Discontinue a unit

The University has strict deadlines for withdrawing or discontinuing a unit of study.

Discontinuing a unit by census date

If you drop a unit before or on the census date, it is called a withdrawal, and your transcript will show a grade of WD. It is very important to drop units before the census date to avoid financial liability and having the grade counted towards your Weighted Average Mark (WAM) and academic progression.

Also, make sure the unit has actually been removed from your enrolment page in Sydney Student – students who remain enrolled due to personal error will experience academic and financial penalty.

Census dates differ depending on the semester you are enrolled in. Find your census date.

Discontinuing a unit after census date

In some circumstances, you may need to withdraw from a unit after the census date has passed. In this case, you may have one of the following options:

Apply for a ‘discontinue fail’ (DF) grade

If you apply to discontinue a unit after the census date but before the last date to discontinue in a teaching block, for any reason, you will receive a DF grade. This means you are liable for tuition fees, and while the grade is not counted towards your WAM, it is counted as a fail when calculating your academic progression.

Apply for a ‘late discontinuation under special circumstances’ (DC) grade

If you apply to discontinue a unit after the census date and you had special circumstances that impacted your studies after the census date, you can apply for a DC grade. This grade means you are not liable for fees and the grade is not counted towards your WAM or academic progression. You have 12 months from the date you discontinued the unit to apply for a DC grade.

Special circumstances are defined as circumstances that:

  • were beyond your control
  • did not make the full impact on you until on or after the census date of the unit, and
  • made it impracticable for you to complete the unit.

Examples of special circumstances include:

  • illness or a worsening, or changing, medical condition
  • the death of a family member
  • a family member suffered from a serious medical condition
  • financial difficulties experienced by you or your family
  • changes to your employment
  • changes the University made that disadvantaged you
  • a natural disaster or other emergency in Australia.

DC grades are administrative decisions that are reviewed by Student Administrative Services. If your application is approved, you will automatically be given a fee refund. You do not need to take any further steps to receive your fee refund. If your application is declined, you can request an administrative review of the decision.

How to apply for a DC grade:

You can apply for a DC grade through the special consideration portal in Sydney Student. We encourage all students considering applying for a DC grade to contact a SUPRA caseworker for advice.

Generally, we recommend you include the following in your application:

  • a Student Declaration with a clear and neutral description of what happened for you and how it impacted your ability to study.
  • if your circumstances are medical or mental-health related, a Professional Practitioners Certificate (PPC), which states you were either ‘totally unable to study’ or ‘severely impacted’
  • evidence of your circumstances, including medical documentation, police documentation, an obituary, death certificate or funeral notice, or an event report from emergency services
  • if your circumstances were related to political unrest, war, oppression of a minority to which you belong, or broad-scale natural disaster, news articles that document these events. Articles should be in English and from mainstream news outlets.
  • a cover letter that introduces each of your attachments and provides a chronology or timeline of what has happened and how it impacted you.

Read the full list of documents you can submit to support your application.

All documentation must be in English, or translated by a National Accreditation Authority for Translators & Interpreters (NAATI)-certified translator before it is submitted to the University of Sydney. Find a NAATI-certified translator.

Other discontinuations

All other discontinuations from a unit will result in financial liability and the result will count towards your WAM and academic progression. Your transcript will show either an Absent Fail (AF) or Fail (FA) result. We recommend you get advice from one our caseworkers in these circumstances. Contact us for help.

More information

To find out more about discontinuing a unit before the census date, or how to discontinue a unit after the census date, read the information on the University website.

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Written by SUPRA Postgraduate Advocacy Service March 2023.

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