What can I study?

Spoilt for Choice

We offer the largest selection of study units in Australia for you to choose from. You’re spoilt for choice. With our excellent academic reputation, including Business School accreditation by the peak European (EQUIS) and North American (AACSB International) bodies, you can have great confidence in your semester of study.

On this page, you can learn about:

Units at Sydney

A unit of study is the class (subject) in which students enrol. Most undergraduate Study Abroad and Exchange students select 1000-3000 level units in areas that they have already studied at their home institution.

  • 1000 level units of study are introductory or Lower Division units (equivalent to USA Freshman or Sophomore level)
  • 2000 level units are Intermediate level units (equivalent to USA Junior level)
  • 3000 level units are Senior level units (equivalent to USA Senior level)

Please note that postgraduate level units (5000-level or higher) are not open to undergraduate students.

Choosing Your Units of Study

You will generally only enrol in 4 units each semester, but you should select at least 8 units of study when you apply. This will give you flexibility to finalise your units once you arrive.

How to find units of study

  1. Go to our course search page - FIND A COURSE.
  2. Enter an area of interest (e.g. History) or the name or code of a unit of study (eg: EDUH4052 Learning in Outdoor Education). NOTE: A null value will give an error message.
  3. From the "Areas of Interest" drop-down menu, select "Units of Study" then click on SEARCH to retrieve results.
  4. To refine your search, click on Available for study abroad and exchange and select "Yes" to retrieve updated results which meet the criteria.

Course descriptions and prerequisites

The resulting list of available units cannot be filtered to show availability by semester so you’ll need to click on the entry.

To confirm the semester in which the unit of study is being offered, see the prerequisites and read a short description of the course click on the hyper-linked unit code next to Unit of study handbook. Simply choose the correct line according to semester offered and the details will be displayed.

Please note any published prerequisites which you will need to meet in order to be approved to enrol on that unit of study. If it is unclear on your transcript whether you meet the prerequisite you should submit the relevant course syllabi to support your request.

Areas with specific requirements

If you intend to apply for units from any of the following disciplines that have prerequisite requirements you must submit detailed information about your previous studies in the form of full course outlines (syllabi). The appropriate academic advisors will then assess your eligibility.

  • Accounting (ACCT units)
  • Business Law (CLAW units)
  • Information Systems (INFS units)
  • Marketing (postgraduate – MKTG5000 and higher units)
  • Operations Management and Econometrics (QBUS units)
  • Social Work (SCWK units)

and all units taught by the following faculties:

  • Health Sciences
  • Veterinary Science

If you want to study another language here at the university, language departments generally offer two levels each year: one for students with a basic knowledge of the language, usually acquired through high school study (stream A), and one for beginners with no knowledge of the language (stream B). Sometimes a third, intermediate level is offered in first year: AB units are designed for students with some knowledge of the language. You may be asked to do a placement test at the beginning of each semester to work out which stream you should be in.

Example Units of Study

As a study abroad or exchange student, you may design a program of units from a variety of disciplines to fit your area of focus or interests provided you enrol in a full-time load of study and your unit selections are approved by your home university.

A variety of unit options are available at Sydney but be aware that not all units are being offered in the semester you plan to study. Some units may have prerequisites and specific additional requirements.

For more details, refer to Choosing Your Units of Study above and additional information relating to:

Research Opportunities

What sets the University of Sydney apart? With exceptional facilities, an innovative edge and the drive to challenge traditional ways of thinking, our students have the opportunity to be part of this: contributing to research that pushes the boundaries and makes a meaningful, real-world impact.

Research opportunities are offered through the Postgraduate Research Exchange Program or Postgraduate Research Study Abroad Program. Students can apply to undertake supervised research at the University of Sydney for one or two semesters with the approval of your home institution.

Undergraduate Study Abroad students can experience a taste of research by enrolling in the Sydney Abroad Internship Program.

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.


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.

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.

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

Assessment and Results

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.

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.

Examination results are generally released two weeks after the official end of semester. Shortly after this time, Sydney Abroad 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.

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