How to plan your course

Understanding your course

Each course has individual rules that you need to meet to be eligible to graduate. A key feature of most undergraduate courses is the flexibility to try out different disciplines and tailor majors and specialisations to your interests and goals.

That means it’s important to understand the essential structure of your course, and to check the rules for your course using the Handbook and your faculty or graduate school’s course planning resources.

Watch the short video below to learn more about using the Handbook to plan your course.

Choosing a breadth subject:

Course planning using my Study Plan:

Course-specific videos and other resources are available on the Faculty course planning resources page.

Basic course structure

Your course is the program you are admitted to at the University of Melbourne, e.g. a Bachelor of Commerce or Master of Engineering.

  • A standard undergraduate course is made up of 300 points and includes features such as majors and breadth. As each standard subject is worth 12.5 credit points, you will need to successfully pass 24 subjects to complete your course.
  • Graduate courses vary in length between 50 and 400 credit points. Masters courses may have specialisations, but do not include majors or breadth.

Credit points

Credit points indicate the value or weighting of a subject based on the overall time commitment and level of assessment that the subject requires.

A standard subject is 12.5 points, but there are some subjects with different credit point values. Each subject entry in the Handbook states the credit points and the expected time commitment.

The study load used to determine the standard full-time duration of a course is 100 points (or eight standard subjects) per year.

Read more about subject credit points.

Subject levels

Some courses may also have rules governing the number of credit points that can be completed at each subject level:

  • Undergraduate subjects are taught at levels 1 to 3.
  • Honours subjects are identified as level 4.
  • Graduate subjects are usually identified as level 9, although they can be any level from 5 to 9.
  • Some graduate and honours courses allow students to take subjects at an undergraduate level.

You can check the level of each subject using the Handbook. The first number in the subject code indicates the subject level (e.g. MAST10012 is a level 1 mathematics and statistics subject).

Subject level 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Course components

The total number of credit points needed to complete your course is divided into components such as discipline, breadth, major and subject level.

  • Disciplines are study areas that are offered within a particular course (e.g. creative writing is a discipline in the Bachelor of Arts). Discipline subjects can be studied alone as electives, or studied in sequence to form more significant course components.
  • Majors are sequences of subjects from a specific discipline that will equip you with specialised knowledge and will be recognised on your academic transcript. Different courses and majors have individual structures and rules that determine which major subjects can be taken. You will need to choose your major by adding its structure to your Study Plan before you can enrol in all the subjects for that major.
  • Core subjects are compulsory subjects that must be completed in order to meet the requirements of your course or major. They will be added automatically to your Study Plan when you add structural components such as your major. Core subjects are often prerequisites for other subjects.
  • Elective (or optional) subjects are discipline subjects offered your faculty or graduate school. Electives may contribute to your major or come from a range of disciplines to meet your overall credit point requirements. If your course requires electives, you will choose them from a list of subject options in the Handbook.
  • Breadth subjects are from disciplines outside your home faculty (e.g. Bachelor of Science students can study music discipline subjects as breadth). It may be a requirement of your course that a certain number of subjects are dedicated to breadth to allow you to develop a broader range of skills and explore interests outside your faculty. For more information, see breadth.
  • Prerequisites are subjects or other requirements that must be successfully completed before you can enrol in a subsequent, more advanced subject. Prerequisites ensure that all students who enrol in a subject have sufficient background knowledge to cope with the subject content. If you think you have met a prerequisite but can’t enrol, you may need to provide supporting evidence in a requisite waiver request.
  • Quota subjects: Some subjects have a restriction on how many students can be enrolled due to class sizes or academic merit. These are called quota subjects. Check the Handbook for quota details, and consider having a backup subject in case you miss out.
  • Discovery subjects: Each undergraduate degree runs their own Discovery Subject or experience, designed to support your introduction to University. Discovery Subjects are for first-year undergraduate students and introduce leading research, real-world problems and key skills necessary to succeed in University life.

You can add components and subjects to your course using your Study Plan via my.unimelb.

Choosing your subjects

Your subject choices should reflect your interests, goals and individual circumstances, and you can use different course planning strategies depending on what stage you’re at in your decision-making. Always refer to the Handbook and use your faculty or graduate school’s course planning resources to help identify subjects that fulfil your course requirements and align with your academic goals.

Explore different disciplines

If you are unsure about your end goal, such as your major, graduate study or career, you can use an exploratory approach in your first year to discover different discipline areas and develop your plan as you go. Remember that you need to consider your course requirements and subject prerequisites. It’s also important to note that some majors must be nominated from first year in order to complete all required subjects.

Plan to achieve your goals

If you already have an end goal in mind, such as a specific major or a graduate course, you can use a goal-oriented approach to work backwards. This means adding the level 3 major subjects to your plan, then adding their prerequisites at levels 2 and 1. Remember to keep an open mind, as you may discover new interests as you progress.

Keep multiple pathways open

There are many valid strategies for exploring your subject options within the limits of your course requirements. If you are considering multiple majors, you may even use a combination of the above approaches by creating a course map for each potential major. This will allow you to see which subjects you’ll need to help keep several options open before narrowing your focus.

Subject checklist

When shortlisting subjects, take note of the subject details in the Handbook and cross-check them with your course requirements.

Check the following things for each subject:

  • Subject code: This indicates that the subject is the appropriate level. The first number in the code indicates the subject level (e.g. MAST10012 is a level 1 mathematics and statistics subject). Be aware that the course progression rule requires you to pass at least 50 points at one level before progressing to the next year level.
  • Credit point value: Ensure the value of each subject fits within the credit point limit of the relevant Study Plan component (e.g. 6 x 12.5 point subjects within a 75 point component).
  • Subject availability: Not all subjects are available every study period, so ensure the availability allows you to meet prerequisites and maintain your course progression.
  • Subject delivery mode: Some subjects are taught online, on campus (in person), or dual-delivery (a combination of online and campus-based).
  • Eligibility and requirements: Ensure that you've met all of these criteria, such as prerequisites.
  • Dates and times: These should align with your proposed course plan. Be aware of Handbook subject key dates, and understand the implications if you decide to withdraw from a subject later.
  • Assessment types: This tells you what type of assessment you can expect for each subject. You may want to consider choosing subjects that offer different types of assessment. You should also look at when due dates will fall, and ensure your assessments are spread out and will fit in with your study and other commitments.
  • Further information: This allows you to confirm if the subject belongs to your course/major or if it is available as breadth in your course.

Enriching your studies

Enrichment is a diverse and exciting aspect of your course planning. Take some time early in your studies to explore the many potential enrichment opportunities. Where possible, save space in your course plan that can be used to maximise your enrichment experiences and make the most of your time at university.

  • Study overseas

    Studying overseas is an unforgettable experience offering a wide range of personal, academic and experiential benefits.

    You have the option to participate in short-term, semester-long and year-long overseas study programs as part of your course. If you decide to pursue this opportunity, you will need to start planning at least 12 months in advance and should carefully consider which subjects you can complete overseas in order to still meet all your course requirements.

    To get started, view the step-by-step guides for overseas study and book an appointment with a course adviser if you need further guidance.

  • Study a language

    Language skills provide a competitive edge in the job market and can enhance cultural engagement, memory and listening skills.

    The University offers a broad range of Asian, European and ancient languages. There are multiple ways to incorporate studying a language into your course, by studying individual subjects as breadth or electives, or by completing a full sequence of subjects in a major or concurrent diploma. The Diploma in Languages is available at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

  • Apply for a concurrent diploma

    Concurrent diplomas are additional qualifications that can be studied alongside your undergraduate course. There are four diploma options in computing, music, mathematical sciences, or languages.

    Concurrent diplomas consist of 100 credit points, and are structurally equivalent to studying an additional major. If you are interested in studying a concurrent diploma, begin planning early to maximise your subject choices and to map out the changes to your course duration.

    To get started, follow the application steps to check your eligibility and create a concurrent diploma course map. You can book an appointment with a course adviser if you need further advice.

  • Enhance your employability skills

    Developing your employability skills through practical experience and training during your studies will allow you to stand out amongst your peers when you enter the workforce.

    • Mentoring and internships are great ways to network and gain insights into future employment pathways.
    • Work Integrated Learning (WIL) placements are subjects embedded in your course that incorporate work experience and structured reflective practice. Check your faculty or school website for WIL, skill development and mentoring opportunities in your course.

Planning for graduate study

Graduate qualifications are increasingly valuable in a competitive and ever-changing job market.

You may already be considering continuing on to graduate study. The subjects you take in your undergraduate course can open up options for coursework graduate certificate, diploma and masters programs that will allow you to specialise further in a particular discipline, or honours as a pathway to higher degree research. If there are graduate programs you are considering for the future, be sure to check the entry requirements early during your undergraduate studies.

You can use find a course to explore your options, and book an appointment with a course adviser or a careers and employability adviser if you need advice.

Need help with planning your course and subjects?

Submit an online enquiry or book an appointment with one of our course advisers, who can help you with course rules and structure, choosing subjects, using the Study Plan, checking you're on track to graduate and more.

Submit an enquiry Book an appointment