Degrees and Diplomas: A tale of overloading

Ruby is a third year student studying a BSc (Biotech) and a Dip Lang (Japanese). Her hobbies include overloading curling up with a good book, listening to and creating movie scores, and hunting down free food on campus.

So you start university, and you get really excited about it. Your first day goes by, and so far your core subjects are looking pretty good. Maybe you’ve signed up for some Biology, a bit of Glee Singing on the side, just so you’ve covered all bases. But have you? You start thinking back to those VCE subjects you actually quite enjoyed. The SACs scared you, and the exam was a traumatic experience. But, overall, it was a pretty great subject. So, you can’t help but think that something is missing. After looking into breadth subjects again, you realise that although you really do like your course, you’re not quite satisfied. You miss that language you took, or feel like your Arts degree just isn’t quite going to cut it. So along with your degree, you begin looking into diplomas. Until…



4 years?!

It’s safe to say that if that was your reaction, you are not alone. But fear not, there is of course, a solution! Firstly, you can still finish in 3 years by a process called overloading. Second of all, don’t stress! If you start your diploma and decide it’s not for you, you can stop at any time. The subjects you complete can be cross credited into your degree as breadth subjects. The same way that subjects can be cross credited into your diploma to give you less to complete (in the case of languages)!

What is overloading?

If you are a new student, you may not be aware of overloading. Basically, with university approval, you can complete 5 subjects per semester (62.5 credit points) instead of the usual 4 (50 credit points). Or, you also have the option of overloading during the summer semester, in which case you would take 2 subjects (25 points), instead of 1 (12.5 points).

Before you get too excited, there are of course conditions you must meet, with the first point being that you must have already completed a semester at uni already before you start taking on 5 subjects, along with a 70% average, and no fail grades on your transcript. To make sure you’re eligible to overload, click here!

Are you a third year student?

If you’ve just started your final year, you may be looking at your lecture notes and are already experiencing adverse reactions. You may be beyond that point and have burnt them, convincing yourself that a careers at Maccas really wouldn’t be so bad.


If this is the case, and you’ve just read the above criteria, 70% average may look rather out of reach, if not impossible. But if you’re still not quite prepared to give up your dream and become a professional check-out chick/chap, fear not, Unimelb has the answer. If you’re going on to your last semester of undergrad this year and need to overload, you can shoot uni an email and most likely get the conditions waived.

Worried about taking an extra subject and risking going crazy?

This is why it is recommended to begin overloading earlier on in your course. Once you’ve started into your second and third years, it will be more difficult to pick up subjects with a lighter work load.

Having said that, if you are an older student, the university offers many subjects that you can handle on a heavier workload as well. Ever considered taking an online subject, for example? There are many excellent breadth options you may have never heard of! If you want to have a browse, I recommend clicking here:

However, if it does look like too much to handle, there are always summer subjects to consider as well, which you can also check out by clicking here:

Not taking a diploma but like the idea of fast-tracking through your course?

It is also possible to finish a regular degree in shorter than three years by using this method. However, as major subjects are usually built up by taking first, second, then third year subjects, it is recommended that you first check your subject requirements. Otherwise you may block yourself out of subjects which are set out in sequence, for example: Chemistry 1 is followed by Chemistry 2, and therefore can not be taken at the same time.

So, if you are set on finishing your degree in three years instead of four, but you do want to graduate with that extra bit of luxurious paper, overloading is definitely an option worth considering!

– Ruby





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