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Tampere University Student's Handbook

Glossary of studying

During your university studies you may come across several terms and concepts you are not familiar with. In this glossary you will find the most common study-related terms. The glossary is updated as needed. If you find a key term is missing from the glossary,  please send a message to studentcounselling.tau [at] (studentcounselling[dot]tau[at]tuni[dot]fi).

Academic year
The University’s academic year starts on 1 August and ends on 31 July the following year. The autumn semester begins on 1 August and ends on 31 December and the spring semester begins on 1 January and ends on 31 July. The academic year consists of four teaching periods. After each period, there is a one-week break, when contact teaching is not organised. In summer, teaching is organised from mid-May to mid-August.

Course unit
A course unit is the smallest independent, separately available part of the studies to be completed. The curriculum defines the learning outcomes of each course unit as well as contents, the assessment criteria, completion methods, and other information to guide the implementation of teaching.

A course unit may include alternative modes of study. Each completion method may have one or more components. A completion method may include, for example, a separate section of lectures and a section for the exam, which are separately graded. Once all parts of the course have been completed all the parts of the course, they will receive, the student will earn the credits of the study attainment in full.

Based on the course descriptions, actual teaching is planned in more detail each academic year. One or more implementations are usually organised for a course unit or its part during the academic year. Students enrol in the teaching and after which their study attainments are assessed.

In everyday language, implementations are sometimes referred to as ‘courses’ when talking about, for example, course enrolments. To avoid confusion, the term ‘course’ is not used in more formal contexts, since the term may mean very different things depending on the context (implementation, course unit, class, or even education).

The scope of university studies is indicated as credits. One credit corresponds to approximately 27 hours of study. A bachelor’s degree requires 180 credits and a master’s degree 120 credits, making the total number 300 credits if the student completes both. Distributed over a five-year target period, this means the completion of 60 credits per year. European higher education institutions are part of the same credit system (ECTS), which facilitates the use of credits, e.g., in exchange studies.

The curriculum is a competence-based tool for teaching, planning and academic guidance.

The curriculum describes the competences acquired by the student and the structure of the degree or a specific module. The curriculum includes the information necessary for teaching, guidance, planning and efficient studying, the assessment of competences and registering study attainments. The Faculty Council approves the faculty’s curricula for the period of three academic years.

The curriculum of your degree programme is the basis for your personal study plan on Sisu. You can find the curricula of all degree programmes under the section Curricula and Courses offered in the Student’s Guide. You may use the section as help, for example, when exploring elective study modules.

Degree Programme
At Tampere University, degree education is organised as degree programmes .The degree programmes leading to a first-cycle university degree are bachelor’s degree programmes. The degree programmes leading to a second-cycle university degree include master’s degree programmes and the Licentiate Degree Programme in Medicine. The degree programmes leading to a scientific or artistic doctoral degree are doctoral programmes.

Most students at Tampere University study in education that includes degree programmes leading to both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. In such cases, the student first completes the bachelor’s degree in the bachelor’s programme, after which he or she completes the master’s degree in the corresponding degree programme.

Free choice studies
A separate section has been designed to be included in the degree programme structure, for which you can choose study modules and course units from the elective free choice study offerings. You may also select studies from studies from the provision of the partner higher education institutions with which the University or a specific field has a cooperation agreement. The curriculum of a degree programme may include recommendations or certain requirements on free choice studies.

You will find information on elective study offerings in the Student’s Guide, and they are presented, for example, during the Study Expo in every academic year. For information on study offerings at other higher education institutions, please see the web page Courses offered by university networks on the Student’s Guide. Cross-institutional studying of the Tampere higher education institutions offer Tampere University’s degree and exchange students the opportunity to apply for certain studies at Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) and Police University College.

Personal study plan, PSP
The personal study plan (PSP) is based on the curriculum of the degree programme. Students draw up their PSPs via the Sisu study information system on the Structure of studies tab. You will find the compulsory studies included in your degree programme via Sisu. You can also make choices according to your own interests and goals, however, within the rules of the curriculum. If you would like to deviate from the curriculum of the degree programme, you must have your personal study plan approved separately.   

A degree programme may have specialisations where the student specialises in a more specific topic or content area within the degree programme. Students can either choose their specialisation during their bachelor’s degree studies according to the criteria defined in the curriculum or the specialisation may already be defined as part of their right to study during the admission process. Students may complete studies in other specialisations in a manner specified in the curricula. Decisions on the establishment or discontinuation of degree programme specialisations are made by the faculties.

Student’s Guide
The Student’s Guide is divided into two sections: Student’s Handbook and the curriculum. The Student’s Handbook provides guidelines for all phases of the studies. The same guidelines can also be found under the Studying section on the Intranet. The curriculum section describes, for example, all degree programme curricula and all the teaching at the University.

Study module
The structure of a degree consists of study modules, with which course units belonging to a certain level or subject area have been brought together into a meaningful whole for learning. The study modules include course units. Wide-ranging study modules may also include parts where course units are grouped more specifically, which are intended to, e.g., guide students to select suitable alternative course units.

Some of the study modules are assessed modules including, for example, joint studies, basic studies, intermediate studies, advanced studies, and free choice studies. Apply for module composition and assessment when you have completed all the parts of the module, and no longer intend to complete any more parts of the module. After assessment, the contents of the study modules may no longer be transferred into the study plan. Also, the assessments made are generally not retracted.

Teaching period
The teaching periods are periods of time in which teaching takes place. The implementation of a course unit usually lasts for one period, but it can also extend over several periods. There is a one-week break in contact teaching after each period to, for example, allow students to prepare and take examinations.

Teaching schedule
The teaching schedule describes the teaching offered each academic year. The teaching schedule includes more detailed information on the learning outcomes, contents, teaching and assessment methods, assessment criteria and the completion of studies. The Faculty Council makes decisions on the teaching schedules of the following academic year based on the degree programmes’ proposals by the end of March.

On Sisu, the annual teaching schedule can be found under the information of each course in connection with the completion methods. In Student’s Guide, the annual teaching schedule is displayed in connection with each course unit, respectively.

Published: 4.8.2023
Updated: 4.8.2023