Structure of education

Last changed: 30 June 2016 - slu.se
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What is the difference between a course and a programme? What education levels are there? What degrees can be obtained at the different levels?

SLU complies with the same provisions that apply to other Swedish universities and university colleges. Since 2007, Sweden and over forty European countries have had a common education system with comparable degrees and a common credit system. They have also divided all courses and programmes into three levels: first cycle, second cycle and third cycle.

The different levels build on one another such that you must have studied at first-cycle level before you can study at second-cycle level and at second-cycle level before you can study at third-cycle level. Some long degree programmes start at first-cycle level and end at second-cycle level.

As education in Sweden is organised in the same way as in most other European countries, you can study at first-cycle level at one university and then study at second-cycle level at a different university in Sweden or abroad.

Courses, programmes, independent projects and credits

Courses
Courses are the smallest building blocks of higher education. Each course must have a course syllabus, which among other things indicates the entry requirements, the objectives of the course, how it is assessed whether a student has achieved the objectives and which department is coordinating the course. Most courses have a grading scale of U (Fail), 3, 4 or 5. There are also grade criteria which indicate what is required for the different grades.

Courses may vary in terms of scope and provision: full-time/part-time, distance/on campus, daytime/evening, etc.

You can find your course syllabus by the course page or by first searching for your course using the course search tool and then clicking on the course heading in the hit list.

Programme
A degree programme leads to a specific degree. On some degree programmes you have the freedom to choose some of the courses yourself, while on others there is less freedom of choice. Some courses are only for students studying on a degree programme.

You must meet the entry requirements for each individual course, and this also applies to courses within a programme. Studying on a degree programme usually means full-time studies and teaching almost always takes place during the day.

Each programme must have a programme syllabus which is specified at faculty level. The programme syllabus indicates, among other things, the objectives for the programme as a whole, which courses form part of the programme and what requirements you must meet in order to be awarded the degree to which the programme leads. Here you can find your programme syllabus (only information in Swedish).

Independent projects
All degree programmes are completed with an independent project (degree project) where you can apply your knowledge, abilities and approach to a relevant issue within the field of your degree programme. You will usually report on the independent project both in writing and orally. Here you can find more information about independet projects/degree projects.
 
Credits
The scope of a programme, course or independent project is expressed in terms of credits. One semester’s full-time studies is 30 credits, a three-year degree programme is 180 credits, and so on.

Three education levels

All courses and programmes are divided into three levels: first cycle, second cycle and third cycle. The different levels build on one another such that you must have studied at first-cycle level before you can study at second-cycle level and at second-cycle level before you can study at third-cycle level. Some long degree programmes start at first-cycle level and end at second-cycle level.

 

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First cycle

Acceptance on a study programme at first-cycle level (Bachelor's level) requires a completed upper secondary school education or equivalent. First-cycle level includes the Higher Education Diploma and the Degree of Bachelor. At SLU there are also professional qualifications at both first-cycle and second-cycle level.

Second cycle

Acceptance on a programme at second-cycle level (Masters's level) requires a Swedish degree of at least three years’ duration at first-cycle level or equivalent foreign degree or equivalent qualifications. To study on a self-contained course, you must have completed a programme at first-cycle level – i.e. there is no requirement that you hold a degree. The Degree of Master (60 credits) and the new two-year Degree of Master (120 credits) are at second-cycle level.

At SLU there are also professional qualifications at both first-cycle and second-cycle level.

Third cycle

A doctorate (PhD) involves four years’ full-time studies. You can transfer credit for certain studies at second-cycle level. However, a student cannot be given preference for a programme on the basis that he or she is considered to be able to transfer credit from previous education or professional activity and thereby shorten their programme at third-cycle level.

Acceptance at third-cycle level requires a degree at second-cycle level or at least 4 years’ full-time studies, of which at least 1 year must be at second-cycle level or equivalent foreign education or equivalent skills.

Those who fulfil the general entry requirements for doctoral studies before 1 July 2007 will be considered to have fulfilled the general entry requirements for doctoral studies up to and including 30 July 2015.

The Bologna process

The so-called Bologna process began life at a meeting of European education ministers in Sorbonne in 1998. The meeting resulted in a declaration in which the ministers agreed to work towards the harmonisation of education and degrees in Europe. The following year, the ministers met again in Bologna and signed the so-called Bologna declaration. The aim is to unite Europe in a common education system, “The European Higher Education Area” (EHEA).

Today over forty countries have signed up to this European programme. Since the Bologna declaration was signed, European education ministers have held regular follow-up meetings at which communiqués about the ongoing cooperation have been agreed.

Overall objectives

The overall objectives of the programme are to promote mobility, employability and the competitive strength and attraction of Europe as a continent in terms of education. The aim is to make academic degrees and quality of education comparable in a way that is clearer than before.

Reform in Sweden

One result of the Bologna process is that Sweden introduced a new education and higher education system on 1 July 2007, in which all education is divided into three levels: first cycle, second cycle and third cycle.

The new education system means, among other things, that European countries are introducing comparable degrees, a common credits system and an education system with three levels: first cycle, second cycle and third cycle. This means that you can study at first-cycle level at one university and then study at second-cycle level at another university in Sweden or abroad.


Contact

Study and career guidance

Ask us about: courses or programmes, which education that suits you and how to reach your future goals, your study environment and career after graduating.

Do you have questions about the university or our programmes? Maybe you can find your answers here.
FAQ: Frequently asked questions about studies

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Contact us by telephone or email to schedule a private conversation. We can also provide guidance via Skype and telephone.

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