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Single unit study for professional development – is it for you?

SOURCE: Olivier DOULIERY/AFP
Single unit study is a convenient way for professionals to engage in professional development.


By U2B Staff 

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These days, professional development comes in all shapes and sizes, which spells good news for professionals who want to arm themselves with an arsenal of skills to help them level-up in their careers. 

Among these options include single unit study, also known as non-award study.

Single unit study allows you to take a specific subject at the undergraduate or postgraduate level without undertaking a full degree. In other words, completing the unit doesn’t lead to a qualification, but it allows you to upskill in a particular area of your choice for your personal or professional development.

There are many benefits to single unit study.

Chief among them? Being able to test the waters in a particular field of study before committing your time and money for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. The successful completion of single unit study may also be counted as credit towards a programme at the university, while these units also develop certain skill sets in those who enrol in them, which can be useful for career advancement. 

Many Australian universities offer single unit study for interested professionals, across a range of fields, from languages to history and business.

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While they can be completed online on or on campus, students will typically need to ensure that they have the required knowledge for any advanced classes. Students will also enjoy the same high level of teaching and support. 

Some Australian universities that offer single unit study include the University of New England’s (UNE), Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Monash University, to name a few. They can cover various areas of study, including IT, politics, media and data management, law and justice as well as science and mathematics.

It’s worth noting that despite not culminating with a degree, international students must comply with study visa conditions to enrol. 

Here’s how an online professional development programme is enhancing this lawyer’s career

professional development
Online learning can offers professionals a myriad of benefits. Source: Kaitlyn Baker/Unsplash

For professionals who are undecided about what the experience entails, solicitor Lara Conlan is someone who can attest to the convenience that comes with online single study units.

After relocating to Australia from the UK and moving around the country with her partner’s job, Conlan decided to enrol in a law course at the UNE prior to settling in Melbourne.

“I’m someone who works independently and likes my own space to absorb information in my own time and at my own pace. Online learning is perfect for that. It also allows a level of flexibility that is not normally enabled in on-campus courses. If you’re working part-time to support yourself through your study, online learning is a very attractive option,” she explained.

Busy professionals who have not stepped foot in university for years may hesitate over what they can expect from the experience, but Conlan explained that she received a thorough unit outline with contacts for lecturers and the books required. 

“What was expected of me was clearly set out with the deadlines, which was normally one assignment mid-course then a final exam,” she said.

The semesters are also short, allowing students to cover the content at a reasonably fast pace within a structured framework.

“I worked one week behind the first release of content for a topic, completing all the reading, lectures and tutorial questions in one go whilst the content for that topic was fresh in my head,” said Conlan.

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This allowed her to effectively manage her time as she could complete all the work for one topic without switching lectures for different topics. Despite completing three single units, she found the experience empowering. 

The lectures and tutorials were thorough, clear and covered “the perfect level of content” that allowed her to understand the legal topics she was studying. She added that the knowledge gained from Administrative Law has been invaluable to her work as a solicitor in Refugee and Immigration Law.

“Although I already had an established career before attending UNE, the study of Administrative Law has made me consider other potential career paths in the future, specifically relating to judicial review of migration decisions in the Commonwealth courts,” she said.