Frequently used terms

The following are terms you will find in our programme guides, handbooks and on our website. For other terms see the University Calendar glossary.

Programmes, qualifications and courses

Programmes and qualifications

Programmes are your overall qualification (ie degree, diploma, certificate).


Courses are the individual modules that you take to complete your chosen programme.

Majors, endorsements and minors


A combination of prescribed courses that make up the specialisation within a degree. A double major is available in some degrees and requires specialisation in two combinations of courses.

Joint Majors

Joint majors are available in the Bachelor of Information Sciences degree only, and are a prescribed combination of courses from the Information Sciences and related areas.


An academic discipline such as economics, anthropology, physics, offered through courses at various levels which are taken at undergraduate diploma, or graduate or postgraduate diploma or certificate level, through a combination of prescribed courses in a specific discipline that comprises most or all of the qualification requirements within the regulations for that qualification. An endorsement will normally appear printed on the graduation scroll and on the student transcript.


A combination of courses that makes up a specialisation within a degree, to a specified number of credits. Minors do not normally appear on graduation scrolls.

Course levels and credits


The level of a course indicates how advanced the content of a course is. Most undergraduate degrees consist of 100-, 200- and 300-level courses in which 100-level courses are taught in the first year of full-time study, 200-level courses build upon these in second year and 300-level courses may be studied once 200-level courses are successfully completed. Some longer degrees require additional courses to be completed, eg Bachelor of Social Work to 400-level and Bachelor of Veterinary Science to 500-level. Postgraduate courses are taught at 700-, 800- and 900-levels.


Every course has a credit value that indicates its contribution to the qualification enrolled for (or to any other qualification to which that course can contribute). These values have been derived on the basis of an equivalent full-time year for a degree being 120 credits.

The credit value also gives an indication of the total amount of time that a student might reasonably expect to have to spend on each course in order to satisfactorily complete the assessment requirements (including lectures, laboratories, tutorials, visits and study time for an internal student, or campus and/or regional courses, study groups and private study time for a distance student). Converted into a number of hours per week, this is referred to as the effective weekly hours for the course.

From 2007 all undergraduate courses (with the exception of a small number of courses) will have a 15 credit value. Between 1999-2006 all undergraduate courses (apart from a small number of qualification-specific courses in the Colleges of Design, Fine Arts and Music (now known as the College of Creative Arts), Education and Sciences) had a 12.5-point value. Courses passed in previous years will carry the points earned in those years, except in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, where the courses passed in 1994 and prior years will all count at 15 points.

For details of specific transitional arrangements, reference should be made to the entry for the particular qualification in the University Calendar or to the relevant qualification handbook.

Prerequisites, corequisites and restrictions


A prerequisite is a course which must be completed to a defined standard before your enrolment in another course can be confirmed. Unless otherwise specified, the minimum grade required is ‘C’. For example the prerequisite for course 110.229 Management Accounting is 110.109 Introductory Financial Accounting. So you would have to have passed 110.109 before you could enrol in 110.229.

200-level courses usually have as a prerequisite the completion of a 100-level course, and 300-level courses have as a prerequisite the completion of a 200-level course. The fourth number in a course number represents the level of the course. For example, for course 219.306 the fourth number is a 3, so it is a 300-level course.

Some prerequisites require "Permission Head of Department, Head of School, or Programme Director". This means entry to this course is decided by the person specified. Before enrolling you should write to them, attaching documents describing your previous academic and/or work record, and supporting the application with a verified copy of your official academic record. However, do not delay in submitting your enrolment online while waiting for a reply.

Alternatively, when you are enrolling online upload a copy of the Head of Department, Head of School, or Programme Director’s letter granting permission or documents describing qualifications and work experience. You need to do this because the Enrolment Office may not have been informed that you have been granted permission and decline you in error.


A corequisite is a course you need to take in the same semester as another course, unless you have already passed it. Courses credited from study at another institution can be used as either pre- or corequisites, but only if the credit has already been formally granted and paid for.


Some courses, similar in content, are restricted against each other. Therefore students may not credit both courses to a qualification but may study either one course or the other.

Semesters and Summer School

The Massey University academic year is divided into three main teaching periods: Semester One, Semester Two and Summer School. Semesters One and Two each consist of 12 teaching weeks, and conclude with an exam period. Summer School has 10 teaching weeks. In addition, a longer teaching period, the Double Semester, parallels Semesters One and Two with an exam period at the end of Semester Two.

A winter break of three weeks is held between the Semester One exam period and the start of Semester Two. Within Semester One is a two-week mid-Semester break, which is normally linked with the Easter holiday break. Within Semester Two, there is a two-week mid-Semester break which coincides with breaks at most other universities.

Most programmes of study and courses fit in to these standard semester periods.

A single semester course normally covers the same amount of work as a double semester course, the only difference is that the workload is compressed into 12 weeks. You must plan your study carefully, particularly for single semester and Summer School courses where the timeframe is even shorter.

On-campus workshops

On-campus workshops can take two different forms depending on the course you are studying.

Contact workshops

Contact workshops are an opportunity for you to interact with other students taking the same course and to receive face-to-face tuition. They usually last from one to five days. They are designed as an integral part of your study programme and you should plan to attend if possible. You are advised to check the contact workshop requirements for courses before enrolling as some contact workshops are compulsory.

Block courses 

Some courses are offered in "block mode". This means students are required to attend one or more periods of intensive study. These are usually on the Manawatu, Albany or Wellington campuses, but they may also be at a regional centre. These are more common for internal courses, but distance students should check the requirements of the course before enrolling. In particular take note of:

  • when course material will be available
  • dates and venues for block courses
  • examination information (block course examinations can be before the end of semester).

You can find this information in the course details pages within the Programmes and courses web pages

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