Subject descriptions

Standard and Intensive Programme subjects:

 English   |   Accounting  |  Art  |  Biology  |  Chemistry  |  Classical Studies  |  Computer Science  |  Economics  |  Geography  |  Maths  |  Physics

Pre-Foundation Programme subjects:

 English   |   Commerce  |  Mathematics  |  Information Technology  |  Science 

Standard and Intensive Programme

You will study English language and four elective subjects.


Listening, speaking, reading and writing to develop your confidence and competency.

Topics include:
  • Listening: taught in small groups, larger classes and lectures.
  • Speaking: one-to-one, small group discussions and formal presentations.
  • Writing: practicing different styles, paragraphs, summary writing, report writing.
  • Reading: note-taking, extended reading, newspaper/magazine articles, comprehension.
  • Grammar, sentence structure, spelling, punctuation and word use practiced throughout.

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You will choose four of the following elective subjects based on your chosen degree subject:


An introduction to accounting methods and concepts.

Topics include:
  • Cash and Accrual Accounting
  • Budgeting
  • Cash flow
  • Depreciation
  • Assessment of performance
  • Accounting systems
  • Job costing
  • Cost-volume-profit analysis
  • Financial statements for sole traders, partnerships and companies.

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A practical understanding of visual arts and art in context. Ideas are developed through observation, analysis, interpretation and evaluation.

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Develops your understanding of Biology and the ability to communicate facts. You will plan and perform experiments, develop critical analysis skills, look for solutions and learn how to acquire, present and interpret evidence effectively.

Topics include:
  • Structure and function of cells
  • Responses of plants and animals to biotic and abiotic factors
  • Genetics
  • Evolution – primates and hominids.

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A practical course that provides a basis for a science-related degree. You will gain the knowledge and confidence to experiment and test your ideas, and learn how to make informed decisions.

Topics include:
  • Atomic theory
  • Chemical bonding and the shapes of molecules
  • Chemistry of transition elements, metal hydroxides, halogens, selected ions
  • Analysis of laboratory solutions and commercial products
  • Energy involved in physical and chemical changes
  • Aqueous Chemistry
  • Oxidation-reduction and applications
  • Organic Chemistry; spectroscopic identification of organic compounds.

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Classical Studies

An introduction to the history, literature, art, architecture and politics of ancient Greece (600-400 BC) and Rome (753 BC-14 AD). This subject teaches key skills that are important for any university degree, including critical thinking, analysis and writing argumentative essays.

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Computer Science

Gain a broad understanding of computer technology, and develop your practical skills in programming and using software and applications.

  • Computer hardware
  • Computer software
  • Operating systems
  • Specific business applications
  • Problem solving techniques used for programming.

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Covers a wide range of economic issues, such as basic economic concepts and principles, policy options for government, and consequences of economic decisions.

Topics include:
  • Relative scarcity and production possibilities
  • Demand, supply and the market
  • Market structures including monopoly
  • Externalities, public goods and government intervention
  • Equity and efficiency
  • The financial markets
  • Aggregate demand and supply and the macroeconomic economy.

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The study of Human and Physical Geography, and the relationship between them.

Topics include:
  • Formation of natural features
  • Interpreting topographic data
  • Analysis of cultural processes (urban growth, migration, development, sustainability)
  • Human impacts on natural processes.

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Maths A

A prerequisite for many university courses, Mathematics A provides a range of knowledge and skills.

Topics include:
  • Algebra and graphing of functions
  • Exponentials and logarithms
  • Correlation and regression
  • Probability and set theory
  • Random variables and their distributions
  • Time series
  • Linear programming
  • Mathematical modelling
  • Numerical equation solving
  • Binomial, poison and normal distributions.

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Maths B

A solid foundation for university degrees that require prior knowledge of Mathematics with Calculus.

Topics include:
  • Calculus
  • Algebra
  • Trigonometry
  • Geometry

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Develops a deeper understanding of theoretical knowledge, problem solving skills and experimental techniques.

Topics include:
  • Light
  • Waves
  • Kinematics
  • Mechanics
  • Electricity and magnetism
  • Atomic and nuclear physics.

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Pre-Foundation Programme



A focus on the four basic language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Includes an introduction to academic reading and writing skills, with an emphasis on independent learning, interpreting resources and using new knowledge to answer questions and write essays.

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Includes Accounting and Economics skills and vocabulary you need to progress The Auckland Foundation Year (AFY). Focuses on the knowledge, understanding and application of core concepts.

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Develops a skill base that will prepare you to specialise in statistics and/or calculus during the AFY programme.

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Information Technology

Focuses on essential skills needed to complete the AFY programme. Includes wider computing skills, presentation skills, and internet use for study and research.

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An introduction to all science subjects available on the AFY:

  • Biology: Key topics needed for the Standard Programme, including genetics, evolution, and plant and animal responses to environmental factors.
  • Chemistry: A practical introduction to common chemicals, what they do, how to test for them, and how they react.
  • Physics: Practical and theoretical study to investigate why and how things happen.

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Social Studies

This course gives students an introduction to New Zealand history and Maori culture, European history and ancient history. It will include topics in the history of art, and the history of disasters. The subject introduces vocabulary that will be useful in the foundation year subjects of Classical Studies, Geography and Art. Students will also begin learning the skills of analysis and critical thinking which are necessary in humanities subjects.

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See subject descriptions for Standard Programme

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The Pre-Foundation Programme is a stand-alone course and you will need to pass an exam to progress to the Auckland Foundation Year.

Auckland Foundation Year student Stefani

"Doing the foundation year is a different experience than going straight to AUT because I met a lot of my friends at Taylors and I know what the education system here looks like. Coming here first, gives you a stable foundation to go onto university with. It is so exciting being in a new environment as you get to meet a lot of new people from different backgrounds."

Stefani from Indonesia, now studying Bachelor of Communications Studies at AUT