University terms explained

For a full list of terms see the Glossary of terms.


The first degree you study towards at university is called an undergraduate degree, eg, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Laws. Certificates and diplomas are also undergraduate qualifications. An undergraduate student is one who is studying for for their first (bachelor’s) degree, or a certificate or diploma.

Graduate and postgraduate

A graduate is a person who has met the requirements for a degree and been awarded it.

Postgraduate and graduate courses can only be taken by students who have already completed a bachelor’s degree, ie, graduates.

Postgraduate qualifications involve more advanced study in the area of your first (undergraduate) degree. They include honours and master’s degrees, postgraduate certificates and diplomas, and doctorates (PhDs).

Graduate qualifications normally involve study in an area other than the area of your first degree. They allow you to change subject areas and some prepare you for employment in a certain field, eg, journalism, teaching. Graduate qualifications include graduate certificates and diplomas.

Domestic student

You are domestic student if you have any of the following:

  • New Zealand citizenship (This includes New Zealand citizens born in the Cook Islands, Niue or Tokelau and New Zealand citizens by descent)
  • Australian citizenship
  • Are a holder of a New Zealand residence class visa

International Student

You are an international student if you are a citizen or a residence class visa holder of a country other than New Zealand or Australia.

See citizenship and residency requirements.


A qualification is an award you receive after completing your programme of study. UC offers a number of different types of qualifications.

Your first degree is usually at undergraduate level and is called a bachelor’s degree. It usually takes three or four years of full-time study to complete. After your first degree, you can carry on to a postgraduate or graduate degree (eg. master's, PhD).

Explore your qualification options:


A subject is a particular area of study that the UC offers courses in, eg. English, French, Mathematics or Geology. While you can study many subjects at 100-level, some subjects, eg. Counselling, Diplomacy and International Relations, Fire Engineering and Journalism are only available at graduate or other postgraduate levels.

Browse subjects to explore your study options and get an idea of everything that is on offer.


Courses are blocks of work that are usually taught over one semester. To successfully gain a qualification, you need to fulfill the course requirements of the qualification you are studying towards.

Course codes and course occurrences

Each course has a code of four letters and three numbers. The letters show the subject and the numbers show the level.

For example, MATH101 is a Mathematics course at 100 level and ENGL201 is an English course at 200 level.

Find out more about Course codes.


Each course has a point value that reflects the workload for the course. All courses have a point value of 15 or multiples of 15.

When you pass a course the points are credited towards your degree. If you fail a course you do not get any points. You must complete a certain number of points to complete your degree.