Wananga landing Wananga landing

Glossary of terms

07 November 2023

Check out our glossary of terms to make sure you understand the key terms and phrases used while studying at UC.



Academic Equivalent Standing (AES)

Students that have overseas university or secondary school qualifications (excluding Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) or International Baccalaureate (IB)), or other non-NCEA qualifications, can apply for admission to UC with AES status.

For more information please see our Admission pathways.

Academic transcipt

A record of all courses a student has enrolled in, the grades they have achieved for each course, and their Grade Point Average (see GPA). It also shows any qualifications that have been conferred. Students can view their own academic transcript for study completed at UC in myUC.  Official (verified) UC transcripts can be ordered online.

Academic year

The period from the eighth Monday of the year (the beginning of Semester One) to the end of February the following year.

See also Semester and Term.

Additional entry criteria

Some qualifications or courses require a special application for entry, which may involve extra processes such as an interview, academic tests, or an audition, or may require previous work experience in the subject area to enrol.

For more information and a list of qualifications and courses that require additional entry criteria, please see the Limited entry and special applications website.  

Adult entry

Domestic students over the age of 20 who do not have University Entrance through another means (NCEA or equivalent) can normally apply for admission to UC with 'Adult entry', otherwise known as 20+ admission. 

International Students are not eligible for Adult entry.

For more information please see our Admissions pathways.

Aegrotat Consideration (bereavement, illness, or injury affecting assessments)

If you are prevented from completing any major assignments or exams in a course, or consider that your performance in these has been affected by illness, injury, bereavement, or any other critical circumstance, you may apply for aegrotat consideration.

An aegrotat will provide you with a new grade for your assignment or exam based on your overall academic performance in that course.

Major assignments and exams are worth not less than 10% of the total course work.

For more information, please see Special Considerations.


A mark or grade awarded for academic work within and overall for a course. For most courses part of the final overall grade is based on coursework undertaken during the year – typically about 40–50%. An examination usually accounts for the remaining percentage of the final grade. Some courses have no final exam and are assessed entirely on coursework.


A piece of academic work you must complete as part of your course. This could include essays, practical tasks, presentations, and a variety of other types of coursework.



Bachelor’s degree

After secondary school studies, the first degree level you can study at university is called a bachelor’s degree eg, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Criminal Justice. Bachelor’s degrees usually take three or four years of full-time study to complete. After completing your first bachelor’s degree, you can then go on to study a postgraduate or graduate degree (eg, honours, master's, PhD).



A list of books, articles, videos, etc that you have used for research or referenced within an assignment, listed at the end of the assignment.



Period between terms or semesters when no teaching takes place.

See also Semester and Term.




The official published record of the current Regulations of the University, the Calendar contains important information on the qualifications, subjects, and courses available at UC, including enrolment requirements and the courses you need to complete to graduate.



The grounds and buildings of the University. UC has the Ilam campus, the Dovedale campus, and some buildings located in Te Matatiki Toi Ora | Arts Centre in Ōtautahi Christchurch.


Canterbury Card

UC student ID card, which can be used as ID on campus, to access buildings after hours, and for the campus libraries.


Certificate in University Preparation

The Certificate in University Preparation (CUP) is a one-semester programme available for students who do not meet the enrolment requirements for UC, or who have been out of study for a substantial period and want to refresh and prepare their study skills before starting university. Students who successfully complete the programme will be eligible to apply for entry to 100-level degree courses at UC.

CUP intakes are in February, July, and Summer School offerings in November or January.


Certificate of Proficiency

You can enrol for a Certificate of Proficiency if a course (or courses) you are taking is/are not counted towards the qualification you are currently studying eg, if you are an Exchange student studying at UC and crediting your courses to your home university studies, or you want to take a course in an unrelated area to your studies for extra background.


Certified copy

A copy of an original document that has been verified as a true copy by an authorised individual such as a Justice of the Peace, solicitor, Notary Public, or Apostille. 


Conjoint degree

Conjoint degree combines two bachelor’s degrees into one degree (unlike a Double Degree, where students enrol and study towards two bachelor’s degrees at the same time). Conjoint degrees are for high-achieving students, as they require a higher workload and shorter completion time.

See also Double degrees.



A course which you must take at the same time (or concurrently) with another specified course. For example, enrolment in LAWS101 requires a student to also enrol in LAWS110.



A course (sometimes called a ‘paper’ or ‘class’) is a series of lectures on a particular topic within a wider subject area, usually taught over one semester or over the whole year. A typical course includes lectures, assignments, tests, and exams; and either tutorials or laboratories, which are smaller accompanying classes (see Laboratories and Tutorials).

When you pass a course the points are credited towards your degree. 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. You must complete a certain number of points to complete your qualification.

Courses can be taught in Semester 1 (February–June), Semester 2 (July–November), over the Whole Year (Semester 1 and Semester 2, February–November) or over summer (November–February). Some courses are offered more than once in the same year, for example, in Semester 1 and in Semester 2.

Courses are grouped into levels. You usually have to pass certain courses in a subject – called prerequisites – before you can continue on to 200-level courses, and so on. For instance, if you want to take JAPA325 (a 300-level advanced Japanese language course), you have to pass JAPA215 (a 200-level intermediate Japanese language course) first. 

Use the course search to see all available courses at UC.


Course code

Each course is identified by a unique code. This code is made up of a four-letter abbreviation for the subject and an identifying number which indicates the level of the course. For example, MATH220 is a Mathematics course taught at 200-level, and CINE302 is a Cinema Studies course taught at 300-level.

See the full list of course codes.


Credit points

Each course has a point value which is counted towards a qualification (see Points).


Credit Transfer

Some completed courses from one qualification can be transferred to another within UC, provided you have not already graduated with your initial qualification. Students may consider this option if they find they prefer a different area of study, or are able to upgrade to a higher level of qualification in their studies. For more information on credit transfer, contact a Student Advisor.

Transfer can also refer to students crediting their completed courses from one qualification to another between universities, provided they have not already completed their initial qualification. Credit transfer involves the evaluation of a student’s academic transcript, course outlines and other information relevant to the application. See the Transfer page for the process of transferring your studies to or from UC.



Cross-crediting is where credit is shared between qualifications. In many cases this enables you to complete two degrees (a double degree) in a shorter timeframe.

For more information on cross-crediting contact a Student Advisor.




There are seven broad areas of study at UC each chaired by a Dean, whose role is to oversee courses of study and academic activities from undergraduate through to master’s level. These areas include Arts, Business, Education, Health, Engineering, Law, Science, and Postgraduate Research. The Dean is often assisted by an Associate Dean.



A degree is the standard qualification you study towards at university. Your first degree at university after secondary school is called a bachelor’s degree, and 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).


Degree regulations

The degree regulations are the official rules that you must follow in order to graduate in a degree. The University’s official degree, diploma, and certificate regulations are detailed on the Regulations website.


Degree schedule

A degree schedule lists the course requirements and options available within a degree needed to graduate. It can include major and minor subject course requirements, compulsory courses, and other courses that can be credited towards the degree.



A section of the university devoted to teaching and researching a specific academic subject eg, Department of History.


Direct entry

With excellent NCEA Level 3 and/or Scholarship results, you may be offered a place at 200-level in some subjects, or second-year study for some programmes.

For more information on the criteria, contact the relevant department.


Discretionary Entrance

Aotearoa New Zealand and Australian citizens and permanent residents who are under 20 years of age, and who are not otherwise qualified to enrol for an undergraduate degree programme, may qualify to apply for Discretionary Entrance.

For more information see our Admission pathways.


Distance study

Some degrees offer the option to study 'By Distance', which means you can complete some courses (or sometimes the entire programme) off campus from any location through online study.


Doctoral degrees

Doctoral degree is the highest level qualification you can study and receive from university, involving original research in a field of study. UC offers a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) as well as other specialised doctoral degrees, such as a Doctor of Musical Arts.

UC, like other universities, may also award Honorary Doctorates. Honourary Doctoral degrees are presented to individuals that have made a strong contribution to an industry or society, in a ceremonial recognition of their achievements.


Double degree

double degree means studying towards two degrees at the same time. Some popular options are the Bachelor of Laws with a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Commerce with a Bachelor of Science degree, but almost any combination is possible. Points can be cross-credited (or shared) between your degrees, which means, for example, you could complete a Bachelor of Laws (normally a four-year degree) together with a Bachelor of Arts (normally a three-year degree) in only five years.

See also Conjoint degrees.




The workload of a course is specified by its EFTS (Equivalent Full-Time Student) value. Course EFTS are directly related to course credit points so either may be used as a guide when planning your workload and for Student Loans.

The StudyLink definition of a full-time workload is a minimum of 0.8 EFTS (normally 96 points per year). A workload of 0.4 EFTS in Semester 1 or Semester 2 also qualifies as a full-time workload for students undertaking part-year study.



Elective courses are optional courses you can take in your degree, usually chosen from an approved list of examples. Some degrees require you to take a certain number of elective courses alongside your compulsory courses.



An endorsement is an area of specialisation within a degree programme eg, an endorsement in Teaching and Learning Languages within the Master of Education. To gain an endorsement you must pass certain required courses, in addition to the general requirements for the degree you are studying.


Equivalent courses

Equivalent courses (EQ) are multiple courses which cover the same study material, but which are coded to different subjects or different qualifications (also known as ‘double-coding’) eg, the Astronomy course ASTR381 is equivalent to the Physics course PHYS381.



Exchange refers to either incoming students from an overseas university that study for a short period at UC, or outgoing UC students that study for a short period at an overseas partner university, while retaining their enrolment status with UC. The courses they study will be credited to their UC degree.




Many courses in subjects such as Astronomy, Biological Sciences, Geography, Forestry, and Geology incorporate practical work outside of a classroom or laboratory setting, such as study trips to field stations.


Foundation Studies

International students who do not meet UC's admission requirements, or want to prepare for university study, can apply for the Foundation Studies programme at UCIC.



60 points (0.5 EFTS) per semester is considered a full-time workload. International students must normally be enrolled in at least 45 points (0.375 EFTS) per semester for student visa purposes - check with Immigration New Zealand for details. 

Domestic students should note that StudyLink considers 105 points (0.875 EFTS) per calendar year to be full-time when calculating eligibility for student loans and allowances. See StudyLink for more details. 



Grade Point Average

A Grade Point Average (or GPA) is the system of recording academic achievement, based on an average which is calculated by multiplying each grade’s value by the course’s weight (points) to achieve a sum, which is then divided by the sum of the course weightings. At UC the value assigned to each grade is as follows:


For example:

Course code  Grade  Grade value  Points
TREO110 B 5 x 15 = 75 
SOCI112 C 2 x 15 = 30 
PSYC105 C- 1 x 15 = 15 
PSYC106 D 0 x 15 = 0 
LAWS101 E -1 x 30 = -30 

 Total 90 90

The Grade Point Average (GPA) of a student who received the grades above would be 90 ÷ 90 = 1 or C-.



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

Graduate qualifications can only be taken by students who have already completed a bachelor’s degree ie, graduates. They 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 or teaching. Graduate qualifications include graduate certificates and diplomas.




Head of Department/Head of School – the person responsible for the management of an academic Department or School.


Honours degree

An honours degree is a bachelor’s degree which requires advanced study, either as part of a one-year programme following a three-year degree, or by completing a research component and/or other additional requirements in the final year of a four-year degree.

At UC undergraduate degrees in Digital Screen, Engineering, Environmental Science, Fine Arts, Forestry, Law, Social Work, and Speech and Language Pathology can be awarded with honours, while other honours degrees are postgraduate qualifications after completing a bachelor’s degree.

See also UC's honourary awards and titles.



Intermediate Year

The Intermediate Year is the first-year programme of study for some professional degrees eg, the Bachelor of Speech and Language Pathology with Honours. You must first pass the Intermediate Year to the required standard before being able to enrol in the second year (First Professional Year) of the degree.

The Intermediate Year of the Bachelor of Veterinary Science (Massey) and Bachelor of Chiropractic (New Zealand College of Chiropractic, Auckland) degrees can be completed at UC. If you are intending to continue your studies at another institution, it is important that you contact them to ensure that your proposed course of study meets their requirements. 






Laboratory classes (also known as "labs") usually run for two to four hours and are common in science subjects. You will get the chance to carry out experiments and tasks, and write up lab reports using your findings. Like tutorials, they are smaller groups where you can ask questions and put your new knowledge into practice.



Lectures (also known as ‘classes’) usually last for 50 minutes with a 10 minute break between lectures. Lectures start on the hour and finish 10 minutes to the next hour. In first-year courses there can be up to 400 students in a lecture; in later years classes are usually much smaller.



This term describes the stage (or year) at which a course is taught.

Courses which you will usually study in your first year are called 100-level courses eg, SPAN101 is a first-year Spanish course. Courses at 200-level usually begin with a ‘2’ eg, SPAN201 is the code for a 200-level Spanish course, and 300-level courses usually begin with a ‘3’ eg, SPAN301. However, depending on your study planning and previous knowledge, you may study different course levels at any year of your degree.


Limited entry

Some programmes and courses have limits on the number of students that are able to be accepted into them and many require a separate application (in addition to the standard UC Application to Enrol).

See the Limited entry & special applications website for a list of the qualifications and courses with limited numbers available or a special application required. For more information contact the relevant department directly as early as possible.


Master’s degree

master’s degree is a postgraduate level qualification involving independent research and/or coursework in a subject area eg, Master of Fine Arts, Master of Master of Human Interface Technology, Master of Teaching and Learning. Master’s degrees often take up to two years to complete full-time. A master’s degree is usually required before students can enrol for a doctoral degree, the highest level of qualification at university.



Your major is the subject you decide to study in-depth or specialise in within a degree. In most cases this means you take a majority of your courses in this subject within your final years of study. A double major is when you specialise and meet the study requirements for two subjects at the same time.



Micro-credentials (also known as MOOCS) are formal one-off courses for learning particular skills and knowledge. These courses are recognised on your Academic Transcript and through a digital badge certificate.


Mid-term exam

Exam or test held during the term, usually halfway through the semester, as opposed to the exams held at the end of a semester. Mid-term exams usually make up less of your overall course grade than a final exam.



Within some degrees, you can choose to study a minor subject as well as your major subject (see Major above). Your minor is another specialisation within your studies, but you will usually take less courses in this subject than your major.





Part-time study

Some students choose to study part-time because of other commitments. This means the degree will take longer to complete (up to a maximum time limit) but the courses and end qualification will be the same as a full-time student.



A PhD, otherwise known as a Doctor of Philosophy, is among the highest level of university study you can complete. PhD studies include in-depth, original research on a topic or subject of choosing, and can take a minimum of three years full-time to complete.

See also Doctoral degree.



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 will not get those points. You must complete a certain number of points to complete your degree.



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


Preparatory courses

Preparatory courses are non-credit, catch-up courses that can help prepare students for first-year degree study.

These can include Headstart courses for background knowledge in some subjects, English language and foundation studies for international students, and the Certificate in University Preparation.

See the Transition programmes website for all available options.



A prerequisite is a course that you must pass before you can do another, usually more advanced, course. For example, since BIOL113 is a prerequisite for BIOL210, you must pass BIOL113 before you can enrol in BIOL210.

It is important to research these thoroughly when planning your degree, so that you take the right prerequisite courses at each level to get into the courses you want at advanced levels.

For more information see the Courses, Subjects and Qualifications website.


Programme Director/Coordinator

The academic staff member responsible for the coordination of a programme of study within a Department or School.



Restricted credit

Students enrolled in a 100 or 200-level course may receive restricted credit which cannot be used as a prerequisite for other courses, but is considered a pass.



Course(s) which cannot all be credited to the same degree because of an overlap in content between the courses. For example, SOCI212 and ANTH212 are restricted against each other, due to a similarity of content. A student may enrol in a restricted course for a Certificate of Proficiency (COP).




Semesters split the academic year into two periods of study, known as Semester 1 (February–June) and Semester 2 (July–November). A mid-year break and summer break occurs between these in which no lectures take place.

Semesters are in turn split into two terms with a mid-semester break between these, in which no lectures take place, but usually some self-study or assignment work is still expected. Each semester then concludes with a study break and exam period.

Courses usually run over one semester (or both, known as ‘whole year’ courses). UC also offers Summer School courses (see below) that run over the summer months outside of the academic year.

For more information see the key dates website.


Special Admission

If a person does not otherwise qualify for University Entrance they may be eligible to apply for Special Admission.

For more information see the Admissions and Entry website.



Within the Bachelor of Arts, you may choose to study a specialisation instead of a major subject. This pathway groups multiple complementary subjects together into a central theme through a set list of courses.


Student Advisors

These are specialist staff who give academic advice and help with any academic problems students may face. Student Advisors can help with structuring your degree (including double majors and double or conjoint degrees), course advice, and other assistance regarding your study plans and choices.



A subject is a particular area of study that the University offers courses in eg, English, French, Mathematics, or Geology. While you can study many subjects in your first degree, some subjects eg, Counselling, Diplomacy and International Relations, and Fire Engineering, are only available at honours, graduate, or postgraduate level after first completing a bachelor’s degree.

For more information on subjects refer to the Courses, Subjects and Qualifications website.


Summer School

UC offers a wide selection of degree courses in a range of subjects over summer (November–February). Summer courses are an opportunity for you to shorten the duration of your degree, spread your workload due to other commitments, or pick up a prerequisite course for the following year.

For more information see the Summer School website.




Terms are brief study periods that make up a semester within the academic year, separated by a mid-semester study break.

Term 1 (February–March) and Term 2 (April–May) occur during Semester 1, and Term 3 (July–August) and Term 4 (September–October) occur during Semester 2. A study break and exam period occurs after the conclusion of Terms 2 and 4.

For more information see the key dates website.


Transfer of credit

See Credit transfer.



Tutorials are smaller-sized classes as part of your course – typically a staff member (tutor) and 10–20 students. Tutorials are more interactive than lectures. They give you the chance to discuss material covered in lectures, go over assignments and seek help if you need it, sometimes involving group work or presentations. Attendance is normally compulsory. You are usually able to choose tutorial times to suit your timetable and often choose them in the first week of your lecture.




The first degree you study towards at university after secondary school is called an undergraduate degree eg, Bachelor of Arts, Certificate in Science, Diploma in Languages. An undergraduate student is one who is studying for their first degree at university after completing secondary school studies.


University Entrance

Certain criteria from your secondary school studies is needed to gain University Entrance status, which allows you to enrol at UC.

See the Admission and University Entrance webpage for information on what you need to gain University Entrance, including for students that completed secondary school studies outside of New Zealand.

Students that have not met the requirements for University Entrance may still gain admission to UC through the Transition programmes.





The number of points you are taking (courses you have enrolled in) at any one time.

Privacy Preferences

By clicking "Accept All Cookies", you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.