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How are UK/British credit hours converted to US?

chicabuenachicabuena Registered User Posts: 98 Junior Member
edited August 2013 in Study Abroad
Here in the USA the traditional college student has an average of 4 or 5 classes per semester, usually somewhere between 12 to 15 hours a week in the classroom/contact hours, which translates into 12 - 15 credit hours per semester. The rest of the time is spent out of the classroom, in independent study.

My daughter was told to select 4 classes from the UK uni catalog (names and brief descriptions only) that she would like to take. So she chose Dance, Film, Cultural Studies, and French, which in the USA would amount to 13 credit hours, as each of the first three classes in the USA typically meet for 3 hours per week, and foreign language classes meet for 4. She sent her papers in and never gave it another thought.

Now she has just received a request to redo her schedule due to conflicts, and with a "timetable" in her hands, DD sees that classes are anywhere from a weekly minimum of 4 contact hours PER CLASS (for literature) to 5 contact hours per week for Intro Psych, Intro Soc, Gender Studies, or Cultural Studies, 8 hours weekly for foreign language, 9 and 10 hours weekly for film, dance, music, OR art class.

So, what would be a normal courseload of four 3-hour classes weekly (for 12 credit hours) under the US system is physically impossible under the UK system as Cultural Studies meets 5 hours weekly; French meets 7.75 hours weekly, Intermediate Dance Technique meets 10 hours weekly; and Film/Production Tools 9 hours weekly. That is a total of 32 hours sitting in a class room seat! Does that make sense?

How do US students who study abroad in the UK for a 4-month semester take classes in the UK which fulfill their required credit hours in the US? Do the UK college students actually take 4 or 5 classes of 8 to 10 hours every week? That's a lot of classroom time. How on earth do they do find time to research? Write papers? Work on projects?

Any feedback from students or parents who have experienced this?

BTW DD's school foreign exchange rep knows nothing about the program, as it is a new exchange partner with their school and there was not enough time to evaluate the program, it's being offered on a "trial basis"--and DD is the guinea pig.
Post edited by chicabuena on

Replies to: How are UK/British credit hours converted to US?

  • RamboRamboRamboRambo Registered User Posts: 132 Junior Member
    @chicabuena My roommate studied abroad at the University of Sussex in England this past fall. He told me that he took three classes, however one class transferred back as 12.0 units, another transferred back as 6.0 units, I'm not sure about the third class. Anyway, we're on the quarter system at my university here in the US, and most classes are either 4.0 or 5.0 units, a few are 6.0 units. So yeah, having a class transfer back as 12.0 units was a bit weird and can ruin your gpa if you don't do well in it. I know that doesn't fully answer your question, but I thought it might help
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