Flexible First Year Program

Great if you are sure about engineering, but not about which type

If you’ve done a lot of research but still feel a little clueless about which type you’d like the best, don’t panic. It’s not at all uncommon and it’s certainly nothing to worry about now. If you’re pretty sure that engineering’s where you want to be, because you like the idea of discovery, creating and solving problems, choosing a field specialisation is only really a minor issue.        

Some universities, including UNSW Faculty of Engineering, actually let you choose your specialisation after the first year if you wish – so you really get a taste of what the types of engineering might offer you before you lock yourself in. Find out more below.


Flexible First Year Program

The first year of engineering study has a common core of subjects plus a wide choice of electives – this allows you to study a number of areas that appeal to you without making a formal commitment until the end of your first year. The common core consists of 5 courses in maths, physics, engineering design and computing.

If you choose a flexible first year, you wouldn’t be under the wing of any particular ‘school’ so the Engineering Student Centre would be your ‘school office’. You would contact them regarding any administrative, academic or enrolment related matters – like course selection in your 1st year and program selection for your 2nd year.


Enrolment advice and examples

Flexible First Year students need to enrol in 5 core courses and are then encouraged to select their electives from those listed as required in the programs that they are considering transferring to. You only need to enrol in 1 term at a time, so you don’t need to decide on all of your electives at once.

It’s important to note that some subjects are not available during every term. Some examples are MATH1141 which is only taught in Term 1 and 3, whereas MATH1131 is taught in Terms 1, 2 and 3. PHYS1121/PHYS1131 are taught in Terms 1, 2 and 3, while PHYS1221/PHYS1231 are only taught in Term 1 and 3. Some electives, such as CHEM1811, only run in one of the three terms each year.

Where students have a choice of courses for a common core slot, e.g. COMP1811, COMP1911 or COMP1511, our advice is for students to take the highest course in the set as this will give them the maximum amount of flexibility later.


Electives for Flexible 1st Year

To make sure that you can start a standard second year program, at least one of your electives should be from the following list:

  • CHEM1811 / MATS1101
  • or COMP1521 Computer Systems Fundamentals
  • or ENGG1300 Engineering Mechanics
  • or PHYS1231 Higher Physics 1B

To proceed with each engineering specialisation in Stage 2, you will need to have chosen the correct elective in Stage 1, otherwise you may not be able to graduate in the minimum time.

You will find a list of all the electives available in first year in the UNSW Handbook


Below are some examples of Flexible First Year enrolments. The core courses are marked in green and yellow.


Progression for Flexible First Years

To continue on in a specific engineering discipline after your first year, you need to meet certain requirements including successfully passing 36 Units of Credit and having good academic standing.

If you don't meet these requirements or are having difficulties with your studies at any stage, please don’t hesitate to let us know