You’ve chosen a course, found your dream institution and accepted your offer — so what’s next? Before you begin your studies in Australia you will need to choose the subjects or units you will study throughout the year. If you’re yet to enrol in your course, read on as we answer some common questions about the enrolment process.
What are the different types of subjects I may need to enrol in?
Compulsory or core subjects are subjects that have to be completed as part of your course. Some courses, such as a general business or arts degree, will have only a few compulsory subjects while others will consist of nearly all core subjects with little room for specialisation. This is common in highly regulated fields, such as engineering, and in courses with a specific focus or major. You may find that you will be given more choice in your subjects as you move into the second and third year of your course and start to specialise. Core subjects range from general subjects completed by all students in a school or faculty to subjects specific to a particular course or major.
Elective subjects give you the chance to choose subjects of interest to you. These subjects are not compulsory and may be chosen from a specific list of subjects relevant to your course or from subjects that are available institution wide, across a range of study areas. Some universities may also require you to study breadth subjects, which are subjects outside your chosen field of study. In some cases, the electives you choose will determine your major.
Prerequisite subjects are subjects that need to be completed before you can enrol in another subject. Completing these subjects will help you gain the assumed knowledge and skills needed for further study in the area. When enrolling, it is important to look at subjects you may want to study later on in your course to see if they list any prerequisites.
How do I enrol?
Most institutions in Australia allow students to enrol online, however some students (particularly those studying a VET qualification) may need to enrol using paper-based forms. If you’re enrolling for the first time, many institutions hold enrolment sessions, which allow students to seek advice from staff to help them enrol successfully — so you may want to make sure you arrive in Australia in time to attend one of these sessions.
How do I know which subjects to choose?
Before you enrol, you will need to look at your course guide or handbook to see what subjects you need to enrol in. This will list the core subjects you need to complete as part of your course as well as the electives you can choose from. It will also list the prerequisites for future subjects and the subjects that need to be completed for a certain major. If you’re still unsure of which subjects you need to choose, it’s best to seek advice from an academic advisor or course coordinator (your enrolment session is a great opportunity to do this).
What if I change my mind?
If you decide that a certain subject isn’t really for you, you have the option to change to a different subject without financial penalty if you do so before your institution’s census date (usually a couple weeks into each semester) — provided the subject isn’t compulsory.