How the UL academic system is different than an American university

Course registration

Before you even step foot on campus for your study abroad program, you can check out what classes are available to you as an international student via UL’s website. I highly recommend following the guideline of getting 7-10 classes (known here as modules) pre-approved with your university. As an international student, you won’t actually get to register for your classes until you attend orientation, so you’ll need to make sure you have plenty of options in case something fills up.


Just like at your home university, each class has a designated meeting time each week. The big difference from the US is that classes don’t meet at the same time throughout the week. You may have class 9-10 on Mondays, and 1-2 on Thursdays.

Classes are also only offered in one section. This means that there are usually one or two lectures per week that everyone must attend. If the module has tutorials, you generally get to choose which tutorial time you will attend for the rest of the semester.

If you choose 5 classes before arriving and 2 end up being at clashing times, don’t worry! This is why you have plenty of back-up classes. You won’t know when classes are timetabled until orientation or shortly before, so have plenty of options – I can’t stress that enough!!!

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Exams are such a big deal at UL! Think about your experience taking the SAT or the ACT – this is the kind of environment that you will find when you take your exams. There are neat, organized rows of students all taking their exams with monitors walking around. There are a lot of rules about what you can and cannot bring into the exam room. Don’t be worried though! Most modules have exams from years past on a database on the UL website! This is great because not only do you get to see how a past paper is structured, but you can also use that as a practise test!

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The grading scale here is a little more individualized per module. For some classes, 80% is an A1, which is equivalent to a 4.0. It could be higher or lower than that, but you won’t know until you see the syllabus. In general, the “failing” grade percentage is lower than it is at home, but you may not have small assignments to “cushion” your grade.

The grading components may be different than what you are used to. For some classes, the final exam is 100%. For others, you may have one assignment worth 40% and the exam worth 60%. This is the biggest difference I noticed from my home university because you have to be really diligent to do well in the classes where your only assessment comes at the very end of the semester.

The last crazy thing is that exam results come out a little over a month after the exams take place! For example, exams finish in mid-May, but we won’t see our results until late June.

Overall though, seeing a different system is interesting. It goes to show that there’s more than one way to everything! I hope this blog has shed some insight into how UL run their academic system.


~ Kylie



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