University terms

University terms

What does it all mean?

Understanding uni terms is helpful when navigating through your studies. We’ll be honest, though – sometimes the words we use can be a bit tricky to get your head around. Here’s a quick guide to help you make sense of what we’re saying.

  • Adjustment factors

    Adjustment factors (previously bonus points) are additional points that may be used in combination with your ATAR to derive your selection rank. Adjustments do not change your ATAR, only your selection rank.

  • ATAR

    The Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) is a number between 30.00 and 99.95 that indicates your rank relative to all students you started high school with.

  • Course

    A course is a program of study that you’re enrolled in. When you’ve successfully completed a specified number of credit points in your course, you’ll be awarded your degree.

  • Credit point

    To graduate, you need to have completed the specified number of credit points for your course. Each credit point equals about three hours of work per week including class time.


    The Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) is an Australian Government register that lists all Australian education providers offering courses to people studying in Australia on student visas and the courses offered.

  • Double degree

    A double degree allows you to study two complementary or completely different degrees. It increases your career flexibility and can be completed faster than two single degrees.

  • GPA

    A grade point average (GPA) is a calculation of your overall grades based on units you’ve completed at uni. Your GPA is a calculation out of 7 and will be included on your academic record.


    The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an English language test. IELTS test scores are one form of evidence of English language proficiency accepted by Macquarie.

  • Lecture

    Lectures are where you’ll learn most of your course content. Their length varies from unit to unit, but most run for one or two hours. Some take place in large theatres while others are in smaller rooms.

  • Major and specialisation

    Majors (undergraduate) and specialisations (postgraduate) are particular areas of study that you focus on within your course. For example, the Bachelor of Arts offers more than 50 majors.

  • Minor

    Minors are made up of fewer credit points than a major. You may be allowed to supplement your major with a minor (or two minors) in a different study area..

  • PACE

    PACE (Professional and Community Engagement) units include internships, special projects and domestic or overseas travel experiences

  • Postgraduate

    A course of academic study higher than a bachelor degree, available to students who have completed undergraduate studies.

  • Prerequisite

    A prerequisite is a school subject – such as HSC Mathematics – that must be completed, or a requirement that must be satisfied, before you can enrol in a particular unit.

  • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

    Your prior learning – including formal, informal and non-formal – can be assessed for admission and credit towards your Macquarie University degree. Remember to ask for RPL when you apply.

  • Recommended knowledge

    Some units assume that you have certain knowledge and skills from previous study, such as the HSC. Introductory units and bridging courses are available if you don’t have the recommended knowledge.

  • Selection rank

    The selection rank considers your ATAR or equivalent rank plus any adjustment factors you’re eligible for. You can combine our five adjustment factor schemes to receive up to 10 additional points for most of our courses.

  • Session

    A session is a period of study, just like a school term. Some universities call them semesters. At Macquarie, we have three sessions: Session 1 (February – June), Session 2 (August – November) and Session 3 which is optional, intensive and can fast-track your course (December – February).

  • Student visa

    An authorisation permitting people to come to Australia for the primary purpose of studying, as defined by Migration Act 1958.

  • Tutorial

    Tutorials, or ‘tutes’, generally include 20 or 30 students and are an opportunity to ask your tutor questions and talk about the course material with fellow students.

  • UAC

    The Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) receives and processes most applications for admission into university in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

  • Undergraduate

    A course of academic study for a bachelor degree is regarded as an undergraduate course. An undergraduate student is one who is studying their first degree – known as a bachelor degree. Once you’ve been awarded your bachelor degree, you become a graduate.

  • Unit

    Units are what we call subjects. Most full-time students take four units – each worth a fixed number of credit points – per session. Each unit usually requires about nine hours of study each week.

Full glossary of terms

The glossary lists key acronyms, abbreviations, terminology and definitions in use at the University.

Search the glossary

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