University language

While studying at university you may hear some unfamiliar terms. Use this glossary of common terminology to learn some of the typical language used at the University of Newcastle (UON).

The most common terms are included on this page, although you may still come across some more specific language while studying at university. Advice on more specific questions is available via Ask UON.


1000, 2000 and 3000 level: all the courses that you have enrolled in have a number that refers to the level of the course. 1000 level courses are the introductory level courses and 2000 and 3000 levels are the more advanced level courses.

17000: 17triplezero is the University’s IT Service Portal that can be contacted about any IT questions on campus. Phone (02) 4921 7000 or search '17000' on the uni website.


Adjustment factors: Often referred to previously as “bonus points”, these are additional points that may be used in combination with an applicant’s Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) to derive a person’s course Selection Rank. See entry schemes for further information.

Admission Pathway: Options available to prospective students that will enable them to meet the entry requirements of their chosen courses. For more information see our other pathways and study options.

Adverse Circumstances: If an illness or serious circumstance beyond your control prevents or affects your preparation or performance in an exam or assessment you will need to apply for adverse circumstances. You can do this online through myUoN and can submit supporting documents at Student Central or via email.

AHEGS: Stands for Australian Higher Education Graduation Statement. It is a statement that clearly explains your academic and uni achievements, such as on-campus volunteering and leadership roles. It is designed to make Australian university results more understandable to Australian and overseas employers and overseas higher education institutions.

Assumed Knowledge: for a course refers to the courses you should have successfully completed or knowledge that is recommended you should have acquired before enrolling in the course. Not having the assumed knowledge will not stop you from enrolling in the course.

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Blackboard: This is the online home of your course materials. You’ll find course documents uploaded by your lecturers as well as course discussion boards here. This is also where you will submit electronic versions of your assignments.

Bridging course: A course which assists students to gain knowledge in specialist areas that are a core component of the course. If a course requires a prerequisite in an area that students have not studied or worked with before, a bridging course will help students to bridge the gap in that knowledge and gain admission. See UON Prep for more information about our bridging and refresher courses.

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Capstone course: This can be a core or compulsory course within a program, and is usually completed towards the end of a program. It provides the opportunity for a student to integrate and consolidate knowledge and skills learned throughout the program.

Census Date: The last day you can drop a course without having to pay for it.  A list of important UON dates is available on our Key Dates page.

Commission for Working with Children and Young People Declaration: if you are enrolled in a program that requires you to undertake a placement that may bring you into unsupervised contact with children, you must complete a Prohibited Employment Declaration, as required by the Child Protection (Prohibited Employment) Act 1998.

Commonwealth supported student: as a Commonwealth supported student you contribute to the cost of your tuition through a student contribution (HECS), while the Government pays the remainder.

Compulsory course: is a course within a major, minor or specialisation, which is essential and must be satisfactorily completed to fulfil the requirements of that major, minor or specialisation.

Compulsory course requirement: is an assessment item or other element in a course which must be satisfactorily completed before a pass mark (or greater) can be awarded for the course. For example, 'Compulsory course requirements for HUBS1416 - Formal Examination: Pass Requirement - Students must pass this assessment item to pass the course'.

Compulsory program requirement: is a course or other element in a program which is required to be completed satisfactorily to either progress in the program or satisfy program requirements. For example, 'Compulsory Program Requirements for the Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) programs – students must complete at least 12 weeks of industrial experience to be awarded this degree.’

Core course: A compulsory subject that must be successfully completed in order to fulfil the requirements of a degree.

Course: A subject.

Course Coordinator: Course Coordinators are the head of a course and may sometimes deliver the lectures for your course.

Course outline: A document outlining the learning outcomes, assessments and expectations for a course. It’s one of the first things students receive via Blackboard at the beginning of semester.

Course reader: A course reader is a collection of set readings for any particular course. You can find out whether your courses require you to have one on Blackboard. They are usually available for purchase in the first week of semester in the Brennan room and then in the Print Centre any time after that.

Criminal Record Check: if you are enrolled in a program that requires you to undertake a placement within a NSW Health facility, you will need to obtain a Criminal Record Check before you can commence your placement.

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Dean of Students: For students who need help solving an issue at UON, the Dean of Students can offer advice and assist with conflict resolution and complaints.

Directed courses: A directed course is a course chosen from within a list or group of courses. Directed courses usually go towards completing a specific major within a degree, and you will often have a choice of courses to do.

For a list of directed courses for your degree, please see your Program Handbook.

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Echo 360: Echo 360 is the lecture capture tool used to record lectures, so that you can go over them again to make sure you didn't miss anything. You can access Echo 360 via UONline (via myUON).

Elective: Electives are courses you can choose outside the core or compulsory (including directed) courses in your degree. They can be chosen from all courses available at the University that do not have any other conditions (such as a program requisite) applied to them.

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GPA: Stands for Grade Point Average. A GPA is the average of all grades achieved in a degree, measured on a 7 point grading scale. Search ‘GPA calculator’ on the Uni website to estimate your GPA online.

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Hub: Now known as Student Central, these are places on campus where you can ask questions about anything student related, get your student ID, pick up your parking permit, submit printed versions of your assignments, and use computer and printing facilities. UON has Hubs in five locations across our City, Newcastle, Ourimbah and Port Macquarie campuses.

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Journals and journal articles: A journal is an academic magazine containing articles based on research written by experts in a particular field, e.g. medicine, history, communication or literature analysis. Journals at UON are accessible in print and online through the Library’s catalogue search engine NewCat+.

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Labs: Practical, hands-on version of a tutorial.

Lecture: A lecture is a formal delivery of teaching material by a lecturer, usually in a large group in a lecture theatre with minimal group discussion.

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Major: sometimes referred to as a Major Sequence. A major is a concentration of your studies in a particular subject area or discipline. In programs that have majors, you will take courses from across a number of different subject areas in your first year. After your first year, you will decide your main area(s) of study and focus your studies in this area.

Maximum Time for Completion of Your Program: is the maximum amount of time (in calendar years) you are allowed to study a specific program at the University. The period refers to elapsed calendar years from admission, inclusive of periods of leave of absence or academic suspension. For information on your program duration, visit your Program Handbook or talk to your Program Advisor

Minor: is a sequence of courses providing depth of study in a second or third area of specialisation, comprising fewer units of study than a major. You should check your Program Handbook to confirm.

Multi-Term Sequence course: is a special course type where the course is split over two consecutive terms of study (usually within the same calendar year). For example, LAWS1001A and LAWS1001B: You must enrol in Part A (for Semester 1) and Part B (for Semester 2) in the same academic year.

myHub: Online system used by students to enrol in courses, pay course fees and view timetables.

myUON: The myUON Student Portal is your first port-of-call for all things online as a UON student. When you sign in to myUON, you will have easy access to many of the essential tools that you will use while you’re at uni.

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Negative service indicator: if you are indebted to the University you will receive a negative service indicator (NSI) on your student record. The NSI will block some privileges until the debt is paid, such as obtaining a testamur, transcript or exam results. Once you pay the account the NSI is removed.

NewCat+: The University Library’s catalogue search engine.

NUmail: This is your uni email account and is the primary way that the University will contact you. It is very important that you get into the habit of checking it regularly so you don’t miss important messages. This email address will be yours forever.

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Orientation: Orientation is in the week prior to semester starting. Orientation is a great way to get to know UON and also meet new people.

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PASS: Stands for Peer Assisted Study Sessions. These are one-hour weekly review sessions for you to compare notes, discuss difficult concepts and review weekly material with other students.

Placement: means a clinical placement, practicum, internship and any other form of professional, industrial or vocational experience included in a course or required for a program.

Plagiarism: The wrongful publication of another’s ideas or words without acknowledging the source. All students are required to take the Academic Integrity Module before the end of their first enrolment period. This will help them learn how to avoid plagiarism and academic fraud and to uphold academic integrity.

Practicals: some of the courses that you do will involve practicals (sometimes called ‘pracs’). Pracs give you a practical understanding of specific methodologies and skills appropriate to the course.

Program: this refers to the degree in which you are enrolled. For example the Bachelor of Science is a program.

Program Advisor: Program Advisor is a professional staff member that has thorough knowledge of your program. Your Program Advisor can help ensure that you are following the requirements and structure of the program. Duties include; specialist program advice, applications for cross-institutional study, as well as qualifying students when they are ready to graduate. You should contact your Program Advisor if you have any enquiries of an administrative manner regarding your program at UON.

Program Convenor: Your Program Convenor is an academic staff member with overall responsibility for the management and quality of your program. They’re a good person to contact for advice on academic matters, including career advice and course recommendations to suit your interests and study plans.

Program v Course: Program is another name for degree. Course is the name of the subjects you need to complete in order to fulfil the requirements of your program (degree).

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Recess: this is the mid-semester break.

Requisites also referred to as pre-requisites and/or anti-requisites: means that there are some pre-enrolment conditions to be met before you can enrol in certain courses. Such as:

  • Pre-requisite refers to the course(s) or other activity you MUST have successfully completed prior to enrolment in the course. For example MIDI2201 is only available to students enrolled in the Bachelor of Midwifery program. Pre-requisite- successful completion of MIDI1201, MIDI1202, MIDI2102, MIDI2103.
  • Anti-requisite means if you have completed certain course(s) or are enrolled in a specific program, you may not be able to complete the course as the content is too similar to a course in your program or a course has been replaced by another. Refer to the Course Handbook entry for details on requisites for each course.

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Selection Rank: A Selection Rank (SR) is a combination of ATAR and adjustment points (previously called bonus points). As a HSC student, you may be eligible for a maximum 12 adjustment points added to your ATAR.

Semester: a semester, also referred to as a ‘term’, is a teaching period of 12-13 weeks. There are two semesters per year.

Seminar: A seminar is an interactive class using discussion-based learning activities and is normally longer than a tutorial.

Specialisation: is a combination of related courses within a postgraduate degree which provides an area of focus within a program. Depending on the program you are enrolled in, you may be able to have two specialisations, or only the one. Some programs do not include an option to complete a specialisation. You should check your Program Handbook to confirm. For example, a Master of Educational Studies with a specialisation in Educational Research, or a Master of Environmental Management and Sustainability with a specialisation in Natural Systems Management.

SSAF: The Student Services and Amenities Fee. Every student is required to pay the fee that goes towards funding non-academic campus services and amenities.

Student Advisor: Student Advisors are located at Student Central on campus. They can answer your questions and help you access the support that is available at UON. They can work with you to create an individualised plan aimed to help you to succeed in your studies. Student Advisors can also provide direction on your enrolment pattern and progression. Pop into Student Central to make an appointment or go to AskUON for more info.

Student Card: An identification card you will use for university systems like borrowing books from the Library, registering your attendance at events, and getting student entry and discounts. You can get your card at Student Central at any campus. You can fast-track your student card by uploading your photo.

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Term: means a specified teaching period for example, Semester, Trimester, Summer School.

Trimester: a trimester, also referred to as a ‘term’ is a teaching period of 12 weeks. There are three trimesters per year.

Tuition costs: the cost per course to deliver courses to students. Students in Commonwealth supported places pay part of their tuition costs. Students in fee-paying places pay all of their tuition costs.

Turnitin: The online program where you will submit your assignments electronically. Turnitin’s software uses text-matching to help you reference correctly and avoid academic misconduct.

Tute/tutorial: A small class.

Tutor: A tutor runs the course’s tutorials, seminars and workshops in a smaller classroom setting. Your tutor may also deliver the lectures.

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Unit: this is the credit value of the course. Most courses are worth 10 units.

UON: means the University of Newcastle.

UONline: An online portal where you will find Blackboard, Turnitin, Gradebook and Echo 360.

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Vaccination Card: any student who needs to enter a public health facility for a placement, research, or any other purpose is required to maintain a vaccination card as proof of the currency of their vaccinations.

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Workshop: A hands-on, practical form of tutorial.

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The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.