BY Margaret Miao

The summer break has officially ended and it is time to get down to business for Semester 1! Hold on – I mean Term 1. 

Starting NOW, the academic year will be divided into terms, formally known as UNSW3+. Although UNSW expects students to be ‘ready set go’, the introduction of terms brings major changes to enrolment, study workloads and term dates. 

If you are overwhelmed or confused about terms, have no fear! This simple guide will have you ready and set to go.

The Basics 

UNSW3+ means that the academic year now consists of 3 terms that are 10 weeks long. Tutorials start in week 1 for many courses, so you need to be organised from the start! 

The maximum number of subjects that you can complete in a term is 3. This creates the opportunity to complete 9 subjects a year and potentially graduate a term early. Hence, terms create flexibility and is awesome for people who have changed their majors or degrees. I changed my commerce major 2 times, and the ability to complete 9 subjects a year will allow me to catch up and graduate on time!  

Domestic students must complete 6 courses spread over 3 terms to be considered a full-time student. You need to complete a minimum of 1 course per term or else you will need to apply for program leave. Meeting the requirements of a full-time student is important for many students, because it is an essential requirement for Opal Concession and to receive Youth Allowance or Austudy. 

International students must complete 8 courses spread over 3 terms. This means that in 1 term, you can have a lighter study load with 2 courses. As always, it is important to satisfy student visa conditions when enrolling. 

If you are still confused, the Full-time Status Tool is very useful to help work out whether you meet the requirements to be a full time student.


Enrolment is now a two-step process. The first step is course enrolment, where you enrol in courses you intend to take for the year. The second step is class registration, where you choose classes for the enrolled courses in each term. Class registrations open at least 8 weeks before each term starts. This process is a major departure from previous years, where we enrolled in courses and classes at the same time for each term. However, keep in mind that this two-step enrolment process is nothing new. Other Australian universities, such as USYD, WSU and UWA, have multi-step enrolment processes. 

Since students are now allowed to enrol in courses for the entire year, I strongly recommended to plan degree progressions and subjects to take well in advance. This is because many courses have limited term offerings and tend to be offered in one term only. For instance, courses offerings in my arts major are heavily skewed towards terms 1 and 3. You don’t want to be blindsided when a course you want to do is full, or accidently forget to do a pre-requisite and have to wait another year. Being disorganised can lead to negative ramifications on your degree progression. 

The student3+website contains 2019 course offerings, which is useful to create a study plan.  


Term breaks are now 2 weeks long, which is a great way to feel like you are back in high school again! There will be less time to recover from exams and it will be more difficult to go on holidays. 

Since study periods are now only a few days, it creates an excellent incentive to keep up to date with course content and study for finals earlier in the term. If you are like me, this means that there will be some intense cramming sessions at the end of the semester. Oh well. As Hannah Montana once said, nobody’s perfect. 

The introduction of terms has created both opportunities and challenges. If you feel confused and overwhelmed at this new change, remember that everyone is in the same (sinking) boat. Talking with fellow classmates and asking for advice and information at your faculty’s student centre will make this process a lot easier.