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Understanding University terminology

Are you new to university lingo? Don’t worry – we have created this quick guide to help you understand key university terms at The University of Southern Queensland.

What is an undergraduate degree?

Undergraduate study is often the first type of study you will take at a university. It can be studied at a Diploma, Associate degree, Bachelor, or Bachelor (Honours) level.

  • Diploma - These one-year degrees (if studying full-time) allow you to sample study areas of interest and graduate with a university qualification. Upon completion you will receive credits if transitioning into a bachelor degree.
  • Associate degree -Two-year associate degrees (if studying full-time) are an ideal middle ground between a diploma and bachelor, allowing you to delve more into your specialisation.
  • Bachelor degree - A bachelor degree takes three to four years (if studying full-time) depending on what you choose to study. Some degrees have an honours component in the fourth year which can be a gateway into postgraduate and research study, or to specific registration/accreditation from an external professional body.

What is a postgraduate degree?

Postgraduate study is usually undertaken after the completion of a bachelor degree or sufficient relevant work experience. This study helps grow your knowledge and qualifications to help increase your employability or salary. It can be studied at a Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Master or Doctorate level.

What’s full-time vs part-time study? 

If you are enrolled in three or more units of study in a single study period, or at least eight units during an academic year, you are undertaking a full-time study load.

Part-time study is when you are enrolled in less than six units for one academic year. You can enrol into as many courses that suit your lifestyle, so that you can fit your study into your life, work and family commitments. But keep in mind that each degree has a maximum timeframe in which students need to complete their studies.

This is also specific to UniSQ, and institutions like Centrelink or other universities may have different definitions. If you are receiving Centrelink benefits or are an international student planning to study on-campus, you may need to be enrolled in a minimum amount of courses/units per study period.

What's the difference between on campus, external and online?

Our degrees are available in a variety of study modes to fit in with your life.

  • On campus - As an on-campus student, you attend regular activities, such as lectures, tutorials, workshops or laboratory/practical sessions at one of our campuses in Toowoomba, Springfield and Ipswich. Other study communication and accessing learning materials is generally online through the UConnect student portal.
  • External - The external mode is a mixed mode, where you study theoretical subjects online and practical courses on campus through Residential schools or off campus as part of industry placements. Your study materials are available online through your UConnect student portal. 
  • OnlineOnline study means you can learn from anywhere and any time you like. All of your study materials are available online through your UConnect student portal - and you won't need to come on campus at all while studying your courses. Get library resources delivered to your door. Listen to recorded lectures when it suits you, and connect with your lecturers and peers in real time by joining live tutorials and online discussion forums.

What's the difference between a lecture, a tutorial and a workshop?

  • A lecture is a formal presentation conducted by your lecturer. Lectures cover your course work content and, depending on your degree, can be watched live or on-demand. 
  • Tutorials are smaller classes which allow discussion of lecture content and assignments. You can ask questions and clarify what you have studied.
  • Workshops usually involve academic staff presenting themes or concepts related to the course. Workshops are usually more hands-on learning that allow discussion regarding the given topic.

What is a course and a unit?

A course is a subject of study within a degree. Full-time students usually study four courses per study period, whereas part-time students generally study two. Degrees at UniSQ have different numbers of courses depending on what you are studying. A typical undergraduate degree (bachelor) will have 24 courses; while a double degree can have up to 40.

A unit is a measure of a student's workload. Most courses are valued at one unit. 

What is a major and minor? 

Depending on your degree type, you may have the option to select a major and/or minor. 

A major, also known as a specialisation in postgraduate study, is a focus area of specialised study within your degree. Major studies usually consist of eight specific courses (subjects). 

A minor is a set of four designated courses within a degree. A minor is designed to provide students with an area of knowledge and skills that contribute to or complement the major. 

What is an elective?

Depending on your degree, you may have the opportunity to study an elective subject. Electives are your 'free choice' courses that allow you to select courses of interest to you and give you flexibility within your degree. They can be chosen from within your current study area, or outside your study area, depending on your interests.  

What is residential schools vs professional experience placements?

Residential schools provide students an opportunity to experience hands-on practical activities, attend face-to-face lectures and tutorials, use facilities, and meet academics and other students. They can be mandatory, highly recommended or recommended for external students studying certain subjects. You may need to attend residential schools at various times through the year (typically in the flexible learning period) and be away from home for days or a few weeks at a time.

Placements in industry provide professional experience, putting the theory into practice, and opportunities to start networking with potential employers. Certain requirements are applicable before commencing a placement, such as providing evidence of certain documentation, certificates, and immunisations, for example, or the requirement to purchase and wear a uniform. Some degrees have mandatory placements that you need to complete to be eligible to graduate.

What does Commonwealth Supported mean? 

A Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) is a place in a higher education program where the Australian Government shares the cost of your study by paying part of your fees directly to the University. Students in a CSP pay a reduced fee called a “student contribution” and eligible students may defer this portion of their fees to a HELP loan.

Your letter of offer will indicate if you have been offered a Commonwealth Supported Place. Commonwealth Supported Places are only available to eligible domestic students. 

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