Plan your subjects - Section contents

While studying overseas is a great experience, it's important you take subjects that fit in well with your degree and any plans for future study. To ensure you complete all you need to in order to graduate, you will need to carefully consider which subjects you would like to complete at your host institution.

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Must do

A myWorld First Step session is a compulsory group session for anyone thinking about applying for an Exchange program. During the session, you'll receive invaluable insights from our advisers about the Exchange experience, the application process and what it's like to study in another country. They will also advise you on the best way to research and plan, and answer any questions you might have. It's also a great opportunity to make connections with other likeminded students.

Upcoming myWorld First Step sessions are listed on the What's on at Stop 1 page.

This session is compulsory for Exchange students and the date you attend a session will be recorded in your overseas study plan.

Selecting your destination is one of the most exciting parts of planning an overseas study experience. However, with so many institutions to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start researching. In our When and where to travel section, there's useful tips and advice to help you narrow down the list of potential host institutions.

We recommend you thoroughly research your top three preferences, in case your first preference is unavailable. Base your choice of institution on academic opinion, not just general reputation! Speak with academics here at Melbourne about overseas study and ask their opinion on appropriate destinations. Often institutions will excel in particular disciplines and choosing the right one could set you up for great career paths or future study.

If you are weighing up whether to study overseas for a semester or a year, it is best to apply for the year. Reducing your time overseas is a lot easier than extending it if you decide you want to stay.


Search our Programs Database for partner institutions

You can search the University of Melbourne’s Programs Database to find suitable host institutions for your overseas study. Using the search functions 'parameters', you can customise and filter options specific to your interests and areas of academic pursuits.

  • Program type: This refers to the type of study program you are looking for (eg. Exchange, Short-term)
  • Agreement type: Sometimes only students from a certain faculty will have the opportunity to study at a particular host institution. This will depend on the type of agreement the University of Melbourne has with them. Leave this filter as 'General' unless you want to discover opportunities only available to your particular faculty.
  • Level: Depending on where you go, certain institutions might only accept undergraduate students, while some are only open to graduate and graduate research students. Filter by what is applicable to you.
  • Language of instruction: While most of our partner host institutions teach in English, some institutions might conduct classes in another language. It is important to note that while you might have proficiency in a language, the level of language skill used for academic curriculum might be different from what you are used to. You are encouraged to sit a placement test when applicable. Please note that for non-English speaking countries, classes in English might be offered but can be limited depending on the subject discipline.
  • Discipline: If you are pursuing a major, this filter will limit results to programs which match your area of study. Programs which are available for all areas of study will not appear when using this filter.

You must be enrolled for a full-time credit load while on a Semester or Year-long Exchange program:

  • For one semester overseas: A minimum of 37.5 points (full time load) but preferably 50 points (full load)
  • For one year overseas: A minimum of 75 points (full time load) but preferably 100 points (full load)

In order to receive the appropriate load credited to your degree at the University of Melbourne, you must successfully complete the equivalent load at your host institution as listed in the host institution's Programs Database entry, under Credit Load.

When exploring your options, you need to research:

  • subject descriptions (including, where possible, reading lists and topics covered)
  • the level at which the subject is taught (third year, second year graduate, etc)
  • information about contact hours (per week and the number of weeks)
  • assessment (ideally the forms of assessment and, if applicable, the number of words required)
  • any prerequisites
  • the credit point value of each subject.

You will find this information most commonly on the host institution websites.

In some cases, your host institution may not have released the handbook for the year you intend to study there. It is your responsibility to ensure that the information is as up-to-date as possible at the time of submitting your overseas study plan, and to confirm this on arrival at your host institution or when the updated handbook is released.

Once you have decided on the institutions you would like to study at, you will need to research the subjects are offered at these institutions and which ones you would like to take.

When choosing your subjects, you need to take into consideration whether the subjects are appropriate for your discipline, and how you would like to credit them towards your degree (e.g. as a major subject, elective, breadth etc). You must also ensure your current and future enrolment will not be negatively affected by this decision and that any core subjects will be completed by the end of your degree.

To get help choosing your overseas subjects, you can:

  • Consult the University of Melbourne Handbook: Check your course and major requirements, taking special note of any core subjects, prerequisites and breadth requirements.
  • Consult your host institution's website: Check out the subjects available to overseas students at your host institution and consult with any listed contacts on your host institution's website.
    Note: Sometimes course handbooks may be named something else such as 'module catalogues' or 'academic calendar'. When possible, we have provided a relevant link in your host institution's Programs Database entry. It's worth doing a little extra research if one is not provided.
  • Consult the 'Credit load' section: Within the host institution's Programs Database entry, there is a 'Credit load' tab which outlines the minimum credit points you need to complete while overseas.
  • Talk to a Stop 1 adviser: Book a course planning appointment with Stop 1 to discuss how to plan subjects for overseas study.
  • Talk to your Discipline Advisers: If you need help selecting major, minor or diploma subject options.
  • Talk to your course Program Director: If you need help selecting breadth or non-specific elective subjects which do not lead to a major/minor. You must contact your course Program Director, not the Program Director of your breadth or non-specific elective.

Once you have decided which subjects you would like to take at your host institution, you will need to submit them for approval via your overseas study plan. This is part of the application process.

We recommend submitting more subjects than you will need, as this will save you time and stress later if one or more of your subjects clash or are cancelled. You can submit up to double the minimum credit points you are required to complete while overseas, as listed in the 'Credit load' section of the host institution's Programs Database entry.

The overseas study plan is an important part of your overall application and is something you will have to refer back to even after you have arrived at your host institution. Your overseas study plan lists all subjects you would like to take while overseas, together with alternative subjects should your first subject choices be unavailable.

You must build and submit your overseas study plan using our Overseas Study Planner. To access the Overseas Study Planner, proceed to your host institution's entry in the Programs Database.

While you are planning the subjects you want to take overseas, don't forget to plan the subjects you want to take at the University of Melbourne in the semester before you leave. You want to make sure that you don't accidentally take any subjects in this semester which clash or negate the subjects you plan to take overseas!

If you need some assistance figuring this out, talk to a Stop 1 adviser.

Good to do

Stop 1 advisers are available if you would like some personalised course planning help. The advisers will look at your situation and work with you to help you formulate a plan. Contact Stop 1 for further information.

There are destination sessions held by Education Abroad Advisers available to assist you with making a decision on where to study overseas. Check out what sessions are available and register through Stop 1.

Chosen your program?

Before continuing with this stage of the process, you'll need to have decided on which program type is right for you. If you need help, take a look at Choose the right program page.


Keep in mind

You don't need to wait until your overseas study plan is approved before starting the next steps in the process. However, do not pay for any flights or other bookings until everything is approved and you have been accepted into your host institution.

Prepare backup preferences! Around 20 per cent of students are not selected for their first preference, so we suggest you thoroughly research at least three institutions.