Credits and study load
The study load of a course is expressed in EC (European Credits). An EC, according to the European Credit Transfer System, equates to 28 hours of study load. The study load of each programme part is set out in the study guide, together with the course description. Study load hours include contact hours, preparation and the processing time for lecture materials (including reading texts, producing assignments, preparing a presentation and working up lecture notes, etc) as well as the time allocated to preparing for exams or a project, or for writing a paper. Study load referring to literature to be studied (complementary to literature discussed in the lectures) is broken down as follows: 1 study load hour = approximately 5 to 7 pages of literature (depending on the level of complexity), excluding literature discussed in the lectures.
A full-time study year entails 60 EC. For a full-time student, the study period for a bachelor and master course in theology is three years. The contact hours for the full-time bachelor and master courses are scheduled in with the part-time courses. Full-time students must be prepared for a study load of 40 hours per week.
A part-time study year entails between 34 and 40 EC. A part-time study load for both a bachelor and a master course in theology is 4.5 years. The contact hours of the part-time bachelor and master courses are scheduled in with the full-time courses. Part-time students must be prepared for eight contact hours and between 16 to 19 hours of self study per week.
Study load calculation
A study year consists of 1680 hours, or 60 EC. A four year course therefore amounts to 240 EC. Each course has a study load expressed in EC. Each part that makes up the total programme of a course is also expressed in EC.
If the study load for a certain part of a course is set at 4 EC, this means the total time requirement for that part will be 112 hours. This is a calculation of the time an average student is expected to spend on the various activities involved within the framework of the course during any given period or semester. The study load of each part is built up of (a combination of) the following elements:
- Contact hours: The hours the student spends attending lectures or tutorials. If there are for example 3 lecture hours a week for a 7 week period, this part will amount to a 21 hour study load.
- Preparation and follow-up time for lectures: Depending on the set-up of the course, additional time for both preparation and follow-up is set at 1 to 1.5 hours per contact hour. For example for a lecture, the preparation can consist of reading the syllabus or the exploration of a text. For a tutorial, preparation time may consist of making an assignment or preparing a presentation. Working up notes taken during a lecture, writing lecture reports or the thorough rereading of a text discussed are all examples of what may absorb time after a lecture. The course lecturer will clearly state what is expected of students in view of preparation or follow-up.
- Studying texts: A study load is also attached to the reading and studying of texts when preparing for lectures, tutorials and/or exams. The faculty uses the following rule of thumb for determining the number of pages to be studied: depending on the level of complexity and the layout of the text involved, a student is expected to study between 3 to 5 pages per hour. A simple text in a large layout format will of course demand less time than a more difficult text. 'Studying' a text is considered to be: (re)reading a text, making an excerpt or summary, consulting other texts (reference works, secondary sources, dictionaries, etc), processing and digesting the text before an exam (refer also to the faculty's Guideline to Academic Skills).
- Exam: The time spent on studying for and actually sitting an exam is also included in the study load. The exam material will be set by the lecturer. This will mostly consist of a combination of the material presented during lectures or tutorials, the texts read, assignments made or the previous partial exams, etc.
- Concluding paper: In addition to or in lieu of an exam, the student will regularly be required to write a concluding paper in reaction to the matters presented and discussed during lectures. The numbers of hours worked on this paper are also included in the study load of a course. These hours include meetings with the lecturer, research and studying the literature (for volume, see above), writing, editing, discussions with the lecturer.
In the above example of the 4 EC part course (112 hours), the study load could be divided as follows. There are 21 contact hours. As texts are regularly discussed and read (sometimes linked up with an assignment), the preparation and follow-up time per contact hours is set at 1.5 hours (30 hours in total). As preparation for the exam (3 hours), the texts and syllabus must be studied (30 hours), meaning there are 112 less (21+30+30+3) = 28 hours remaining. Additional, supporting and/or secondary literature with a volume of between 90 and 150 pages is still possible. Papers are usually written within the framework of larger lecture series with more contact hours.
The study coordinator will monitor the study load to ensure it remains reasonable. The course evaluation will carefully consider this issue. The study coordinator is advised on the matter by the educational committee, as well as by lecturers’ and students’ representatives who convene once per year per study phase.