About the ECTS System
The European Credit Transfer System was initially
set up in 1989 as a pilot scheme within the framework of the Erasmus
programme. Its aim at that time was to facilitate the recognition of study periods undertaken abroad by mobile students through the transfer of credits. As a transfer system ECTS has expanded to over 30 countries and has been introduced in more than one thousand higher education institutions.
The 40 Signatory States in the Bologna Process have identified ECTS as one of the cornerstones of the European Higher Education Area.
A large number of countries have adopted ECTS by law as an accumulation
system for their own higher education systems and others are in the
process of doing so.
The University of Coimbra officially applied the ECTS to all its courses in December 2005 with the publication of the Regulation
on the application of the course credit system (ECTS – European Credit
Transfer and Accumulation System) to the courses of the University of
Coimbra, in compliance with the Decree-law 42/2005, of February 22.
ECTS makes study programmes easy to read and compare.
It can be used for all types of programmes, whatever their mode of
delivery, and for lifelong learning purposes. It serves both mobile and
non-mobile students: it can be used for accumulation within an institution and for transfer between institutions. For these reasons the well-known acronym “ECTS” now stands for “European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System”.
The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) is a student-centred system based on the student workload required
to achieve the objectives of a programme of study. These objectives
should preferably be specified in terms of learning outcomes and
competences to be acquired.
ECTS is based on the principle that 60 credits measure the
workload of a full-time student during one academic year. The student
workload of a full-time study programme in Europe amounts in most cases
to around 1500-1800 hours per year and in those cases one credit stands
for around 25 to 30 working hours. Sensibly, 30 credits correspond to a study semester and 20 credits to a study trimester.
Credits in ECTS can only be obtained after successful completion of the
work required and appropriate assessment of the learning outcomes
achieved. Learning outcomes are sets of competences, expressing what
the student will know, understand or be able to do after completion of
a process of learning, long or short.
Student workload in ECTS consists of the time required to complete all
planned learning activities such as attending lectures, seminars,
independent and private study, preparation of projects, examinations,
and so forth. Credits are allocated to all educational components of a study programme (such
as modules, courses, placements, dissertation work, etc.) and reflect
the quantity of work each component requires to achieve its specific
objectives or learning outcomes in relation to the total quantity of
work necessary to complete a full year of study successfully.
The ECTS is based on three core elements: information (about study programmes and students’ academic records), mutual agreement (between the partner institutions and the students) and the use of ECTS credits (quantified students’ workload). This three core elements are translated into three key documents, namely: the ECTS information package, the learning agreement and the academic transcript of records.
For more information on the ECTS see the European Commission website or read the ECTS User's Guide