BlogUSYDWhat It’s Like Studying a Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Software) at USYD

What It’s Like Studying a Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Software) at USYD

Software Engineering USYD - Fact Sheet

So you want to know what it’s like studying Software Engineering at USYD? 

This article will outline the skills and content you’ll learn in the degree, the university culture and lifestyle, exchange and internship opportunities, and much more important information. 

Let’s dive into it!

What is a Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Software at USYD)?
Core Units and Specialisations
How to Get into Software Engineering at USYD
What’s the Teaching Format?
What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?

What is a Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Software) at USYD?

Software Engineering describes the design and maintenance of computer information systems, such as web browsers, computer programs and mobile apps, considering their efficiency, cost-effectiveness, user needs, and reliability in the process. 

The full name of the degree is a Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Software Engineering), meaning your Honours year — or your fourth year — is actually built into the course, with all students undertaking a research thesis or industry placement in the final year. The Software Engineering ‘stream’ means you’ll do a combination of engineering subjects (including maths) along with subjects specific to the Software stream throughout your four years. 

What can you expect from studying a Bachelor of Software Engineering at USYD?

Studying this degree, you can expect to combine practical learning with industry experience. You will meet people passionate about problem solving, and be immersed in a hands-on, creative environment with highly experienced teachers from the software engineering field. 

“I would say Software Engineering gives you the skills and the canvas to create any sort of online product.

You’ll meet a bunch of problem solving based people who like to get hands on and create things… At USYD in particular, the staff are very good and the people are nice.”Rowan Burns, Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Software) IV at USYD

Career Paths 

Software Engineering at USYD offers you a broad choice of career pathways in tech and other industries at the end of your degree. You can work for big tech companies such as Google and Microsoft, take up freelance/contracted work, or work within sectors like finance and business to improve their tech systems. 

Some of these careers may include: 

    • Software analyst and engineer
    • Information security specialist
    • Artificial intelligence
    • Internet programming
    • Web developer
    • Database programmer and management

And many more!

Core Units and Specialisations

Which areas can you specialise in?

Studying a Bachelor of Software Engineering at USYD gives students the option to specialise in one of three areas. These are:

As stated, this specialisation is optional, and streamlines your Software units to a particular area, but definitely not chosen by all. 

What are the Core Units?

The compulsory units that Software Engineering students will undertake in their degree include a combination of Mathematics and Software Stream core units, as well as introductory and project units.

The Mathematics units mainly consist of Foundation Mathematics in your first year (e.g. MATH1002: Linear Algebra, MATH1021: Calculus of One Variable, MATH1115 Statistics). 

Compulsory Software Stream core units continue throughout the degree:

First year
Second Year
Third Year
Fourth Year

Some of the main core units include ELEC1601: Introduction to Computer Systems and INFO1113: Object-Oriented Programming, wherein students learn to use languages like Java and Python, and gain a foundation of concepts for their degree.

SOFT3888: Software Development Project in third year enables you to work for an external client combined with academic supervision to carry out a project from the analysis and design stages to coding, testing and documentation. SOFT3203 in third year is another exciting component of the degree, where you will be able to create any software-related program, such as a video game!

Internships and Work Placement 

Software Engineering at USYD offers various exciting pathways to work experience. A compulsory component of the course is its PEP units (Professional Engagement Program), integrated throughout the degree. These involve casual or part-time work units, volunteering, industry projects, site visits, guest lectures, interviews, and much more.

Software Engineering USYD - Student Quote

This degree also sets you up to work in one of the most high-demand industries in the world today. Resources like the University of Sydney’s CareerHub website helps students seek out the multitude of tech work experience opportunities on offer for undergraduates, including research, data science, and front/back end tech design and operations. 


How to Get into Software Engineering at USYD

The ATAR requirement for a Software Engineering at USYD is 92, however there are pathways into the degree if you do not meet the required ATAR. Current University of Sydney students applying to transfer from one bachelor’s degree to another can apply directly to the University.

Assumed Knowledge and Prerequisite Subjects

Assumed knowledge of HSC Mathematics Extension 1 and Physics is necessary for this course, so it’s good to plan in advance if you’re thinking of applying, or you may experience difficulty! Mathematics Advanced is a prerequisite for the study of Software Engineering.


This degree offers a fantastic final-year scholarship opportunity for high-achieving Software Engineering students to work within leading industry companies; the Engineering Sydney Industry Placement Scholarship (ESIPS).

Through this program, students have the chance to work on and present a high-level investigative project, based on the needs of their partner organisation, for the course of six months. Some previous placement entities include NASA, Qantas, Commonwealth Bank and Westmead Hospital. 

Find out more about the ESIPS program here!

What’s the Teaching Format?

The University of Sydney operates on a semester structure, meaning you’ll have two sessions per year. As for Software Engineering, the degree is taught through both lectures and tutorials. 

Class Structure

Software Engineering USYD - Class Structure


Within lectures, you’ll be given informative presentations by experts in the field on a certain topic relevant to the content of your degree. There are usually 100 students attending, and you’ll usually have them twice a week for each of your subjects.


While lectures are usually larger, presentation-style sessions, tutorials are far smaller and allow you to develop your skills and knowledge of the course. Typically, a tute will have about 20 students in attendance, and you’ll generally have to attend 1-2 tutes for each of your subjects every week.

Your fourth year is exciting as you can choose to complete a thesis by reaching out to the university’s stronghold of experts in Software Engineering, or a special industry placement program working for a company for 6 months rather than regular university attendance (the ESIPS program). 

How much time do you spend at uni?

Students can expect to spend on average around 20 contact hours per week studying a Software Engineering at the University of Sydney in their first year. 


The assessments for Software Engineering at USYD are typically varied. They mostly involve projects, presentations and online quizzes.

In project work, students can expect to build, test, and submit codes while documenting the process, while presentations often require collaboration and teamwork to solve various problems.

It’s good to be aware that this degree has a relatively high workload! For example, weekly online quizzes, and several assessments per subject/per semester. However, the workload is definitely manageable and pays off.

Skills That You Develop

Software Engineering USYD - Skills

In the first year of Software Engineering, students can expect to develop their knowledge of modern computer systems and languages in computer lab-based tutorials, and build up a foundation of maths and programming knowledge. 

Your second year will extend on this through software construction subjects, as well as further teamwork software development activities in subjects such as SOFT2412: Agile Software Development Practices. You will also learn about how to develop robust, efficient, and re-usable software, with emphasis on memory management, debugging and defensive systems. 

Your second and third years further emphasise problem solving process skills integral to Software Engineering, which set it apart from other degrees at USYD like Computer Science. This includes studying the use of data and algorithms in computer systems. 

Your third year also provides the opportunity to learn skills like security management and website building, extending on the foundation of knowledge from first and second, and in your fourth you will learn more about software engineering for large-scale real world enterprises alongside your thesis work (or ESIPS industry placement) 

What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?


The USYD Software Engineering stream boasts numerous highly-experienced lecturers and tutors who will be there to support you throughout your degree. This help is particularly facilitated through special consultation sessions offered to students every week of semester.

Tyson Thomas is one standout engaging teacher in the Software Engineering degree!

Culture and Support  

Software Engineering students at the University of Sydney have the privilege of being part of an incredibly friendly, helpful and like-minded community. This includes an online forum for students to collaborate and aid each other with their coursework, grouped specifically in the Bachelor of Software Engineering stream (though also existing for other degrees). 

Students in this degree can also get involved in the Sydney Computing Society, or ‘SYNCS’. The society boasts a range of events to meet new friends and further your software engineering and computer science passions, including gaming nights, parties, industry events and programming skills sessions.

You can find out more about SYNCs here and here!

Exchange Opportunities 

Students who enrol in a Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Software) have the opportunity to complete an overseas exchange like most other students at the University of Sydney, which can range in duration. It’s recommended that students save their elective unit spots for this exchange, so that they don’t have to instead find overseas substitutes for some of their core subjects or risk lengthening their degree!

Keen to read about the pros and cons of Software Engineering at USYD? Check out our article here!

Zara Zadro is a Content Writer for Art of Smart and a current undergraduate student at the University of Sydney. She studies a Bachelor of Arts/ Advanced Studies majoring in Media & Communications and English. In her free time, she enjoys reading, listening to music and discovering new parts of Sydney. She has also written for the student publications Honi Soit and Vertigo. After she graduates, Zara hopes to do a Masters in creative writing and live overseas, which she cannot wait for!


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