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Terminology

Students on the steps of the Information Services Building

This section lists terms and abbreviations used within the University. You will encounter them frequently so it is useful to know them. 

A B C D E F G H I L M N O P R S T U WXYZ

A

Academic points

Each paper has an academic points value which indicates the amount of credit which will be gained towards completing a programme if the paper is passed. For example, a three year Bachelor's degree typically requires a total of at least 360 academic points. See also Workload points.

Academic Progress

Academic progress is a generic term relating to a student’s overall progress with their course of study. The way in which this is assessed will vary considerably depending on the context. For example:

  • Passing 50% or more of the points for which the student is enrolled (Academic progress policy)
  • Achieving a specific grade average (e.g. B+) or higher
  • Receiving a satisfactory written progress report from their supervisor (e.g. a PhD candidate)

Academic Progress Policy

A student who fails to make satisfactory progress (i.e. pass half or more of the points enrolled for in a calendar year) will be placed on Conditional Enrolment and may enrol for a prescribed course of study only, in the next year of enrolment. Such a student who passes fewer than half of the points in the Conditional Enrolment year will be suspended from enrolment from the University for the subsequent two calendar years.

This policy will be applied to students transferring from other universities as if their previous study had been undertaken at the University of Otago. Students suspended under the academic progress policies (or equivalent) of other universities will not be permitted to transfer to the University of Otago until such time as that suspension has passed.

Ad Eundem Credit

Credit awarded to a student on the basis of passes at any other tertiary institution or on the basis of recognition of prior learning. Such credit is termed transfer credit when it is based on passes at other New Zealand universities, and RPL credit when it is based on recognition of prior non-credentialled learning.

Ad Eundem Statum Admission

Admission "at the same level", which is usually granted on the basis of qualifications from overseas or of non-university tertiary qualifications gained within New Zealand. Admission can be at entrance level (for students with the equivalent of a standard university entrance qualification e.g. through CIE or IB), or with credit for one or more papers, or at graduate level if you have completed a degree or equivalent qualification.

Admission

Admission refers either to admission to the University or to a specific paper or programme. Apart from a few special circumstances, a person must have a university entrance qualification (normally on the basis of NCEA credits, Bursaries results, ad eundem statum admission, special admission, provisional entrance or discretionary entrance) and must have fulfilled language requirements in order to be admitted as a student (new and recommencing students enrolling for most undergraduate courses will be selected via Preferential Entry or Competitive Entry). Also, admission to an Honours or postgraduate programme or to a paper or programme with limited numbers (e.g. degrees in Medicine, Law, Surveying) requires special approval and normally involves making a formal application.

Adviser of Studies

A member of staff with authority to discuss and approve a student’s enrolment in particular papers and/or programmes. Most students must consultthe designated Advisers of Studies at Course Approval or if they make later changes to their courses, but may also discuss their study plans with them at other times of the year.

Application for study

The act of applying for admission to the University and/or to a particular programme (the first phase of the enroment process).

Ask Otago

An online service provided by the University with answers to general enquiries and questions including, but not limited to, matters such as applying, admission, enrolment, records, exchange, accommodation and student life on campus. Ask Otago is available at www.ask.otago.ac.nz.

Assessment

The process by which learning is evaluated either internally on the basis of essays, reports, exercises, and tests or by a final examination at the end of the teaching period, or by a combination of both.

Audioconference

Some papers are taught by audioconference, a telephone link which enables students and lecturers  in different towns to talk simultaneously to each other.

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B

Bachelor's Degree

A first or undergraduate degree, normally requiring at least three years of full-time study.

Blackboard

A web-based learning environment where University course materials, class discussions, assignments and assessments are available on the internet to enhance on-campus learning and/or to deliver distance learning.

Bridging Course

A course to assist students to prepare for study in a later academic semester or year.

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C

Calendar

The University's official publication containing its statutes, regulations (including programme requirements), important dates, and other information.

Campus

The grounds and buildings of the University.

Certificate

See Undergraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Certificate.

Certificate of Proficiency

A term which describes a paper not necessarily being counted towards a particular qualification (e.g. an additional paper surplus to degree requirements); or a paper being repeated in the hope of gaining a higher grade; or a paper being taken to complete a degree at another university (e.g. an Otago paper being taken for a Canterbury degree).

Change of Course

The process by which a student who has completed course enrolment has any amendments to his or her course approved and recorded (may involve adding or dropping papers, changes to major or minor subjects, changes of programme).

Clash

A clash occurs when two or more events that share the same resources, have the same participants and/or are not allowed to occur at the same time are timetabled to occur at the same time.

College

A synonym for School, used in the title of the University of Otago College of Education, which was created from the merger of the Dunedin College of Education with the University in 2007.

Also see Residential College.

Competitive Entry

A pathway for admission to undergraduate courses and programmes, for students who do not qualify for Preferential Entry. Competitive Entry students are ranked according to their academic performance and other relevant criteria and are offered places in the University in order of priority subject to fulfilling minimum age, entrance, and language requirements and the availability of places in their nominated programmes.

Completion

Term used to indicate that all requirements of a programme have been met and that the student is eligible to graduate.

Conditional Enrolment

Under the Academic Progress Policy, students who pass fewer than half of the points they are enrolled in for a calendar year are placed on Conditional Enrolment in their next year of study and may enrol for a prescribed course of study only.

Corequisite

A paper that must be taken concurrently with another paper, unless it has already been passed.

Council

The governing body of the University.

Course

The collection of papers for which a student is enrolled in a particular semester or year.

Course Advice

Academic advice provided to a student concerning his or her studies and future plans.

Course Approval

The step of the Course Enrolment phase in which a student's finalised course for the year or semester is accepted by both the University of Otago and the student.

Course Enrolment

Course Enrolment is the phase of the enrolment process in which students provide or update their personal details, select their papers, and complete a declaration concerning their enrolment in a particular year. The personal details include details that may change over time (such as study address), and information the University must collect annually for the New Zealand Government. Students also undertake selection of papers and (once course approval has been given) complete the declaration which constitutes a formal commitment to the course and to liability for associated fees. Students who fail to complete Course Enrolment on time may not have access to all University resources.

Credit

Papers or points passed at Otago, or for which a student has been granted ad eundem credit (including transfer and RPL credit - see entry for 'Ad eundem credit' above), that may be counted towards a University of Otago programme.

Cross Credit

Cross credit describes the situation in which a pass in a University of Otago course or paper is able to be credited by a student towards the requirements for two University of Otago qualifications. Neither qualification may be a postgraduate qualification or a graduate diploma or graduate certificate. The number of points that may be cross credited varies according to the minimum number of years required to complete the programmes concerned.

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D

Dean

The academic and administrative Head of a School or Faculty.

Debtor

A student who owes money to the University and is listed as a debtor. Such students will not have access to the full range of University services until payment of any outstanding amount is made.

Degree

The academic award conferred by the University on the successful completion of a programme of study. Undergraduate (bachelors’) degrees normally require at least 3 years of study (some require 4, 5 or 6); postgraduate (masters’ and doctoral) degrees require at least 1 – 3 years of study after completion of earlier qualifications.

Deletion (of a paper or programme)

Deletion of a paper or programme (as opposed to withdrawal) indicates the student has removed the paper and/or programme from their enrolment before the prescribed cut-off dates and will be eligible for a fees refund. The paper or programme will also cease to appear on the student’s academic transcript or academic record.

Department

An organisational unit of the University consisting of academic staff teaching a particular subject or discipline together with supporting general staff.

Diploma

See Postgraduate Diploma and Undergraduate Diploma.

Discretionary Entrance

The method for students under 20 years of age and without a New Zealand University Entrance qualification to gain admission to University. Usually based on Year 12 NCEA results. This does not apply to international students.

Dissertation

An extended piece of written work, normally based on original research, required for an Honours degree or Postgraduate Diploma and for some masters' degrees.

Distance Learning

Planned learning that normally occurs in a different place or at a different time from teaching. It requires special course design and instruction techniques and use of technologies to enable communication, access to resources, and student support.

Division

The University is divided into four teaching Divisions - Commerce (also known as the School of Business), Health Sciences, Humanities, and Sciences - which include the staff in all of the Departments and Schools in each of the four groups of related disciplines. Some Departments teach courses for degrees based in other Divisions (e.g. Information Science is a Commerce subject taught by a Commerce department but can also be taken for degrees in Arts and Science).

Domestic Student

Students are classified as domestic if they are New Zealand citizens (including citizens of the Cook Islands, Tokelau, and Niue), or permanent residents of New Zealand residing and studying in New Zealand, or Australian citizens or permanent residents of Australia resident and studying in New Zealand. All other students are classified as international students and normally require a student permit to study in New Zealand.

Double Degree Programme

A programme of study that leads towards two degrees (e.g. BA and BCom), normally including cross crediting.

Double Major

A programme of study for a bachelor’s degree which includes the major subject requirements for two subjects (two separate sets of 300-level papers are required).

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E

EFTS

EFTS (Equivalent Full-Time Student) is a unit of measurement of a student's enrolment and is used in the funding system for the University.

A typical full-time year's study equals 1.0 EFTS unit and the papers taken are fractions of that unit. In practice, a year's study will vary in EFTS value according to the papers studied.

Endorsement

A subject or area of specialisation for certain qualifications (e.g. PGCertHealSc endorsed in Resuscitation).

Enrolment

The collective term used for application, payment of fees, and Course Enrolment. The final step of enrolment is completion by the student of a declaration which constitutes a formal commitment to the course concerned and to liability for associated fees; the student is then fully enrolled.

Further information about enrolment is available elsewhere on this website.

Entry Pathway

The system under which domestic students are assessed for selection and admission to most undergraduate programmes. Also see Competitive Entry and Preferential Entry.

eVision

The eVision portal is a one-stop shop for study-related information where students will apply to study, access all important study-related information, and maintain their personal information.

Exemption

Permission to leave a particular requirement out of a course. This normally requires approval by the Division concerned.

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F

Faculty

A decision-making body for academic matters affecting a group of Departments or a specialist School.

Field Trip

An off-campus visit, usually to observe natural phenomena or to collect specimens (often a compulsory part of courses in subjects such as Botany or Geology).

Final Examination Only (FEO)

In most papers (but not all), a student who has completed course work satisfactorily but has failed to pass the paper concerned may apply for Final Examination Only enrolment. This means that the student may sit the examination at the end of the next teaching period that the paper is offered but may not attend teaching sessions or submit further assignments. This concession is granted only once for a particular paper, and only for the teaching period in which the paper is offered next.

Finalist

A person enrolled for a course which is sufficient to complete a qualification in that semester or year. A student enrolled in 2014 would be a finalist only if the course he or she was taking would complete the requirements of the programme in 2014.

Final Examinations

Often called 'finals', these are formal examinations conducted under the authority of the Senate at the end of the teaching period for a paper.

First Year Student

A student who has not previously attended the University of Otago or any other university in New Zealand.

Full-time

A full-time course is generally between 54 and 72 points in any one semester or 108 and 144 points in any one year. (Also see Workload.)

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G

Grade

A letter awarded for a particular paper which indicates the level of performance in examinations and other assessment. (A+ is top grade; C- is lowest passing grade; D and E are failing grades).

Grade Point Average (GPA)

A numerical measure of a student’s academic achievement. When a GPA is needed at Otago for admission or scholarships purposes, a numerical value is assigned to each letter grade:

  • A+ = 9
  • A = 8
  • A- = 7
  • B+ = 6
  • B = 5
  • B- = 4
  • C+ = 3
  • C = 2
  • C- = 1

The weighted average is then calculated (taking into account differing point values of papers).

Graduand

A student who has completed the requirements of a qualification, but has not yet graduated.

Graduate

A person who has had a degree conferred.

Graduate Diploma

A qualification available only to graduates but comprising papers at undergraduate level.

Guide to Enrolment

The Guide to Enrolment is produced annually and is the primary source of information and guidance for students concerning the enrolment process. The Guide contains full details of all the papers offered by the University and student-friendly information on basic programme structure, including the requirements for majors, minors and endorsements.

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H

Health Declaration

If you wish to apply for special consideration on health grounds because you miss a compulsory class or assessment for health reasons, or in connection with a final examination for health reasons, you should use a Health Declaration Form. Part B must be completed by a health professional if a final examination is involved, but is not always required in other cases; check with the department or school concerned.

There is some variation in practice for particular programmes (e.g. Dentistry, Medical Laboratory Science, Medical Radiation Therapy, Medicine, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy). Students enrolled in those programmes must check with their schools or departments on their requirements.

Download the Health Declaration Form (192k in PDF format)

HOD

Head of Department.

Honours Degree

A more specialised degree than an ordinary bachelor's degree, usually involving more papers in the subject of the degree and a research report or dissertation. In most subjects, the honours degree is a postgraduate degree, requiring an additional year of study after completion of an ordinary three-year bachelor's degree. In other cases (particularly professional programmes), the honours degree is an undergraduate degree requiring additional work but taking no longer than the corresponding ordinary degree.

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I

Interest Only Enrolment

Interest Only enrolment is when a student is permitted to enrol for a paper and to attend classes without undertaking any examinations or other formal assessment (and therefore without the possibility of being awarded any credit for the paper). Interest Only enrolment is not normally available to students who are also taking courses for credit in the same enrolment period.

Internal Assessment

In addition to or instead of final examinations, some or all of the final grade for each paper is based on internal assessment - results for essays, assignments, laboratory or other practical work, and tests or examinations (sometimes known as terms tests) conducted by individual departments or schools.

International Student

Any student who is not a domestic student (see entry above). International students normally require a student visa to study in New Zealand.

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L

Laboratory

A teaching session involving experimental or practical work.

Lecture

The main method of instruction at the University. Usually a 50 minute oral teaching session.

Level

The different stages at which a subject is taught which reflect how advanced a paper is (e.g. 100-level is the first level).

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M

Major subject

The subject chosen as the main area of study for an ordinary bachelor's degree and studied up to 300-level.

Managed Enrolment / Entry Pathway System

The system under which First Year, Transferring or Recommencing students who are applying for enrolment in a programme subject to this system, have their applications assessed and either approved or declined.

Master's Degree

An advanced degree taken by a student who already holds a Bachelor's degree. Normally involves research for a thesis or a dissertation.

Matriculation

The formal addition of a student's name to the records of the University at the beginning of the first year of enrolment. It occurs when a student completes the Declaration at the end of Course Enrolment for the first time, at which point they become a full member of the University.

Medical Certificate

See Health Declaration.

Minor subject

A recognised selection of papers in a particular subject area, in addition to a major subject. Normally 5 papers are required, two at 200-level and one at 300-level.

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N

National Student Index (NSI)

The National Student Index is a national register of all students in the New Zealand education system. Each student on the register has a unique National Student Number (NSN). All students enrolled in formal tertiary education are required to have an “active” NSN, meaning the name, date of birth and citizenship details of the record have been verified.

National Student Number (NSN)

A number assigned to every student by the Ministry of Education to help in the maintenance of information about students, even if they change institutions.

NCEA – National Certificate of Educational Achievement

NCEA is the current national system for evaluating educational achievement and is administered by NZQA. The majority of new students gaining admission to the University do so by virtue of their NCEA results from secondary school.

New Student

A student who has not previously attended the University of Otago.

New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA)

A government agency which maintains an overview of secondary and tertiary qualifications offered within New Zealand and, in particular, is responsible for the NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement).

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O

100-, 200-, 300 -level etc.

Each paper or other course component offered by the University has a level associated with it. For example, ANTH 101 would be an Anthropology paper primarily designed for students new to Anthropology; ANTH 201 would be a paper which would assume some prior 100-level achievement in Anthropology. The highest level used is 900, and this currently indicates study at PhD level.

Ordinary Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree awarded without honours. Most ordinary bachelor's degrees may be completed in three years of full-time study, although some require four, five or six.

Orientation

A programme of events organised at the beginning of the year to introduce new students to University life.

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P

Papers

The term used to refer to the units of study in which students enrol (sometimes referred to as a “course” at other institutions).

Paper Codes

Each paper is identified by a seven character code. Four letters denoting the subject area (e.g. ACCT for Accounting, PHSE for Physical Education) are followed by three numbers (beginning with 1 for 100-level papers, 2 for 200-level papers, and so on).

Part-time

Any course whose workload is less than 54 points in any one semester or 108 points in any one year is normally regarded as a part-time course. Part-time students are not normally eligible to receive student allowances. (Also see Workload.)

Personal Information Management System (PIMS)

The Personal Information Management System (PIMS) is the underlying system that provides study related information such as your papers, exam results and timetables. PIMS is accessed via the eVision portal. (Also see eVision).

PhD

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy, a higher degree than an Honours or Master's degree, involving at least two and a half years of supervised research and a thesis.

Points

Every paper has a point value that shows its proportion of an equivalent full-time year of enrolment of 120 points.

Postgraduate Certificate

A qualification for graduates which requires at least one semester of full-time study (or the equivalent in part-time study).

Postgraduate Course

A course undertaken by a student who has already completed a Bachelor's degree and comprising papers or other work at 400-level or above.

Postgraduate Diploma

A qualification for graduates requiring at least one year of full-time study (or the equivalent in part-time study).

Preferential Entry

A pathway for admission to undergraduate courses and programmes. Students who qualify for Preferential Entry on the basis of academic merit and/or other criteria are guaranteed places in the University subject to fulfilling minimum age, entrance, and language requirements.

Prerequisites

A paper that must be passed before taking some other paper or course.

Prescriptions

Description of the academic content of individual papers.

Programme

The entire requirements for the qualification towards which a student is studying (e.g. a certificate programme or degree programme).

Progression

A student's advancement from one stage or year or level or proportion of a programme to the next. For some programmes (e.g. MB ChB) completion of a prescribed full year's course is required for progression to the following year.

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Q

Qualification

A degree, diploma, or certificate of the University awarded to a student after successful completion of the requirements of the programme concerned (e.g. BA, Bachelor of Arts).

R

Recommencing Student

A student who has been enrolled at the University previously but not in the preceding two calendar years.

Recommended preparation

If Paper A is recommended preparation for Paper B it is recommended that a student wishing to enrol in Paper B has previously taken Paper A. This is advisory only; it is not enforced.

Recommended preparation or concurrent study

If Paper A is recommended preparation or concurrent study for Paper B then it is recommended that a student wishing to enrol in Paper B has either previously taken Paper A, or is enrolling in it in the same teaching period as Paper B. This is advisory only; it is not enforced.

Re-enrol

Returning student enrolling for their papers for a subsequent year without a programme change.

Residential College

A hall of residence associated with the University providing accommodation and other facilities for students. There are 15 residential colleges at Otago: Abbey, Aquinas, Arana, Carrington, City, Cumberland, Hayward, Knox, St Margaret’s, Salmond, Selwyn, Studholme, Te Rangi Hiroa, Toroa and University College.

Restrictions

Papers which have a large amount of content in common are often restricted against each other so they cannot be credited to the same qualification.

Returning Student

A student who has been enrolled at the University in either or both of the preceding two calendar years.

RPL Credit

In some cases it is possible for students to have prior non-credentialled learning (i.e. learning which has not been formally recognised with a qualification or other documented record) recognised for the purposes of admission to or credit towards a course or programme. The process of assessing and recording such learning is called Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and any credit granted is termed RPL credit.

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S

Schedule

Some programme regulations and paper prerequisites include reference to Schedules. These can include major and minor subject requirements, honours and postgraduate diploma subject requirements and schedules of papers. The schedules of papers are referred to using a variety of names (e.g. “Arts and Music Schedule C”, and “Schedule of Law Papers”).

School

A section of the University which teaches a particular discipline (e.g. School of Dentistry) or which groups a number of departments in a Division together (e.g. Dunedin School of Medicine).

Selective Entry Course

A course for an undergraduate programme with its own specific entry requirements (as opposed to undergraduate general degree programmes, which are all subject to the Entry Pathway system).

Semester

The academic year has two main teaching periods, the first semester and the second semester.

Senate

The University's main decision-making and advisory body for academic matters.

Special Admission

A means of entrance to the University for domestic students over 20 years of age who do not hold a New Zealand University Entrance qualification. Special Admission is available to domestic students only.

Special Topic papers

A 'shell' paper that may be used with different content in different years. A student may be able to complete the paper multiple times and count the credit from each instance, provided that the content is different each time.

Specialisation

A discipline specified as a major subject or minor subject in a programme, or as the subject of or an endorsement for a qualification, indicating that a concentration of papers has been taken in that discipline or that the qualification is entirely in the discipline.

Specialised Bachelors' Degrees

Qualifications for which only a limited number of students may enrol have specific entry requirements in the relevant programme regulations (e.g. for Teacher Education, Law, Physical Education, Surveying, Social Work and several Health Sciences professional degrees).

Streams

Papers which have too many students to be taught in one class are divided into groups called streams.

Study period

Study periods are the defined blocks of time in which academic teaching (or supervision) occurs. Each year contains multiple study periods, some of which may have overlapping dates and some of which may start or end outside the year concerned. The chief study periods are the summer school period and the first and second semesters.

Subject

Subjects are the specific topics of study which the University offers. Each subject has a name (e.g. History) and a four letter code (e.g. HIST). Each paper has a subject code as part of its paper code (e.g. HIST 113).

Summer School

An intensive teaching period from early January to mid-February during which a range of undergraduate papers offered.

Suspension (in regard to Academic Progress Policy)

Under the Academic Progress Policy, students who pass fewer than half of the points they are enrolled for in the Conditional Enrolment year will be suspended (i.e. will not be permitted to enrol) for the subsequent two calendar years.

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T

Terms

Terms means the requirements a student must complete to be permitted to sit final examinations. Terms are gained by attending classes and completing oral, written, and practical work for the paper concerned. Students are informed of the minimum requirements at the start of each paper.

Terms Test

See Internal Assessment.

Thesis

A long dissertation based on original research and submitted for a Master's or Doctoral degree.

Timetabling

The allocation of event timeslots followed by the distribution of resources to those timetabled events.

Transfer credit

Credit may be granted towards Otago qualifications based on study completed at another tertiary institution or as “recognition of prior learning”. Credit for study completed at another New Zealand university is granted as meaning the student is given a more general credit in a subject area (e.g. 25 points at 100-level in Economics).

Transfer of Papers

The Transfer of Papers is the process by which a paper (and any associated points) is transferred from one programme of study to another.

Transferring Student

A student who has previously attended another university in New Zealand but not the University of Otago.

Transcript

A copy of a student's academic record showing enrolment information and examination results for each paper or course.

Tutorial

Small group sessions led by a tutor which meet for discussion and individual assistance.

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U

Undergraduate

A student studying for a Bachelor's or other first degree.

Undergraduate Certificate

A qualification at a lower level than a degree or diploma, normally requiring one year of fulltime study.

Undergraduate Diploma

A qualification at a level lower than a degree requiring at least two years of full-time study.

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W

Withdrawal

Withdrawal from a paper (as opposed to deletion) indicates the student has formally withdrawn from studying in the paper before the prescribed cut-off dates but will not normally be eligible for a fees refund. The paper will continue to appear on the student’s academic transcript and academic record, but will be annotated accordingly (e.g. Wdn April).

Withdrawn Exceptional

Withdrawn Exceptional (as opposed to deletion or withdrawal) indicates the student has been permitted to withdraw formally from the paper after the prescribed cut-off dates due to exceptional circumstances. The student will not normally be eligible for a fees refund. The paper will continue to appear on the student’s academic transcript and academic record, but will be annotated accordingly (e.g. Wdn Exceptional June).

Witnessed Copy

A photocopied document signed by a person of suitable standing (e.g. Solicitor, Justice of the Peace), who has seen the original document and checked that the copy is true and unaltered.

Workload points

A full-time course is generally between 54 and 72 points in any one semester or 108 and 144 points in any one year. As a general guide, 1 point represents study in formal instruction or independent study for 10 hours, made up of a combination of lectures, tutorials, laboratories, assignments and reading. Some professional, honours and postgraduate programmes may differ from this. Any course whose workload is less than 54 points in any one semester or 108 points in any one year is normally regarded as a part-time course. Part-time students are not normally eligible to receive student allowances.