ECTS is a tool that helps to design, describe, and deliver programs and award higher education qualifications. This will be applied to all types of programs, whatever their mode of delivery (school-based, work-based), the learners’ status (full-time, part-time) and to all kinds of learning (formal, non-formal and informal).

ECTS credits are based on the time students need to complete all learning activities (such as lectures, seminars, projects, practical work, self-study and examinations) required to achieve the expected learning outcomes.

60 ECTS credits are attached to the workload of a fulltime year of formal learning (academic year) and the associated learning outcomes. In most cases, student workload ranges from 1,500 to 1,800 hours for an academic year, whereby one credit corresponds to 25 to 30 hours of work.

Credits are allocated to entire qualifications or study programs as well as to their educational components (such as modules, course units, dissertation work, work placements and laboratory work).

ECTS key feature that 60 credits are allocated to the workload of a full-time academic year, 30 ECTS credits are normally allocated to a semester and 20 ECTS credits to a trimester. Qualifications which have formal programs lasting three fulltime academic years are allocated 180 ECTS credits.

One approach to allocate credit:

  1. Teaching staff defines the learning outcomes of each program component, describe the learning activities and estimate the workload typically needed for a student to complete these activities. Proposals are collected, analyzed and synthesized and the estimated workload is expressed in credits.
  2. Higher education institution or the faculty may decide from the start to standardize the size of educational components, giving each one the same credit value.

Calculating Workload:

  1. Contact hours for the educational component (number of contact hours per week x number of weeks).

Time spent in individual or group work required to complete the educational component successfully (i.e. preparation beforehand and finalizing of notes after

  1. attendance at a lecture, seminar or laboratory work; collection and selection of relevant material; required revision, study of that material; writing of papers/projects/dissertation; practical work, e.g. in a laboratory)
  2. Time required to prepare for and undergo the assessment procedure (e.g. exams)
  3. Time required for obligatory placement(s)
  4. Entry level15 of students for whom the program (or its components) is designed; the approach to teaching and learning and the learning environment (e.g. seminars with small groups of students, or lectures with very large numbers of students) and type of facilities available (e.g. language laboratory, multi-media room).
  5. Work placements or internships are required to complete the program (or a component) they are part of students’ learning outcomes and workload and necessitate an allocation of credit  In such case, the number of credits allocated to the work placement should be included within the overall number of credits for the particular academic year

ECTS Convertor to Credit Hours and Vice Versa

The major difference between the ECTS and the AQU Credit system is that the first is based on student load and the second on contact hours. (The ground rule for AQU credit system is that for every hour in class, students need to spend three outside of class.) While ECTS is more oriented towards the students (the time required for them to meet the intended outcomes), the AQU system is more oriented towards the faculty (the time a faculty member needs to teach).

Technically, the ECTS has no co-curricular or extra-curricular activities because every activity needed to meet the intended outcomes of the program is valued with a certain number of ECTS, therefore 1 ECTS Point = 0.5 Credit Hour.

Item ECTS AQU Credit Hours
Academic Year 60 30
Academic Semester 30 15
Academic Trimester 20 10

Al-Quds University