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Get familiar with common terms used at the University.

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Academic record

An official record of your study at the University. This includes your academic transcript and testamur.


You may lodge an appeal against an academic or disciplinary decision made by the University. An academic decision is one that affects your academic assessment or progression within your award course. Disciplinary decisions are non-academic decisions, including the result of a misconduct investigation.


You are an applicant when you are in the process of applying to an award course at the University of Sydney, or have received an offer but haven't yet accepted (this includes deferred offers).


The process of measuring your performance in a unit of study. Assessment tasks can include written or practical examinations, assignments, performances, portfolios, designs or constructions.


You must meet a unit of study’s attendance requirements to continue taking the unit. Attendance requirements vary by unit of study and are outlined in your faculty handbook or the unit of study outline.


The qualification you receive after completing your award course, such as a degree, diploma or certificate.

Award course

The overall course of study you are enrolled in at the University. By completing your award course, you attain a recognised award (for example, Bachelor of Arts).

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A type of scholarship awarded on the basis of financial need, designed to help cover essential living and study expenses.

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The period during which you are eligible to be enrolled at the University. It commences when you accept your offer.

Census date

The date when your enrolment in a unit of study becomes final. This means the unit of study will appear on your transcript and you are liable to pay fees. Census dates are listed on the University website.

Certificate of current enrolment

A document that demonstrates your current enrolment at the University.

Commonwealth Assistance Forms

An Australian Government form that you need to complete prior to the relevant census date if you wish to enrol in a Commonwealth supported place or apply for a HELP loan.

Commonwealth Assistance Notice (CAN)

A document provided to you after census date which outlines important information about your enrolment, including any HELP debt incurred and student contributions paid.

Completion letter

A document that proves completion of your qualification. It is available once your eligibility to graduate has been confirmed.


When you are awarded your award course at the University. Award courses are conferred either at a graduation ceremony or in absentia.

Continuing enrolment

When you have been currently enrolled, or are returning to study after an approved suspension, and proceed to re-enrol in the next study session.


A unit of study that you must complete prior to, or at the same time as another unit of study.


A prescribed study plan comprising subject and level (for example, Bachelor of Information Technology, Master of Information Technology).

Course transfer

When you transfer between courses, either within the University of Sydney or between institutions. See Transfer (internal)/Transfer (external).

Coursework student

When you are enrolled in an undergraduate or postgraduate coursework award course at the University (includes the honours year of a bachelor's degree).


The recognition of previous studies, either at the University of Sydney or another institution, that is equivalent in level and content to your current course. This may be granted as specific or non-specific credit.

Credit points

Each unit of study is assigned a credit point value. These credit points contribute to the overall completion requirements for your course.


The education providers and the courses they offer on a full-time basis to international students need to be registered with the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). You can check by using the Australian Government's CRICOS course and institution search

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Deferral (‘deferment’)

When you receive an offer of admission to an award course at the University of Sydney, you may be able to defer your offer for up to one year.


A bachelor's, honours, master's or PhD qualification (does not include graduate diploma or graduate certificate).


The academic unit responsible for teaching and examining your unit of study. It may also be called a school, centre or unit within the University.

Departmental permission

Some units of study require departmental permission to enrol. There are several reasons for this, for example it might be an internship where a limited number of places are available. You will be prompted to apply for permission when you enrol.


An intellectual community based on an internationally recognised field of inquiry. For example, the discipline of Business Law within the University of Sydney Business School and the discipline of Pathology at Sydney Medical School.

Discontinuation (course)

When you withdraw from your award course. Discontinuation means you are no longer admitted to candidature and cease to be a student at the University.

Discontinuation (unit of study)

When you withdraw from an individual unit of study. Any unit of study discontinued before the census date will not appear on your transcript.

Domestic student

You are a domestic student if you are an Australian or New Zealand citizen, permanent resident of Australia or hold an Australian permanent visa.


When you exit your course early and graduate with a lower level award.

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A unit of study within your course which you can choose from a list of options.

Electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE)

A document issued to international students by the University and used in the application for a student visa. An extension eCoE can be obtained if you need to extend your visa.

Embedded course

A course within the graduate certificate, graduate diploma and master's degree by coursework sequence. A student can progress to the award of any course in this sequence as long as they satisfy the admission (credit point) requirements for each stage. Only the highest award completed will be conferred.


The process that secures your place in a course at the University and allows you to choose your units of study for the coming semester or year. If you are a research student, the process involves selecting your program of research to be undertaken and start date.

Equivalent full-time student load (EFTSL)

A measure representing the annual study load that you would undertake in a course on a full-time basis.


A form of assessment, an examination is a formal test that assesses your knowledge and ability in a particular area.


The exchange program allows you to complete part of your course at a partner university overseas. You can be a current student at the University of Sydney who completes study overseas, or an overseas student from a partner university who comes to the University of Sydney. When completing exchange, you pay your fees to your home institution and receive credit for units of study completed.


You may be excluded from a unit of study, award course or faculty for unsatisfactory academic progress. You will first be asked to 'show good cause' for why you should be allowed to re-enrol. If you do not provide an explanation, or your explanation is unsatisfactory, you will be excluded. If you are excluded from your award course, this means you are no longer admitted to candidature and cease being a student. You may apply to the faculty for permission to re-enrol after a specified time period (usually four semesters).


Your candidature may be terminated as the result of serious disciplinary action or misconduct at the University. Expulsion means that you will not receive results, be allowed to graduate or re-enrol in any course at the University.

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The primary academic grouping within the University, made up of broad complementary disciplinary groups, in which teaching and research are delivered. Faculties are further organised into narrower groups (i.e. schools and departments or disciplines) to support collaboration in research and teaching.


An amount of money that you are required to pay for tuition and/or student services and amenities. Tuition fees are calculated based on your residency status and the course or units of study you are enrolled in.

Financial liability

Your financial responsibility for tuition fees or student contributions. This includes when you defer payment using a HELP loan.

Full-time study

Between 18 and 24 credit points per semester. To complete your degree according to the standard timetable, you must complete 24 credit points per semester.

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The outcome you receive for a unit of study based on the assessments completed. Your grades are displayed on your academic transcript as a result code.


A person who has completed the requirements for their award course but the award has not yet been conferred at a graduation ceremony.


A person who has completed the requirements for their award course and had the award conferred on them at a graduation ceremony.


The formal conferring of awards either at a ceremony or in absentia.

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Higher degree by research (HDR) student

You are considered a HDR or ‘research’ student when enrolled in a postgraduate research course. This means at least two thirds of the overall course requirements involve undertaking supervised research over a set time period and lead to the production of a thesis or other piece of written or creative work.


Some degrees may be completed 'with honours'. This requires an additional year of intensive study after the completion of your degree or extra work completed during the later years of your degree.

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International student

You are an international student if you are not an Australian or New Zealand citizen, permanent resident of Australia or hold an Australian permanent visa. As an international student at the University of Sydney, you are required to hold a visa that allows you to study in Australia.


Conducts research on specific topics. The University decided that agriculture discipline teaching occurs through the School of Life and Environmental Sciences in the Faculty of Science, and that the multidisciplinary agriculture research endeavour is best delivered through a focused institute.

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Lapse of Candidature

This occurs when you do not enrol by the last census date for enrolment and have not formally discontinued or received approval to suspend your enrolment. As a result you are no longer considered a student. To enrol again you need to be re-admitted by the faculty or submit a new application for admission.

Leave of Absence

As a research student you may request a leave of absence from your course for less than one research period.

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A chosen area of specialisation within your award course. It requires the completion of specific units of study in the later stages of your course and is recorded on your academic transcript.

Mid-semester break

There are three Universities Australia common vacation weeks each year, in which classes are not taught. These occur in the middle of Semester 1 and 2, and between those semesters.


A chosen area of specialisation within your award course. It requires the completion of fewer units of study than a major and is not recorded on your academic transcript.

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Non-award course

Studies undertaken that do not lead to an award from the University. Non-award courses include professional development programs.

Non-specific (unspecified) credit

You may be granted credit for a certain number of credit points at a particular level. These credit points may be allocated to a particular subject area but not to a specific unit of study.

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Part-time study

Domestic students may be allowed to complete some courses on a part-time basis – completing less than the minimum full-time study load of 18 credit points per semester.

Personal timetable

A weekly schedule of classes for your enrolled units of study. It lists the location, time and duration of your classes.


A course leading to the award of a graduate certificate, graduate diploma, master's degree or doctorate. A postgraduate award usually requires previous completion of a relevant undergraduate degree or diploma. It can also refer to a student studying a postgraduate course.


A unit of study that you must successfully complete before attempting another unit of study.  


If you are enrolled in an award course, you need to meet the progression requirements for that course. This means you need to satisfy all course requirements and faculty rules within the maximum completion time allowed. Ongoing unsatisfactory progression may lead to exclusion by the faculty.


If a certain unit of study may not be taken in conjunction with another one, usually because they are too similar in content. OR: Prohibitions or prohibited combinations of units of study occur when two or more units contain a significant overlap of content. Enrolment in any one such unit prohibits your enrolment in the other units identified as prohibited.

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Re-allocate units

The units of study you select need to be allocated to a specific unit collection. If you want to change a unit of study to a different unit collection or change your major/specialisation, you must reallocate your units.


The process that current students undertake at the end of each year to enrol in units of study for the following academic year.

Reduced Volume of Learning (RVL)

Reduced Volume of Learning provides recognition for previous study and/or relevant work experience. The number of credit points you need to complete for your award course is reduced.

Research Period

If you are a research student, the duration of your candidature is measured in research periods. There are four research periods per year, or approximately two per semester.  

Research Training Program (RTP)

This Australian Government scheme offers eligible research students an exemption from paying a student fee contribution towards their research-based course.

Results notice

Once results have been released, you can view your results notice online through Sydney Student. This unofficial document shows the results for each of your units of study.

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A restriction or penalty that may be applied and will limit your access to University resources and processes (such as accessing results or graduating).


A form of support, usually financial, provided to assist in your continued education. Scholarships are usually granted on the basis of academic achievement and/or financial need.

School within a faculty

An academic unit where staff have a common disciplinary and/or inter-disciplinary research and teaching responsibility.  Some faculties have become schools within a faculty to increase the potential for those schools to work together in teaching and research. (see University school below)


A half-yearly teaching session. An academic year consists of two semesters: Semester 1 and Semester 2.


A unit of study will run over a set period of time known as a session. A session often relates to semesters, however can vary in length depending on the teaching period of the unit (for example, Summer School).

Show good cause

If you have not met the progression requirements of your course, your faculty may request that you 'show good cause' for why you should be allowed to re-enrol. If you can successfully show good cause, you will be allowed to remain in your award course. If you cannot, you may be excluded for a defined period of time. You have the right to appeal this decision.

Simple extension

An informal arrangement made with your unit of study coordinator to permit late submission of work.

Special arrangement

An arrangement that is made if an essential commitment affects your ability to complete an assessment.

Special consideration

You may apply for special consideration if you suffer from an illness, injury or misadventure that significantly affects your performance in an assessment item (or multiple assessment items). This will be taken into account when assessing your performance. If consideration is not granted, you have the right to appeal this decision.

Special permission

If you do not have the required prerequisite or corequisite to enrol in a unit of study, you may apply to your faculty or school for special permission to enrol.


A chosen area of specialisation within your postgraduate award course. It requires the completion of specific units of study and will be recorded on your academic transcript.

Specific credit

When you have previously studied a unit of study that is an exact equivalent to a unit of study at the University of Sydney, you will be granted specific credit for that unit. This means you will not need to complete the unit here.

Statutory declaration

A statutory declaration is a signed, written statement that allows a person to declare something to be true in the presence of an authorised witness – usually a Justice of the Peace, a lawyer or a notary public. If you submit a statutory declaration it should include:

  • your full name
  • a statement about what you are declaring, and relevant details.

You can find more information about statutory declarations, or download a NSW statutory declaration form on the NSW Department of Justice website.


A defined program of study within your award course. You must complete a core program of study in addition to a set of units of study for that particular stream. The stream appears on your testamur with the award course name.


You are a student if you are currently admitted to candidature (your offer has been accepted) at the University. This includes if you are enrolled in non-award units of study or are on exchange or study abroad.

Student card

Your student card is issued once you enrol and identifies you as a student of the University. It can be used for printing (using SydPay), borrowing from the Library, accessing certain buildings, and claiming student discounts.

Student Centre

The central face-to-face enquiry centre for students, located on the Camperdown/Darlington campus. Here you can get assistance with matters related to your candidature and administration.

Student Financial Statement (invoice)

Once you have enrolled you will be issued with a Student Financial Statement through Sydney Student. This outlines your fees for your enrolled units of study.

Student Identification Number (SID)

A unique nine digit number that identifies you as a student at the University. Your SID remains the same throughout your studies at the University.

Student visa

As an international student, you must hold a valid visa that allows you to study in Australia. Information on student visas can be found on the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.

Study load

The number of credit points you are enrolled in during a semester.

StuVac (Study Vacation)

The week before the official exam period at the end of Semesters 1 and 2. For most students, no classes are held during this week.

Supplementary examination

An alternative assessment that may be offered if you have failed an assessment item and would otherwise be limited in your ability to progress in your course. A supplementary examination will usually only be awarded if you have scored within a set mark range on the original assessment.


You may apply to suspend your award course enrolment for up to one year. A maximum suspension of two years is allowed with the approval of your faculty's associate dean.

Sydney Abroad

A program that allows students from overseas who are not eligible for exchange to enrol in units of study at the University of Sydney. You can be enrolled at any recognised institution in the world, not just one of our partner universities. Your semester fees will be paid directly to us.


A campus payment account included with your UniKey and student card. You can load money onto your account to pay for SydPay-enabled services on campus.

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The hard copy of the certificate or award that you are given when you complete your award course and graduate. A testamur lists your name, course and the date it was conferred.


The whole assessable work submitted for examination after a period of supervised independent research. A thesis is usually required for a master's by research degree or a PhD.


A complete record of your studies at the University. It includes all units of study (attempted and completed) and your grade for each.

Transfer (external)

You may apply for admission to an award course at the University of Sydney on the basis of studies you have partially completed at another university. You apply either through UAC or directly to the University of Sydney and can then apply for credit for units studied at your previous institution.

Transfer (internal)

You may apply to transfer from one course to another within the University of Sydney. An 'allowable' internal transfer means you do not have to r-apply for admission. Otherwise you will need to submit a new application for admission directly to the University.

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A course leading to a diploma or a bachelor's degree, or a student studying at this level.


A unique electronic ID provided to you after you enrol. Your UniKey gives you access to a range of University resources and systems such as your University student email account, online learning systems, library borrowing, printing and more.

Unit of study – Intermediate

A unit of study that is between the junior and senior level. It will usually have a 2000 level code.

Unit of study – Junior

A unit of study designed to introduce you to a particular subject area. It will usually have a 1000 level code. Junior units are often the prerequisites for enrolment in senior units of study.

Unit of study – Senior

A unit of study that is more specialised and provides a deeper understanding of a subject area than junior or intermediate units. It will usually have a 2000 or 3000 level code.

Unit of study (UoS)

The standalone component of your award course. Each unit of study has a credit point value and will be recorded on your transcript. You need to complete a certain number of units of study to fulfil the requirements of your award course.

University school

Similar to schools within faculties but does not share the broad disciplinary connections with the larger faculty groupings. For example, the University decided that the three previous faculties of Architecture, Design and Planning, Law and Sydney Conservatorium of Music would not gain any increased advantages by being brought into a larger faculty grouping. (see School within a faculty above)


When you progress from a postgraduate course to an eligible higher-level course, for example a graduate diploma to a master's degree, in an embedded sequence.

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When you are exempted from taking a specific unit of study that is a core requirement of your course. Waivers are usually granted on the basis of previous learning or experience. Credit is not available for a waived unit.

Last updated: 20 June 2017

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