Learn More About Breadth

Breadth is one of the most exciting aspects of the University's undergraduate degrees. Breadth subjects allow you to gain knowledge and understanding across a broader range of disciplines, enabling you to develop insight, experience, and new ways of thinking in areas distinct from the main fields of study in your degree.

Recent changes to breadth

In 2011, the breadth requirements of the Melbourne Bachelors degrees changed slightly to give you greater flexibility. In addition, the University has developed clear breadth sequences, or 'tracks', that will help you identify coherent groups of breadth subjects and allow you to extract the maximum benefit from your breadth component.

This change is in response to feedback from both students and staff and provides you with increased flexibility and clearer options in your breadth component.

The information below reflects these changes.

Visit the pre-2011 Breadth requirements page for details on the previous rules.

Visit the Breadth Tracks page for more information about tracks.

Why study breadth?

The aim of breadth is not only to encourage you to expand your academic horizons, but also to enable you to bring a broader range of skills to the workplace. Breadth will offer you the flexibility to take on the many challenges of a 21st century global work environment, as well as opportunities for increased personal development.

By studying subjects distinct from the main fields of study in your degree, you have the chance to develop different skills, expand your knowledge, learn complementary ways of thinking about issues and problems, and challenge your perceptions.

Breadth is an opportunity to:

  • learn about something you're interested in from outside the core disciplines of your degree
  • challenge the ways you approach and view the world
  • meet and share learning experiences with students from other parts of the University
  • expand your knowledge beyond your core disciplines
  • extend skills you already have or learn new skills
  • prepare for graduate pathways or career entry

What are the rules?

Note: these are the new Breadth rules as of the start of Semester 1, 2011. For the previous rules, please see the pre-2011 Breadth requirements page.

The rules or requirements for breadth study in each of the undergraduate Melbourne degrees are basically the same. The following requirements are common to all:

  • At least 50 points (four subjects) of your course must contribute to your breadth studies*.
  • No more than 37.5 points of breadth (three subjects) can be taken at level 1.
  • You are encouraged to take at least one 37.5 point (three subject) breadth track. (Learn more about Breadth Tracks)

* Bachelor of Engineering students can take between 37.5 points (three subjects) and 50 points (four subjects) of breadth study depending on their stream.

The links below will tell you more about any breadth rules, requirements or exceptions that may be specific to your degree. In general, subjects in the Bachelor of Biomedicine, subjects taught by the Victorian College of the Arts, and third year capstone subjects are not available as breadth.

Breadth requirements for:

What subjects can I do as breadth?

Most subjects outside the main fields of study in your degree will be available to you as breadth, although you must meet any relevant subject prerequisites. This includes subjects taught by other faculties and departments as well as specially-developed University Breadth Subjects (UBS) (see below for more on UBS). In the case of Bachelor of Environments students, some subjects from within the main fields of study in the degree are also available to you as breadth, depending on which major you are intending to take.

Example - Main fields of study in the Bachelor of Arts

The main fields of study in the Bachelor of Arts generally correspond with the majors available in this degree and include (among other things): History, Politics, Languages, Classics, Creative Writing, Gender Studies etc. For a Bachelor of Arts student, anything that falls outside these main fields of study is a potential breadth subject, eg - Earth Sciences, Accounting, Information Technology, Systems Design, etc.

Example - Main fields of study in the Bachelor of Science

The main fields of study in the Bachelor of Science generally correspond with the majors available in this degree and include (among other things): Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, Physics, etc. For a Bachelor of Science student, any subject that falls outside these main fields of study is a potential breadth subject, eg - Languages, Music, Design, Education, etc.

There are hundreds of options for each degree! Use the breadth search database to help identify the subjects available to you.

What are "University Breadth Subjects"?

"University Breadth Subjects" (UBS) have been specially developed for the Melbourne Curriculum and examine current critical issues using techniques and approaches from multiple disciplines.

Most subjects at the University are taught by a single school or department and focus on a specific discipline. UBS are a little different as they use multiple disciplines from across school, department and even faculty boundaries to study the topics presented.

All "University Breadth Subjects" can contribute to your breadth studies and are available to all Melbourne degree students (including Engineering).

To see a list of the current UBS, use the breadth search database. Each time you search, the UBS for the year level(s) requested will be among the other results.

A note about timetabling: all University Breadth Subjects are scheduled to avoid clashes with most other subjects of that year level. However, this means that it is only possible to take one University Breadth Subject of a year level per semester (as they are scheduled to run simultaneously).