Policies and procedures

Policy No.
Student Administration
Authoring Organisational Unit
Academic Secretariat (University Secretariat)
Date Approved
05/07/2000 Revised 04/07/2017
Next Review Date
Approving Body
Academic Council

The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Structure of the Academic Year

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

This policy guides the University's determination of academic year dates. It addresses the start and end dates of semesters and breaks within and between semesters.


In this policy and any associated procedures,

the University means The University of Western Australia

non-standard teaching period means a teaching period of which the start and end dates do not coincide with the University's standard semesters or trimesters or with the Summer School.

Policy statement:

1 Semesters

1.1 There are two standard semesters in an academic year.

1.2 Each semester consists of at least 12 active weeks (from Semester 2, 2018) [note: 13 weeks in Semester 1, 2018].

1.3 The first semester commences on the last Monday in February.

1.4 The second semester commences no earlier than 18 July.

1.5 The second semester ends no later than the end of the third week in November.

1.6 There must be a break of at least seven weeks and, if possible, eight weeks between the end of Week 13 of Semester 1 (or Week 12 from Semester 2, 2018) and the start of Week 1 of Semester 2, comprising:

  • a study break of one week,
  • an examination period of two week; and
  • a vacation period of at least four weeks.

1.7 At the end of Week 12 of second semester there is a pre-examination study break of one week and an examination period of two weeks.

1.8 The same fundamental, standard timetable must be observed for Semester 1 and Semester 2 for those courses in which significant proportions of a student's load may comprise unit offerings from more than one faculty.

1.9 The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences is permitted to use non-standard dates for years and courses when students take almost all their load within the Faculty.

2 Non-standard teaching periods

2.1 A school may recommend that a unit be offered in a non-standard teaching period in accordance with the relevant University policy.

3 Non-teaching periods

3.1 Non-teaching periods within semesters must be timed to observe the principles set out in 3.2.1 to 3.2.5 inclusive, which also guide the University in negotiating UA common weeks.

3.2 The principles in 3.2.1 to 3.2.5 are listed in order of importance, beginning with the most important.

3.2.1 There is only one non-teaching period within each semester and that is of one week's duration.

3.2.2 As far as is possible within the context of other constraints, the non-teaching period referred to in 3.2.1 must be approximately mid-way through the semester.

3.2.3 As far as is possible within the context of other constraints, there must be at least three weeks of teaching before and after a non-teaching period.

3.2.4 As far as is possible without compromising the academic integrity of the semesters in each year, dates of non-teaching periods are set to provide a reasonable level of overlap with school holidays (i.e. at least two of the three breaks should overlap).

3.2.5 As far as is possible without compromising the academic integrity of the semesters in each year, the University observes at least two of the three UA common weeks,

Related forms: (Link)

TRIM File No:


Contact position:

Academic Secretary

Related Policies or legislation:

(Academic Council R98/2000, amended R117/2002, R60/03, R141/07, R182/11, Legislative Committee R95/09; Academic Board R18/17)