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Change your study load

The number of credit points you are enrolled in determines your study load. If your circumstances change, you may be able to change your study load – depending on your course. You could study part time or exceed the usual credit point limit and overload.

You will generally be considered full time if you are undertaking 18 credit points or more each semester as a domestic student, or 24 credit points as a student visa holder. Most full-time students will complete 24 credit points each semester, which forms the standard course duration outlined in your faculty or school handbook.

If you are studying part time, you will have a reduced study load of less than 18 credit points. Generally there is no minimum number of credit points you can study as long as you meet the requirements of your course.

Depending on the structure and rules of your course, you may be able to ‘overload’, by enrolling in more than 24 credit points.

Changing your mode of attendance

Changing your mode of attendance means to change from full-time to part-time study, or vice versa.

Note that reducing your enrolment load can affect your eligibility for government assistance such as Youth Allowance, Austudy, Abstudy and travel concessions.

If you are planning on studying part time, be aware of the time limits for completing your course requirements. Generally, you’ll need to complete your course requirements within 10 years, however for some courses you may have a shorter time period. This information is outlined in the Coursework Rule (pdf, 484KB).


If you’re a domestic student, you may be able to reduce your study load and study part time. Check Find a course or the course rules in your handbook to see if your degree offers part-time study.

If your course has a set program or you are undertaking honours, there may be limitations on studying part time. Contact your course coordinator or honours supervisor to discuss your options.

If you’re an international student on a student visa, you are required to undertake a full-time study load of 24 credit points. However, under some circumstances you may be able to apply to reduce your load.

If you’re a research student, your supervisor and faculty or school will need to approve your change.

Bachelor of Laws

If you’re undertaking the Bachelor of Laws, you need to be enrolled full time. In special circumstances the Associate Dean (Professional Law Programs) may approve a temporary reduced load for one semester.

Juris Doctor

If you’re enrolled in the Juris Doctor full time and there is a temporary change to your circumstances, you can apply to reduce your study load for one semester. If there is a permanent change, you can apply for a route change from full-time to part-time study.

To apply to temporarily reduce your study load or apply for a route change, contact the Associate Dean (Professional Law Programs).

How to change your attendance

Coursework students

If you’re a coursework student, in most cases you can change between full time and part time simply by adding or dropping units of study in Sydney Student (go to ‘My studies’, ‘Units of study’, then ‘Change your units of study’).

Be aware of deadlines for adding and discontinuing units of study to avoid academic and/or financial penalties.

Research students

If you’re a research student, submit a request to change your mode of attendance through Sydney Student (go to ‘My studies’, ‘Research details’, then ‘Request attendance mode change’).

A request received before the census date in a research period will be effective from the start of that research period. A request received after the census date in a research period will be effective from the start date of the next research period.

Exceed credit point limits

Most courses have a limit of 24 credit points per semester. Exceeding this limit is generally not recommended, however in some situations you can take up to 30 credit points.


You may be eligible to increase your study load above 24 credit points if it means you will be able to complete your course requirements that semester or if the additional unit of study is a prerequisite you need to have completed for the following semester.

Faculties and schools can have different eligibility criteria and processes for overloading. If you’re an undergraduate student in the Faculty of Science, for example, you can automatically enrol in 30 credit points. In other faculties, such as the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, you will need to request permission.

Check the limits and rules around overloading in the course and faculty or school resolutions in your handbook.

If you’re an international student on a student visa, due to your visa requirements overloading is only allowed in exceptional circumstances. Overloading will affect the duration of your studies and may cause a reduced enrolment load later in your course.

You may be eligible to exceed the junior, semester or course credit point limits in the following circumstances.

  • You can apply to exceed the junior credit point limit if you have already completed at least two semesters and the unit is a compulsory core unit for the degree, or you commenced study mid year and were unable to begin language studies in your first semester.
  • You can apply to exceed the semester credit point limit of 30 if you’re in your final semester and have a distinction average, with no recorded fail grades.
  • You can apply to exceed the overall credit point limit by one core unit of study if you’re in your final semester and have not met the core requirements of your course.

Applications to exceed credit point limits will not be approved when the units of study can be taken by varying your enrolment.

If you’re undertaking the Bachelor of Laws or Juris Doctor, you can exceed the semester credit point limit only in your final year. You may be eligible to enrol in up to 30 credit points in a semester if you have made satisfactory academic progress and overloading will allow you to meet your course requirements.

How to apply

Before you apply to increase your study load, you should seek academic advice to make sure you’ll be able to stay on top of your studies and get the most out of your course.

If you decide to apply to overload, you need to use the Special permission process.

We’ll email you the outcome of your application within 10 working days.

Help and support

If you’re considering changing your study load and need advice, contact us.

If you’re an international student, you can also speak with an international compliance officer.

Student Centre

  • Level 3, Jane Foss Russell Building, Darlington Campus

Make an enquiry

Opening hours: 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Extended in-person opening hours first two weeks of semester and during exams.

Last updated: 16 July 2019

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