Study at the University

What's it like to study at Sydney?

Excellence in teaching and learning
The University of Sydney attracts some of the best students in Australia. With this privilege comes a responsibility to provide the highest quality learning and teaching. We strive constantly for excellence in intellectual inquiry, academic freedom and integrity, and ethical practice in academic endeavours. At the heart of all of this is an exciting and stimulating student-centred learning and teaching environment.

A rich and vibrant student life
With hundreds of clubs and societies, cafes, bars, bands, theatre productions, sports, three sporting complexes, and Australia’s oldest student newspaper, Honi Soit, you will be a part of Australia’s most vibrant and active student community.

Our campus
The University of Sydney is a blend of neo-gothic sandstone history complete with gargoyles, cloisters and courtyards and contemporary, well-equipped architecture, offering the highest quality teaching, learning and research facilities.

We create leaders
Many of our graduates have gone on to become inspirational leaders, making a positive difference in Australia and around the world. They’ve championed Aboriginal Australian rights, written prizewinning books and won Olympic gold medals. Our alumni have changed the face of global medicine and science, been on both sides of the camera, and continue to change our national and worldwide agendas.

Teaching system

The University of Sydney teaching system is made up of large-group lectures combined with seminar and tutorial groups. In seminars or tutorials, teaching staff meet with small groups of students to discuss selected readings and questions. Tutorial groups usually contain between 8 and 15 students but may be larger in language classes. In addition, most units of study (also known as subjects) have large-group lectures in which staff provide essential, big picture information and the framework for tutorial discussion.

You need to attend all lectures and tutorials for each unit of study. Some units of study have specific attendance requirements. If you don’t go to your lectures or tutorials, you may fail that subject.

You will find that Australian students are self-directed in their study skills and submit a considerable amount of written work in assignments and seminar/tutorial papers. Students often receive lengthy reading lists and are expected to spend a lot of time outside of lectures studying, preparing assignments and essays or contributing to group projects. Science units often require lengthy laboratory sessions and, routinely, field trips and excursions.

Credit for studying while you are at the University of Sydney

University of Sydney units of study (subjects) are widely accepted overseas, however, your home institution will decide what credit will be given for the units you complete. Make sure you carefully check these requirements with your home institution before enrolling in any unit of study.

Converting University of Sydney credit points to international credit systems

This table will help you to work out how many credits you will need to study at the University of Sydney as well as helping you to convert your Sydney studies to international credit points such as the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) or hours.

University of Sydney Credit Points ECTS Credits Credit hours
6 7.5 4
12 15 8
18 22.5 12
24 30 16
48 60 32


In Australian universities, including the University of Sydney, most of your assessment is by completing written assignments, essays, presentations and examinations. Assessment varies for units of study within different faculties and for units of study at different year levels. Each unit of study listed on the On-line Unit of Study Handbook database outlines how you will be assessed for each unit of study you enrol in.


The University of Sydney uses a four level passing grade system and the majority of students are expected to achieve a Pass or Credit grade. The following table is a guide only:

Grade Abbreviation Mark
High Distinction HD 85-100
Distinction DI 75-84
Credit CR 65-74
Pass PS 50-64


A full-time load at the University of Sydney is determined by the number of credit points, not the number of units of study. Most units of study are 6 credit points. Some units may be slightly more or less ranging from 3 credits to 12 credits.

The normal full-time study load per semester is 24 credit points (normally 4 units of study).

The minimum study load per semester required to meet international student visa regulations is 18 credits (normally 3 units of study).

The maximum study load per semester is 30 credits (5 units of study).

As a guide, one credit point means around 1.5 to 2 hours of student effort per week. Each semester is 12 weeks in duration.

The amount of time that you spend in class will depend on the subjects you choose. Generally, the less time you spend in class, the more work you are expected to do on your own outside of the classroom.
For example: Arts and Humanities units of study would involve 12 hours of class contact per week each semester. Students in vocational areas (such as Engineering or Science), however, have more contact hours. Arts and Humanities programs place particular emphasis on self-directed learning. For this reason, face-to-face teaching loads may be lower than in your home institution, but students at Australian universities are expected to spend a greater proportion of their time in preparation for tutorials, essays and assignments.

Academic advice

Orientation Week is usually held around one week before the start of semester. There are three advisory sessions during Orientation Week:

  • a general introduction to the University Study Abroad and Student Exchange programs
  • an introduction to the academic side of university and tips on living in Sydney
  • an enrolment session.

Generally, you will have about 10 days after the enrolment session to update your enrolment by adding or dropping units. You can meet with faculty staff in order to discuss the differences in assumed knowledge, unit of study content, and assessment requirements.


Examination timetables are usually only confirmed about one month before the start of the exams. You should ensure that any travel plans allow for the exam period.

Results and transcripts

Examination results are generally released two weeks after the official end of semester. Shortly after this time, the Study Abroad and Exchange Programs Unit sends two copies of your official transcript to your sponsoring organisation/home institution, or to you directly.

Please remember that examination results are also shown on the MyUni website, but you must have your UniKey login and password in order to access your results.

If you need an official transcript at any time in the future, please visit Student Centre website.