Study load (overload and underload)
To complete a course, you need to pass enough units to meet a set number of credit points. We measure your enrolment load in credit points per academic year.
The standard undergraduate study load per year is 48 credit points (24 credit points per semester).
Full-time and part-time
An Equivalent Full-Time Student Load (EFTSL) is 48 credit points. Most units run for a semester and have a value of six credit points (0.125 EFTSL).
For an academic year:
- a full-time study load is between 36 and 48 credit points
- a part-time study load is less than 36 credit points (less than 0.75 EFTSL).
Time limits to complete a course
You must complete your course within a set time limit, based on a formula using the course duration. Your course duration is in find a course. Calculation of the maximum time allowed to complete a course is as follows:
(full-time study course duration × 2) + 2 years = maximum course length
- (3 year Bachelor degree × 2) + 2 = 8 years
- (4 year double Bachelor degree x 2) + 2 = 10 years
- (2 year Masters program x 2) + 2 = 6 years
Law students have different time limits, see law time limits and maximum intermission.
Varying your course duration
You can take approved intermission or reduce your intended study load as long as you still complete your course within the maximum time limit. Check with your faculty before you choose to study part-time.
Domestic or international students not on a student visa in Australia, can apply to their managing faculty to take parental or primary carer's leave. If approved, this leave does not count towards the maximum time limit to complete a coursework course.
If you’re a domestic student, you can usually choose to study part-time. Just keep in mind, if you change your intended study load below 18 credit points per semester, you may not be eligible for government payments such as Youth Allowance, Austudy or public transport concessions.
When to underload
To avoid academic and financial penalties, make sure you underload (by discontinuing units) before the census date for the relevant teaching period.
How to underload
You can reduce the number of enrolled units by changing your study load from full-time to part-time in the Web Enrolment System (WES). WES won't automatically discontinue you from units, so you'll still need to select the units you want to discontinue.
WES may force you to enrol for the entire year, and in more credit points than you plan to study. If this happens, and you think this requirement doesn't apply to you, contact your faculty for advice.
If you're on a student visa, you must complete your course in the time stated on your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE). To do this, you need to enrol in a full-time study load (24 credit points per semester).
The Web Enrolment System (WES) won’t allow you to submit your enrolment unless you enrol in enough units to meet your approved study load requirement, so you’ll need to apply for approval from your faculty before you can reduce your study load.
If your application is approved, you may need a new CoE with an updated course completion date. See extending your visa for more information.
Reasons for underloading
You can apply for approval to underload for one of the following reasons:
- compassionate or compelling circumstances
- implementation of an intervention strategy due to a risk of unsatisfactory academic progress
- circumstances relating to COVID-19.
Compassionate or compelling circumstances
Compassionate or compelling circumstances are personal circumstances that:
- are involuntary and outside your control (such as medical, family, wellbeing, or enrolment circumstances), and
- present you with limited or no choice but to underload your study.
- illness or exceptional personal circumstances
- course structure, progression rules or unit availability that prevents a standard enrolment load.
When you don't need approval
You won’t need to apply for approval to underload if you:
- are in your final year and will complete your course within the time stated on your CoE
- are enrolled in a combination of standard semester and summer or winter units that total 24 credit points per semester
- are required to reduce your study load by your faculty’s Academic Progress Committee.
How to apply
To apply for approval, submit an application to underload.
When to apply
Submit your application by the census date for that teaching period.
If you’re applying for approval to underload under COVID-19 related circumstances, you need to include a personal statement in your application explaining the impact of COVID-19 on your circumstances.
If you’re applying for approval to underload under compassionate or compelling circumstances, you need to provide us with one or more of the following:
- a medical certificate from a medical practitioner
- a letter from a University counsellor or registered psychologist
- an official statement or document from your home country outlining the circumstances (e.g. a letter from a government official or medical practitioner).
If you’re applying for approval to underload as a result of an intervention strategy, you need to provide us with one or more of the following:
- a statement from an academic or course advisor confirming your eligibility for an intervention strategy
- a personal statement explaining your circumstances and the steps you’ve taken to improve your academic performance.
Overloading is to enrol in more than the standard number of units in each year. It is usually limited to students who have:
- completed 48 credit points in one calendar year
- achieved a credit average or higher in the previous year.
Exceptions may apply to high achieving students in approved programs. Some courses may not allow acceleration. This may be due to professional accreditation and/or clinical requirements. The faculties below have more information:
How to apply
- Complete the request to overload application form (pdf, 0.23 mb).
- Make an online enquiry and attach the application form.
When applying to overload, you should submit your application as early as possible. The deadline is no later than a week before the first day of the semester that you wish to overload. Your faculty will notify you of the outcome within five working days.
For deadlines to change your enrolment load, see add or discontinue units.