Basic Information on Academic Studies


Academic System


Recognition of Studies

All education in the University of Oulu is based on The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) which facilitates international transparency and recognition of degrees at an international level. The education in the University is monitored through various quality assurance systems in order to enhance quality and improve international comparability.

All degrees awarded from the University of Oulu are recognised by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.

Academic calendar

At Finnish universities, the academic year begins on 1 August and ends on 31 July. The academic year consists of two semesters.

Autumn Semester
September – December
Faculty of Medicine: August – December

Spring Semester
January – May

In the spring semester, classes finish by early May but some exams can be taken up until the end of May. The actual starting and ending date of studies depends on the field of study and the courses taken.

There is no summer semester, but during the summer, students can take summer studies, which may consist of exams, personal projects or research. Lectures and seminars are not usually offered from June to August, with the exception of field courses in botany, zoology and geography. Most of the libraries are open during the summer.

In addition to summer holidays, there is a break at Christmas (~ Dec 20 – Jan 7) and Easter. Other possible holidays are winter holiday (week 10) and autumn break (week 43). May Day (May 1st) and Independence Day (December 6th) are public holidays.

Degree structure

The Bologna Process aiming at creating a European Higher Education Area has led to a university degree reform in Finland. The new, two-cycle degree system was introduced on August 1, 2005. The first cycle is the lower academic degree, the Bachelor’s degree (180 ECTS credits/3 years) and the second cycle the higher academic degree, the Master’s degree (120 ECTS credits/2 years). The third cycle encompasses postgraduate studies (leading to a postgraduate degree: Licentiate or Doctoral Degree).

The degree system in medicine and dentistry continue to have only one cycle. In medicine, students study directly for the postgraduate degree of licentiate, which is 360 ECTS credits in total, with a normative study time of six years. The degree in dentistry is also the licentiate degree, which is 330 ECTS credits and takes five and a half years.

The optional pre-doctoral postgraduate degree of licentiate can be completed in two years of full-time study after the Master’s degree.


A curriculum refers to the planned course of study. Its purpose is to guide students and teachers on how instruction and studies should progress. In the curriculum, the degree structure, study modules and courses are described in detail, along with the recommended course sequence and key learning outcomes.

Learning outcomes

The curricula at the University of Oulu are competency-based. Learning outcomes are set at a threshold level which all students must meet in order to pass the course or the study module and proceed to the next level of studies. Learning outcomes have been devised so that they can be achieved upon the completion of a course or a degree.

Student workload and ECTS credit allocation

As of 2005, all Finnish universities began using the ECTS grading system (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System), which replaced the old Finnish credit unit “study week” (ov). The number of ECTS credits is based on the amount of work required to achieve desired learning outcomes for a course or a study module. Today one ECTS credit corresponds to 27 h of work making the student workload in full-time study (60 ECTS credits) 1600 hours per academic year.

At the University of Oulu, the curricula are planned so that the overall study load 60 ECTS credits are evenly distributed into two semesters (30 credits / semester).


The basic structural unit of studies is a course. The scope of a course is stated in terms of ECTS credits. A course may contain different modes of study, such as lectures, exercise groups or e-learning.

Studies in a degree programme are usually classified as basic, subject/intermediate and advanced. A Bachelor’s degree consists of basic and intermediate studies in the major subject, including a Bachelor’s thesis, studies in one or more minor subjects, and language studies. For the Master’s degree, students must complete an advanced study module and prepare a Master’s thesis. Some degrees require compulsory practical training, for others, it is optional. Studies can be of different nature: compulsory (must be completed), alternative (student chooses from a set selection of courses a certain amount of studies), optional (student freely chooses studies for a certain amount of credits) or additional/extra (courses that are not required for the degree). You can finf all the courses taught at the University of Oulu in WebOodi or Noppa Study Portal.

Diploma Supplement

University of Oulu issues a Diploma Supplement automatically and free of charge to every student upon graduation. It is given in English and it is intended for international use.

A Diploma Supplement is a description of the nature, level, content and status of the awarded degree in the national system and it also gives information on the professional status of the qualification. The purpose is to improve international comparability of degrees and facilitate mobility either for postgraduate study or employment.

The Diploma Supplement includes an attachment of the student’s transcript of records and a description of the Finnish educational system.

Example of Bachelor's DS
Example of Master's DS

More information about the Diploma Supplement: European Commision Website

Language Proficiency

All degrees include compulsory language studies. Apart from native language skills, students have to demonstrate skills in the second official language (Finnish or Swedish), which correspond to the proficiency level required from the state personnel in bilingual authorities. In addition, students must demonstrate written and oral skills necessary in their field of study in at least one foreign language.

More information about Language Proficiency: Government Decree on University Degrees 794/2004, Language Proficiency Section 6: Language proficiency

ECTS and DS Labels

The University of Oulu has been awarded the ECTS Label and the DS Label. See further information about ECTS Label and DS Label.


Last updated: 16.8.2014