Pursuing STEM In University & Beyond


As technology continues to develop rapidly, the Australian HSC curriculum has been placing greater emphasis on STEM subjects. In preparation for STEM jobs growing significantly faster than other occupations, it is useful for students to be introduced to science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects early. The HSC curriculum has moved to create a smoother bridge from HSC into these fields, providing students with a glimpse of what a STEM career has to offer.

Increased Government Support


STEM & University

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian government has adjusted tertiary fees to stress the importance of STEM degrees and pathways. Education minister Dan Tehan announced earlier this year, the increase in university places by 39,000 by 2023 for in-demand courses such as nursing, engineering, science and mathematics. As the economy must restructure and adapt during downswings in economic activity, the increase in government funding is a reflection of four predicted industries to account for 60% of employment growth: healthcare, science, education and construction.


So, how do my HSC STEM subjects apply? Well, in choosing subjects such as chemistry, physics, and mathematics, it will help provide more clarity on what these degrees have to offer. For instance, University of Sydney’s “flexible first year” engineering course explicitly requires students to have prerequisite knowledge of mathematics.

Further, students are also expected to have assumed knowledge in Mathematics Extension 1, physics and/or chemistry. Though it is not specifically stated as a requirement, having knowledge in these subjects will aid students in the transition from high school to university, and have a better understanding of the degree.

From HSC to University to Career


Applications of STEM

Studying STEM subjects in high school will help introduce you to many different courses. For instance, physics gives you a glimpse of electrical, aeronautical, and mechanical engineering.


Question 23 from the 2020 Physics exam applies core concepts of electrical engineering. In this example, an electrical motor is used to convert electrical energy into mechanical energy. Students are asked to calculate the maximum current in amps (A) to decipher if a circuit breaker is required. This fitting will ensure that the circuit will not be damaged by a short circuit. As this example has real life applications, students can sample the electrical engineering field early on and ponder if this career pathway is of interest to them. 

STEM subjects are usually the only prerequisite and assumed knowledge expected, meaning that selecting STEM subjects in high school helps open many doors when deciding which career pathway to choose. However, completing such subjects for the HSC should not be viewed as an impediment towards your career selection process, it should be taken up to fulfil curiosity in this ever-changing field. Delving into the realm of STEM early on will help influence your choice in tertiary studies, helping you make a more informed decision.


A deeper dive into Tertiary Studies


Applying for University Courses

Bridging courses are offered at most universities, which allow students who have not completed the assumed HSC STEM subjects, to catch up in an accelerated ~2week course. This course takes place prior to commencing the course. The course is intensive and covers the core concepts of the sciences and maths expected to participate and be familiar with the course. However, due to the time constraints coupled with the large amount of content covered, it can be difficult to absorb the concepts compared to studying over 2 years with the preliminary and HSC curriculum. It is thus highly recommended for students to choose STEM subjects early on, to become familiar with both the subjects and the field before commencing university.


Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)

Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours)





Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)

Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies

Bachelor of Mathematics/Bachelor of Mathematical Sciences







Bachelor of Engineering (flexible)


Bachelor of Science (flexible)


Bachelor of Science (M. in mathematics/statistics)






The table is a brief overview of ATAR required for an offer for some of the many STEM courses offered by University of Sydney, University of New South Wales and University of Technology Sydney. Each of these universities have a large range of other STEM courses available with each one having their own set of HSC subject requirements. It is highly recommended to research and enquire about specific courses.

The above only captures direct entry using ATAR, there are many alternative pathways to enter a desired course of study. For UTS, you can look into the Special Tertiary Admissions Test (STAT), which is a short multiple-choice exam, or the UTS College, which allows for direct pathway into UTS courses. For UNSW, if your ATAR is within 10 points of the guaranteed entry rank, the Faculty of Engineering Admissions Scheme (FEAS) will not only evaluate your maths and science abilities, but also your attitude and motivation to study your preferred course. For USYD, students may look into applying for the E12 Scheme which can provide an unconditional offer and scholarship, or students can enquire into the Academic Excellence Scheme for ATAR adjustments for their application.

2020 HSC Graduates Receive Results

In the timing of today, 2020 graduates receive their HSC results. It can be a joyous or disappointing occasion however such results only reflect a portion of a student’s ability.

There will be plenty of opportunities in the near future to showcase your intelligence, determination and passion.

It can feel quite confusing on knowing what to do from here on. There are many links provided above that can help direct you to specific pages for more information. Feel free to browse their websites, enquire about the courses or sign up to university information days that are on in the next couple of days!

Contact us to schedule a free trial lesson!


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