Choosing your degree and courses

Follow our steps and tips for choosing an undergraduate degree and selecting the courses you'll take in your first year of study.

Everyone is different—some people study a degree to help them get into a particular career, while others want to keep their options open and study something they are fascinated with. There’s no right way to approach this decision. Be sure to choose subjects and courses you’re interested in and excited to spend time on—you’ll always do better at what you enjoy.

If you haven’t worked out what you want to study yet, check out our careers resources and tips for getting work-ready.

Planning your first year

Once you’ve selected your degree(s) and the subjects you want to study, you can plan your first year.

1. Check your degree requirements

Check the requirements for your chosen degree(s)—these are on the ‘Requirements’ tab of the degree page.

2. Check your major requirements

Find out what the required first-year courses are for your chosen major(s) and/or minor(s). Normally, by following the major requirements for a given subject in your first year, you can continue with that subject in your second year at 200 level.

3. Choose your courses

To find out more about the courses you can select for your major(s) and/or minor(s) as well as any elective courses, explore our course finder.

4. Plan your programme

The year is divided into three trimesters—the first from February to June, the second from July to November, and the third from November to February. They are often referred to as 1/3, 2/3, and 3/3.

Using our course planning templatepdf86.4KB put together a balanced programme across Trimesters 1 and 2 that will allow you to progress in your chosen subjects in the second year. Normally, you’d take three or four courses in Trimester 1 and three or four courses in Trimester 2. Trimester 3 is optional for most students.

5. Build your timetable

From September, you’ll be able to use our course finder to check your timetable and find information on course content, learning objectives, and assessments for the courses you have chosen.

For each course you take, you’ll attend lectures. Depending on your course, you’ll also attend tutorials, labs, or studios.

Use the timetable templatepdf29.7KB to build your timetable. Make sure you don’t have two lectures scheduled at the same time.

Some lectures have different streams. This means the same class is available at different times. Choose the stream that suits your timetable best.

Tips for course planning

Choose only 100-level courses

Unless you have special permission, choose 100-level courses. These courses are at first-year level.

Plan ahead

If you plan to take a subject or course at 200 level in your second year, make sure you check what prerequisites or 100-level courses you may need to do first. You can check prerequisites in the course finder.

Don’t take on too much

For every hour you spend in class, you should spend around two hours doing your own study. The average full-time workload is 120 points a year. However, StudyLink considers 96 points the minimum full-time requirement for allowances and Student Loan living costs.

Think carefully about your workload. The transition from school to university can be tough, and some students may benefit from taking fewer points in their first year—particularly in their first trimester.

Balance your workload

Think carefully about your workload. The transition from school to university can be tough, and some students may benefit from taking fewer points in their first year—particularly in their first trimester.

Send us your course plan by email to course-advice@vuw.ac.nz before you apply to enrol and we will double check you have it right.