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Planning your units of study

If you’re a coursework student, units of study are the building blocks of your course. Research students may also undertake individual units alongside their research.

Units of study

Units of study (units) are individual subjects that you undertake. It’s important to understand what they are and how they fit together when you first start to plan your studies.

When you’re planning what units to take, make sure you:

If you’re a student visa holder, you also need to be aware of any visa conditions that may affect your unit of study choice.

Understanding units of study

Your handbook outlines the requirements for your course, including the units of study available. You will find detailed unit of study descriptions including assessment types, prerequisites and corequisites, teaching mode and hours.

Unit of study choice is important and can determine what you study in later years, so it’s a good idea to think ahead when deciding on your enrolment. You can use the course planner (pdf, 140KB) to help map out your units of study.

Credit points

Each unit is assigned a credit point value based on its workload, such as the number of contact hours and assessments, which add up to your study load. A full-time study load is 18 to 24 credit points per semester for domestic students and 24 credit points for international students.

You need to complete a certain number of credit points to meet your course requirements, outlined in your course resolutions in your handbook.

Unit of study levels and codes

In undergraduate pass degrees, units of study are considered junior, intermediate or senior. Junior units are generally completed in the first year of your degree and are often prerequisites for intermediate and senior units of study, undertaken in later years.

The level of a unit is generally indicated in the unit of study code. This code is made up of four letters (indicating the subject area) and four numbers (indicating the level and unique code). Junior units often have 1000 level codes and intermediate and senior have 2000 and 3000 level codes. For example, the junior unit Fundamentals of Chemistry 1A has the code CHEM1001.

Your course resolutions in your handbook specify how many credit points in each level you need to complete.

Types of units of study

Core units of study and electives

Unless you’re enrolled in a set program where all your units of study are compulsory, your course will contain core (compulsory) units of study and electives. Core units are a requirement for your particular degree or area of specialisation (major).

An elective is a unit of study that you choose from a list of options within your course. Elective units of study can be chosen as individual options or as part of majors.

Prerequisites and corequisites

Some units of study have a prerequisite. This is a requirement that needs to be completed before you are able to take the unit, such as already having completed a particular unit of study or a certain number of credit points. Some units of study require you to undertake another specific unit of study at the same time. This is called a corequisite.

Assumed knowledge

For some units of study, it’s assumed that you have passed a relevant unit of study or a particular subject in your Higher School Certificate. Although you’re generally advised against taking a unit of study which you do not have the assumed knowledge for, you are not prevented from enrolling in the unit.


Some units of study have one or more prohibitions. These are other units of study that have a significant overlap in content. You cannot enrol in the unit of study if you’ve already completed one of the prohibited units.

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Last updated: 29 September 2017

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