Maximising your Engineering Studies at UOW

What I wish I knew in my first year of studying engineering at UOW

Some degree structure is set in stone, but there are other options you can choose to help diversify your knowledge and enable you to work more flexibly in the workplace.

Basic Structure

University of Wollongong (UOW) engineering degrees have requirements around which subjects to take and in which year and session they should be completed. This saves time as you don’t have to plan your degree, and it also reduces stress since there is a clearly outlined program to follow.

Single majors and flexible first year

There are various majors on offer, and the list grows with each new field of engineering. It’s great if you know which major you want, however there is also the option of a ‘flexible first year’. First-year subjects are the same for all engineering majors, so it doesn’t really matter which major you initially pick. You can change it with the click of a button however many times you want. You should start seriously considering your major towards the end of your first year, and even then, there is still some flexibility. This structure is specific to engineering degrees at UOW and may not be available at other universities.

Mandatory requirements

There are certain rules to the degree that are set in stone. For example, you need to obtain 48 credit points at a 100 level, equal to a complete first year. You must complete the relevant number of credit points in at least one major, and do a 12-week professional experience or internship. This is usually done over the summer break. The degree also requires students to complete the honours program, which is why engineering degrees take four years to complete, instead of the regular three.

There is the possibility of completing your degree sooner by taking five or even six subjects per session, but as this is more than the recommended workload for a full-time student, I advise you to be cautious and only take more than four subjects if you know you are capable of doing so.


Getting the most from your degree

If you are willing to study for a tad longer, there are other options you can choose to help you diversify your knowledge and enable you to work more flexibly in the workplace.

Double majors enable you to obtain detailed engineering skills in a wider range of disciplines. This can make you more adaptable, as you will be able to work in several different fields or to become more involved in multidisciplinary projects.

Note that most double majors take five years.

Double degrees are another way of expanding your skill set to other areas of study. They allow you to pair your engineering degree with another degree such as mathematics, physics, exercise science, arts, law, business, computer science and more.

However, double degrees take five and a half years, which is more than the double majors (five years) and the single majors (four years).  

Double majors and double degrees add quite a bit of time to your study. This is where minors come in. They are more efficient ways of establishing a connection with various other fields. Although not as detailed as double majors or degrees, minors can help develop those foundational skills that you may need when entering the workforce.

The brilliant thing about minors is that you can do any across the spectrum of UOW.  This gives you an entry point into the realm of other non-engineering fields, should you choose to change careers.

You are also not limited to one minor; you can do as many or as few as you choose.  It’s important to note if any of your minors require pre-requisite subjects, you might need to do six or more subjects rather than just the required four.

Depending on how similar the subjects of your minor are to the subjects of your actual degree, there may be a cross over. This means you only have to do three subjects for the minor, instead of the required four subjects.

If a minor is still a little much, you can consider doing a single subject in anything you want. Just be aware of any pre-requisite or co-requisites.

 There is no limit to what you can and can’t enrol in, as long as you do the subjects required to obtain your degree. It’s a good way to dip your toe into other fields without the full commitment.

There are various resources and systems in place you help you plan your degree, and you can always contact EIS Central to assist you with your planning.


Tips and strategies

Join a degree-related club

UOW Societies are a great place to start when creating your network. There are various societies that you can join which can assist you during your studies and host useful events that inspire you to get involved. Some are major or degree specific, such as the Civil Engineering Society or Coding and Development Society, but there is no regulation regarding who joins what club.

Organise study groups with peers

Study groups or open study sessions are a great way to learn in a casual environment and help information stick. You can connect with students in similar subjects using group chats or Discord servers.

Take up short courses

There are various free short courses you can do to spice up your resume. Websites like forage, Future Learn, TAFE NSW, coursera, and edX offer courses and internships that can further expand your knowledge of real-world industries.

Take advantage of consultation times

If you are finding something difficult, email your tutors and lecturers. They are there to support you, and are more than happy to answer any of your questions. Don’t be afraid to pick their brains. You can also ask about their research and potentially get involved. Some academics lead summer projects for students, so you can gain experience with working on real projects.

Explore UOWx

Last but not least, there are so many co-curricular activities that you can do to engage in the social side of your studies. These programs teach you various soft skills that are great on resumes and desired in the workforce such as:

  • Leadership
  • Mentoring & Wellbeing
  • Innovation & Creativity
  • Global & Cultural Awareness
  • Collaboration & Communication
  • Community & Social Change



I hope this inspires you to explore various degree structures, programs and co-curricular activities that enable you to further improve your knowledge, expand your networks, and prepare you for a bright future in engineering.

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