Common terms you’ll hear at university

Learning styles and teaching expectations can vary from culture to culture, and so can university terminology. We’ve compiled a list of commonly used terms you will likely encounter as an international student at ACU.


The process of measuring and developing your learning at uni. Following an assessment, you will receive feedback on your progress and are awarded a final grade or result.


Any form of teaching, learning or assessment activity such as: lecture, tutorial, seminar, laboratory, practical work or field work. Classes can be conducted face-to-face, online or via distance learning. 

Credit points 

The numerical value attached to a subject. To complete your degree, you need to attain a certain number of credit points. 

Elective unit 

A subject or unit that counts towards your degree but can be unrelated to your specialisation. 


The process of registering your unit (subject) choices.


An academic department that specialises in a particular field of study, e.g., the Faculty of Health Sciences. 


A formal (and usually large) class conducted by an academic lecturer.


A specialisation in a bachelor degree. A major typically comprises about eight subjects. You can tailor your major and can usually complete more than one in a degree.


A sub-specialisation in a bachelor degree – usually four subjects.


Your introduction to university life. Orientation activities can include touring our facilities, learning about your area of study before your first semester begins, and setting up your student card and computer access. 

Prerequisite requirements 

Designed to make sure you have the knowledge and skills needed for success in your studies. You must meet these requirements before you can enrol in certain units. 

Professional experience 

Also known as professional experience placement, this is any clinical, counselling, teaching or field practicum, or other assessable professional or practical experience unit. 


A small class conducted outside of, but in addition to, lectures. Tutorials can feature discussions, academic exercises and questions. Your attendance of your scheduled tutorials may contribute to your final marks. 


A subject within a course. Each subject or unit has a specified number of credit points that count towards a degree.

Work placement 

Practical training in a work environment that may be a part of your degree. 

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