Curriculum, Subjects, Examination, and Credits
Each study programme/field has its own mandatory curriculum (which contains a list of compulsory and/or elective subjects and a list of requirements for successful completion of study). This is published annually in the Karolinka (natur.cuni.cz/karolinka; Czech only). The curriculum applicable to you is the one for the academic year when you register for study. It may be modified on an ongoing basis; for example, subjects may be discontinued and replaced by others. For this reason, you should refer to the newly released Karolinka every year; it states what year(s) of study each change applies to.
Studying means fulfilling study requirements (learning subjects) in the curriculum of your field/programme. Studies are credit-based: for the successful completion of each subject, you receive a number of credits (“points”) depending on difficulty. The number of credits given does not depend on the mark. You can find the credit values for individual subjects in the Karolinka and in the Study Information System (SIS).
Subjects are compulsory, elective, or optional. You need to successfully complete all the compulsory subjects, otherwise you cannot complete your studies. From the elective subjects on offer, you have to obtain at least the minimum number of credits required (listed in the Karolinka). You can then choose optional subjects to gain the remaining credits and achieve the required limit. You have to gain a total of 180 credits for a bachelor’s programme (three years standard) and 120 credits in a post-bachelor’s programme (two years standard) – the ideal rate is to obtain 30 credits in a semester and 60 in a year.
You may register for each subject twice during one period of studies (not necessarily in the following year). If you do not complete a compulsory subject following your second registration, you will not pass the assessment of study performance prior to the state final exam, and as a result you will not complete your studies successfully. Find out more in the Registration for Subjects chapter.
You do not have to complete elective and optional subjects even when registered for the second time. However, we do not recommend registering for too many subjects and completing only some of them. For elective subjects, you may reduce your opportunities for registering and not be able to obtain the required number of credits for those subjects. In addition, if you register for more subjects, the minimum number of credits required for the next unit of study will increase – see below.
To complete a subject, you need to obtain a course credit or pass an examination (or both in certain subjects). You can find the requirements for completion (also referred to as the requirements for the assessment of study performance) for each subject in the SIS, along with an annotation, a list of teachers, total hours, and other information. Teachers should tell you about the requirements for the assessment of study performance at the beginning of instruction and they must not change them during the semester. Course credits are assigned for submitted lab records or for attendance during exercises, while examination usually takes the form of an oral exam or a written test.
You either obtain a course credit (“credited”) or not (“not credited”); for examination and a marked course credit, you can obtain marks of 1, 2, or 3 (“passed”), or 4 (“failed”). You receive the same number of credits regardless of whether your mark is 1, 2 or 3. If a subject includes a course credit, you usually need to obtain the course credit first. For each assessment of study performance (exams and course credits in the form of tests), you are allowed three attempts per academic year (one regular date and two resit dates). The second resit date in a subject registered for the second time (i.e., the sixth attempt in all) is always taken before an exam panel. No other attempts (sometimes referred to as the “Dean’s dates”) are allowed. Unused attempts are not transferred to subsequent academic years.
Teachers announce exam (or course credit) dates through the SIS, which is also where you register for them. At least two dates pertaining to an examination period must be announced before the period begins, with the next one at least fourteen days in advance. At least three dates must be offered and the capacity available for all three dates in aggregate must be at least 30% greater than the number of students who registered for the subject. To ensure you learn about any dates announced in good time and can register before the capacity is depleted, it is useful to have notifications sent to your e-mail (see Study Information System). If the capacity of a particular date is full, you can join a queue and automatically move upwards every time someone deregisters from the date. If you cannot attend an exam/course credit date for which you are registered and the period for deregistering has already expired, write an excuse to your teacher immediately and explain why you cannot come. Teachers are usually helpful and if your explanation is reasonable, you will be excused from that date. If you fail to provide an excuse, you will lose the attempt (without obtaining a mark).
If you experience any problems with exam dates, approach your teacher first, then the field or programme guarantor, and finally the Vice-Dean for Education. You can also approach student senators. If a group of students politely ask a teacher to reschedule an exam or publish a new date, the teacher is usually willing to honour their request if he or she can.
Please note: Do not wait with your first course credit or exam date for the end of the examination period. If the total number of dates published previously was sufficient, teachers are not bound to publish any more dates, even if you still have course credit/examination attempts remaining.
Progressing to the Next Unit of Study
To progress to each subsequent unit of study, you need to obtain the required number of credits before the current unit ends. If you do not obtain them, your studies will be terminated. The first unit of a bachelor’s programme is the first (winter) semester, and the second is the summer semester. Each subsequent unit of study is the entire academic year. For master’s programmes, a unit of study is always the entire academic year. The relevant dates for obtaining credits are at the end of the winter examination period in February (the first unit of study for bachelor’s programmes) and approximately the third week of September (subsequent units of bachelor’s programmes and all units of master’s programmes). The exact dates are defined in the schedule for each academic year (natur.cuni.cz/eng/study/student/academic-calendar).
The credit requirements for progressing to the next unit of study are summarised in the following diagram.
The number of credits required to progress to the next year will increase from minimum to standard if you register for subjects worth more credits than the defined limit. For example, if you have registered for subjects worth 146 credits (including previous units) in your third unit of Bc. study, you will have to obtain 120 credits instead of 95 to progress to the fourth unit. To progress to the 2nd and 5th units of Bc. studies, there is just one credit limit.
You can find more details in the Rules for Study Organisation (Article 4). (natur.cuni.cz/fakulta/senat/predpisy-pravni-normy/vnitrni-predpisy-prf-uk/; Czech only)
If you do not obtain 180 credits or do not complete all compulsory subjects or the required number of elective subjects successfully, you can “extend” your study if you have at least 150 credits. To extend a post-bachelor’s programme (i.e., to progress to the third year), you need to have at least 90 credits at the end of the second year; if, however, you have registered subjects worth 141 or more credits, you have to obtain 120 credits in order to be able to progress.
Please note: It is not strategically advisable to always obtain the lowest possible number of credits. In subsequent years of study, you may have to complete subjects worth much more than 30 credits per semester – especially if you have enough credits in total but have not completed all the compulsory or elective subjects in your curriculum. Therefore, try not to postpone completing your study requirements to higher years of study. In fact, it is an advantage to have fewer subjects to complete during the final year of study as it means you will have more time available for writing your final (bachelor’s or diploma) thesis.
In the event of serious health problems or pregnancy, it is possible to apply for an individual curriculum (IC). IC postpones the date of the assessment of study performance. The student proposes a new course of studies with regard to their state of health (with a medical report provided by a specialist physician). The Vice-Dean for Education then assesses the proposal (for example, a three-month stay in hospital is reflected in a three-month postponement of the assessment of study performance prior to progressing to the next year). Address any such situation in good time and if your sickness is prolonged, inform the Department of Student Affairs immediately. Excessive difficulty with your studies or working concurrently whilst studying are not sufficient reasons for an IC.
Karolinka: natur.cuni.cz/karolinka (Czech only)