While reading about your university options you may come across some terms which may be unfamiliar to you. This list of university terminology has been compiled to assist.

Academic staff

All teaching and research staff, including Professors (the most senior), Associate Professors or Readers, Senior Lecturers, Lecturers and Associate Lecturers.

Academic year

Begins in late February or early March and ends in November.


Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank. An indicator of how well a student has performed relative to other students who have qualified for a university aggregate.

AUSTUDY/Youth Allowance

Commonwealth Government allowance for tertiary study.


A degree, diploma, associate diploma or certificate of the university granted at the completion of a course of study.

Bachelor degree

Normally the first undergraduate degree.


A topic that must be taken at the same time as the topic being described.

Commonwealth supported student

This means that the cost of your study is shared between the Australian Government and you. You are required to pay a student contribution amount and the Australian Government pays the balance of your course costs.

Core topics

Compulsory topics which form the basis of a program of study.


A program of study leading to a degree or diploma.

Course coordinator

The staff member responsible for a particular course. The course coordinator is your main contact person at the university. The course coordinator will advise you on such matters as topic selection, program of study, and issues you may face during your study. See also Topic Coordinator.


Credit is sometimes given for relevant topics or units previously studied or for which a student is given an exemption.

Cut-off rank

The ATAR achieved by the last applicant admitted to a degree program in a given year. It is a useful guide to what is required for entrance to the program.


Delaying the start of a course for which you have been offered a place by 1 year. Your place is guaranteed for the following year, though you must formally reapply through SATAC.


A formal qualification usually requiring the equivalent of 2 years of full-time study.

Elective topics

Topics which can be chosen to support core topics - often called optional topics in science degrees.

External student

A student undertaking all of their study by correspondence on either a full-time or a part-time basis and who is enrolled as an external student.


The administrative structure of the university is based on faculties, which are: Faculty of Education, Humanities and Law; Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences; Faculty of Science and Engineering; Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. Most distance education courses are offered through the Faculty of Education, Humanities and Law, or through the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.

Full-time student

A student undertaking 13.5 or more units in any semester. The normal annual workload of a full-time student is 36 units. A student must be enrolled in at least 13.5 units per semester to be eligible for AUSTUDY/Youth Allowance.


A person who has been awarded his or her degree.


A ceremony at which degrees are conferred and diplomas awarded. Usually held in April and December each year.


HECS-HELP is a government scheme that assists eligible students pay their student contribution amount.

Honours degree

Awarded to students who choose to complete an additional year of study or, in some cases, perform particularly well during their degree.

Major sequence

A sequence of topics which must be taken in all 3 years of a degree.

Minor sequence

A small number of topics in one area of study.

Part-time student

A student who undertakes less than 13.5 units in any semester.

Postgraduate degree/diploma

Students must normally have an undergraduate degree to begin studying any postgraduate course.


A topic which must be completed before a higher level topic can be studied. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that topic prerequisites have been met.


The academic year is divided into 2 semesters. These normally run from late February to mid June and late July to November.


The South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre, which handles most university applications.

Topic codes

Topic codes consist of a four character alpha code followed by a four character numerical code. These eight characters form the total topic code, for example: EDSP4003 - Gifted Children. These should be quoted whenever you are making enquiries or enrolling in a topic.

Topic coordinator

The academic staff member responsible for a topic. Direct any topic related queries to your topic coordinator.

Undergraduate degree/diploma

A first degree or diploma.


The measure of weighting given to a topic as specified in the syllabus for that topic. Each topic is given a weighting in units, roughly proportional to its length. Most full-time students complete 36 units a year to gain the 108 units needed to earn a 3-year degree.