Breadth units

Many universities are making an effort to broaden the experience and awareness of undergraduates beyond the confines of their particular subject or degree through breadth units.

Some universities are doing this by adding compulsory internships or volunteer placements (both overseas and local) to their undergraduate curriculum, while others give students the opportunity to sample subjects that are completely different to the usual offerings in their discipline. Breadth is usually not offered at institutions other than universities.

If available, your options include:

Breadth subjects

Breadth subjects bring together techniques and approaches from multiple disciplines to enable students to learn about areas outside their field of study and gain a more well-rounded education. Not only do these breadth subjects provide credit towards the completion of the degree, they also allow students to supplement their degree with additional skills and knowledge and gain a broad-based education.

Some universities have introduced compulsory subjects that are completed by undergraduates across all disciplines that cover multidisciplinary topics such as globalisation, a topic that is relevant across almost all fields. These core subjects ensure that all students have the opportunity to explore areas outside their discipline and learn about current issues. Other universities require students to choose subjects from completely different disciplines (a good example would be a science student taking the opportunity to study African drumming). Some leave it up to the students, allowing them to sample complementary subjects that are offered as part of another degree (enabling students in the arts faculty to undertake some law subjects, for example) as they choose. You may need to request permission to undertake these optional breadth studies from the relevant university faculties or departments.

Capstone units

Capstone units are relatively new in Australia, but they are becoming more common. They are taken in the final year of study and are designed to bring together (or ‘cap’) the content learnt throughout your degree to prepare you for graduation. They may include a work experience program, a research project or a series of workplace preparation or course reflection seminars. The availability and content of capstone units will vary between institutions, so it is best to check with your course coordinator.

Community participation

These units enable students to extend their learning into the community through internships, volunteering, completing community service or undertaking a community or industry project. Community participation allows students to apply the knowledge and skills they have developed throughout their course to real-life experiences within the community. It also gives students an edge in the graduate job market.

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