The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

What is ECTS?

ECTS is part of the ΕRASMUS Programme (European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) and its aim is to promote the processes of recognition of study among cooperating institutions in Europe. It was first introduced in the academic year 1992-93, and it enables students to recognize the part of their studies that was realized in universities abroad.

More specifically, ECTS is a system for the transfer of credits among European Universities. This is achieved through the support of transparency in their study programmes and student achievements. ECTS reflects the content, structure, equivalence and correspondence of academic programmes, utilizing quality criteria for University Institutes participating in the programme and defined by the latter in such a way as to create appropriate conditions for cooperation agreements.

ECTS credits

ECTS credits are numerical values allocated to course units to describe the student’s workload required to complete them. ECTS credits for each course reflect or correspond to the workload (lectures, laboratories, seminars, projects, examinations) required from the student for the successful completion of the course. That is, ECTS is based on the total workload of the student, and is not limited to course hours.

More specifically, ECTS provides a way of measuring and comparing learning achievements, and then ‘transferring’ them from one EU institution to another. ECTS is based on the principle of mutual trust and confidence between the participating higher education institutions.

ECTS principles

The basic ECTS principles are as follows:

  1. Credits are distributed to courses in such a way as the workload of one academic year corresponds to 60 credits.
  2. 60 ECTS credits equal studies of two semesters (30+30) or three quarters (20+20+20).
  3. Universities have to organize a full course programme offered to foreign students, including the number of credits corresponding to each course.
  4. Before departure of the outgoing student for a foreign country, the home institution will have to sign a “learning agreement” with the host university and the student. The agreement will clearly describe the student’s programme of study abroad and will be accompanied by a Transcript of Records, which will document the academic performance of the student.
  5. The host university will provide the student with a Transcript of Records for all courses they attended successfully abroad, which will also record the credits for each course.
  6. The home institution will have to recognize the courses and corresponding credits gained by students during their stay at the cooperating foreign institutions, so that these credits replace the credits gained from the home university during an equal period of study.

To conclude: ECTS and Erasmus exchange students

Students participating in Erasmus+ studies and students of Erasmus+ International will receive a transcript providing full credit for all academic work successfully carried out at any of the Erasmus+ partner institutions, and will be able to transfer these academic credits from one participating institution to another on the basis of prior agreement. All students of the participating departments who are willing to take part in the Erasmus+ scheme may do so if the institutions agree and within the limit of available places. Students participating in ECTS will travel to a host institution in another EU member state to study for a limited period of time and then return to their home institution.

Erasmus+ students will be required to comply with the legal and institutional requirements of the country and institution where their degree will be awarded. When the student has successfully completed the study programme previously agreed between sending and receiving institutions and returns to the home university, credits obtained at the receiving institution will be transferred and the student will continue the study course at the home institution without any loss of time or credit. Students selected to participate in the Erasmus+ exchange programmes are awarded a student mobility grant if they fulfill the general conditions of eligibility following the Commission’s instructions and specific eligibility criteria established by the relevant universities.

At present, all courses offered by the School of Political Sciences, whether core or elective ones, are designed as in-class lectures. Each core course corresponds to 5 ECTS, while elective courses correspond to 4 ECTS, Students are required to attend enough courses per semester to cover the regular number of 30 ECTS per semester (or 60 ECTS per academic year). Incoming and outgoing students are required to agree their study plan with the competent ECTS (Erasmus+) Coordinators of the School of Political Sciences.