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Trimester FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Trimesters

If you have any questions or feedback, please contact enquiries@jcu.edu.au.This page will be updated regularly over the coming weeks.

Why is JCU moving to Trimesters?

The move to Trimesters has three benefits: more competitiveness, more flexibility, and more alignment.

The move to Trimesters brings JCU in line with the majority of universities in Australia and overseas - increasing our competitiveness in a crowded higher education market.

Trimesters also allow students to better manage their study load by focusing on two or three subjects per Trimester, while still completing a degree in the same amount of time. The flexibility allowed by Trimesters means students can structure their own degree progression and even build one or two Trimester breaks into their study plans to balance work, family, and university commitments.

The change also aligns JCU Australia, JCU Singapore and JCU Brisbane increasing opportunities for shared study experiences.

A Trimester is a model where teaching is split over three study periods during an academic year.  

JCU currently uses a Semester model which is two teaching periods per academic year.

Trimesters are shorter than Semesters. The JCU Trimester model will have shorter 10-week blocks of study, as opposed to the current Semester model of 13 weeks.

A graphic model of the Trimester mode

You can view the Academic Calendar and Trimester Structure here. (PDF, 1961 KB)

The Trimester Structure will commence on the 15 February 2021, which is the start of week one for Trimester 1.

Undergraduate Business, Commerce and Tourism Courses will be in the Trimester Model.

Courses delivered in Trimesters Only include:

  • 20510  Bachelor of Business
  • 20710  Bachelor of Commerce
  • 109110  Bachelor of Tourism, Hospitality and Events
  • 113121  Diploma of Higher Education - Business Major

Courses delivered through a combination of Trimester and Semesters include:

  • 114310  Bachelor of Business - Bachelor of Psychological Science
  • 20310  Bachelor of Arts  -Bachelor of Business
  • 60610  Bachelor of Business - Bachelor of Laws
  • 101510  Bachelor of Business - Bachelor of Environmental Science
  • 109410  Bachelor of Education (Secondary) - Accounting, Business and Economics Teaching Areas Only
  • 113121  Diploma of Higher Education - Business Studies & General Studies if business subjects are selected
  • 115410  Bachelor of Environmental Practice - Corporate Environmental Management Only

No, not at this time. The implementation of the Trimester Model for Law students has been postponed. In 2021 Law will focus on the implementation of the new three year degree. In 2022 Law will transition to a Trimester structure.

All students continuing or commencing Business, Commerce or Tourism undergraduate courses in 2021 will study under the Trimester model.

Yes students studying online will also follow the Trimester model.

How will the Trimester model work?

Each Trimester will run for 10 study weeks, with a mid-Trimester lecture recess. There will be a two-week break between Trimesters One and Two, and Two and Three. There will also be a summer break of nine weeks after Trimester Three.

The structure of each Trimester includes:

  • 10 weeks of teaching
  • One week lecture recess
  • One week for exams.

Studying a course over the Trimester model gives students the opportunity to spread their subject load in a way that works for them. They may choose to spread their subjects evenly across the three Trimesters, or study more intensively during one or two study periods.  

Under the current Semester model, students may study four subjects per semester, however, under the Trimester model they may study three subjects each for two Trimesters and two subjects for one Trimester. This will allow them to better balance their work, family and university commitments.

Please visit this page to view copies of communications sent to students (JCU Student ID required).

All students currently studying a course which will be impacted by the Trimesters (including dual and double degree students) will be provided with a personalised Study Plan by 30 November 2020 to assist them to plan and enrol in subjects for 2021 onwards.

Dual degree students’ study plans will be structured to separate study into Trimester and Semester study periods.

This flexibility to accommodate a separation of Trimester and Semester study periods could result in dual and double degree students studying one year business in Trimesters then one year other degree in Semesters. Or one Trimester business and one Semester other degree in a given year.

We are currently working on those study plans and will ensure students undertaking dual degrees are not disadvantaged by the Trimester structure.

All students currently studying a Diploma of Higher Education - Business Studies or a Diploma of Higher Education - General Studies (if Business subjects are selected) will have study plans structured to separate study into Trimester and Semester study periods. Affected students are encouraged to contact the Pathways Team to discuss their personalised study plan.

To be classed as full-time a student will be required to enrol in a minimum number of credit points in each standard study period.

A normal full-time workload for each Trimester is nine credit points (three subjects). For Student Income Support purposes a student must undertake 75 per cent of the normal full-time workload; being six credit points (two subjects) for a Trimester. For more information please refer to the Australian Government website for details about eligibility for Student Income Support.

Guidelines for undertaking study in the Trimester model and retaining eligibility for Student Income Support:

  • If a student requires Student Income Support for the full academic year they must enrol in six subjects spread across all three trimesters, with at least one enrolment in every Trimester. It is recommended students enrol in all their subjects for that year at the commencement of the academic year.
  • If a student’s enrolment pattern for the year will have an uneven number of subjects in each trimester, e.g.  3+2+1 or 3+1+3, it is recommended they enrol in all their subjects before the commencement of Trimester One to indicate to Centrelink they are planning to undertake the minimum 75 per cent normal full time load across the year.

Each study period and Trimester is allocated to a teaching period. The academic year is divided into two Teaching Periods. Teaching Period 1 is the first six months of the year and Teaching Period 2 is the second six months of the year. Subjects with a census date prior to 1 July fall within Teaching Period 1, and subjects with a census date on or after 1 July fall within Teaching Period 2. Trimester One and Two are included in Teaching Period 1 and Trimester Three is included in Teaching Period 2.

To be classed as full-time a student will be required to enrol in a minimum number of credit points in each standard study period.

A normal full-time workload for each Teaching Period is 12 credit points (four subjects). For Student Income Support purposes a student must undertake 75 per cent of the normal full-time workload; being 9 credit points (3 subjects) for that Teaching Period. For more information please refer to the Australian Government website for details about eligibility for Student Income Support.

Guidelines for retaining eligibility for Student Income Support whilst undertaking study in Teaching Periods when also required to undertake a subject offered in a Trimester:

  • If a student requires Student Income Support for the full academic year they must enrol in six subjects spread across two Teaching Periods. It is recommended students enrol in all their subjects for that year at the commencement of the academic year.
    • Teaching Period 1 example: If a student is required to enrol in two subjects in Study Period 1 and one subject in Trimester One they must be enrolled in the subjects before the earliest commencement date. In 2021 Trimester One commences on the 15 February 2021 and Study Period 1 commences on the 24 February 2021 therefore all enrolments must be finalised before 15 February 2021.
    • Teaching Period 2 example: If a student is required to enrol in one subject in Study Period 2 and two subjects in Trimester Three they must be enrolled in the subjects before the earliest commencement date. In 2021 Trimester Three commences on 11 September 2021 and Study Period 2 commences on 27 July 2021 therefore all enrolments must be finalised before 27 July 2021.

In 2021 Business, Commerce and Tourism undergraduate courses will move from Semesters to Trimesters.

Instead of students studying across two x 13 week Semesters, they will instead undertake three x 10 week Trimesters per year.

The Trimester Structure will commence on the 15 February 2021, which is the start of week one for Trimester 1.

This change applies to all students studying undergraduate Business, Commerce and Tourism courses. Most Law courses will continue with the current Semester 1 and 2 course structure during 2021.