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's degrees like the Bachelor of Arts, certificates and diplomas. An undergraduate student is one who is studying for their first degree, certificate or diploma after high school.

Graduate and postgraduate

A graduate is a person who has been awarded a degree from university.

Postgraduate awards are for students who have already completed an undergraduate degree (ie, graduates) which 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 (such as a PhD).

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, teaching. They 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.

After completing an undergraduate qualification, such as a Bachelor's degree, you can carry on to a postgraduate degree (eg, master's) or change study direction with a graduate degree (eg, Graduate Certificate).

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 postgraduate levels.

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


Courses are 'classes' or 'papers' that involve blocks of lectures usually taught over one semester. To graduate with your chosen qualification, you will need to complete the courses required in that qualification.

Some courses are compulsory or core (ie, must be taken by all students in that qualification), and some are optional or electives (ie, you can choose your courses from a list of options in that qualification).

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 (or year you usually study this in your degree).

For example, MATH 101 is a Mathematics course at 100-level (usually first year), ENGL 201 is an English course at 200-level (usually second year), and ECON 310 is an Economics course at 300-level (usually third year).

Courses can be offered through Semester 1 (S1) from February–June, Semester 2 (S2) from July–October, over the whole year (W), over the summer months (SU) from November–January, or can be started anytime during the year (A).

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 the points. You must complete a certain number of points to complete your degree.

Courses will also have an EFTS value, or Equivalent Full-Time Student, that indicates the overall workload of that course for Studylink loans.

15 points = 0.1250 EFTS
30 points = 0.2500 EFTS
45 points = 0.3750 EFTS
60 points = 0.5000 EFTS
90 points = 0.7500 EFTS
120 points = 1.0000 EFTS