Student exchanges

Academic matters

An exchange period is an integral part of your degree programme and credit gained whilst on exchange counts towards your Edinburgh degree. Learn more about credit systems abroad and transferring credit to Edinburgh.

Selecting the right courses

While on exchange you must study courses relating to your Edinburgh degree and should normally take a full academic load. 

Before departure, it is vital that you liaise with your Exchange Coordinator to ensure that your course selections satisfy requirements for your degree programme here at Edinburgh. You must also consult your Coordinator over any changes to your study programme and learning agreement during your exchange period.

Transferring credit/grades

You will receive credit for courses you successfully complete whilst on exchange, and this credit will be transferred to your University of Edinburgh degree at the end of your exchange year. 

Students on non-compulsory exchanges

Students undertaking study abroad as a non-compulsory part of their degree programme will transfer only credit to their Edinburgh degree. Grades for courses taken whilst on exchange will not be included in the calculation of your degree classification and will not be listed on your University of Edinburgh transcript.

On returning to Edinburgh, presuming you pass your year abroad, you will proceed to your fourth year of study. Your degree will normally be classified only on the basis of the work you complete in your fourth year at Edinburgh. If you are undertaking a five year programme of study, your degree classification will be based on your fourth and fifth years.

You are normally expected to undertake and pass the equivalent of 120 Edinburgh credits for the year (60 per semester).

Students on compulsory exchanges (including Modern European Languages)

If your study abroad period is a compulsory part of your Edinburgh degree programme, grades obtained whilst on exchange may count towards your degree. Ensure that you know how many credits you need to return to Edinburgh and how your grades will be translated.

Some programmes, such as Modern European Language programmes, do not require students to take a full credit load at the partner institution as some credits are gained through courses assessed in Edinburgh. Please speak with your Exchange Coordinator who will be able to advise on the specific requirements of your programme and how your year or semester abroad will impact on your Edinburgh degree.

Credit systems

In order to calculate how many courses constitute a full courseload, you may need to be aware of the credit system your host university uses.

European Credit Transfer System

Most European institutions use the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), awarding credit which is comparable and equivalent throughout Europe. A standard annual courseload at most institutions is 60 ECTS credits - this equates to 120 Edinburgh credits. 

Credit systems outside Europe

If you study outside of Europe, credit systems will vary. You should ensure that you undertake whatever constitutes a typical credit or course load at your host university. To find out the typical and recommended credit/courseload requirements for your host institution, please view the document below.


All students undertaking an exchange period are expected to return a transcript of results to Edinburgh at the end of their exchange period.

What is a transcript?

A transcript is an official document provided by your host university at the end of your study period there. Your transcript should clearly indicate:

  • all courses you completed
  • grades and marks obtained
  • credit awarded

It is your responsibility to make sure your transcript is transferred from your host university to the University of Edinburgh at the end of your exchange. If we do not receive this before the start of the academic year, you will not receive credit for your year abroad before you resume your studies here - should there be any shortfall in the credit obtained at your host university, this may affect your ability to continue your studies at Edinburgh.

How do I obtain my transcript?

You must ensure that you know how to obtain this from your host university before you leave - do not simply assume that it will be sent to Edinburgh as a matter of course.

Some institutions may send it to Edinburgh automatically whilst others may send it directly to you or require you to collect it before your departure. At some institutions, you may need to collate and submit individual certificates to a particular office or member of staff at your host university, whilst at others you may need to specifically request a transcript in order for it to be generated.

If you have undertaken project work or research (rather than courses and assessments) then you must request and obtain a summary or report from your supervisor outlining the work completed.

Progression Boards

Transcripts for returning exchange students will be received by Edinburgh Global and forwarded to the relevant College Progression Board for Study Abroad. The University has two such boards: one for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Science and one which covers the Colleges of Science and Engineering, and Medicine and Veterinary Medicine. These boards confirm the award of credit for students who have a period of optional study abroad (and take account of any relevant special circumstances).

They do not consider students studying for a Modern Language (single or joint honours), or students in the College of Science and Engineering who are studying on degree programmes whose title contains “…with a Year Abroad”, whose progression decisions for their study abroad are made by the relevant Board of Examiners in their respective College.

Once your transcript has been considered by the relevant Progression Board/Board of Examiners, and presuming full credit has been achieved, then your University of Edinburgh records will be updated to indicate the credit awarded for the year/semester abroad.