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Semesters, tests and exams

The semester system

In 2002, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel introduced the semester system for all its courses. As a result, the academic year at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel now consists of two blocks (semesters), each comprising 13 weeks of instruction, a revision period, an examination period and a holiday period. There are therefore two periods of first examinations (January and June). Students who have not passed these first exams always get a second chance during the second examination period (mid-August).

If you want to know more about the holiday, revision and exam periods, consult the academic calendar.

The semester system is designed to give students more chances and opportunities, e.g. for studying abroad for a few months.

Tests and examinations

Studying at university inevitably means having to take examinations. On this page, we give you the main facts on VUB examinations in a nutshell. For more details, we recommend that you read the VUB’s general examination regulations and the supplementary faculty examination regulations of your faculty.

The rule is that all examinations are oral or written. Exam dates are announced at least four weeks in advance on the notice boards (‘ad valvas’) for the two first examination periods and at least two weeks in advance for the second examination period. Examinations are never held on Sundays, public holidays or official holidays.

You pass if you have taken examinations on all the courses for which you have enrolled and have obtained for every course at least an average result of 10 out of 20.

Depending on your results and the deliberation rules of your faculty, your degree will come with one of the following levels of achievement: summa cum laude (greatest distinction), magna cum laude ( great distinction), cum laude (distinction), or satisfactory (pass).

If you have failed the exams on some of your courses, you can retake the examinations in the second exam period (August). You cannot retake examinations on those courses for which you got at least 10 out of 20.

Some lecturers give their students interim tests. Generally, the aim of these tests is to check the extent to which you have already mastered the material.

Exemptions and transfers

An exemption is the removal of the obligation to take an exam on a programme component or an element of a programme component. In that case, no examination mark is mentioned for the element or component in question and it is therefore not taken into account when calculating the average.