Key terms used in the Handbook

Area of study

Areas of study is a collective term for the range of 'building blocks' used to create sequential study in a discipline within comprehensive courses. This commonly includes majors, minors and specialisations. Areas of study may be listed within the 'Requirements' field of a course entry and link to the areas of study section of the Handbook.


A unit or other requirement you have to study at the same time as your chosen unit.

Course and award

A course is the accumulation of units, according to a set of rules, that leads to the award of a qualification. Normally, you can only enrol in one course at any time, although some courses, such as an undergraduate diploma studied in conjunction with a bachelors degree are an exception.

Course structure and requirements

Each course offered by Monash University has an associated structure which details the themes and components of the course, e.g. core and elective units, theses, research projects, placements etc., and a set of formal academic requirements which is the detailed list of units and any other requirements needed for successful completion in order to receive the award. These are stated in the Handbook under the 'Structure' and ‘Requirements' subheadings for the course, and in the areas of study entries. Other requirements such as compulsory clinical placements or other practica may also be stated under other headings in a course or area of study entry.

The study requirements and other information for each unit are summarised in the unit entries in the Handbook, and link to the detailed unit guides for each semester.

You will not have completed the course until you have successfully finished all the units and other requirements that are stated in the Handbook entry for your course and any related areas of study, in the year in which you commenced your studies, or in any later-year Handbook where permitted. It is your responsibility as a student to satisfy yourself, in consultation with the relevant faculty/ies, that you are undertaking the correct units in order to complete all of the requirements for your course.

While course advisers will endeavour to give every possible assistance and advice concerning unit choice, the onus is on the student to ensure that the units selected meet degree regulations and requirements. This is not the faculty's or University's responsibility, and neither takes responsibility for error in unit selection or enrolment by a student.

Credit points

Courses and units at Monash University are described in terms of ‘credit points', or ‘points' for short. The normal full-time study load for most courses is 48 points per academic year, or 24 points in each of first and second semester. Most units are a multiple of 6 points in value (eg 6, 12, 18, 24).

Full-time and part-time study

The normal enrolment for students undertaking full-time study is 24 points in both of first and second semester (i.e. 48 points per academic year). Full-time students must enrol in at least 36 points of units in any academic year, although international students are normally required to enrol in 24 points in each semester (in accordance with their visa obligations). Students who enrol in units offered in the summer semester should not normally undertake more than 18 points of studies over that period. Where permitted, students are strongly advised to adjust the number of units undertaken in any semester according to their individual needs and circumstances.

Most courses at Monash University can be completed by either full-time or part-time study, or a combination of both. Where this does not apply, it will be indicated in the course entry in the handbook by the qualifier ‘F/T only' or 'full-time only' or ‘P/T only' or 'part-time only'.

Free elective

Free electives are not a special type of unit. They are any unit that you are eligible to enrol in that you use to fill a 'free elective place' in your course requirements.

Read your course requirements to work out if you have any (and if so how many) free elective places in your course. If you have enough free electives to complete a minor (24 points) or a major (48 points) you might be able to do this even if you are in a specialist course. If you do have enough free electives, and you want to use your points this way, check in your course requirements that there are no limitations on which major/minor you can choose and refer to the indexes of majors and minors to see what's available.

If you don't have enough points for a minor or major, or your course requirement don't let you complete one, or you'd rather do something else, work out if you want to study more units in your main study area, or if are you interested in another area. You can use the browse units tool and indexes of units in the current edition of the Handbook to look for suitable units to use as electives.

You have to be able to meet any prerequisites, corequisites and prohibitions, and some units aren't available to all students. You also are probably only allowed to do a certain number of credit points as level 1 units in your course, so you should check how many 'level 1 spaces' you have after all your core units before choosing level 1 units as electives.


Study in a single discipline to the value of 48 points with no more than 12 points at level 1 and no less than 18 points at level 3.


Study in a single discipline to the value of 24 points with no more than 12 points at level 1.


A unit or other requirement you have to have successfully completed before you can study your chosen unit.


A unit or other requirement which, if you have already completed it, means you will not be allowed to study your chosen unit.


The academic year at Monash University is divided into two main semesters; semester one and semester two, and an additional summer semester, however there are a number of other teaching periods depending on the course or unit being studied. Most students undertake their studies during first and second semester. These are each 12 weeks in duration, and in general they run from late February to late May and mid July to mid October respectively (see principal dates for each year). In addition, new-to-Monash students are required to attend Orientation Week in semester one. The summer semester takes several forms depending on the unit being offered, but typically it is taught within the period from December to February.

Study mode

Monash University offers courses in a variety of study modes. These include ‘on-campus' group teaching and a variety of forms of ‘off-campus' delivery. Studies undertaken in ‘multimode' combine these two approaches. These modes are designed to provide flexibility for students with different needs and expectations. The study modes available are listed in the course and unit entries in the handbooks. Some 'on-campus' courses allow students to study a number of 'off-campus' units. There are Australian Government limitations on how much off-campus or online study an international student is permitted to undertake.


A unit is the basic component in which a student will enrol to undertake study in a particular course. Most undergraduate courses expect that full-time students will enrol in eight 6-point units per academic year, although there are exceptions. Postgraduate coursework students may be required to enrol in some units with higher values.

Typically, each 6-points requires an average total study workload (including classes, assigned work and private study) of 12 hours per week for 12 weeks, or 144 hours in total.