Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon

You know what degree(s) and subjects you want to take? Great, now you need to plan your first year.

A year at Otago

A year at the University of Otago is divided into two semesters. Semester 1 is from February to June and semester 2 is from July to November. A paper usually takes one semester to complete. However, there are some full year (FY) papers.

Summer School takes place from January to February, and is a compressed period of study, with the workload equivalent to that of a semester. Students can study at Summer School to speed up completion of their degree or if they only need only one or two papers to complete their degree (qualification) or if they have a particular interest in one or more of the papers on offer.

Timeline of a typical university year

Planning your degree

In the back of the Guide to Enrolment there is a degree planning chart, which will help you plot out your papers and timetable.

Degree Planning chart (PDF)

Access the Guide to Enrolment

Qualifications and subjects

Browse the Qualifications page to see the list of available programmes offered by Otago.

Qualifications page

The A-Z of Subjects page has a list of the subjects that are available to choose from, and can be a great place to start when deciding what to study.

A-Z of Subjects page

Major subjects

Decide on your major subject(s).

The major you select in your first year may not be the one you complete your qualification with, and that's okay.

Minor subjects

You may also wish to take a minor subject(s). However, for most qualifications this isn't compulsory.

Programme requirements

On the qualification page of your chosen programme, check out the programme requirements for your chosen major subject. It might help to read through the complete table as there may be notes that are important.


Check out the 100-level papers for the major and/or minor subject(s) you've chosen. Getting this paper selection right can set you up for your following years of study.

Search papers by code

Prerequisite papers

Make sure you check which 100-level papers are prerequisites for any 200-level papers you may want to take later on. You will need to pass these before you can take the related 200-level paper. Prerequisites are listed in the prescriptions information in the Guide to Enrolment and on the website against each paper.

You'll be able to take 100-level papers in future years alongside your 200- and 300-level papers (just check they are not a prerequisite).

Recommended papers

There may also be papers that are noted as 'recommended'. These are papers that the department feels will help you in your chosen programme, and are important to take into consideration when planning your course of study.


Have a look at your workload and the mix of papers across each semester. Make sure you're not overloading one semester over the other with your paper choice. It is better to pick a realistic workload than struggle with too many papers.

Workload recommendation for first-year students

Timetables and paper clashes

It pays to keep an eye on the timetable for your selected papers as paper selections with timetable clashes may not be approved.

Timetable Clash information for students

Web Timetable Viewer

You can look up papers in the Web Timetable Viewer and check the timetable for your chosen papers.

Access Web Timetable Viewer 2023

Study Timetables webpage has more information about timetabling at Otago.

Key university terminology

Not sure of some of the terms used on this page?

View key terminology

Support and services

Need help planning your course?

Student Development can help you

What other support can I get?

Visit the support page for a list of support providers at Otago

Back to top