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Study information

Frequently asked questions about studying remotely
The University will have as much face-to-face learning on campus in Semester 2 as it is safe for us to provide. At the same time, we will continue to offer remote teaching to those students who unable to join us on campus.

Key points

Semester 2 has been delayed by three weeks and will now start on 24 August. Semester 2 will combine face-to-face with remote learning in as many courses as possible, while keeping the safety of our community and public health guidelines in mind.  We will continue to provide high-quality remote learning for students who are not yet able to join us in person due to travel restrictions.

  • For most courses, Semester 2, 2020 will begin on Monday 24 August and exams will end on 12 December. Check the Study dates page for details.
  • While most lectures will remain online, our intention is for seminars, tutorials, workshops, small group projects as well as practical and labs to return face-to-face in Semester 2.
  • Semester 2 will continue in a mixed-mode delivery, to cater for both our student community in Australia and abroad.
  • Remote delivery of teaching and assessment will continue as long as necessary for students who are overseas or otherwise unable to return to campus in Semester 2. If you are doing so from your home country, you should be aware of the Australian Government’s travel advice and restrictions.
  • The Australian government has advised that this change in delivery will not impact compliance with visa conditions for international students
  • For students looking for information about available units of study offered by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in Semester 2 2020, visit the Semester 2  information page.  

Frequently asked questions

Semester 2, 2020

Semester 2, 2020 will start on Monday 24 August. There will be 12 weeks of teaching with two breaks and the final exams week will finish on 12 December. While this is one week shorter than usual, the volume of learning will remain the same as Week 1 will be a full teaching week with both lectures and tutorials. Both semester breaks will be one week later than usual. Mid-semester break will begin on 5 October and StuVac will begin on 23 November.

Refer to the Study Dates section of the website for more information.

Semester 2 dates were changed to delay the start of teaching to 24 August. However, due to their structure and requirements, some courses will still need to start earlier. This earlier session is called Semester 2 Early. Teaching will commence on 3 August, and there will be different deadlines and exam period for units that are run during this session. It’s important you check the deadlines on our Study Dates page. 

Semester 2 Early will start on 3 August. There will be 13 weeks of teaching with two breaks and the final exams week will finish on 28 November. Mid-semester break will begin on 28 September and StuVac will begin on 9 November. Units run during this session will have different deadlines, including census date of 31 August. It’s important you check the deadlines on our Study Dates page. 

If you are a new student, your offer letter will outline the start date for your course. When you select your units of study as part of enrolment, each one will have a session code that lets you know which semester it is run in.

If you are continuing your studies in Semester 2, you will need to check your units of study and the sessions when they are run. Log in to Sydney Student (go to ‘My studies’, ‘Units of study’, then ‘Change your units of study’) to check the session code for each of your units. You will find the session code next to each unit of study in the ‘Your selected unit(s) of study’ box. Check the deadlines on our Study Dates page.   

You may have units run in different sessions. If this happens, it is important to be aware of the deadlines for each of your units, as they will be different. This includes having different census dates, unit of study deadlines, and exam periods. You can find a full list of deadlines on our Study Dates page. If you are studying in both Semester 2 Early and Semester 2, it means you will have classes taught over a longer period of time, as Semester 2 Early commences on 3 August, and Semester 2 will run until the end of exams on 12 December.

For most students, you will be completing your units of study during Semester 2. Exams for Semester 2 units will be run from 30 November to 12 December. Replacement exams will be held from 7 to 12 January, so it’s important you are award of these later dates if you need to sit a replacement exam.

If you are completing units in Semester 2 Early, you will have different exam dates. Exams for Semester 2 Early will be run from 16 to 28 November, and replacement exams from 9 to 12 December.  

Some programs (such as Medicine) already follow a different Semester structure which at this stage will not change. If you are in one of these programs, your faculty will let you know about any changes to Semester 2 plans specific to these programs. 

If you are a student visa holder and commencing your studies or returning from suspension in Semester 2, 2020 and are holding an eCOE with the old start date of 3 August 2020, the University will provide you with an updated electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE) to reflect the new start date of 24 August 2020. If you require an extension eCoE for any other reason please submit your request through Sydney Student.  If you have not yet been granted a visa, you can then use this new eCOE to apply for a Student visa when you are able to travel to Australia.

Welcome Week and orientation activities will be conducted before the beginning of Semester 2, so all new and returning students have the opportunity to prepare to start their studies and connect with their teachers and other students.  

Semester 2 Welcome Week will take place from Monday 17 to Friday 21 August. Some welcome events may be held earlier. Students will be contacted with more information soon, so keep an eye out for invitations in your student email account.

No – all teaching activity and course content will be the same and there will be no reduction in the volume of learning. To accommodate a 12 week semester, Week 1 will now be a full teaching week with both lectures and tutorials.

The change in dates of Semester 2, 2020 requires us to re-build the timetable. Personalised Semester 2 timetables will be emailed to students on 17 August. You can find updated timetable dates on our website.

No, the delay will not impact terms of University scholarships, however payment dates may change as a result. All scholarship holders will receive the same funding and support as they would with normal semester dates.

July intensives will not be impacted due to the extended break. It is likely that the dates for January intensives will be changed – you will be updated as soon as this is confirmed.

Fees will remain the same, however the Semester 2 census date has changed in accordance with the delayed start.

The date is yet to be confirmed. The University will work to ensure final results are sent with minimal delay to ensure it does not impact progression for any student.

The decision to delay Semester 2, 2020 was in response to feedback from faculties, to give both students and teaching staff more time to prepare for Semester 2 and allow us to plan and implement a gradual return to face to face teaching. It also provides an opportunity for students a longer break after a challenging first semester and will give new students more time to complete admissions processes if needed.

At this stage, no. The change only applies to Semester 2, 2020. No decision has been made for next years’ semesters, but we will inform you if plans change for 2021.

Re-introduction of on campus learning in Semester 2

The timing for the re-introduction of on-campus learning, as well as more staff returning to work on campus, will depend on further health advice from the Australian and NSW Governments. We intend to provide as much face-to-face learning on campus as possible in Semester 2. This process will be managed gradually, and we will prioritise teaching and research activity as well as any other work that cannot be done remotely.

Your faculty will contact you with information specific to your units of study. Be sure to check your unit pages on Canvas units regularly for up-to-date information.

Remote delivery of teaching and assessment will continue as long as necessary for students who are overseas or otherwise unable to return to campus for the majority of programs which do not have components that cannot be delivered entirely via remote delivery.

The gradual return to on-campus classes will not impact the delivery of a high-quality remote learning experience for the entire semester and students unable to attend campus will have the opportunity to achieve the same learning outcomes.

We are mindful of students offshore and those unable to come to campus and we will be making provisions for individual circumstances. We will communicate directly with students enrolled in units with activities that cannot be conducted entirely via remote delivery, and who are unable to join us on campus in Semester 2. 

Some spaces will continue to be open on campus and the University will follow government advice to manage the gradual re-opening of more spaces. All services currently available online will continue to provide remote access. Refer to the Campus Operations page for the latest updates.

Tests, exams and assessments will continue to be conducted online unless otherwise advised. Following government advice, the University will consider options for in-person assessments if it is safe to do so, without disadvantage to students studying remotely.  

Unit of study outlines will be updated with assessment details and students will be notified via Canvas, as well as through ongoing communication with their unit coordinators and faculty where appropriate.

Whether or not placements go ahead in Semester 2 will depend on NSW Government restrictions and policies set by our partners.  The University will continue to monitor updates closely and work with our educational partners to update students as soon as possible. 

No. The Converted WAM (CWAM) was introduced in recognition of the sudden change in teaching methods. to ensure students were not disadvantaged  As we are intending to offer remote delivery for the majority of Semester 2, students are able to plan accordingly.

Students joining the University in Semester 2, 2020

Applications close on 17 August 2020 for Semester 2 for most courses. Application dates for some courses vary from the standard closing date. Find a course to check the specific closing date. 

Application dates for postgraduate research have not changed.

Not all courses are available in Semester 2 each year and if your course isn't available, we will offer you the next possible intake, or you can apply for Semester 1, 2021. Please check the course page for your course's specific availability.

The face-to-face attendance requirements have currently been removed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most courses are only being offered remotely during this period.  You will only be able to complete remotely if the course is normally offered online, or if it can be completed in 2020.

The majority of our programs are normally delivered face-to-face, and attendance requirements will resume when it’s safe and possible, following our gradual return to on campus teaching and learning. We will continue to provide updates, dependent on future government advice, including available options for remote learning if travel bans remain in place beyond Semester 2, 2020. 

There are many ways to be a part of student life from home. As a student, you will have access to the University of Sydney Union (USU). You can start exploring their events, and the clubs and society activities taking place online. 

Our students and clubs and societies are also active across #usydonline. Join us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WeChat to get a taste of student life, and the creative ways we are staying connected, while apart.

No disadvantage assessment includes revised special consideration arrangements, introduction of new grades, and mark adjustments to ensure no student is academically disadvantaged as a result of the health crisis.

For information related to international applicants, including admissions requirements and visas, please refer to our information for international students and visas.


Studying online

The University is providing students with resources and support to help with the transition to remote study arrangements. Your learning resources and activities will run through Canvas, and may use other tools such as Zoom, Echo360 and Turnitin.

A few key tips to help you effectively learn are:

  • Communicate regularly with your lecturers, tutors and classmates
  • Set up your calendar and create a daily routine
  • Check your student email and unit of studies' Canvas site daily
  • Make sure all of your equipment and technology is working and up-to-date
  • Take regular breaks and keep to regular hours.

For more tips on learning effectively while off campus, see our guide.

You can also search for help using other tools online through ICT's Knowledge Base.

You will need to log in to Canvas to access learning resources for your unit of study. You will also need to access other tools including Echo360 for streamed and recorded lectures, and Zoom for online tutorials. Find out how to download these apps.

For help using Canvas, visit the Canvas Student Guide to find out how to make the most of common tools that your unit might use, including Zoom, Echo360 and Turnitin. You can also access 24/7 Canvas support via chat - click on the "Help" button in the left hand menu from anywhere in Canvas.

You can also search for help using other tools online through ICT's Knowledge Base.

There are several features in Zoom that you can use to manage participants for a secure session.

You can set up a password on your Zoom session to register participants and you can use a waiting room to ensure you let in only the intended guests.

Misbehaving participants can be kicked out of a Zoom session. Meeting hosts can also lock the session after it has started to prevent anyone new from joining.

Find out more about managing Zoom participants.

The University will remain accessible and the Wi-Fi network, libraries, computer labs, research and study spaces will be available to staff and students who need to use them. For more information see updates on campus operations.

Students are able to use a VPN service free of charge which is approved for use in China and accessed via UniKey.

Most students located in China will be able to access the majority of their core teaching and learning tools without a VPN, and we encourage you to try this first. If you encounter any issues, download and use the new VPN solution using the instructions for either Windows or MacOS. This service is free of charge and accessed via your UniKey.

The initial download may take some time, but once the VPN client is downloaded and set up, your connection to University resources will be much faster.

Visit our online resources for students in China page for more information about accessing and using these tools.

Please only use this VPN for access from within mainland China.

No student will be mandated to attend a face to face class and you will not be penalised for not attending class. The only exception is for units of study which are unable to be delivered remotely, and have adapted face-to-face requirements to accommodate social distancing and to allow for students to progress through their degree.

A limited number of laptops and desktops are available for loan from the University for those students who need them in order to study remotely. Please register your interest in The University of Sydney Device Borrowing Service by filling out the form here

The annual SSAF will continue to be collected to fund essential support services, student advocacy organisations and non-academic programs for students. It covers a large range of activities and a large proportion is used to fund student organisations' day-to-day operations. including orientation, legal services, advocacy, support services, financial, employment and accommodation advice, sporting activities, student publications and cultural programs. Funding is also used to support student clubs and societies. While most of these services are delivered through the student organisations, careers advice is delivered by the Careers Centre and the Parents Network support is delivered by the STAR team.

This year, the SSAF will allow our student organisations - Students' Representative Council (SRC), Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association, University of Sydney Union (USU) Cumberland Students Guild (CSG) and Sydney University Sport and Fitness (SUSF) - to operate online and provide services and support to students remotely.

Information about SSAF allocation Is published online. The 2020 funding allocation details will be available later In the year.

We are working to ensure all lectures are recorded and available to view in your own time. 

In some circumstances, a class may not be able to be recorded. Students will be notified in advance where possible and provided with alternative resources to access the material.

Some tutorials rely on an interactive format, including group discussions. It is recommended students join these tutorials online at the time they are scheduled. Where this is not possible, attendance will generally not be mandatory, and some of the material may be available for viewing at another time.

Online tests and exams

The University is currently reviewing all options for Semester 2 teaching, including both online delivery and the return to face-to-face classes. Online delivery of classes and assessments (tests and exams) will continue to be available for all students, in Australia and overseas for as long as Australian Government safety and travel advice requires. We will aim to assist all enrolled students to complete their units despite changing circumstances. The University will continue to keep you informed.

This refers to any test or exam that has moved online and will be held under exam-like conditions which are timed and supervised. For more information about taking online tests and exams please refer to the “Taking online tests and exams” Canvas site. You can keep this site on your Canvas dashboard for easy reference. Just click ‘Join this Course’ on the homepage and follow the steps.  Other Canvas quizzes as well as submitted assignments and take-home tests are not considered as online tests and exams and will be administered as normal. If you are unsure whether your unit has a supervised online test or exam this semester, please refer to your unit outline and Canvas site, or check with your unit of study coordinator.

To ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students, unit of study coordinators have reviewed their assessment practices and made adjustments, where appropriate, in line with NSW Health advice. This means some units of study may hold an online test or exam which will be timed and supervised, or the test or exam type may have changed to a different assessment type like a take home exam.     

You will be advised through Canvas and the unit outline about the specific details of your assessments, and as per standard practice your end of semester exam timetable will outline the format for your exams. Find out more about exams including information on end of semester exam dates and timetables.

For more information about taking online tests and exams please refer to the “Taking online tests and exams” Canvas site. This site offers detailed instructions on how to prepare to take an online test or exam. It is important that you review the information on this site well in advance so that you are ready to take your test or exam. We highly recommend you set up your ProctorU account and take a practice test as a priority.

When taking tests or exams online, you will typically do this from your personal computer using online proctoring or supervision.  This proctoring will be carried out by ProctorU, a specialist online testing service.  To ensure that test conditions are observed, your identity will be verified, your test environment will be checked, and you will be supervised while completing your test, using a combination of webcam, microphone, speakers and screen sharing. You will be supervised for the whole duration of your test, and ProctorU will be available for help at all times. 

It is important that you have confidence that your privacy is safeguarded. Thorough legal, cyber-security, privacy and capability analysis was carried out by relevant University units before the University entered into an arrangement with ProctorU.  ProctorU has been around since 2008 and are trusted by hundreds of universities and other organisations worldwide including CPA and the universities of Florida, Georgia SouthWestern, Mississippi and Iowa. This organisation works with many universities globally and is subject to multi-jurisdictional privacy and security regulations.

ProctorU will only require your basic student information (name, email address and phone number) and in most cases will not require access to your computer during a test. An online proctor will not be able to access your computer without your express permission.  More details about ProctorU’s privacy and security in relation to University of Sydney online tests can be found in our FAQS on Canvas, including what software needs to be installed and why, what actually happens during a proctored session, and what information ProctorU has access to.

The “Taking online tests and exams” Canvas site will explain how to set up a ‘ProctorU’ (the service provider of the online supervised tests) account and organise a time to sit your test. When you set up your account, you will be asked to nominate the time zone you are currently in. Available times to sit your test will be displayed in your nominated time zone.

Disability Services helps students who have a disability to access reasonable adjustments for tests and exams. They can also help students who have a temporary condition or injury and require adjustments for their test or exam. Find out about registering with Disability Services. Common test adjustments converted for online delivery are outlined here. If you would like more information, please contact Disability Services on disability.services@sydney.edu.au, or your Faculty’s Disability Liaison Officers.


Suspending your studies

Applications for suspending studies remain unchanged and must adhere to key enrolment dates. Find out more information about:


Higher Degree by Research students (HDRs)

The University is committed to supporting HDR students whose research plans have been impacted by the unforeseen circumstances of COVID-19.

If you are a current HDR student, please visit the research support section of the Intranet (requires UniKey access) for further information, including extensions to submission deadlines and centrally funded scholarships, general bursaries, submission milestones and Annual Progress Reviews.

No, research periods will remain unchanged.

The University is prioritising research and the needs of HDR students in the gradual return to campus.

Yes, you will need to discuss your research project changes in detail with your supervisor before you commence your HDR course online.

Consider moving forward project work such as literature reviews and systematic reviews, until you can be on-campus to use research facilities and labs. Please discuss in detail with your supervisor.

If you are a University of Sydney stipend scholarship recipient, your stipend payment will be paid into your Australian bank account. If you don’t have an Australian bank account at the time of enrolment, don’t worry, you won’t be disadvantaged as you will receive back payment once you have provided an Australian bank account details to the university


Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure, which affect your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration.

The University wishes to avoid placing an additional burden on the health care system during the COVID-19 crisis. As an alternative to a medical certificate or other medical documents, you can submit a student declaration, with any available supporting evidence, that describes the misadventure, illness or injury that you suffered and for how long. The conditions for making student declarations are outlined in the template.

Most registered medical/health practices are offering medical certificates (by email) for an online or phone consultation. If you are consulting a medical practitioner regarding your symptoms, you should request a medical certificate that also identifies an affected period. An affected period is the timeframe during which your condition has seriously impacted on your ability to complete an assessment task at the normal level of competence.

You may use a medical certificate to support your application for special consideration if you feel that your condition has adversely impacted on your ability to complete an assessment task. If it is not practicable for you to obtain a medical certificate or other medical documentation, you need to provide a student declaration with a statement describing how you have been impacted by your condition and for how long.  The student declaration needs to be submitted as part of your special consideration application.

If you experience symptoms of coronavirus, which include a fever, a cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, please follow the health advice and steps to take on our website here.

Your eligibility for special consideration depends on whether your circumstances were out of your control, and whether they have seriously impacted on your ability to complete an assessment task at the normal level of competence. All applications will be assessed on a case by case basis. Where possible, you should submit supporting evidence that confirms the extent and duration of the impact of your circumstances on your ability to complete assessment requirements.

Due to COVID-19, if it is not possible for you to obtain medical or supporting documents, you need to provide a student declaration with a statement describing how you have been impacted by your circumstances and for how long. The student declaration needs to be submitted as part of your special consideration application.

If you are in self-isolation but are well and have not been impacted by other circumstances outside your control, you are expected to continue with your studies remotely and complete all assessments as normal.

If you start to feel unwell during your self-isolation period, follow the health advice and steps to take on our website. You should phone (do not visit) a local general practitioner (GP) or the closest hospital emergency department for instructions.

If you are consulting a medical practitioner regarding your symptoms, you should request a medical certificate that also identifies an affected period. An affected period is the timeframe during which your condition has seriously impacted on your ability to complete an assessment task at the normal level of competence.

If it is not practicable for you to obtain a medical certificate or other medical documentation, you need to provide a student declaration with a statement describing how you have been impacted by your condition and for how long.  The student declaration needs to be submitted as part of your special consideration application.

You should submit a student declaration describing your circumstances, along with any accompanying evidence such as a travel plan or cancelled flight itinerary. If you have been instructed to return to your home country by your government, you can submit documents such as travel documents, emails or other communications from home country government authorities, or evidence of your Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) status.

If you are a carer you can submit relevant supporting documents such as communications from your child’s school, or medical documents confirming that the person you care for has a pre-existing condition and that you are their carer.  If possible, you should seek their consent before providing their medical documents to the University.

If it is not possible for you to obtain supporting documents, you need to provide a student declaration with a statement describing how you have been impacted by your carer’s responsibilities, and for how long. The student declaration needs to be submitted as part of your special consideration application.

If you have been required to work additional hours due to COVID-19, and you require special consideration for your assessment tasks, you should obtain a statement from your employer describing the period of time that your work commitments have impacted on your studies.

If you are unable to obtain this document due to an unexpected increase in workload in your work place, you need to provide a student declaration with a statement describing how your work commitments have impacted on your ability to meet your assessment requirements. Please outline the dates for the affected period so that we may provide the appropriate consideration.

Requirements for attendance have been relaxed this semester. You will be expected to review weekly online lectures yourself and engage with online activities as scheduled. If your special consideration form does not allow for an application for attendance/participation as an assessment under the relevant unit of study, then an application for a missed lecture or tutorial may not be required. You should refer to your unit of study outline for any attendance requirements, including face-to-face contact.

If you have experienced significant technical issues that were beyond your control and have adversely impacted on your ability to meet an assessment requirement, you may submit an application for special consideration.

You should submit a student declaration with a statement describing the issue, along with any supporting evidence such as screenshots or emails, with an explanation of how the problem has impacted on your ability to meet your assessment requirements.


No-disadvantage assessment

The University is committed to ensuring no student is academically disadvantaged as a result of the health crisis. We have adopted a ‘no-disadvantage’ position on assessment that is transparent, fair and supports academic progression.

  • Student declaration: Students who have been impacted by COVID-19 will be able to submit a Student Declaration document. This document should only be submitted in the case that their studies have been impacted adversely by unique and specific circumstances. Students may be required to submit supporting evidence of this impact. A false statement would be grounds for misconduct and may have serious consequences.
  • Modified decision making: Decision making process by the Special Consideration unit have been modified to account for instances of types of misadventure to emerge as part of the on-going health crisis.  The additional categories to be added beyond illness, injury or misadventure as provided in current policy include:
  1. emergency professional duties, e.g. health care workers
  2. incompatible technology, bandwidth or home circumstances for assessment and examination purposes (lack of quiet space)
  3. substantial carer responsibilities
Find out more about special consideration.
  • DC grade: Where circumstances are such that a student cannot reasonably complete a unit, a DC (Discontinued) grade can be awarded. The University will work towards removing any financial penalty that may exist in the case where a DC grade has been approved, rather than requiring students to discover and apply for this option. Students will be notified when this becomes available.
  • UC grade: Where a unit of study follows on to another unit of study, a UC grade can be awarded for the first and the assessment can be finalised across both units on completion of the second.  This may be useful, for example, in language and music performance units. 
  • RI grade: In extenuating circumstances, where a student is close to completion of a unit, but cannot be given a fair assessment in every component, examiners could award an RI (Result Incomplete) grade, with follow-up assessment beyond the usual period for alternative assessment. 
  • Within-assessment mark adjustment: Examiners will be asked to take broad account of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic when assessing students’ work in the unit, by providing marks that reflect the standard of student work adjusted for any disrupted educational opportunity during the semester.  Examination committees will be asked to compare mark and grade distributions for each unit with those of prior years to identify any units where further adjustment of marks may be required, and to make adjustments where they judge it to be necessary.  
  • Post-assessment mark adjustment: The University will also undertake a careful comparison of 2020 mark distributions to those in prior years and undertake a further cohort-based post-assessment mark adjustment if the comparison indicates that it is necessary. 
  • Computation of a Converted WAM (CWAM): In addition to the existing system WAM, the University will compute a Converted WAM (CWAM) that excludes Semester 1, 2020 results to account for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which will be added to the final academic transcript for the degree. Find out more about CWAM.

Last updated 24 June, 2020

Contact us

Students can submit a query via the Coronavirus Enquiry form.
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