement of the Australian Government, unless otherwise exempted by the Government.

Potential for inaccuracy

Whilst every reasonable effort has been made to include correct and up to date information here, you are also advised to consult directly with the Student Centre for domestic students or the International Office for international students so that they can provide you with specific and up to date information about those fees.

Student profiles