What can you expect from a year of studies in Sweden in general, and at Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH) in particular? We have tried to answer some of the questions you may have.
A Year of Studies
Most programmes starts in the autumn. Each year of study is divided into two terms: the autumn term begins in August and lasts until a couple of weeks into January, and the spring term begins in January and finishes in June.
One full academic year lasts 40 weeks, and each term lasts 20 weeks.
Some programmes also offer a summer course. A summer course may cover a subject in your area of studies, or some other interesting subject.
Student workload and ECTS credits
A student following a full-time programme (60 ECTS per year) is expected to devote some 40 hours per week to his or her studies. This includes lecture participation, group work, individual studies etcetera.
All courses and programmes are measured in credits, i.e. according to the ECTS. ECTS stands for European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System.
- One ECTS credit is the equivalent of approximately 25-30 hours of study.
- 60 ECTS credits are equal to the workload of a full-time student during one academic year.
The courses/programmes are different in length, i.e. number of weeks they last. Information about the goals of a course/programme and number of credits it generates, is stated in the course/programme syllabus. Every programme consists of a number of mandatory courses and a number of optional courses. In the programme syllabus you find information about the mandatory and optional courses for each programme.
Education and examination may be performed differently, not only in method but also between subjects. Here are the most common ways of education at BTH, as well as at other Swedish universities.
A teacher gives a talk on a subject in front of a number of students. The groups may vary in size - from a couple of hundred to some 20 students. You may ask questions, but it is often more important to listen and take notes. The teacher often talks about things that you can not find in the course literature.
A teacher and a smaller group of students gather to discuss a certain subject. It is important that you familiarize yourself with the topic beforehand.
Practical experiments. As a student you get one or several assignment to solve, where it is important that you apply the knowledge you have gained so far. Laboratory experiments are often used within natural sciences, but also in for instance computer science.
You and a group of fellow students solve an assignment together. It may be a case study, the writing of a paper, a larger practical experiment or something else.
The students study phenomena in nature or in a community. It may concern how individuals react in a specific situation or what can be found in a marsh during one year.
The student practices her future professional role at a real working place. For instance, care and teacher training both include quite a lot of practice. Sometimes, the practice will take place in another town than where you study.
A lot of time is spent studying by oneself. The student has to read large amounts of course literature on his own. It may be all kinds of text, such as articles from magazines or books consisting of hundreds of pages.
Test and Examination
Courses finish with an examination. An examination is some kind of test or work where you show that you have learned the course's content.
If you fail in an examination you have the right to try again. Sometimes there is no limit to how many times you try, but the university is allowed to limit the number of tries to five.
These are some the most frequent ways of doing examinations:
A written examination during limited time. The questions depend on the subject. They can be questions about facts, discussions around a problem, or a problem that you shall solve. A written examination is often called 'tenta' in Sweden.
A written examination done at home. The questions in a take-home examination often demand that you discuss around the problems. You shall use the literature on the course's reading list, but you can also use other sources.
An oral examination is carried out either individually or in a group. You meet with a teacher and discuss the examination subject and the discussion usually lasts a couple of hours. The teacher may ask for particular facts or tell you to reason around a question.
An assignment to be solved either individually or as a group.
You may be assigned to write a paper where you reason around a subject.
The student shall perform one or more assignments, and describe the procedure and the result in a report. Laboratory experiments are often carried out as group work.
The students are assigned to groups who get one or more problems to solve.
The writing of an essay is another way of examining a student. To write an essay at a certain level is also necessary for receiving certain degrees (higher education qualifications). Essays are often rather large tasks, which may last a full term.
You are always guided by a supervisor (one of the teachers) who helps with advice and views on reasoning and investigation methods.
When an essay is finished you shall defend it. This is called opposition (a public discussion and examination) and you must be able to answer questions about your essay. The questions are asked by one of more student reviewers who have been assigned to do a close reading on your essay.
You as a student are responsible for your studies and how much time you spend on studying.
Many and thick books
The assigned literature may be extensive reading.
Ask the teacher
After a lecture or a seminar, you may ask the teacher about a passage that is extra difficult.
Students often choose to study together. Then you help each other to straighten out difficult concepts.
You may also look for a mentor system where experienced students support the newcomers.
The technique of studying is about:
- Getting a general view of the studying situation
- Finding a good way of reading the course literature
- Listen to lectures and seminars
- Take notes and so forth
Practice your studying technique already from the beginning of your time at the university.
Books about Study Technique
At the library you can find information about study techniques - both books and other information sources. Teachers and study advisors can also give advice on this.
Courses in Study Technique
Universities sometimes arrange courses in study technique for newcomers. The courses may be interactive via Internet or as seminars in-house.
Workshops on Writing and Mathematics
Some universities offer workshops on writing and on mathematics. These may be extra useful for newcomers for practicing academic writing and to prepare for mathematics on a university level.