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What can I study?

Make the most of your studies with great subject choices

You're spoilt for choice: we have the largest selection of subjects offered by any university in Australia, and our exchange partners have a huge range of study options that can be credited towards your degree.

Inbound students (coming to Sydney)

With our excellent academic reputation, including Business School accreditation by the peak European (EQUIS) and North American (AACSB International) bodies, you can be confident your semester at the University of Sydney will be a challenging, fulfilling experience.

Units of study

A unit of study is our term for individual classes (or subjects) in which students enrol. You’ll typically enrol in four units of study (each valued at six credit points) per semester to make up a full-time workload of 24 credit points.

You can start browsing your options by heading over to Find a course. Search by ‘Area of interest’, and then filter results by selecting ‘yes’ against the ‘Available for study abroad and exchange’ criteria.

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 and 3000 level units are equivalent to USA junior and senior level, respectively.


Our 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.

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

The minimum study load per semester required to meet international student visa regulations is 18 credits (normally three 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 fewer scheduled hours of class, the more work you are expected to do on your own outside of the classroom.

For reference, 6 University of Sydney credit points are equivalent to 4 credit hours or 7.5 European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) credits. You can use this to convert Sydney studies to their equivalent in international credit points.

Example units of study

You can 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 not all units are offered each semester. Some units may have prerequisites and specific additional requirements.

Popular units

You can have a look at our unit of study lists to find out about our popular units of study and topics.

Field-based learning

Experiential learning opportunities are available through our faculties of AgricultureScience and Education and Social Work. Develop a broad range of skills and techniques through field trips or excursions, and gain a deeper understanding of the subject area by undertaking the unit through an intensive period of study.

You can have a look at units of study of this kind in our course finder.

Thematic selections

While most students opt for a program that complements their degree, you can also study abroad simply for the experience and enrol in subjects distinct from the main focus of your studies. 

We suggest that you talk to your study abroad and exchange adviser at your home university before selecting thematic study.


Our Study Abroad Internship program lets you develop familiarity with Australian workplace culture and apply your study to workplace situations. ARTS2600 is a unit of study that is open only to study abroad students and offers:  

  • 120 hours of industry placement
  • eight hours of professional development workshops
  • four hours of blackboard discussions
  • four reflective journals
  • one final project report.

To qualify, you need to meet all eligibility requirements for study abroad, have a GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale (or C or better on ECTS), and have completed at least one year of study. Contact your Study Abroad or Exchange Advisor to apply.

Research opportunities

With exceptional facilities, an innovative edge and the drive to challenge traditional ways of thinking, our students contribute to research that pushes the boundaries of knowledge and makes a meaningful, real-world impact. We offer research opportunities through our Postgraduate Research Exchange Program or Postgraduate Research Study Abroad Program. 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 get a taste of research by enrolling in the Sydney Abroad Internship Program.

Assessment and results

Assessment formats vary for units of study within different faculties. Each class listed on the online unit of study handbook database outlines how you will be assessed for each unit of study you enrol in. We use a four level passing grade system, with details spelled out in our coursework policy

Examinations happen at the end of semester, following a one-week study vacation period. Timetables are confirmed about one month before the start of the exams. You should ensure any travel plans allow for the exam period.

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 need to have your UniKey login and password to access your results.

How we stack up

Ranked 37th in the world in the 2014-15 QS World University Rankings and consistently in the top three in Australia, the University of Sydney is one of the country’s leading research-intensive universities and a member of the prestigious Group of Eight.

More on our world rankings

Brian Xiong

Exchange student at Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich
"The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. Aside from hanging out with my new friends from all different countries, I took two road trips. That is one of the things I love about Europe – if you drive for a few hours you can be in a new country."

Read more blogs