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


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.

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 (RPL). Such credit is termed 'credit for study elsewhere' (or 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.

Allowable Timetable Clash

An Allowable Timetable Clash is defined as a timetable clash between teaching events, where at least one of the teaching events has pre-approved arrangements in place which can accommodate the clash. Students are not normally permitted to have more than one allowable timetable clash per week per teaching period.

Details of papers with arrangements that can accommodate Allowable Timetable Clashes can be found on the timetable clash information page.

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


Bachelor's degree

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


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.


Change of course

The process by which a student who has completed the course enrolment declaration 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).


See Timetable clash.


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


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 course enrolment 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 part of the enrolment process where 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.


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.



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.


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


The University is divided into four teaching Divisions - Commerce (also known as the Otago Business School), 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).

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).



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


eVision 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.

Exceptional Timetable Clash

An Exceptional Timetable Clash is any timetable clash which is not considered an Allowable Timetable Clash. Exceptional Timetable Clashes will only be approved in limited circumstances. More information can be found on the timetable clash information page.


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


First-year student

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


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.)


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.



A teaching session involving experimental or practical work.


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


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


Major subject

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

Minor subject

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


New student

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


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.


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



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).


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.)


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


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


Description of the academic content of individual papers.


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



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).


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.

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.



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”).


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).


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


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).

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.


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 are offered.


Timetable clash

A timetable clash occurs when a student has two teaching events scheduled at the same time. Students are expected to attend all scheduled teaching events (lectures, tutorials, laboratories, etc) in their course of study.

However timetable clashes may be permitted under certain limited circumstances as detailed on the timetable clash information page.


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


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



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.


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.
Workload recommendation for first-year students

View a complete list of the terms used at Otago.

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