Study planning

Fit your learning around your life. Find out how many hours you'll need to spend on each subject, and how many subjects you can commit to.

Study online, anywhere, anytime. Through OUA, you’ve got the freedom to fit learning around your life.

One of the ways you can do this is by choosing the number of subjects you take at any one time. You’re able to accelerate your degree by loading up on subjects, or you can take time off when you need a break.


Get tailored advice when it suits you

A student advisor will call you at your preferred time to answer your questions.

Book a free consultation now

Study terms

Your studies are divided into study terms. Across the academic year, we offer four study periods, two semesters, three sessions, and three trimesters, depending on what you’re studying. You’ll be taking sessions if you’re enrolled in a postgraduate course, while study periods, semesters and trimesters are for either undergraduate or postgraduate courses.

We use study periods, semesters, sessions and trimesters because they give you more options and more flexibility.

Hours of study

We find that a single undergraduate subject usually calls for 10 to 12 hours of study each week. When it comes to postgraduate subjects though, the amount of time you’ll need to put aside can change depending on your university and your degree. Generally, you’ll be studying more hours at a postgraduate level than you would for undergraduate subjects.

Subjects in a study term

Wondering how many subjects you’ll be able to handle? This will depend on several things, including:

  • Whether you're starting out or you’ve been studying for a while.
  • How comfortable you are online, and your experience with computers and the internet.
  • The amount of time each week you can put towards your studies.

One subject per study term is a good starting point. If you’re not too familiar with online technology, this might be the best way for you to get used to online study.

We suggest taking no more than two subjects per study term. Remember that three subjects in one study term at the undergraduate level will need between 30 and 36 hours of your time. That’s nearly the same as a full-time job.

If you’re a highly motivated student, there’s the option of taking up to four subjects each study term. But remember, this could require up to 50 hours of study per week, so it’s not for everyone. Contact a student advisor to work out a study plan that fits your lifestyle and commitments. 

Taking a break

We absolutely realise that there can be times you need to step away from your studies. That said, you’ll need to remember some guidelines.

In most instances, you’ll be allowed to take one or more study terms off as it suits you—even multiple study terms in a row, if needs be. To do so though, you’ll have to successfully complete your degree’s requirements within a set completion time.

There are some degrees that are stricter about when you can take breaks, and about how many years you can take to complete your degree. Please always check with your uni what the limits are.

  • If you’re studying with Macquarie University, with the exception of certain degrees, there’s no limit to how long you can take. But, please check with Macquarie Student Administration to be sure.
  • If you’re studying with the University of Adelaide, you have up to 9 years to complete your undergraduate degree and graduate.
  • If you're studying with La Trobe University and want to take a break of minimum 1 study term, you must apply for leave of absence to avoid being inadvertently withdrawn from your degree.
  • If you're studying with Griffith University, depending on your degree you may have up to 8 years to complete your studies.
  • If you’re studying with University of Tasmania you can apply for a leave of absence for up to 12 months. You must apply before the census date of the study period you're taking a break from.

Commonwealth supported place students

Things are a bit different if you're undertaking a Commonwealth supported place degree. You'll need to apply for a leave of absence if you want to take a break that lasts more than two study terms.

As a general guide, Commonwealth supported place students have 10 years to finish their undergraduate degree through OUA. However, if you’re studying with Griffith University, there's a limit of 8 years to complete your studies. With Griffith University, you can apply for a leave of absence for up to 12 months, as long as you complete your studies within the maximum time allowed for your degree. 

Study load and Centrelink

Once you’re studying full-time through us, you could be eligible to receive a study allowance from the Australian Government.

To be considered full-time, your study load is key. We measure the study load of each subject using a scale called the Equivalent Full Time Study Load—or EFTSL—and yes, this is also recognised by Centrelink. Full-time study means that your subjects have a combined EFTSL of at least 0.250. This is normally two subjects, requiring 20 to 24 hours of study per week. Keep in mind, not all subjects have a standard EFTSL of 0.125, so doublecheck the EFTSL before enrolling in a subject.

We're here to guide you there

Our student advisors can assist you with enrolment, help you plan your studies, and answer questions about how studying through Open Universities Australia can get you from where you are today, to where you want to be tomorrow.