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Planning your course

Your course components

There are different components that make up the structure of courses at the University. It’s important to understand what they are and how they fit together when you first start to plan your studies. Not all of these components may be relevant to you, check your handbook to find out the requirements for your course.

An introduction to the basics

Watch our video to help understand the different types of units and how they come together to structure your course.

Majors, minors and programs

Depending on your award course, you may need to choose a particular subject area that you want to specialise in, such as History, Physics or Commercial Law. If you’re an undergraduate student, this area of specialisation could be your major, minor or a program. If you are a postgraduate coursework student, it is called your specialisation.


A major is a sequence of units of study which develop depth of expertise in a field of study.

To achieve a major, you need to complete the required number of credit points and specific units of study within that one subject area. These requirements will vary depending on the year you commenced your degree and are outlined in the course resolutions in your handbook. Your major(s) will be shown on your testamur.


A minor is a defined sequence of units of study which develops expertise in a subject area. A minor requires fewer credit points than a major.

If you commenced your degree in 2018, the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Commerce and the Bachelor of Economics require completion of a minor (or a second major). A minor will be shown on your transcript.


A program is a combination of units of study that develops expertise in a multidisciplinary study area, or professional or specialist field.

Programs offer you the opportunity to explore an area of study in greater depth than a major. They are typically 72 credit points and need to include at least one major. Programs are offered in a limited number of subject areas and will be listed on your testamur.

Check your handbook for information on programs that may be available in your course.


The course resolutions in your handbook group your course components into ‘tables’.

Table A

Table A lists all the components within your faculty or school that are specific to your course.

Table S – the 'shared pool'

Table S is a ‘shared pool’ of units of study across different faculties and schools and is not specific to individual courses. Tables S will be available from 2018 to students in certain courses.

Table B

Available to students in certain courses, Table B lists components from other faculties or schools that are available to you.

Table O

Table O is a collection of Open Learning Environment (OLE) units of study. It includes two and six credit point units that count toward the requirements of some degrees. 

Units of study

Units of study (units) are individual subjects that you undertake to build up the credit points you need to meet your course requirements.

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

Credit points

Each unit is assigned a credit point value based on its workload, such as the number of contact hours and assessments. The credit points for all your enrolled units for a semester 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.

The number of credit points you need to complete to meet your course requirements is outlined in the course resolutions in your handbook.

Unit of study levels and codes

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. For example, the unit Fundamentals of Chemistry 1A has the code CHEM1001.

  • 1000-level units of study are designed for students who are in Year 1 of a bachelor degree or studying a discipline area for the first time. 1000-level units of study have learning outcomes of a foundational or introductory nature.
  • 2000-level units of study are designed for students who have completed the first year and are typically in Year 2 of a bachelor degree. 2000-level units of study have learning outcomes which assume prior foundational or introductory study.
  • 3000-level units of study are designed for students in Year 3 of a bachelor degree. In 144 credit point bachelor degrees, 3000-level units should enable students to demonstrate learning outcomes at a level expected for those completing a bachelor degree.
  • 4000-level units of study are designed for students in Year 4 of a bachelor degree. They have learning outcomes at the advanced or honours level.

In undergraduate pass degrees, units are often considered junior, intermediate or senior. Junior units generally have a 1000 level code and are often prerequisites for intermediate and senior units undertaken in later years. Intermediate and senior units generally have 2000 and 3000 level codes, depending on your faculty or school.

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

Types of units of study


Your course will usually contain some core (compulsory) units of study. Core units are a requirement for your particular degree or area of specialisation (program, major or minor).

If you’re enrolled in a course with a set program, all your units may be compulsory.


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.

Open Learning Environment (OLE)

The OLE is a collection of units of study that lets you extend your skills and knowledge by exploring other fields of study.

Depending on your course, you may need to take credit point OLE units to meet your degree requirements. These units are listed in Table O in the Interdisciplinary Studies Handbook, and you'll enrol through Sydney Student.

Project-based unit

A project-based unit may be required as part of your major. It provides you with the opportunity to work in an industry, community or specialist field.

Advanced coursework

Advanced coursework units (4000-level) are generally taken in the fourth year of your course.

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 have already completed one of the prohibited units.

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Last updated: 07 June 2024

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