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Glossary of terms

Choosing to go to university is an exciting decision, but it can bring up a whole lot of questions.

You’ve probably heard people talk about programs, prerequisites, majors and minors, but what do these all mean? Read our glossary of terms for all the answers.


QTAC is the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre. QTAC processes applications for the majority of the undergraduate and selected postgraduate programs offered by Queensland universities.


Most programs have prerequisites – specific subjects you must have successfully completed to be eligible for an offer.

Bridging program

A bridging program assists future students to meet program requirements and gain entry into a program.

Depending on your previous study and the bridging program you select, completion of a UQ-approved bridging program (PDF, 62.27 KB) may provide you with a selection rank, increase your ATAR and help you to meet subject prerequisites.

Undergraduate and postgraduate

The first type of study a student completes at university is generally referred to as an undergraduate program. This may be an associate degree, bachelor's degree or certificate.

An undergraduate program can be followed by a postgraduate program. This may be a graduate certificate, graduate diploma, master’s degree or doctoral degree.


The university teaching year is divided into 3 semesters:

  1. Semester 1 - generally February to June
  2. Semester 2 - generally July to November
  3. Summer Semester - generally December to February.


At UQ, the list of courses you need to complete to gain a degree is called a program. These are also known as a degree, diploma or certificate.


A course is a distinct unit of study within a program for which a result is given – similar to a subject at school.

Full-time students usually study 3 to 4 courses (6 to 8 units) per semester.


A unit represents the value of individual courses that contribute to the total unit requirements of a program.

Most UQ courses have a value of 2 units (sometimes displayed as #2) and a standard study load is 8 units per semester.


Most programs have compulsory and elective courses. 

Electives are courses you can choose, while compulsory courses are mandatory courses that you must study to meet your program requirements.

Course delivery mode

Course delivery mode is the way a course is delivered to students.

Modes include internal, external, flexible, and intensive.

Major and minor

A major combines courses in a program that focus on a specific discipline. This means that when you graduate, you'll have specialist knowledge in a certain area.

A minor is similar to a major, but they require fewer courses. Minors often complement a major and sometimes involve emerging disciplines.

Lecture and tutorial

A lecture is a presentation delivered by an academic. They're usually 1 to 3 hours long and held in a large lecture theatre or online. This is where you’ll be taught the theory of your course.

Tutorials or ‘tutes’ are held in a smaller classroom and involve more interaction between students and the tutor. Tutes are the perfect time to discuss course material, debate ideas and ask your tutor any questions.

Some courses also include other class types, such as practical workshops or peer-assisted study sessions.


An honours program usually involves the completion of a self-directed research project in a specialised area of interest under the supervision of an academic staff member.