Educational style, grading, teaching and credits

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Educational style

Students from some non-European countries may notice a substantial difference between the educational style employed in their own countries and the ones used in Europe.

Many European educational systems require from students a high level of individual responsibility and initiative. Developing an independent and critical way of thinking is strongly encouraged. This academic environment will be part of the challenge for students pursuing a degree at the UvA.


The Dutch grading system scale ranges from 1 to 10:

8 - 10 excellent
7.5 - 8 very good
7 - 7.5 good
6 - 7 satisfactory
5.5 - 6 sufficient
less than 5.5 fail


Evaluation is based on one or more of the following methods: class participation, oral presentations, assignments, final papers, and final exams.

Course organisation

Most of the teaching at the UvA is organised in courses. Courses are given in semesters of 21 weeks comprising self-contained units called modules. Classes meet once or twice a week for two or three hours.

Some English-taught classes have Dutch as well as international students, while others are taught to international students only.

Types of instruction

Common types of instruction at the University of Amsterdam include:

  • Tutorials
    In tutorials or seminars, students discuss assigned readings, complete assignments and write papers.
  • Practical training
    During practical training, the emphasis is on doing assignments rather than on reading large syllabi of academic literature. Practical training takes numerous different forms, depending on the degree programme. During Chemistry or Physics classes, these assignments can include experiments in a laboratory, and during Dentistry or Medicine classes, students imitate or actually perform medical procedures. Practical training can also involve computer work.
  • Fieldwork
    Fieldwork is practiced in selected programmes, including Anthropology, Archaeology and Pre-History, Linguistics, Sociology and Town and Country Planning. Students enter the ‘field’ in order to examine their object of study in its natural environment. Students in other programmes such as Literary Studies, Linguistics or Science may also have opportunities to gather research data outside the classroom.


When students successfully complete a course, they receive credits which are listed on their transcript. Most courses are worth 6 or 12 ECTS (European Credits).

A full-time programme requires that students complete 60 credits per academic year (30 credits per semester), corresponding to 1680 hours of study.

Semesters are composed of self-contained units called courses. Credits are awarded to students who have successfully completed a course.

Most courses are worth 6 or 12 ECTS (European Credits), in keeping with the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). 1 ECTS credit represents 25 to 30 hours of study (including class attendance).

In principle, undergraduate students at American universities earn 12 credits per semester. As such, 12 US credits are generally equal to 30 ECTS. If you attend a university at which the full-time course load is 15 credits, consult your individual programme about how credits will be translated to your UvA transcript, or vice versa.

For graduate students, 9 graduate credits are usually equal to 30 ECTS. If you are in doubt about how your credits should be counted, consult your programme or study adviser.

Published by  University of Amsterdam

19 April 2016