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09 September 2023

Headstart courses prepare students for 100-level study at UC. If you qualify for University Entrance, but you plan to study a subject you don't feel confident in, or if you've been away from study for a while, UC's Headstart pre-university catchup program might be a good option for you. Learn more about Headstart.

Applications for Headstart (24SU1) close Wednesday, 20 December 2023


Headstart is offered over the summer with the official course dates being 1 January to 11 February 2024. Classes commence on Wednesday, 3 January when UC opens for 2024.

If you qualify for University Entrance, but plan on studying a subject you are not confident in, or if you have been away from study for a while, then the Headstart pre-university catch up programme may be for you.

Mathematics is an important subject if you intend to major in Engineering, Commerce, or any of the sciences including Health Sciences, Psychology or Forestry.

Physics and/or chemistry are key subjects if you intend to major in the Physical Sciences, Biochemistry or Engineering.

Headstart courses are designed to prepare students for 100-level study at UC. While the science courses are very likely to be helpful for Health Sciences or Veterinary Science at other universities, it is not guaranteed that they will be entirely suitable preparation. Headstart courses do not contribute credit points towards a degree.


Entry requirements

There are no entry requirements for Headstart courses. However, if you have no background in your chosen subject, you may find Headstart challenging. You may need to do some preliminary study before attending. Contact Transition Programmes for further information.

Qualification structure and duration

Headstart courses are 6-weeks long and cover pre-university material generally equivalent to NCEA level 2 or level 2/3.

All courses are very intensive and you can only enrol in one or two courses. You are also expected to do extra work in your own time.


Headstart courses

Choose one or two courses ONLY:

If you have NCEA level 1 and/or some credits at level 2 in the relevant subject, Headstart is right for you.

If you have good, recent results at level 2, contact Transition Programmes to discuss whether or not you need Headstart.

If you have a strong recent background in a subject at NCEA level 3 or equivalent, you will not need Headstart.


2024 Course Fees

  • $844 (Domestic)
  • $3,950 (International)


How to enrol

Enrol online through myUC. If you need help call the Contact Centre on +64 3 369 3999 or Freephone: 0800 VARSITY (0800 827 748 – within New Zealand only).



For Headstart accommodation please contact the Accommodation Team directly.

Headstart FAQs

What is covered in Headstart courses?

Headstart courses cover essential pre-university material – generally equivalent to the key concepts in subjects at NCEA level 2, or Cambridge AS level.

The exceptions are Chemistry and Physics which also cover some concepts at level 3.

The Physics course covers mainly mechanics and electromagnetism.

Academic writing and study skills covers skills that are useful for all degree courses, and essential for education, law, commerce, the humanities and the arts.


Do I need Headstart?

If you have a strong recent background in a subject at NCEA level 3 you do not need Headstart.


I don’t have my NCEA results yet, so I don’t know whether to enrol in Headstart or not.

If you are waiting for NCEA results to be released, you can enrol in Headstart to ensure a place, then withdraw if you find you don’t need it.


Where do Headstart courses lead to?

Headstart CoursesPrepares you for…Which can then lead to… 

TRNS007 Preparatory MathematicsMATH101EMTH118, EMTH119 and other 100-level maths courses

TRNS006 Chemistry: An Introduction to atoms, bonding and reactionsCHEM114 or (if you achieve a B grade) CHEM111further study in chemistry or biochemistry if required

TRNS008 Fundamental PhysicsPHYS111 or (if you achieve a B+ grade) PHYS101further physics and astronomy courses

TRNS001 Academic Writing and Study SkillsUseful for all subject areas

For more information contact the Student Transitions and Engagement team:

Tauwhiro Ākonga

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