European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) at Freie Universität

What is ECTS?

Studying abroad should not just lead to greater cultural awareness, but should also be pertinent to the course of study and future career development. This requires that any courses or exams completed at the foreign institution should be recognized by the home university whenever possible. In the past many institutions often considered this recognition impossible or refused to consider it due to the differences between various national educational systems and their course and testing requirements.

The European Commission, whose educational policy has led to a remarkable increase in student mobility in Europe, has paid special attention to the question of recognition almost from the beginning. With its support, a number of European institutions of higher education developed and tested a coordinated system for translating and transferring course work and test results, known as ECTS. This system is designed not to lead to a unified system of European higher education, but rather to function as a bridge between differing systems and procedures.

The core elements of ECTS are the so-called credits (Anrechnungspunkte), which are awarded for individual courses, as well as achievements in a program of study and exams. The cedits indicate the normal coursework expectations, which are based on successful participation in a particular course and/or the passing of a particular exam. Course expectations - and therefore the number of credits - for the individual courses or exams are determined by the amount of work expected of the student per year. In determining this, two things are important:

  1. In calculating the required course load all courses and related activities are included - lectures, seminars, (practical) exercises, tutorials, excursions and internships.
  2. The number of credits is based not simply on the course hours, but takes the amount of personal preparation for courses and exams into account, for instance, at home or at the library. In ECTS the normal expected work load per year of study is 60 credits, i.e. 30 credits per semester.

ECTS procedures

Normally ECTS policy applies only to students, who come from a foreign partner university.

Information on Program and Course Offerings

The subject-section in this publication contains the type and extent of program offerings and regularly-offered courses. The most recent offerings in each department may be found in the Namens-und Vorlesungsverzeichnis of the FU Berlin (for the entire university) and the Kommentierte Vorlesungsverzeichnisse (detailed offerings of each department both of which are published each semester. Upon their comple mon, both are also available on the World Wide Web - at the latest six weeks before the beginning of each semester.

The Application for Study at the Freie Universität Berlin

Whoever would like to study for a semester or a year at the FU Berlin must first apply to the university. The application should be completed in consultation with the ECTS coordinator at the home institution. In order to apply, the application form (Antragsformular) and the learning agreement (Formular für ein Studienabkommen) must be filled out and sent to the FU. In the learning agreement, the prospective student should indicate to the extent possible which courses, including German language courses, he/she plans on taking. For each course the prospective student should also include the respective ECTS credits.

Preliminary Agreement

An expected program of study is determined for each student on the basis of the learning agreement after it has been sent to the FU Berlin. All parties involved must agree to the proposal: the student, the home institution and the FU Berlin.

Final Learning Agreement

The course of study in the learning agreement can first be finalized at the beginning of study at the FU Berlin, when the most recent department offerings are available and, when needed, consultations with individual professors have been completed. With the approval of all involved, the learning agreement may also be changed and updated during the semester.

Transcript of Records

At the end of each course of study, the guest student will receive a transcript of records (Studienbescheinigung), which includes detailed information on completed coursework and examinations, including the number of acquired ECTS credits, as well as a grade on the ECTS grading scale.

Introduction of ECTS at Freie Universität Berlin

In the academic year 1998/99, a list of a selection of courses assigned ECTS credits will be released. Those subjects and course offerings, which draw the highest number of students, will be selected first. By the year 2000, the FU Berlin will have instituted ECTS credits for all programs of study. Before then it will be possible on a case by case basis, to create a learning agreement and transcript in a department where no ECTS credits are yet available. Questions of this type should be discussed with the ECTS departmental coordinator or with the ERASMUS/TEMPUS office. Coordinators and the ERASMUS/TEMPUS office also provide advice, when drawing up a learning agreement, arrangements with professors, examinations or issuing transcripts according to ECTS guidelines. The ECTS institutional coordinator at the Freie Universität Berlin is responsible for the coordination and implementation of ECTS at the FU Berlin and for basic policy questions:

Mr. Wolfgang Röcke, Head of Division II A
Admissions and Enrollment
Kaiserswerther Straße 16-18
14195 Berlin, Germany
Tel.: +49 / 30 / 838-735 01
Fax: +49 / 30 / 838-735 05

Further Information

More detailed online information including organizational and practical tips is available as pdf-file (373 KB) (see also our directions for pdf format).

The printed broschures including discipline-specific information about the European Credit Transfer System at FU Berlin are available at the departments.