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Course and credit load

What courses can I take?

Read more about choosing your courses.

How many courses should I take?

Study abroad and exchange students can enrol in a maximum of four semester courses (or the equivalent where courses of differing lengths are chosen).

As a rule of thumb, SSA students need to take a minimum of three semester courses at various academic levels (or four semester courses at first year level). Depending on your course selection, this should ensure a credit load of between 72 and 90 credits at Bachelors level. This is equivalent to a full course load for a degree-seeking student at UCT and meets the national minima laid down by the South African National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

The credit weighting of each course is detailed in the course outline in the faculty handbook. When selecting your courses, add the credit weightings for each to ensure you have at least 72 credits.

An example of a degree-programme curriculum in the Faculty of Humanities shows an academic load of four courses per semester totalling 72 credits per semester.

How do I transfer UCT credits to my home degree?

On completion of the Semester Study Abroad programme, we will issue you with an official transcript of learning detailing the courses you enrolled for, the credit value of each course and your final course grades.

Your home university will use the transcript to establish the equivalency of UCT credits with its credit system, and the eligibility of your learning at UCT to your home degree curriculum requirements.

Normally, students discuss their course choices with their home universities before enrolling at UCT to ensure their UCT curriculum is appropriate for credit transfer towards their home degree curriculum requirements. Some universities may use a ‘learning agreement’, signed by the student, UCT and their home university, to record your course choices and formalise the eligibility of the credits from UCT courses for transfer to your home degree.

Remember to keep your home university informed about any changes to your course selection. The transfer of credits from one university to another is always at the discretion of the receiving university or programme.


What credit system does UCT use?

UCT uses the Credit Accumulation and Transfer (CAT) system.  The system rests on the award of one credit for every ten notional hours of learning where learning covers all activities related to contact time and guided independent learning or self-study.

Each of the University’s six faculties has a particular interpretation of CAT and credit values for equivalent learning can vary depending on which faculty your course is located in. As a general rule, a years’ worth of full-time study at undergraduate (Bachelor) level is worth between 120 and 144 credits.  However, the size of courses varies and this can introduce some complexity in calculating what constitutes a full course-load.

  • FIRST year courses (coded 1000-level) are typically worth between 16 and 18 credits;
  • SECOND year courses (coded 2000-level) are typically worth 18 and 24 credits;
  • THIRD year courses (coded 3000-level) can be worth between 18 and 30 credits.

At a minimum, a full semesters’ worth of study typically falls between 60 and 72 credits. To meet this total, students would need to take three courses at various academic levels or four courses at first year level. Students taking Commerce courses would expect to have a lower cumulative credit value than those taking Humanities or Science courses where the cumulative total is likely to fall between 72 and 90 credits.

A semesters’ worth of study at between 60 and 72 credits is equivalent to

  • 60 UK CAT points;
  • 30 ECTS credits;
  • 15 US credits/ credit hours.