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Students talking in the UQ Great Court.

9 new words you'll hear at university

Uni life
Published 21 Jul, 2023  ·  5-minute read

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?

We explain 9 words you’ll hear at UQ that you may be unfamiliar with.


At UQ, we call what some universities might refer to as a 'degree', a 'program'. When you enrol and undertake study at UQ, you're studying a program (this might be a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Advanced Business, etc). At the completion of your studies, you're awarded a degree. 

An undergraduate program is the first level of study at university. After graduating from your undergraduate program, you may choose to head out into the workforce or start a postgraduate program.

At UQ, you can choose to study 2 programs at the same time. This is called a dual program – also known as a double degree. Studying a dual program can expand your career options and give you a competitive edge.

Explore our programs


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

All bachelor programs at UQ have an English prerequisite. Many programs also have maths and/or science prerequisites.

Prerequisites ensure you have a certain level of knowledge to successfully complete the first year of your degree. We want you to succeed, and having prior knowledge is the best way to begin.

You can check the prerequisites of the program you're interested in studying at UQ, by finding the program on our website, and navigating to the 'entry requirements' tab.

If you didn’t complete your prerequisite subjects at high school, don’t worry! Our pathway options will set you up for success.


A program is made up of courses – also known as subjects. Normally a course is completed within a semester. Studying full-time means enrolling in 3 or more courses each semester.

Most programs have compulsory and elective courses. Compulsory courses are set courses that you must study to graduate. Elective courses are courses you can choose depending on your interests.

For each course, you’ll have different classes, such as lectures and tutorials.

UQ students study at a bench in the Great Court with a jacaranda tree in the background

Major and minor

A  major  is a combination of courses in a program which focus on a specific discipline. This means that when you graduate, you'll have specialist knowledge in a certain area. Some examples of majors are:

Some programs also offer dual majors and extended majors.

A minor is similar to a major, but they require fewer courses. Minors often complement a major and sometimes involve emerging disciplines. Some examples of minors are:

Lecture and tutorial

A lecture is a presentation delivered by an academic. They're usually 1–3 hours long and held in a large lecture theatre. 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.

Curious about what your lecturers and professors will be like? Meet UQ's teachers to find out about their teaching style and professional history.


Instead of the 4 terms you have in high school, a UQ year has 3 semesters: Semester 1, Semester 2, and an optional Summer Semester.

Semester 1 and 2 are usually 13 weeks long and Summer Semester is usually 8 weeks.

Each semester has a mid-semester break – a week where you won’t have any classes. Depending on your courses, you may be able to chill out and catch up on some rest, or work on your assessment.


At UQ, most classes are held between 8am–9pm weekdays.

Your timetable depends on your courses. Each day of the week will be different, and your timetable will change each semester. The best part though? You get to choose what your timetable will look like and, depending on availability, enrol in lectures and tutorials at the times that suit you. 

Your uni timetable will look quite different to your school timetable. At uni, you’ll likely spend less time in classes, which gives you more time to study, complete assessments, work and participate in internships.

We hope learning what these words mean will help you arrive at university feeling prepared and excited for your first semester. 

Wondering what it's like to study a particular program at UQ? Get all the details from UQ students, teachers and alumni. 

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