Students working on a group assignment
Foto: Natalie Greppi

University studies in Sweden

The Swedish higher education system is similar to that of other European countries. These pages provide the basics on how university studies work, our grading system, and methods of teaching. The University of Gothenburg is well-known for its open and welcoming atmosphere, but you are also expected to be independent and take responsibility. If you are looking for a ‘we teach–you listen’ approach, we are not the place for you. Here in Gothenburg, you will take an active part in your learning.

Here are the basics on how studying in Sweden and at our University works.

Differences between programmes and courses

A degree programme at a Swedish university is made up of a number of courses in a particular field of study leading to a specific degree. Courses, sometimes known as modules in other countries, are the building blocks of each programme. Each semester, programme students take one large course or several smaller courses.

Course level

All courses are either at bachelor’s level (year 1–3) or at master’s level (year 4–5). Sometimes bachelor´s courses are also titled “in-depth”, “intermediate”, or “continuation” to indicate that the course requires previous experience in the field. In many other countries, these courses are referred to as second-year courses or third-year courses.


Swedish universities use a national credit system (Higher Education Credits), which is based on the principles used in the ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) and takes into account the total activity of the student in lectures, laboratories, other classroom work, examination, and personal work.

The normal workload (full-time studies) for one academic year is 60 credits, which correspond to 60 ECTS. One week’s full-time study (40 hours) corresponds to 1.5 higher education credits (HP). Each semester is 20 weeks long, during which a student is expected to take 30 credits.

More about ECTS on European commission website

Course structure 

At the University of Gothenburg, it is most common to take courses sequentially, that is, one course after the other during the semester. The semester is divided into four quarters. Most commonly, courses are either 7.5 or 15 credits, but this can vary from 2 to 30 credits.

Study pace

Courses can run with different study paces. If a course study pace is 100%, it is very difficult to combine that course with other courses taught in the same period. When courses are taught at less than 100% study pace, however, they can be combined with other courses during the same period.

Our grading system

There are four grading systems at the University of Gothenburg. The course syllabus will specify which grading scale applies for each course. A grading scale may be specified in a footnote on the print-out of the transcript of records or course certificate.

Two-scale grading system Three-scale grading system Four-scale grading system Six-scale grading system

G: Pass

U: Fail

VG: Pass with Distinction

G: Pass

U: Fail

AB: Pass with Distinction

Ba: Pass with Credit

B: Pass

U: Fail

A: Excellent

B:Very Good

C: Good

D: Satisfactory

E: Sufficient

F: Fail

Read more about our grading system at the Student Portal

Conversion of grades

Grades are awarded on the local grading scale at the University of Gothenburg. Please observe that no grades are given according to your home country's / home university's grading scale. 

Methods of teaching

Students, teaching staff, and professors work together in close and informal cooperation. As a student here, you are expected to contribute with ideas and opinions and use critical thinking. Reading and independent studies are usually extensive, regardless of your field of study, and students are expected to come well-prepared to class.

A lesson is a combination of a lecture and seminar. The teacher can spend time presenting a topic, but students are expected to also be active. For example, you may be asked to answer questions or take part in a discussion.

A lecture is like a lesson where the students are less active. A lecture means students listen and take notes while the teacher lectures on a topic. Lectures often deal with the same topic that you will then read about in your textbook.

A seminar is based on students and teachers meeting and discussing a topic. In seminars, students are more active than in lessons or lectures. Seminar discussions can deal with papers, books, articles or similar.

Self-studies are those times and weekdays when you have no scheduled classes at the University and the expectation is that you will study on your own. When you have self-study time, you can also choose to study together with your classmates. This differs from person to person. Some people prefer to study alone while others like studying with classmates. 

Foto: Johan Wingborg
Foto: Laila Östlund
Foto: Johan Wingborg

Group work means you do an assignment together with one or more classmates. The assignment can vary depending on what you are studying, but often you and the others in the group present your results as a group. This presentation can either be given orally or in writing. Group work is a common type of instruction at the University’s programmes.

A laboratory session is an assignment where one or more students are to conduct an experiment. A laboratory session can deal with different topics depending on what you are studying. Once the assignment is completed, the students often present it in writing.

Supervision. You may need a supervisor when working with longer written projects, such as when writing a paper. You and your supervisor will meet, usually several times, while you are writing the paper. During this time, your supervisor helps by answering questions, giving feedback and providing advice for how you can progress with your work.

Examinations. Your programme consists of one or more modules with examinations. These modules can take different forms. For example, you may have written assignments, oral presentations, take-home tests or written examinations on campus. Your teacher then uses your results from the examination to set your grade for the course, module or programme.

Foto: Natalie Greppi
Navigate to video: Terri-Anne introduce the way we do studies at the University of Gothenburg
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Terri-Anne introduce the way we do studies at the University of Gothenburg