Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Portal Académico

Academic Portal

European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)
Portal Académico > EN > Students > Mobility Programs > European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)

 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)


The ECTS system is based on three core elements: information (on study programmes and students achievement), mutual agreement (between the partner institutions and the student) and the use of ECTS credits (to indicate student workload). These three core elements are made operational through the use of three key documents: the Information Package, the Application Form/Learning Agreement and the Transcript of Records. ECTS provides transparency through the following means:

  1. ECTS credits which are a numerical value allocated to course units to describe the student workload required to complete them (one semester is worth 30 ECTS credits and a year 60 ECTS credits);
  2. The Information Package which supplies written information to students and staff on institutions, departments/faculties, the organisation and structure of studies and course units;
  3. The Transcript of Records which shows students' learning achievements in a way which is comprehensive, commonly understood and easily transferable from one institution to another; 
  4. The Learning Agreement covering the programme of study to be taken and the ECTS credits to be awarded for their satisfactory completion, committing both home and host institution, as well as the student.

ECTS Credits at UMinho

At the University of Minho the ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credit system is used in all three cycles of studies and all courses have been adapted to the Bologna guidelines.
The publication of the Decree-Law 42/2005, of February 22, officially approved the regulatory instruments for the creation of the European Higher Education Area, among which those related to the curricular credit system. Under the terms of the mentioned decree-law, it is up to the legally and statutorily competent body of each higher education institution to approve a regulation for the application of the curricular credit system.

Therefore, fulfilling its statutory dispositions, the University of Minho defines the rules of the application of the curricular credit system either for the courses leading to a degree or for the non-awarding degree courses in the Regulation on the Application of the Curricular Credit System (ECTS – European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) to the Courses of the University of Minho (Rector’s Dispatch-35/2005).

“ECTS Credit” is the measurement unit of the student workload in all its forms: taught teaching-learning sessions; tutorials; placements, internships, project work, laboratory or field work, independent study and assessment. In this context, the credits of a course unit correspond to the numerical value that reflects the work that the student should have to successfully achieve the learning objectives of a course unit.

The general principles for the allocation of ECTS credits are: 

  1. The total estimated workload of a full-time student is 42 hours/week;
  2. The academic year at the University of Minho has 40 weeks and the courses can be organised on: 
 - A trimester basis, with 560 hours as an estimated workload of a full-time student;
 - A semester basis, with 840 hours as an estimated workload of a full-time student;
 - An annual basis, with 1680 hours as an estimated workload of a full-time student.

       3. The number of credits corresponding to the workload of a full-time study year is:
- Trimester: 20 ECTS credits;
 - Semester: 30 ECTS credits;
 - Annual: 60 ECTS credits.

        4. The credits allocated to each course unit are expressed and represented in multiples of half a credit.

The allocation of ECTS credits per course unit should have the following under consideration:
a) the characteristics and diversity of the methodologies to be used in the student teaching-learning process, paying particular attention to his/her personal work.
b) the calculation of the number of hours necessary to acquire the competence(s) foreseen in the course unit.

Any course unit included in the study plan of more than one course/programme must have the same number of credits, regardless the course, as long as the learning outcomes and the prerequisites are the same.

Course units with different designations/names and the same learning outcomes are not allowed.
1 ECTS credit is worth 28 hours of student workload. Each course unit has the total student estimated workload clearly identified and the breakdown is also provided according to the following categorisation: T: Theoretical Lectures; TP: Theoretical-practical Lectures; PL: Laboratory Classes; TC: Supervised Field Work; S: Seminars; OT: Tutorials; E: Placements; TO: Guidance Works; O: Other Works; TI: Independent Work and Assessment.
Within the internal quality assurance mechanisms, since the academic year 2005/2006, both students and lecturers assess workload allocation to each course unit through questionnaires. Readjustments of ECTS credits and/or learning outcomes are made according to the analysis of the feedback obtained and the national legal framework.

ECTS Grading System

The grading system is a key issue in the academic recognition process for students participating in international mobility programmes. Grading scales vary according to host countries and institutions which increases the difficulty and complexity levels of the equivalence process.

Therefore, having in mind the different grading systems in Europe, a grading scale has been developed in the framework of ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) to make the comparison between different national scales easier and the assessment process more transparent.

The ECTS grading scale allows the qualitative assessment of students' performance in the subjects attended at the host institution.

At the first level, this grading system divides students into two separate groups: pass and fail; and afterwards, those obtaining passing grades are divided into five subgroups. An ECTS grade is allocated to each subgroup. 

The ECTS grade aims at providing additional information regarding the student's achievements in a specific subject. It is based on the rank of a student in a given assessment that is how he/she performed relative to other students in the same class (or in a significant group of students).  

ECTS grade does not intend to replace the local grade but to provide qualitative information about the student's academic performance.

Having under consideration the good practices in the use of ECTS tools, Universidade do Minho issues to all exchange students (in the end of their study period) a Transcript of Records that includes the grades achieved in each course unit both in the national and the ECTS scales.   

National Grading System

10-13    Sufficient

14-15    Good

16-17    Good with distinction

18-19    Very Good with distinction

20            Very Good with distinction and honors

In the national grading system, the results are represented in a scale from 0 to 20, and the minimum mark required to approval is 10.