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Request permission for a unit of study

  1. Departmental permission
  2. Special permission

Special permission

If you'd like to enrol in a unit of study that you don't meet the standard requirements for, or that doesn't meet the course rules and resolutions for your course, then you'll need to apply for special permission.


You may choose to apply for special permission if:

  • you haven't completed a required prerequisite or corequisite
  • you want to exceed the credit point limit in a semester
  • you want to exceed the credit point limit in your course
  • the unit of study isn't offered in your course
  • you want to enrol in a unit of study out of sequence (eg, undertake a third-year unit in second year)
  • you're enrolled in a postgraduate research course.

Before you apply, you'll need to review your course rules and resolutions and relevant faculty or school policies (for example, rules for exceeding credit point limits) in your handbook. This will help you determine if you meet the eligiblity requirements. 

If you're on a student visa, you need to make sure that you will still be meeting your visa requirements if you apply to change your enrolment through special permission. If you need advice, contact our international compliance officers

How to apply

To apply for special permission, you'll need to first complete the enrolment task.

In some cases to complete your enrolment, you will need to nominate an alternative unit. This should be the unit you'd like to complete if your application for special permission is not approved.

After you've enrolled, you can apply for special permission through Sydney Student.

  • If you're a coursework student, go to 'My studies', 'Units of study', then 'Other options'.
  • If you're a research student, go to 'My studies', 'Research details', then 'Apply for special permission in course'.

You will need to indicate why you’re applying for special permission and upload any relevant supporting documents, for example evidence you’ve previously completed a unit of study with similar content to a prerequisite. If you don’t submit appropriate supporting documents or explain the circumstances of your request, your application will be declined and you will need to submit a new application with the relevant documents.

You will be able to nominate a unit of study you want to be withdrawn from if your application is approved. If you are applying for special permission for more than one unit, you need to include a different unit to be withdrawn from in each application. Be aware that if you withdraw from these units before your application has been processed, your application for special permission will be cancelled automatically.

Before you submit an application, make sure that the unit of study you would like to complete has not been made available in an alternative collection in the unit of study selection screen in Sydney Student.

Generally, your application won't be approved if you want to enrol in a unit that has not been made available in Table B or Table S, unless approval has been granted by the administering Faculty and you've provided supporting documents to show this. You'll also need to ensure that you have space to complete a Table B or Table S elective (where relevant).

If you're a domestic student, your application will not be approved if completing the unit will exceed the course limits for non-compulsory course requirements. The Higher Education Support Act 2003 (‘HESA’) prevents students from enrolling in units that are additional to the minimum requirements for award. If you want to complete an extra elective or a pre-honours unit but do not have the space to do so in your current award course, you may want to consider the Arts undergraduate non-degree or Arts postgraduate non-award program as an alternative option.

If you want to enrol in more than 24 credit points in a single semester, your application will only be assessed where: 

  • you are in your final semester and are likely to graduate upon the successful completion of the 30 credit points if the special permission is approved
  • you want to enrol in an intensive session unit in addition to a full-time study load (24 credit points) in the main semester
  • you have maintained a minimum average of 65% in your previous two semesters with a full-time study load.

Language units

If you're seeking a prerequisite waiver for a language unit of study, you may need to contact the relevant unit of study coordinator if you can't support your application with appropriate documents. 

You need to apply for special permission as soon as possible to allow time for your application to be processed before the last day to add a unit of study deadline.

If you apply less than 5 working days before the last day to add a unit of study, we can’t guarantee that your application will be processed for that semester. You should make sure you’re enrolled in an alternative unit of study that you’d like to complete.

You should look at CUSP, the handbook for the year you commenced your degree, and the unit of study selection screen in Sydney Student to view details of your course and units of study offered. If you have received written approval from your program director to enrol in the requested unit of study, upload this correspondence to your special permission application to assist with the processing of your application.

If you have received written approval from your unit of study or degree coordinator to enrol into a unit of study, upload this approval with your application. Approval from your unit of study/degree coordinator does not guarantee enrolment into a unit.

If you are enrolled in a Faculty of Science degree, and would like to undertake 30 credit points of units of study in a single semester you won't need to apply for special permission.

What happens next 

After you submit your application it will be assessed by your faculty or school. We will email you if any additional supporting documents are required. Your application won't be assessed until you have provided the required documents. 

You can view the status of your application or cancel your request in Sydney Student (go to ‘My requests’).

We will email you with the outcome of your application. If your application is approved, you'll automatically be enrolled in the unit of study you requested.

If your application is unsuccessful, we will provide reasons for this decision.


One outcome of the special permission process is the waiving of a prerequisite or corequisite. A waiver might be granted if you've already completed a unit of study that is substantially similar to the prerequisite or corequisite. 

Unlike credit and reduced volume of learning, waivers don't reduce the duration of your award course and you'll need to complete another unit in its place. 

For more information about waivers, see our Coursework Policy 2014 and the course rules and resolutions in your handbook.

Faculty of Medicine and Health

If you’re studying in the Sydney School of Public Health, you can request a waiver by submitting a request for waiver form (pdf, 40KB).

All other students need to follow the standard special permission procedure, or contact your discipline for further information.

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Last updated: 04 July 2019

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