Learn more about the terms and phrases used in our policies and regulations.

This glossary is maintained by the University Secretary.

A  |  B  |  C  |  D  |  E  |  F  |  G  |  H  |  I  |  K  |  L  |  M  |  N  |  O |  P  |  R  |  S  |  T  |  U  |  V  |  W

Academic credit

Refer to Chapter 3 Part 2 of the Academic Courses Regulations.

Academic progress

Refer to Chapter 6 of the Academic Courses Regulations (ACR). Academic progress is the process by which students are able to advance in their course, having fulfilled academic and administrative requirements.
Chapter 6 of the ACR defines some further terms e.g “progress review period”, “at risk”, “show cause”. The student management system may also assign various academic progress statuses to a student as a result of a particular outcome or decision.

Academic Senate (AS)

The Academic Senate was established by the Council under section 20 of the Act. Refer to the Governance and Administration Statute, Academic and Student Affairs Statute and the Academic Senate Regulations.

Academic transcript

Official document signed by the Registrar that states the student’s course, subjects and results, completion date, and graduation date.

Academic unit

A school, centre, or other organisational academic unit responsible for the teaching and assessment of Swinburne course(s), as specified by the Vice-Chancellor.

Academic year

The period during which the University is in session, usually commencing in February and incorporating multiple teaching periods.

Accreditation mode

When the Course Advisory Committee meets to formally recommend the accreditation or review and evaluation, by Academic Senate Courses Committee, of a new or existing course (requiring the number of external members to be more than four and constituting at least a sixty per cent (60%) majority).


Defined by University legislation (see Academic and Student Affairs Statute). In relation to a degree, diploma, certificate, licence or other award offered by the University means accredited (or reaccredited) by the Academic Senate or by an external body with the power to accredit courses of study offered by an Australian higher education or vocational education provider.


Accreditation is the process for approval by a legislated accrediting authority of a course of study leading to a formal higher education qualification. Accreditation is informed by the quality assurance standards for the relevant education and training sector.

Accredited course

A course of study, formally approved by Academic Senate leading to an award of SUT.  Accreditation of vocational courses (excluding Training Packages for VET Registered Training Organisations) means a course has been independently assessed and accredited by: 

  • the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA);   or 
  • a state regulator (Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) or the Training Accreditation Council in Western Australia (TAC-WA)),

and meets the 'Standard for VET Accredited Courses 2021' ('AQTF 2021 Standards for Accredited Courses' for VRQA and TAC-WA), and the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Accrediting authority

An accrediting authority is either authorised under legislation to accredit or has been given responsibility to accredit courses of learning leading to Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) qualifications and/or to register providers to issue AQF qualifications.


The Swinburne University of Technology Act 2010 (Vic). 

Activities (for purposes of the University’s Financial and Document Signing Delegations). 

The activities of the University in earning income, expending funds, contracting and entering commercial or legal arrangements

Advanced standing

Advanced standing is a form of credit given in a course on the basis of previous studies in another course, without necessarily having direct correlation of learning outcomes.

Aegrotat award

Refer to R.70 of the Academic Courses Regulations.
An award course deemed as complete notwithstanding incapacity that precludes formal completion.

Alternative assessment arrangements

Refer to R.45 of the Academic Courses Regulations. Involve reasonable adjustments or variations to the standard conditions or assessment design for a specific student on an individual basis.

Approved equivalent

A qualification or a level of study which has been deemed by Swinburne to equal the minimum entry requirement for a given course.

Assessed work

Any examination, test, assignment, essay or other work, the marks for which form part of a final result.

Assessment structure

Structure of the assessment for a unit of study as documented in the Unit Outline, including features such as number of tasks, type of tasks, due dates and where applicable the weighting of assessment tasks.

Authorised signatory

The body or person authorised to sign a document.

Authorised staff member

The body or person authorised to undertake an activity.


An award is a qualification that is conferred on completion of a University accredited course.

Block mode 

A term used to describe an intensive teaching period where contact hours are scheduled into a period of time that is shorter than the standard teaching period.

Capstone unit

A capstone unit provides a culminating academic experience that brings together the knowledge and skills of an academic discipline, and provides opportunities for a student to demonstrate attainment of course learning outcomes. In a bachelor award, capstone units are at Level 3.


Cessation refers to the discontinuance of a course and removal from the register of active courses.


University's chief financial officer

Chief examiner

Refer to R.50 of the Academic Courses Regulations. Chief Examiners must be appointed by the Vice-Chancellor, and under the Chapter 6 delegations in the Assessment and Results Policy, are the Heads of Academic Unit.


University’s chief information officer, being the director of Information Technology Services (ITS).

Commercial activity

Has the same meaning as in the Minister’s “Guidelines concerning commercial activities”: 

and includes:

i. an investment in a company, fund or other structure outside standard investments approved by Finance & Operations Committee but not start-ups, spin-offs or commercialisation investments via Swinburne Ventures Ltd
ii. a “Public Private Partnership (PPP)” or “Build Own Operate Transfer (BOOT)” scheme

but other than (a) does not include an Activity that will commit the University to expenditure or expose the University to liability of less than $1.1 million (on an NPV basis) during the life of the Activity.

Common seal

Means the University common seal referred to in R.-7 of the Act.

Concept proposal

A brief proposal seeking endorsement within the University’s strategic goals to proceed to more detailed development of a business case and accreditation documentation.

Contact Hours

Nominal unit study hours include formal contact hours (lectures, tutorials, workshops, practicals, online participation) and self-directed hours (reading and preparatory work, private study and preparation for assessment.)

Core unit

A unit which is a mandatory component of an award course.

Co-requisite unit

Unit completed at the same time as the given unit.


Under the Academic Courses Regulations “course” means an academic course, but does not include a higher degree by research.
In this context, a course is a structured combination of approved units which when completed qualifies the student for an award.

Credit points (cps)

The credit point value is a relative measure of the proportion of the volume of learning which a unit represents to a student.  


Refer to Chapter 2 Part 4 of the Academic Courses Regulations. Deferment (also referred to as Deferral) is the process whereby a student who has been offered a place in a course but who does not intend to take up that offer for the forthcoming period, requests to have an offer deferred to a later teaching period.

Direct applicant

An applicant who has submitted an application for a course directly to Swinburne and not via a third-party organisation.

Discipline specialisation

A series of units that provide a coherent and rigorous enquiry of a single discipline or area of study, and is designed to meet the requirements of professional accreditation. A discipline specialisation must satisfy the minimum requirements for a major. Discipline specialisations must be approved by the Provost at concept proposal stage.


Deputy Vice-Chancellor.


Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research.

Elective units

A unit or units that contributes to the total credit point requirements for a course chosen from any Swinburne discipline.

Equivalent full-time student load (EFTSL)

Expresses the proportion of the workload for a 'standard student load'. A standard student load is a real or notional course of studies which a student would be required to undertake in a full year of a particular course:

a. were they to be undertaking the course in the year on a full-time basis;

b. were the course to be conducted on a full-time basis; and,

c. were the student to be proceeding at a pace which would be appropriate for such a student to complete such a course in standard time.

Exam session

Scheduled time period and place at which examination takes place.

Examinations officer

Centrally based examinations officers appointed by the Registrar.


The finance department of the University.

Finance One system

The enterprise business software system used by the University to enter, process and monitor financial transactions and budgets.


The Facilities and Services Group department of the University.

Formative assessment

Formative Assessment is part of the instructional process. When incorporated into classroom practice, it provides the information needed to adjust teaching and learning while they are happening. In this sense, formative assessment informs both teachers and students about student understanding at a point when timely adjustments can be made. These adjustments help to ensure students achieve, targeted standards-based learning goals within a set time frame.

Full cost 

Includes cash, overheads and in-kind.

Graduate attributes

Swinburne Graduate Attributes are consistent with the University’s strategic aims, and emphasise the attainment of attributes for career development and life-long learning together with encouraging the development of capacities for innovation and entrepreneurship. Key generic skills are important for the development of Swinburne’s graduate attributes.

Guaranteed Entry Scheme (GES)

Gives Victorian TAFE diploma and advanced diploma students guaranteed entry into an undergraduate degree course.

Head of Academic Unit (HOAU)

Head of a school, centre, or other organisational academic unit responsible for the academic governance of academic courses and units accredited by that academic unit. Organisational academic units and the positions designated as Heads of Academic Unit are specified by the Vice-Chancellor.


Is an inclusive term covering the various processes by which evidence, submissions or argument may be presented to determine an issue. A hearing may be conducted face to face, by electronic conference, internet, messaging or other electronic service, or on the papers in which case only written material is considered.

Head of Management Unit (HMU)

A staff member who is head of a unit and is nominated by the responsible University senior executive, accepted by Finance and entered into Finance One as an HMU, for example executive deans, VE executive directors, PVCs, directors/department heads within SCS, I&D, Swinburne Research and Chancellery, and other directors reporting to the VC or a University senior executive.

Information technology resources

Defined in University legislation. Means services provided electronically, computer hardware, systems, networks, software and data.

Intellectual property

Defined in University legislation. Means rights in relation to copyright, designs, inventions, plant varieties, trade marks (including service marks), confidential information, trade secrets, know-how, circuit layouts and patent rights, whether or not registered.


The Information Technology Services department of the University

Intermediate award

Awarded on 1. Early Exit, 2. During the course of studying for a higher award, 3. After completion of a higher award.

Key generic skills

Key generic skills are a range of skills that students develop during their studies regardless of their discipline area because they are generic to the development of ‘a graduate’. Examples of key generic skills are teamwork, analysis, problem solving, communications, ability to tackle unfamiliar problems, and ability to work independently.

Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes are the expression of the set of knowledge, skills and the application of the knowledge and skills a person has acquired and is able to articulate as a result of learning. Learning outcomes are defined at course level and unit level for Swinburne courses.

Leave of absence (LOA)

Refer to R.17 of the Academic Courses Regulations. LOA is a period of approved absence by a student from a course in which the student is enrolled.

Legal document

Includes a contract, agreement, deed, transfer and memorandum of understanding.

Letter of completion

Letter sent to graduands (not to students of non-award courses or short courses) stating the student's personal details, course code and date completed course. For higher education students, industry based learning, honours level, majors, minors, distinction will appear if applicable. A letter of completion is used as an interim document until the conferral of the award (when testamur is received).


Level reflects the complexity of the unit content, or the sophistication expected from a student’s understanding of the material.


A major is a series of units that build on a common foundation and provide a coherent and rigorous enquiry of a single discipline or area. For bachelor degrees (AQF level 7), a major is 100 credit points of Level 2 and 3 units, comprised of a minimum of 37.5 credit points at Level 3. For bachelor degrees, a major is 200 credit points of units, including at leaset 50 credit points at Level 4.


A staff member nominated by the responsible HMU and accepted by the responsible University senior executive, accepted by Finance and entered into Finance One as a manager.

Mandatory assessment

A piece of assessment, successful completion of which is identified by the unit of study outline as a pre-requisite of passing the unit.

Maximum time to complete a course

Refer to R.33 of the Academic Courses Regulations.


Is an inclusive term covering meetings conducted face to face, by electronic conference, internet, messaging service, email or by other means including synchronous and asynchronous communication technology.


A minor provides a coherent sequence of related units in an area of study, but at less depth than a major. Minors are 50 credit points comprising a maximum of 37.5 credit points at Level 1. Minors may be discipline specific or interdisciplinary in nature.

Mode of delivery

Mode of delivery describes how courses are delivered, for example face-to-face, online, or blended delivery.


The university controlled entity National Institute of Circus Arts Limited.


A non-accredited component is an element of a course or unit of study that is not formally accredited.

Non award course

The course does not lead to an accredited University award.


Net present value – the sum of the future stream of benefits and costs converted into equivalent values today.

Outcome unit

Unit that is nominated as demonstrating the attainment of course learning outcomes at the required AQF level.


Unit enrolment greater than the standard unit enrolment load.


Pathways allow students to move through qualification levels with full or partial recognition for the qualifications and or learning outcomes they already have.


Defined in University legislation. A person engages in plagiarism if he or she uses another person’s work as though it is his or her own work.

Without limitation, a person uses another person’s work as though it is his or her own work if he or she, without appropriate attribution:

a. when writing a computer program and presenting it as his or her own, incorporates the coding of a computer program written by another person;

b. uses or paraphrases work from any source other than the person’s own work, including a book, journal, newspaper article, set of lecture notes, current or past student’s work or any other person’s work;

c. uses a musical composition, audio, visual, graphic or photographic work created by another person;

d. uses realia created by another person, including an object, artefact, costume or model.

Without limitation, it is plagiarism if a person produces and submits or presents as his or her own independent work an assessment item which has been prepared in conjunction with another person.

Posthumous award

Refer to R.70 of the Academic Courses Regulations. An award course deemed as complete after death of the student.

Prerequisite unit

Prerequisite unit(s) must be completed prior to enrolment in the given unit.

Primary materials (research)

Physical objects or raw electronic data, acquired through the process of scholarly investigation from which research data may be derived. It includes inorganic and biological material, questionnaires or audio and visual recordings.


Pro Vice-Chancellor.

Recognition of prior learning (RPL)

Refer to R.23 of the Academic Courses Regulations. Recognition of prior learning is an assessment process that involves assessment of an individual’s relevant prior learning (including formal, informal and non-formal learning) to determine the credit outcomes of an individual application for academic credit.

Research data

Records, files or other evidence, irrespective of their content or form (e.g. in print, digital, physical or other forms), that comprise research observations, findings or outcomes. This includes primary materials and analysed data.

Research misconduct

Defined by University legislation. Means the dishonest, reckless or negligent deviation from accepted standards of scientific and scholarly conduct of research, including:

a. the fabrication or falsification of data or results;

b. plagiarism;

c. misleading or failing to appropriately attribute and acknowledge sources and contributions;

e. failure to disclose a conflict of interest;

f. failure to obtain necessary regulatory or ethical approval; and

g. failure to comply with relevant regulatory or ethical approval conditions or requirements;

but does not include honest differences in judgement and honest errors that are minor and unintentional.

Result release date

The official result release date in the academic calendar on which all results should be made available to students.


Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

Significant impact activity

An Activity that is qualitatively significant to the University due to the nature of the Activity and its potential to impact the operations, reputation or risk profile of the University, including:

(a) creating a new course that is not a sub-speciality in an existing field in which the University offers courses and that requires 

(i) substantial additional recources 

(ii) external accreditation in order to be recognised 

(b) establishing or acquiring another institute 

(c) closing a campus or major course 

(d) real property acquisition and disposal outside items nominated in the CIMP for that year

(e) establishing a new campus location

(f) borrowing money

(g) becoming a member of, forming, managing or participating in a company, association, trust, partnership, or entering into a joint venture for a purpose other than pursuing research and related activities 

(h) issuing litigation proceedings (other than routine debt collection proceedings issued through a contracted debt collection agency with the authority of CFO).


Smoking includes e-cigarettes and vaping.

Special consideration

Refer to R.44 of the Academic Courses Regulations.


“Student” is defined by section 3 of the Swinburne University of Technology Act 2010 as:

a. a person enrolled at the University in a course leading to a degree, diploma, certificate, licence or other award; or

b. a person who is designated as a student or is of a class of persons designated as students by the Council

On 5 March 2012, the Council designated the following classes of persons as students for the purposes of the application of the student misconduct provisions of the Governance and Administration Statute 2012 and proceedings under the Student Academic Misconduct Regulations 2012, Student General Misconduct Regulations 2012 and Review and Appeals Regulations 2012:

a. a prospective student who engages in general misconduct, academic misconduct or otherwise breaches University legislation and then becomes an enrolled student;

b. a suspended or excluded student;

c. a person who is on leave of absence from or who has deferred enrolment in a course or course of study;

d. a person who has completed a course and graduated but still has access to University facilities or resources;

e. a person who is granted temporary or on-going rights of access to University premises and facilities to study or for other related University purpose.

The Academic Courses Regulations (R.12), the Student Administration Regulations (R.15) and the Student Administration Policy provide for the application of a genuine student test.

Student complaint

Defined in R.3 of the Reviews and Appeals Regulations. Means a statement by a person expressing disagreement or dissatisfaction relating to conduct of the University in respect of the person at a time when he or she was a student, being a statement that requires action or response.

It does not include a request for service, information or clarification in the first instance, or a remonstrance about service where there are service alterations due to unavoidable external factors, eg. disruption to university services or emergencies due to natural events or health crises in relation to which the University will put into place suitable alternative arrangements.

Student misconduct

Student misconduct is defined in the Academic and Student Affairs Statute, Student Academic Misconduct Regulations and Student General Misconduct Regulations.

Summative assessment

Given periodically to determine at a particular point in time what students know and do not know. Many associate summative assessments only with standardised tests such as state assessments, but they are also used at and are an important part of district and classroom courses. Summative assessment at the district/classroom level is an accountability measure that is generally used as part of the grading process.

Teaching period

A discrete period of time as set by the University during which teaching activities are undertaken.


Refer to S.30 of the Governance and Administration Statute for the sealing clause to be used on a testamur. Refer to the Qualifications and Awards Regulations for the wording for testamurs.

Teaching research nexus

The teaching research nexus is a way of describing the many ways in which teaching informs research and research informs teaching; a mutually supportive relationship operating to the benefit of both.

Training packages for VET Registered Training Organisations

Training packages consist of nationally endorsed training package products including:

  • units of competency; and
  • qualifications aligned to the AQF.

From 1 January 2023 the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) established the independent Training Package Assurance function to ensure training products meet national standards.

Transnational education (TNE) courses

Courses that are delivered offshore or cross-border, and where the learners are located in a country other than that of the awarding institution.

Unit (organisational)

An operational or management unit of the University including a school, centre and a department of SCS, Swinburne Research and Chancellery.

Unit (in a course)

“unit” is defined in the Academic Courses Regulations and Student Administration Regulations. Unit means a coherent set of learning activities which—

a. in the case of a higher education unit has been—

i. approved by the Academic Senate; and

ii. assigned—

A. a unit code; and

B. a credit point value;

b. in the case of a vocational education unit has been—

i. approved by the Academic Senate or the relevant national or state training authority; and

ii. assigned a unit code.

Note: For the purposes of this definition, 0 (zero) is a credit point value.

Unit convenor

The unit convenor is the academic staff member who convenes a unit of study for a particular teaching period.

Unit outline

The unit outline is the official document provided to students at the commencement of studying a unit, containing relevant assessment details and other key unit information.

University activities

Defined in University legislation. Includes:

a. attendance at or participation in University lectures, seminars, assessments and classes;

b. participating in internships, placements, study tours or student exchanges associated with or organised by the University;

c. participating in excursions, trips, functions, events, games or competitions associated with or organised by the University.

University facilities and services

Defined in University legislation. Includes any building, equipment, vehicle, service or amenity provided by the University including University library resources and information technology resources.

University legislation

The Act and University statutes and regulations

University premises

Defined in University legislation. Means premises:

a. owned by the University;

b. occupied by the University; or

c. under the control of the University.

University senior executive

The Vice-Chancellor’s senior management team that includes the SDVC&CAO, DVCs, VPs, CFO and Principal Adviser.


The Vice-Chancellor of the University.

Volume of learning

The Volume of Learning is a dimension of the complexity of a qualification. It is used with the level criteria and qualification type descriptor to determine the depth and breadth of the learning outcomes of a qualification. The volume of learning identifies the notional duration of all activities required to the achievement of the learning outcomes, specified for a particular AQF qualification type. It is expressed in equivalent full-time years.


A Vice-President of the University.


Weapon includes any object that substantially duplicates in appearance a weapon.

Working day

Defined in University legislation. Means a day other than a weekend, public holiday or University holiday.

View all policies and related resources

To find out about our other policies, regulations and resources, head to the main policies section.

See all policies