We’ve pulled together this list of academic terms—and we’ve written straightforward explanations here in our glossary.
- 100% online
- One of the three study methods that unis use to deliver their subjects. Most subjects are 100% online. When you study a 100% online subject, your classes and materials are all online.
- Academic transcript
- An official, university issued document that lists your grades for all the subjects you’ve studied with that university. Your transcript includes your marks out of 100, and may be needed if you want to progress to postgraduate studies. If you’re just after a list of all your grades, see Record of results instead.
When your online subject or degree is accredited, you can count it towards, or use it to form part of, a formal qualification from university. It means that professional associations, industry bodies and other universities will recognise your degree. And it’s assurance that your studies meet the highest quality and other standards required to achieve accreditation.
- Australian Higher Education Graduate Statement (AHEGS)
This statement supplements the testamur and the record of results when you graduate with a degree. This extra information isn’t just for you, as it will be helpful for potential employers, industry and professional associations.
Your AHEGS doesn’t just include your subject results. There’s a description of the degree you’re graduating with, plus its admission requirements, language of instruction, and credit points and structure. It also goes into any external accreditation you’re eligible for. There will also be information on the Australian higher education sector, and finally, the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) level of the degree.
- Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF)
The AQF is the national policy for regulated education and training qualifications. First introduced in 1995, it brings together qualifications from across the education and training sectors, creating one comprehensive national framework. See Australian Qualifications Framework for more information.
- Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR)
The ATAR is a number that ranks a student from 30 (lowest) to 99.95 (highest). It’s a nationally agreed measure of a student’s academic performance that compares them to the other students from the year they graduated high school.
- We use Qualification instead.
- Bachelor degree
- When you complete an undergraduate university course, this is the qualification you’ll get. Ranging from a Bachelor of Arts, to Business, and everything in between, a bachelor degree is generally made up of 24 subjects, and it’s usually the first uni degree you’ll complete.
- Bridging course
If you’re thinking about studying a subject area that’s new to you, a bridging course is designed to bring you up to speed. They focus on subject knowledge, so you can develop your understanding of the core aspects of the topic.
If you’re planning to study a degree that includes a prerequisite in an area that you’re unfamiliar with, a bridging course will help you to bridge the gap in your knowledge and gain admission.
- Census date
Keep this date in your diary! It’s the legal deadline to get your enrolment and fees finalised. That could mean upfront payments of your student contribution, applying for a loan, or even withdrawing your enrolment in time to avoid a HELP loan debt. If you’ve missed the census date, you can’t get a refund or a re-credit of your debt unless you can show you’re eligible for Special Circumstances.
You’ll hear about our several census dates throughout the year and they're listed under Key dates.
- A certificate is a shorter qualification. They’re great if you don’t want to commit to a full degree. There are a small number of undergraduate qualifications that let you leave early at certificate level.
- Commonwealth Assistance Notice (CAN)
- Your university will send you this notice which contains information about any of your studies that benefit from government funding assistance. CAN notices for FEE-HELP will be issued by us, whereas HECS-HELP notices are issued directly by your uni.
- Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN)
Every student who applies for a Commonwealth supported place gets one of these numbers. The same applies if you access another form of Commonwealth assistance, such as a Commonwealth scholarship or FEE-HELP.
Your CHESSN is a unique ID number that you’ll keep during and after your studies. It makes it easier to manage HELP and Commonwealth scholarships. Australian universities report any Commonwealth assistance you've used to the government using your CHESSN.
- Commonwealth supported place (CSP)
This is a place at a university that’s for a specific degree which is also subsidised by the Australian Government.
If you’re considering this type of enrolment, the CSP fees are split in two parts. The Australian government pays one part of the tuition fee, the subsidy. The other part is left to you, and it’s called the student contribution amount.
- Commonwealth supported place student
- You’re a Commonwealth supported place student if you’ve applied for, been admitted to and enrolled in a Commonwealth supported place in a degree.
- Conditional prerequisite
Some degrees need you to build your knowledge in a certain order so you can progress through your studies without running into problems later. If your degree has a conditional prerequisite subject, you'll need to pass that subject before you start studying the subject it’s attached to. This means that when you enrol in a subject with a conditional prerequisite, your enrolment will depend on you getting a successful passing grade in the conditional prerequisite subject.
What happens if you don’t pass the conditional prerequisite subject? You may be required to re-attempt the subject.
You’re able to apply for a waiver from a conditional prerequisite if you’ve completed equivalent study somewhere else. You should contact a student advisor for help with this.
- Continuous subject
- Some subjects have what we call continuous availability. This means the subject is open for enrolment all year so you can start learning online when it suits you.
- Core subject
- These subjects are compulsory, and you’ll have to pass them to complete your degree. Most undergraduate degrees have several core subjects.
You’ll need to take a corequisite subject before or during the subject it’s attached to. Corequisites are great at helping you build your knowledge, plus they help you move through your studies at a good pace. Don’t worry, you’re allowed to apply for a waiver from a corequisite if you’ve completed equivalent study elsewhere.
- At OUA, we think of a course as a program of study, like a degree, single subject, or Open2Study free short course. Some universities refer to degrees as courses, and others will use course as another name for subject. At its broadest, when you’re enrolled in a course, you’re doing some form of official study.
If you’ve already completed some university education or relevant work experience, you may be able to credit it towards your degree. There’ll be less subjects for you to complete, so you’ll be able to get your qualification faster.
See Applying for credit, and look at Credit for previous study or work on degree pages for more information. You can also speak to your uni about credit and prior learning recognition.
- Credit points
- You can use credit points as extra units of credit to put towards a qualification. OUA and our university partners tally them up based on the subjects you’ve already completed in a university degree, VET course or equivalent qualification. Also look at EFTSL.
- Credit transfer
Universities have a process that makes sure that your prior study is consistently and fairly recognised by matching content and learning outcomes from your previous course with your new course.
You might’ve done part of a relevant accredited VET course with an Australian university, TAFE or private registered training organisation (RTO). Good news! You might get credit for your online studies from those completed subjects.
- A university gives you this qualification or award as a way of saying you’ve completed a course of study. Also take a look at Bachelor degree and Masters degree.
- Department of Education and Training
This is the Australian Government department that oversees Commonwealth funding of education and training. That includes any student assistance schemes you might rely on, like FEE-HELP or HECS-HELP. See the Department of Education and Training for more information.
eCAN is an online or electronic Commonwealth Assistance Notice. You can access your eCAN notification for FEE-HELP assistance in your Student Hub. If you’re using HECS-HELP you’ll get your eCAN notification direct from your university.
- Elective subject
These are university subjects that aren’t compulsory. Even though degrees studied through OUA are all structured differently, they’re usually made up of both elective and core subjects.
- Enabling course
Take an enabling course to get the skills you need for success in higher education, for example, learning study techniques or English language skills. When you complete an enabling course, you’ll be better prepared for your degree.
- Enrolment statement
We use Statement of enrolment instead.
- Equivalent full-time study load (EFTSL)
- An EFTSL gives you an idea of how many hours you’re likely to spend each week on a subject. The study load weighting can vary from subject to subject, but most undergraduate degree subjects weigh in at 0.125 EFTSL. That’s around 10 to 12 hours of study each week. A load of 0.250 in a term usually covers two subjects, which we consider full-time study.
- Exam supervisor
- This is an approved exam supervisor, you might also know them an invigilator. They attend your exams to make sure you and your fellow students follow university requirements and rules. They’re also in charge of returning completed exams to the uni for marking.
- Fee band
This is a scale used to calculate fees for each subject. Fee bands group together selected undergraduate subjects. When you see a higher band number, it means the fees are higher for that subject.
Our study areas fall under three bands. Band 1 covers arts and social sciences. Band 2 is for science, IT and mathematics, while Band 3 is business and law.
Don’t forget, these aren’t always identical to the bands used to regulate Commonwealth-subsidised fees by the government. For more details about fee bands and scheduling, head to Fees.
- FEE-Higher Education Loan Program (FEE-HELP)
- FEE-HELP is a Commonwealth Government loan scheme. If you’re eligible, it lets you defer payment of your subject fees. You’ll repay the loan through your future taxes, and it’s based on income, so you’ll pay it back as you can afford it.
- Fees (current and planned)
You’ll find the subject fees for the current year of study on a subject’s page.
Just so you know, if we show fees for the next study year, they’re based on the subject pricing for the current year and they could change. Don’t worry, we’ll make sure to have final pricing for the next year of study up in October, or we’ll let you know if there are delays.
- Graduate certificate
- A graduate certificate is a short higher education qualification taught at a postgraduate rather than undergraduate level.
- Graduate diploma
Most of the time, this graduate qualification is taken after a graduate certificate or a bachelor degree. It’s sometimes called a postgraduate diploma and you’ll need to have successfully completed undergraduate study in the same field.
If you end up completing a graduate diploma you might be able to go onto a masters degree, even if you haven’t received honours with a bachelor degree.
- Higher education
- You might have also heard this called tertiary education. Higher education is provided by a university or another education organisation that gives university-level qualifications.
- Higher Education Contribution Scheme-Higher Education Loan Program (HECS-HELP)
This is an Australian Government loan scheme to help you pay for your studies. If you’re eligible and enrolled in a Commonwealth supported place (CSP), HECS-HELP allows you to defer your degree fees. Then, you only start your repayments through the tax system when your income reaches a minimum threshold.
Take a look at Student loans for more information.
- Higher education provider
- These are institutions that offer higher education qualifications, such as universities and other approved organisations.
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
This is an international standardised English language proficiency test. You’ll take this test to prove your language ability if you’re from overseas and you want to study at an Australian university. You can prepare for your IELTS test with Macquarie University's English language test preparation subjects.
Your major is the discipline or series of subjects that you’ll specialise in during your degree. To complete your major, you’d usually tackle six to eight subjects in an online study area across Levels 1, 2 and 3. You’ll sometimes see majors called streams.
- Mandatory prerequisite
- There’ll be times when you’ll have to complete a subject before you can enrol in a subsequent subject and those are what we call mandatory prerequisites. They’re used when your online learning must be structured to build knowledge through a series of subjects. Other times it might be because a specific level of prior knowledge will be assumed. Don’t worry, if you’ve completed prior study that’s equivalent to a mandatory prerequisite, you can apply for a waiver from that prerequisite.
- Masters degree
- A masters degree is a postgraduate degree that usually takes about two years to complete if you’re studying full-time. You’ll normally need to complete an undergraduate degree before commencing one. We’ll sometimes also call this a graduate degree.
Thinking of taking on a minor as part of your degree? If so, it’ll be your subject area of secondary specialisation. Your minor will be made up of fewer subjects than your major, usually between two and four subjects in total. It’s an effective way to add an extra study area to your degree.
- This is a unit of study, often a subject, that can’t be counted towards a university qualification. Subjects you take to prepare for study are a good example of what’s non-award.
- Non-supervised exam
- This is when your exam or test does not require supervision, or need to be in a formal exam venue. Non-supervised exams are usually online, so that you can take it in your own home or wherever is easiest. That said, you’ll sometimes have to complete the exam at a designated time.
- Online and other materials
- One of the three study methods that unis use to deliver their subjects. You’ll complete most of your studies online, but you’ll use some additional materials that might include printed content or DVDs.
- Online and some attendance
- One of the three study methods that unis use to deliver their subjects. You’ll complete most of your studies online, but you’ll need to go to uni for practicals, or go to your industry placement onsite.
- Open Access
- We use single subject instead.
- OUA ID
- When you enrol through OUA, you’ll be given a unique OUA student number. Your OUA ID is displayed on the letter of confirmation you receive, and you’ll need to use it whenever you contact us.
- OUA Pathways
- If you're not sure which degree you want to do, OUA Pathways is here to help you find the best subjects to start your online learning. Choose a pathway with four subjects based on your area of interest. Then, once you complete your path you'll be able to choose from a range of degrees in your area of interest. Plus, each of the subjects you complete through OUA Pathways can be credited towards your chosen degree.
- Payment statement
- We use Statement of payments instead.
- Postgraduate single subject
These are stand-alone postgraduate subjects that you can study without committing to a degree. If you successfully complete these subjects, you might be able to apply for a credit transfer to a different qualification level sometime down the line.
Postgraduate Single Subjects are available in the arts, business, education, health, IT, law and science disciplines. Plus, you can choose postgraduate single subjects from some of Australia's leading universities, including Curtin, Griffith, Macquarie, RMIT, Swinburne and UniSA.
- Postgraduate studies
- Postgraduate studies are any studies you take once you’ve finished your bachelor degree. They’re also called graduate studies.
- Prerequisite subject
- These are subjects that must be completed before you’re ready to go on to the next level of study. You’ll sometimes need to take prerequisite subjects to have the background knowledge or even just to have the required skills for the next subject in a particular area.
- Once you’ve successfully completed a course of study, you’ll be awarded a qualification. Your potential qualifications include a certificate, a bachelor degree or masters degree.
- Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
Universities have a process to assess your previous learning—whether it be from formal learning at university or VET level, or through informal scenarios like work or extracurricular activities—to work out if they can give you credit towards your degree.
- Recommended prerequisite
- When you see that a subject has a recommended prerequisite, that means the subject material will assume that you have a certain level of background knowledge or prior study. Make sure you note these prerequisites and complete subjects in the recommended order. After all, this is your best chance of academic success.
- Record of results
- Your record of results lists your grades for all the subjects you’ve studied through us—including failed and withdrawn subjects. It’s an official OUA report, certified by the Chief Executive Officer, and you can download a PDF copy from your Student Hub.
- The place, especially the house or apartment, where you live. You’re required to put this information on your enrolment. It might play a factor in the types of financial assistance you’re eligible for.
This is the type of study term that most postgraduate classes are held in. At OUA we offer three 14 week sessions each year. Some universities refer to sessions as semesters, trimesters or terms.
Not all postgraduate subjects run in sessions, so you’re best off checking subject pages to confirm.
- Single subject
You can start studying single subjects straight away. You don’t need to go through the process of being accepted into a degree or admitted to a university, as long as you meet the academic criteria. Then, when you successfully complete two to three single subjects, you can get accepted into most undergraduate degrees.
- Smarthinking is your online education tutoring and writing support service.
- Special Circumstances
Special circumstances are described by the Higher Education Support Act (HESA) as circumstances which are beyond your control, didn’t make their full impact known until on or after the census date, and made it impractical for you to meet your degree’s requirements during that period.
Don’t worry, if you can’t complete a subject due to circumstances like these, and you weren’t able to withdraw before census date, you might be eligible to get a refund of your subject fees under our Special Circumstances program. You may also be able to get a FEE-HELP re-credit, or have penalties waived. HESA regulates the terms under which special circumstances may apply.
- Statement of academic record
- We use Record of results instead.
- Statement of attainment
Your statement of attainment is an official OUA report, certified by the Chief Executive Officer, that lists all the subjects you’ve successfully completed with your final subject results. It doesn’t list any subjects that you didn’t pass, or subjects you've withdrawn from. You can download a copy from your Student Hub.
Keep in mind that a statement of attainment might not be accepted as an official document. You might need to supply an academic transcript, issued by your university, that shows your actual marks out of 100.
- Statement of enrolments
- This statement displays your enrolment and withdrawal activity throughout a year. If you want to prove your current or your previous enrolment status, or if you’re seeking entitlements from Centrelink, this is the statement to use. You can download your statement of enrolments from your Student Hub.
- Statement of payments
This statement unpacks your tertiary education payment activities from across a financial year and includes information on processed subject fees, penalties and purchases. You can use it to claim fee reimbursements from your employer, or to prove your enrolment payments for tax purposes. To download a statement of payments, head to your Student Hub.
- We usually use Major instead.
- Student advisor
Student advisors are our support staff, trained to give you advice about finding and enrolling in degrees and subjects, from planning your online study experience to applying for student loans.
Your university has advisors to help with your academic issues.
- Student contribution amounts
- These are the fees you’ll be charged if you are a Commonwealth supported place student. You will either pay these fees up front or, if you are eligible, you may access the HECS-HELP scheme to pay these fees.
- Student loans
If you apply for student loans through the government's Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP), there are two loans that might apply to you.
There’s FEE-HELP, which is available to eligible students. FEE-HELP is capped, so there’s a lifetime limit on the amount you can borrow.
The other option is HECS-HELP, a government loan that helps eligible Commonwealth supported place students pay their contributions. HECS-HELP will only be available to you if you’re offered a Commonwealth supported place in your degree. Unlike FEE-HELP, HECS-HELP is not capped, so there’s no limit on the amount you can borrow for your online learning.
To find out more, including the limits in past and current years, visit Study Assist.
- Student services amenities fee
- This is a fee charged by your university for student services and amenities of a non-academic nature and includes services such as employment and career advice.
- Study level
You can enrol in two study levels through OUA:
Undergraduate degrees are usually the first university degree you'll study. If you successfully complete an undergraduate degree it’ll usually lead to a bachelor qualification.
Postgraduate degrees are there if you’ve already graduated with a tertiary level degree, for example, a bachelor degree. Finish one successfully and you’ll get a postgraduate qualification such as a masters, a graduate certificate, or a graduate diploma.
- Study method
- Unis deliver their subjects in three study methods. Most subjects are delivered 100% online, some are online with other materials, and some are online with some on campus attendance.
- Study period
- This is one of OUA’s study terms. We offer four study periods each year, with each period running for 13 weeks. All undergraduate subjects and some postgraduate subjects are held in study periods.
- Study skills subjects
- These are subjects that will give you an introduction to university-level learning or a grounding in the core skills you need for further study. Study skills subjects can be accredited or non-award.
- Study term
- A study term describes any time that subjects are offered. Subjects may be taken in study periods, sessions, semesters or trimesters, depending on the way your degree is set up.
- Study year
- This is a study term that runs for a year. OUA offers one study year over the course of 12 months.
Subjects are the individual components that make up your degree. With OUA, you’re able to study many of them as stand-alone subjects, including postgraduate single subjects, without having to commit to a degree.
Each of your subjects will be held over the course of a study term, and they’ll usually require 10 to 12 hours of study each week. Subjects are identified by a title and a code, for example, Developmental Psychology, PSY20007.
- Subject level of study
Look at your subject’s level of study to get an idea about where it sits within a degree’s structure. It’s mostly used when discussing undergraduate subjects, and it’s usually sorted into three levels. However, you’ll find a few subjects have a fourth level of study. You can use these study levels to guide your progress through your degree.
Level one covers the introductory subjects you’ll study that don’t have any prerequisites unless they form a sequential course of study. The second level contains a discipline’s intermediate subjects and key areas of study plus, you may find some prerequisite level one subjects. In level three, you’ll tackle advanced subjects that dive into a topic in-depth and that often rely on prerequisites.
Then, if you come across level four, you’ll be taking on specialised advanced subjects that are only relevant to a few undergraduate degrees.
- Subject profile
- This is where you can find information about a subject, like its title, code, overview, topics, learning outcomes, prerequisites and specific requirements. You can download subject profiles from the subject pages on our website. If it’s a subject you’ve already completed, you can download the profile from your Student Hub. Subject profiles are useful when you’re seeking credit for previous study.
- Subject-by-subject student
- If you’re a subject-by-subject student, that might mean you may not have decided on a degree. You could also choose this path if you just want to complete an individual subject.
- Supervised exam
- You might also know this one as invigilated exam. This is any exam you take that’s governed by formal exam conditions. They’re also watched over by an exam supervisor. These end-of-term supervised exams are usually organised by OUA Exam Services across a worldwide exam venue network.
- Technical and Further Education (TAFE)
- Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutions deliver nationally accredited training and award qualifications as part of the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector.
- Tertiary education
- We usually use higher education instead.
- This is the formal certificate that you’ll get once you’ve completed most higher education qualifications. Read more about the Australian Higher Education Graduate Statement (AHEGS).
- We use Record of results instead.
- This is one of OUA’s study terms. We offer three trimesters each year, with each trimester running for 16 weeks. Undergraduate and postgraduate subjects may be held in trimesters.
- Undergraduate qualification
- Your first degree taken at university level will be an undergraduate qualification. Sometimes they’re also referred to as a bachelor degree.