Failing a subject

Information on what happens if you've failed a subject and what next steps you should take.

You will only know if you have failed a subject once you see the final grade for a subject recorded in my.unimelb. Remember that results can change up until the official results release date.

Changes to WAM and academic progress due to COVID-19

If you fail a subject this may have implications for your Weighted Average Mark (WAM) and academic progress. For subject results in the First Half Year 2020 period, The the Academic Board has approved changes to the Weighted Average Mark (WAM) and unsatisfactory academic progress process. For more details about these changes see:

About failing a subject

Failing a subject can be disheartening but it is a good opportunity to review whether you’re studying subjects that engage and motivate you, whether you need to improve your study techniques or whether you need to adjust your study load. It is important to reflect on why you failed and come up with some strategies to improve your performance for the following semester.

If you have failed a subject, the credit points won’t count towards your degree, but it may affect your WAM. You will need to repeat the subject, in the case of a core or compulsory subject; or ‘replace’ the subject with a different subject.

For more details on how the WAM will be calculated for Semester 1, 2020 subjects visit the Weighted Average Mark page.

Considering withdrawing from a subject early in semester?

Visit the subject withdrawal page to learn about the consequences of withdrawing from a subject, important subject key dates, and the support available to help you make a decision.

How it can affect your academic progress

The impact of failed subjects on your studies depends on how important the subject is in the progression of your course, i.e. whether it is a core, prerequisite, elective or breadth subject. Depending on what type of subject it is, you may decide to change direction in your course or change your major.

A failed subject may also extend the duration of your course, but it is often possible to catch up and graduate on time by enrolling into intensive subjects or overloading in future semesters.

  • If you fail a core or compulsory subject

    If you fail a core or compulsory subject, you will not have met the academic progress requirements for your course and will receive an email with important information about your academic progress after the results period. You will be invited to an appointment to discuss your progress and receive advice and guidance about getting back on track. Find out more about unsatisfactory academic progress, including when to expect an email.

    You will also need to enrol in that subject again to meet your course requirements.

  • If you fail more than one subject

    If you fail 50% or more of your enrolled subjects within a half-year period, you will not have met the academic progress requirements for your course and will receive an email with important information about your academic progress after the results period. You will be invited to an appointment to discuss your progress and receive advice and guidance about getting back on track. Find out more about unsatisfactory academic progress, including when to expect an email.

  • If you fail a prerequisite subject

    If you have a failed subject which is a prerequisite for a subject that you are currently enrolled in, you will be withdrawn from that subject as you will not have met the prerequisite requirement. An email regarding the withdrawal will be sent to your University email account.

    If this occurs, you will need to either:

    • Enrol in a new subject to replace the withdrawn subject:
      • Check which subject is missing on your Study Plan in my.unimelb.
      • Check the Handbook to view your course requirements and choose your new subject.
      • Log into your Study Plan via my.unimelb, then enrol in the new subject.
    • Apply for approval to remain enrolled in the withdrawn subject:
  • If you are in your final year of study

    If you have recorded a close fail grade in a subject, and you are in your final year of study, you may be eligible for Additional Assessment under the Final Subject Assessment Rule. The final subject rule is not something you can apply for. You will be contacted if you are eligible. Find out more about final subject assessment.

    If you are planning to graduate this year, you will not be able to graduate if you have:

    • failed subject/s in your final study period, or
    • been offered a special assessment, and don't decline it before the deadline.

    Visit the graduation eligibility FAQ for more information, including when and how to decline a special assessment.

If you have failed a subject remember to check your email after official results release date, as you may receive an invitation to attend a meeting to discuss your academic progress. It is important to attend this meeting as it is an opportunity to address what went wrong and discuss options to help you improve your performance in the future.

Planning your next steps

Once a final grade for a subject has been recorded in my.unimelb:

  1. Confirm if you would like to make any enrolment changes for future study periods (e.g. change a subject, adjust your study loadwithdraw from your course, or take a leave of absence) and check your eligibility to do so.Note that you need to complete 50 points at one level before moving on to the next level. The Handbook provides information about course requirements, subjects offered for your course, and subject key dates (e.g. last day to self-enrol, census date, last day to withdraw without fail).
  2. Update your Study Plan via my.unimelb

Failing a subject might also be an opportunity to review or change your course plan. Find out what options are available to make changes to your course.

Assessing why you failed

It is important to consider why you have failed a subject as this will help you to improve your study approach next semester and consider the impact on your academic progress.

  • Exam performance

    If you performed below expectations in an exam, it is important to revise your performance. Some departments, schools and faculties offer students the opportunity to have an exam review session. These discussions can help you understand your overall result; they are not an opportunity to request that your exam paper be re-marked or that your mark be adjusted.

  • Study techniques

    Failing a subject may also indicate a need to review your study techniques, exam preparation or time management skills. Academic skills appointments and information sessions are available to help you build your study skills to maximise your chance of success.

  • Unforeseen or unexpected circumstances

    If you failed a subject due to unforeseen or unexpected circumstances, you should familiarise yourself with the University's special consideration policy. After the official results release date, you cannot apply for special consideration. The only exception to this rule, is where you can demonstrate that exceptional circumstances prevented you from applying for special consideration by the due date. If you have an ongoing issue that impacts on your study, you can register for ongoing support through your studies.

If you have considered the above reasons and believe that your grade is not a reflection of your efforts, you can request a review of your results.

Frequently asked questions

  • I haven't got all my results, but I think I've failed a subject

    Results can change up until the official results release date.

    During the time between completing your exams and the official results release date, you may notice that your Weighted Average Mark (WAM) changes. This is normal while your results are progressively being added to your student record. Until your results are finalised, don't worry or make assumptions about your WAM changing and how it may reflect on your results.

    You will only know if you have failed a subject once you see the final grade recorded in my.unimelb.

  • I’ve failed a subject but am enrolled in a quota subject in a future study period. What do I do?

    If entry into the quota subject is based on academic merit, you may need to enrol in another subject. Please refer to the Handbook for subject-specific quota information.

  • I hold a student visa and was due to complete my course but have failed a subject in my last study period. What should I do?

    You will need to:

    1. Enrol in remaining subjects on your study plan via my.unimelb
    2. Request a Confirmation of Enrolment extension
    3. Renew your visa by applying for a new student visa. Learn more on how to renew a student visa.

Support services

If you need further assistance with course planning, wait until you have all your results are finalised and then book a course planning appointment.

If you are questioning the direction you're taking in your major/s or course, book a Student Connect appointment.