Academic Calendar Refresh

A word from our Vice Chancellor, Professor Simon Biggs, and our DVC Education, Professor Maree Dinan-Thompson on our move to a refreshed academic calendar.

The refreshed academic calendar is a three-tier calendar comprised of semesters, carousels (short-form study periods), and trimesters, with the latter being the primary model to be used by most courses. The refreshed calendar model will be gradually introduced from 2024.

At the heart of the refreshed calendar is a trimester model, where teaching is split over three study periods during a calendar year. At JCU, this is known as the 3+3+3 model. Trimesters give students increased opportunities for mobility in Australia and overseas, and more options to accelerate their degree and balance work/life/study.

The trimester model responds to the demand for flexible, year-round learning and increases JCU’s competitiveness in a crowded higher education market. The approach simplifies and aligns the number, length, and timing of study periods across all JCU locations and jurisdictions.

A trimester model offers teaching in three equal-length study periods, and shorter, 10-week blocks of study. The move to trimesters brings JCU in line with many universities in Australia and aligns with the broader international student calendar.

The trimester model in practice

  • Three equal study periods of 10 weeks in a calendar year
  • Study plans are organised on a 3+3+3 model (which replicates current enrolment trends at JCU of three subjects per study period but enables slight acceleration)
  • Mid-session non-teaching week(s)
  • One week study vac period, followed by a one-week formal assessment period
  • A three-week break between trimesters.

The trimester model is already used by JCU Singapore, JCU Brisbane, and for some courses offered by the College of Business, Law and Governance (CBLG) in Australia. Approved 2024 Calendars are accessed here.


Carousels are shorter, six-to-seven-week intensive study periods. They will also be in place and aligned to trimesters as part of the calendar refresh. Carousels have the potential to enable multiple student intakes across the calendar year.

Further information

With a staggered implementation beginning in 2024, efficiencies will be gained in administration, academic work, and communication. See the staff FAQs page.

Greater use and alignment of trimesters, courses and subjects will bring advantages to students, enabling them to access expertise through concurrent teaching across JCU locations and increase the opportunities for student mobility, provide greater choice to study around work and lifestyle commitments, and give more options to accelerate study plans.

Trimesters also give students the flexibility to structure their own degree progression and even build one or two trimester breaks into study plans to balance work, family, and university commitments.

The trimester model allows you to:

  • Spread your study load throughout the year
  • Balance your study load with work, family, and other commitments
  • Retake subjects and/or units to retain your academic progress
  • Slow down your degree
  • Accelerate progression through your degree - this is course specific.

See our student FAQs webpage for further information.