The rules on deferring vary between programs at UNSW, and therefore the information provided here is only general in nature. Generally you can only defer for six months (one session) at one time and a total of 12 months (2 sessions) over the course of your degree. (In exceptional circumstances these Rules can be waived by your Program Authority.)
If you are enrolled in a 4 year degree (eg Environmental Science) you can apply to defer from your studies for a semester by completing a Course Withdrawal and Leave Application and returning it to the Science Student Centre. You cannot defer Honours as part of a 3year degree: in this case if you wanted leave you should graduate from the Pass Degree and then re-apply to do Honours.
There are some problems that may arise from deferring. The most significant being if your (potential) supervisor leaves UNSW whilst you are on course leave or if they are too overloaded with students to take you on when you return. It is very important that students consider risks such as these when choosing to defer and to discuss this with a potential supervisor.
Some students may choose to defer because their (potential) supervisor will be absent for a period on SSP (sabbatical). If this is the case you should discuss your leave and enrolment plans very carefully with your supervisor before they leave.
For more information contact the Science Student Centre:
Robert Webster Building, Room 128
Tel: +61 2 9385 6125 / 7788
Fax: +61 2 9385 6127