ECTS at the University of Pisa

This information package describes the European Credit Transfer Scheme at the University of Pisa. It contains descriptions of the courses offered in the different Subject Areas in order to help the prospective ERASMUS/ECTS student to prepare his/her study period in Pisa.
This package is also intended to help implement the Wider Use of ECTS. In past years the University of Pisa, in its various sectors, has established valued links with many other European Universities through the ERASMUS student and staff mobility programs. It has also participated from the beginning in the ECTS Pilot Project designed to develop ways of encouraging student mobility while ensuring transparency and efficiency in designing students' study plans and in giving credit for their achievement abroad.
As the new SOCRATES Program begins, the University of Pisa is extending the use of ECTS to all Subject Areas, and invites its Partner Institutions to adopt the same criteria in order to facilitate the development of existing programs and to encourage student mobility in the EU. These activities are being carried out with the support of the Commission of the European Communities within the framework of the ERASMUS Program.

What is ECTS?

ECTS (European Credit Transfer Scheme) is based upon the principle of mutual trust and confidence between participating higher education institutions. The few rules of ECTS, concerning Information (on courses available), Agreement (between the home and the host institutions) and the Use of Credit Points (to indicate student workload) are set to reinforce this mutual trust and confidence. Each ECTS department describes the courses it offers not only in terms of content but also adding the indication of credits to each course.

The Pilot Scheme

ECTS has been tested as a pilot project forming part of the ERASMUS program (European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students).
The Pilot Scheme has operated in five subject areas (Business Administration, Chemistry, History, Mechanical Engineering and Medicine) and involved 145 higher education institutions in all EU Member States and EFTA countries, each of them with one faculty or department. The Course of Study in History of the University of Pisa was selected by the Commission of the European Communities to participate in the ECTS in the field of History. The ECTS History Subject Area Coordinators have assisted in extending the use of ECTS to the entire University and to its network of partners in other ERASMUS and LINGUA Programs. The extension of ECTS proceeds on the basis of the experience of the other Subject Areas as well.

The ECTS Credits

ECTS credits are a value allocated to course units to describe the student's workload required to complete them. They reflect the quantity of work each course requires in relation to the total quantity of work required to complete a full year of academic study at the institution; that is, lectures, practical work, seminars, private work --in the library or at home-- and examinations or other assessment activities. ECTS credits express a relative value, with respect to one year's total workload.
In ECTS, 60 credits represent the workload of a year of study; normally 30 credits are given for a semester and 20 credits for a term. It is important that no special courses be set up for ECTS purposes, but that all ECTS courses be mainstream courses of the participating institutions, as followed by home students under normal regulations.
It is up to the participating institutions to subdivide the credits for the different courses. Practical placements and optional courses which form an integral part of the courses of study also receive academic credit. Non-credit courses may, however, be mentioned in the transcript of records.
Credits are awarded only when the courses have been completed and all the required examinations have been successfully taken.

ECTS Students

The students participating in ECTS will receive full credit for all academic work successfully carried out at any of the ECTS partner institutions and they will be able to transfer these academic credits from one participating institution to another on the basis of prior agreement on the content of study programs abroad between students and the institutions involved.
All the students of the participating departments who are willing to take part in the ECTS Pilot Scheme may do so if their institution agrees within the limits of the available places.
Most students participating in ECTS will go to one single host institution in one single EU Member State, study there for a limited period and then return to their home institution. Some may decide to proceed to a third institution to continue their studies. In each of these three cases, students will be required to comply with the legal and institutional requirements of the country and institution where they take their degree.
When the student has successfully completed the study program previously agreed between the home and the host institutions, and returns to the home institution, credit transfer will then take place, and the student will continue the study course at his/her home institution without any loss of time or credit. If, on the other hand, the student decides to stay at the host institution and to take a degree there, he/she may have to adapt his/her study course due to the legal, institutional and departmental rules in the host country, institution and department.
Students selected by each institution to participate in ECTS may only be awarded a student mobility grant if they fulfil the general conditions of eligibility for the ERASMUS grant. These are:

  • students must be citizens of one of the EU Member States or citizens of one of the EFTA countries (or recognised by one of the Member states or one EFTA country as having an official status of refugee or stateless person or permanent resident); as to EFTA nationals, students will be eligible provided that they are moving within the framework of ERASMUS from the respective EFTA home country to a EU Member State. EFTA nationals registered as students in other EFTA countries or in Community Member states are only eligible for participation in ECTS if they have established a right of permanent residence;
  • students shall not be required to pay tuition fees at the host institution; the student may, however, be required to continue to pay his/her normal tuition fees to the home institution during the study period abroad;
  • the national grant/loan to which a student may be entitled for study at his/her institution may not be discontinued, interrupted or reduced while that student is studying in another Member State and is receiving an ERASMUS grant;
  • one study period abroad should not last less than three months or more than one year;
  • students in the first year of their studies are not eligible for receiving ERASMUS grants.


For more details on ECTS please consult the ECTS brochure which is available from:

The ECTS Department, ERASMUS Bureau
Rue Montoyer 70
B-1040 Bruxelles
Tel: +32/2/2330111, Fax +32/2/2330150