Explanation of terms | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Explanation of terms

Use our A-Z list below to decipher university phrases, terminology and definitions.


Academic Record
An official statement of Academic Record is a certified statement detailing a student’s complete academic record at UniSC.

The process of administering the applications to programs of study, including assessing applicants' academic history, checking program entry requirements and making offers to applicants.

Australian Higher Education Graduation Statement (AHEGS)
AHEGS is a Commonwealth initiative introduced from the September 2011 graduation ceremony. All graduates will receive their AHEGS on completion of a program of study.

Course/s are incompatible; it is not in student's best interest to complete both courses.

Application to a program is a process undertaken by students. This process includes submission of an application and supply of appropriate documentation.

Articulation pathway
Two programs that are constructed in such a way that completion of the first program allows credit from that program to be transferred to the second program (eg articulation from TAFE).

Authority subject
An authority subject is a subject for which the course of study is based on a syllabus that has been approved and issued by the Queensland Studies Authority (QSA).

An award (or award program) is a recognised certification of achievement that is granted to a student after the completion of all requirements of a higher education program (eg Bachelor of Arts).


Bachelor is the title for an undergraduate program (eg Bachelor of Business). Generally, a bachelor degree at UniSC comprises 288 units (24 courses) and normally takes three years of full-time study or six years of part-time study to complete. Four year undergraduate programs are also available.

Bridging courses
Bridging courses aim to prepare students for successful tertiary study. These courses may satisfy subject prerequisites and students may be allocated a selection rank sufficient to gain entry to tertiary study. Additionally, on successful completion of some bridging and preparatory courses, students can gain direct entry to selected undergraduate courses.

If you are thinking about going to university but are not sure it is for you, then you should consider bridging and preparatory courses. UniSC offers three different courses that are designed to help you succeed at your studies; Tertiary Preparation Pathway (TPP), Tertiary Enabling Program (TEP) and University Skills in Community Course.

Financial support to assist with the costs of study. Usually comprises a single one-off payment during the semester. Awarded to students on low income or other equity groups (eg disability). Also awarded to students with high academic achievement in a particular subject area.


Census date
The census date is the date by which students must finalise their enrolment in each semester or session. The census dates for semesters and sessions are listed in the Academic Calendars. Census date is also used to confirm that students are enrolled to receive their scholarship or bursary payments.

Specific knowledge that must be obtained prior to, or concurrently with, the nominated course.

Combined degree
A combined degree is a combination of two undergraduate degrees undertaken simultaneously (eg Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science). A combined degree at UniSC comprises 384 units (generally 32 courses) and normally takes four years of full-time study or eight years of part-time study to complete.

Commonwealth assistance notice
UniSC issue electronic Commonwealth Assistance Notices (eCANs) via UniSC Central after any census date in which students can allow unpaid fees to defer to HELP loans.

Commonwealth supported place
A Commonwealth supported place is subsidised by the Australian Government so that students are only required to pay 'student contribution' amounts for their UniSC courses.

Commonwealth supported student
Eligible students offered a Commonwealth Supported Place will be identified as a Commonwealth Supported Student on acceptance of that offer. Commonwealth supported student fees are subsidised by the Australian Government and the student pays a student contribution.

Contact hours
Contact hours are the number of hours students are expected to attend classes on campus. A full-time student spends about 12 hours per week in classes, plus between 20 and 40 hours studying per week (five to 10 hours per course).

Core course
Core courses are a requirement of most UniSC undergraduate degrees. The courses enable students to gain skills and knowledge for successful tertiary study and lifelong learning. Students choose two courses from the following options: Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship; Communication and Thought; and Environment, Technology and Sustainability.

A course (commonly known as a subject) is a component of an award program that is normally one semester in length. Each course is generally 12 units in value. The standard enrolment for a full-time student is four courses per semester.

Credit points
The number of credit points defines the academic weighting assigned to a course. Most courses at UniSC have a weighting of 12 credit points.

Credit transfer
Credit transfer is the process of assessing prior academic work in order to determine whether those studies are of equal depth and academic rigour as courses offered at UniSC. A successful credit transfer application will reduce the number of courses required to complete an award program. Also known as advanced standing. See also: Recognition of Prior Learning.

Cross-institutional enrolment
Cross-institutional enrolment is where a student enrols in a course/s through another institution which, on successful completion, can be credited to the student’s award program at their home institution.


A Dean is a member of academic staff responsible for the management of a school.

Deferral is a process where a student, offered a place in a program through an application for admission, chooses to defer their commencement of study until a later semester/year.

Developing and Graduate level courses
Students normally undertake developing and graduate level courses in the second and third years of their programs. Entry to these courses may be subject to successful completion of a prerequisite/s. These courses are normally coded as 200- or 300-level courses (eg SCS265 or MBT352).

Direct entry
A method of entry whereby the student applies directly to the university for admission to a program. In general, only postgraduate courses at UniSC are available for direct entry.

Discontinued student
A student who has not been enrolled in any courses within a program at any census date of the previous two academic years.

Domestic student
Domestic students are Australian citizens, New Zealand citizens (including a diplomatic or consular representative of New Zealand, a member of the staff of such a representative or the spouse or dependent relative of such a representative) or holders of an Australian permanent visa.


Many programs include elective courses, where students have the flexibility to study courses outside of their required courses that counts towards their degree. Electives may be from other UniSC Schools depending on the program requirements.

Enabling courses
UniSC offers enabling courses in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Literacy, General Mathematics, Mathematics for Physics, Statistics, and Writing Skills for students who may not have studied these areas in high school, or who need a 'refresher' prior to commencing tertiary study.

English Language requirements
UniSC requires students to be sufficiently proficient in English to successfully undertake tertiary study. Students who have not previously undertaken secondary or tertiary study where the medium of instruction was English may need to demonstrate their English language proficiency eg through an IELTS or TOEFL exam.

English prerequisite
Some UniSC programs require successful completion of English subject in Year 12, or equivalent, for admission to that program.

Enrolment is the process where an applicant, having received a written offer to study a particular program, chooses the courses to study in that program, pays the appropriate fees, and is issued with a Student ID Card. See also: Recommended enrolment pattern.

Equivalent Full Time Student Load (EFTSL)
An Equivalent Full Time Student Load (EFTSL) unit is the measure of the course workload of a student. 1 EFTSL is equivalent to 8 courses.


Fee due date
The date by which student fees must be paid.

FEE-HELP is a loan program to help eligible fee paying students pay their tuition fees.

Fee paying student
A fee paying domestic student refers to students who are not able obtain a Commonwealth supported place.

Field positions (FPs)
Field positions (FPs) indicate an OP-eligible Year 12 student’s rank order position, based on overall achievement in authority subjects in up to five fields. A rank of 1 is the highest and 10 is the lowest.

Full-time student
A full-time student studies at least three courses per semester. The standard full-time workload is four courses per semester.


Grade Point Average (GPA)
A Grade Point Average (GPA) is the average of all final grades obtained by a student for courses completed within a program. Courses which have granted as academic credit will not be used in the calculation of the program GPA.

A graduand is a student who has completed all the requirements of an award program, but is yet to receive their testamur (degree certificate).

A graduate is a student who has completed all the requirements of an award program and has received their testamur (degree certificate).


Head of School
A Head of School is a member of academic staff responsible for the management of a school.

HECS-HELP (Higher Education Contribution Scheme - Higher Education Loans Program)
HECS-HELP is a loan that helps eligible Commonwealth-supported students to pay their student contributions.

HECS-HELP liability
A HECS-HELP liability is the amount a student is liable to repay to the Commonwealth Government under HECS-HELP. The amount is calculated on the student's enrolment as at the census date in each relevant semester.

Higher Education Loan Program (HELP)
The Government administers five HELP loans schemes to assist eligible students with their student fees. HELP loans are available to eligible students to help cover the costs of student contributions (HECS-HELP), tuition fees (FEE-HELP), Student Services and Amenities fees (SA-HELP) or overseas study expenses (OS-HELP).

Honours program
An honours program is usually two semesters (one year full-time) of coursework, seminars and supervised research undertaken after a bachelor degree. It advances a student's knowledge and experience, and helps to prepare for future research work or postgraduate study.


Integrated Learning Engineering (ILE)
ILE provides secondary school students with an opportunity to study undergraduate engineering courses while still at school. ILE is delivered via a collaborative partnership comprised of UniSC, secondary schools, Construction Skills Queensland and two education and training centres.

Introductory courses
Introductory courses provide a sound knowledge of essential areas, and a foundation for studies in majors and/or minors within an award program. They are normally coded as 100-level courses (eg ENP101).


A lecture involves a member of the teaching staff presenting themes and concepts related to a course of study to students enrolled in the course. Most courses have one weekly lecture.


A major is a sequence of eight courses from one particular area of study.

Minimum entry requirements
The minimum requirements an applicant must satisfy to be considered for entry to a particular program. This may include, for example, Year 12 subject prerequisites completed to a specified level of achievement, employment, or a completed qualification such as a diploma. It also encompasses admissions rules such as English Language proficiency, Entry rank / OP and prerequisite study.

A minor is a sequence of four courses from one particular area of study.

The way a course is delivered, either full-time or part-time.


National priority areas
Areas of study for which the Commonwealth government offers additional assistance, either through offering additional places and funding, or reducing the maximum student contribution amount in those areas. Currently, Nursing and Education are considered national priority areas.

National priority places
Commonwealth supported places in National Priority Areas. Currently, Nursing and Education are considered national priority areas.

Non-award student
A non-award student is enrolled in a course/s which does not lead to an award (eg Bachelor of Science). Headstart, visiting or Study Abroad students are non-award students.

Non-English speaking background (NESB)
The abbreviation NESB is used to identify students that may need to demonstrate their English Language proficiency prior to admission into a program.

Non-school leaver / Mature aged student
Any student who is not currently completing Year 12 or equivalent within Australia.


The allocation of available program places to eligible applicants.

Official Statement of Academic Record
Your Official Statement of Academic Record is printed on University transcript paper and is a certified statement detailing your academic record at UniSC.

OS-HELP is a loan program to help eligible undergraduate Commonwealth supported students to pay their overseas study expenses.

Overall Position (OP)
An OP indicates a Queensland Year 12 student’s statewide rank order position, which is based on overall achievement. To be OP-eligible, Year 12 students are required to sit for the Queensland Core Skills (QCS) Test and to have studied 20 semester units of authority subjects. A rank of 1 is the highest and 25 is the lowest.


Part-time student
A part-time student studies either one or two courses per semester. The standard part-time workload is two courses per semester. Those attending university in Australia on a student visa cannot study on a part-time basis.

Portal is another term for Canvas; a web-based system for accessing course learning materials and other pertinent student information. Portal (Canvas) is linked from the UniSC homepage. UniSC staff can now use MyUniSC.

Postgraduate student
A postgraduate student studies a postgraduate coursework program (eg Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Masters by coursework) or a higher degree by research (eg Masters by research, Doctor of Philosophy) at university.

A practical offers students the opportunity to practically apply relevant skills (eg laboratory skills). Practical classes are usually 15–25 students in size.

Specific knowledge that is needed prior to enrolling in the nominated course.

A program is the complete award with which a student graduates (eg Bachelor of Arts).

Program code
A program code is a combination of letters and numbers that identifies an award program for administrative purposes.

Program structure
A program structure shows you the courses and total unit value you must complete to be eligible to graduate.


The Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC) provides a centralised tertiary application system to all undergraduate courses offered by the publicly funded universities in Queensland, as well as other courses from selected providers. Applications to the Tertiary Preparation Program, and all USC undergraduate programs are administered through QTAC.

The estimated number of places in a program.


Refer to Selection rank.

Recognition of prior learning for credit
Recognition of prior learning (RPL) is the process of assessing knowledge and skills developed through other learning, informal studies or work-related learning, to determine whether the skills and knowledge contribute to meeting the learning outcomes and assessment criteria of a course or program at UniSC. A successful RPL application will reduce the number of courses required to complete an award program.

Recommended prior study
Recommended prior study refers to the Year 11 and 12 subjects (or equivalent) the University recommends students study before commencing a particular degree. This is not a prerequisite subject, but a recommendation as to what knowledge students should possess in the subject area — eg recommended prior study for the Bachelor of Science is English; Maths A, B or C; and at least one of the sciences, preferably Chemistry.

Required course
A course that is mandatory for all students to complete to be eligible for graduation from a program.


SA-HELP is a loan scheme that assists eligible students to pay for all or part of their student services and amenities fees.

Financial support for a number of years, to assist with the costs of study. Awarded to students on low income or other equity groups (eg coming to study from a rural/remote location). Also awarded to students with high academic achievement.

A school is an organisational area within the University devoted to particular academic programs and research (eg School of Education). Each school is headed by a Head of School or Dean.

Selection rank
Students applying for university study, who are not OP-eligible, are assigned a rank based on other qualifications such as previous secondary school and tertiary results, work experience or bridging and preparatory studies. A rank of 1 is the lowest and 99 is the highest. Also known as Rank.

The academic year is divided into two main semesters. First semester generally runs from February to June, and second semester from July to December, as listed in the Academic Calendars.

The academic year is divided into multiple sessions, as listed in the Academic Calendars. Sessions are generally for postgraduate studies, but also apply to what was previously known as Summer semester.

A specialisation is available to postgraduate programs only, and is a prescribed sequence of 4 courses (48 units) from an area of study.

Student contribution
A student contribution is the portion of fees a Commonwealth supported student is liable to pay.

Student invoice
Student invoices include student related fees and charges that students are required to pay. Students must personally generate student invoices in USC Central (Invoices are not mailed to students).

Student Portal (Canvas)
A web-based system for accessing course learning materials and other pertinent student information.

Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF)
Student services and amenities fees apply to all students. Funds are used to improving student services and facilities.

Study costs
Study costs broadly describes the charges a student can expect to incur whilst undertaking university studies.

Study period
A study period broadly describes a session, semester or trimester.

Study sequence 
A study sequence lists the ideal courses to enrol in, in order to meet the requirements of a degree. It will show you: the optimal order to complete the courses in your program, current course offerings (when the course is offered), and the current course requisites.

Subject prerequisites
Subject prerequisites are the subjects studied in Year 11 and Year 12 that are considered necessary for applicants to have completed to qualify for entry into certain undergraduate programs.

Summer semester
Summer semester (also known as a session) is a non-standard teaching period in the undergraduate academic year, running between December and mid-February. Courses are delivered in intensive mode, because the number of teaching weeks is less than a standard semester. Summer semester courses are available to UniSC students, students from other universities studying cross-institutionally, and members of the community studying as visiting students.


Tertiary Preparation Pathway (TPP)
An alternative entry pathway to undergraduate degree study. Students can use this enabling program to update study skills or to qualify for university entry.

A testamur is the certificate awarded to a graduate on completion of a program of study.

Trimester 1, Trimester 2 and Trimester 3 are teaching sessions within Study Period 1 and 2 respectively, consisting of 12 weeks of teaching, a study break period and an examination period. At UniSC trimesters run concurrently alongside the two semesters.

Tuition fees
Tuition fees are incurred by fee paying students.

A tutorial is a forum for discussion and consolidation of the themes and concepts introduced in a lecture. Tutorial classes are usually 15–25 students in size and provide an atmosphere of discussion, interaction, presentation and debate.


Undergraduate student
An undergraduate student studies a bachelor degree or honours program at university. An undergraduate student may also be a student who already holds a degree, but is taking a second or subsequent degree at the same level.

Unit value
A unit value is a numerical value assigned to every course and every degree program. There are course unit values and (total) program unit values. Courses at UniSC can have a unit value of 6, 12, 24 or 48, which is determined by the volume of study. The standard undergraduate course has a unit value of 12. The program unit value is the sum of the course unit values for the courses within your program. A 3 year undergraduate degree will have a total program unit value of 288 units (eg 24 courses of 12 units each).

Unofficial Academic Record
Your Unofficial Academic Record includes the same information as your Official Statement of Academic Record, but is printed from USC Central by you.

Unofficial academic transcript
An unofficial transcript is the Unofficial Academic Record of your studies at UniSC, which you can access via USC Central.

USC Central
USC Central is the online system where students enrol, view grades and class schedules, and update contact details.


Visiting student
A visiting student studies a university course/s for professional or personal development—they do not enrol in a complete award program. Visiting students receive normal instruction, assessment and formal results.


Work integrated learning
Work integrated learning incorporates field trips, lectures by industry experts, internships, practicums and applied research projects. Work integrated learning is designed to enable students to experience the work environment and career realities of their chosen discipline.