Academic information

As a foreign student, different options are available at Mälardalen University depending on the degree level you would like to study. You can study with us as an exchange student and as a course or a degree student.

Academic culture

Relations between students and teachers may seem informal to foreign students. Students are encouraged to ask questions both inside and outside the classroom. The lectures often contain discussion around chosen topics rather than teacher provided speeches.

You may if you desire entitle your teacher with Mr/Mrs and his/her last name however it is common practice a more equal approach between teachers and students, such as adressing eachother on first name basis. This does not in any way imply that teachers will accept anything but your best performance in class and during examinations.

Students enjoy a large measure of independence and are expected to do a substantial amount of work on their own initiative. This approach is demanding and you must be prepared to take a good deal of responsibility for your own studies. In return you develop for example your planning skills, and your ability to determine which parts of all the knowledge that is most essential. These abilities are typically highly appreciated by employers, and will be of use for you for the rest of your life.

The ECTS System

The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS), was developed by the European Commission in order to facilitate academic recognition of studies abroad. It provides a way of measuring and comparing learning achievements, and transferring them from one institution to another.


Credits represent the study workload required to complete course units. Credits express a relative rather than an absolute measure of student workload.

In ECTS, 60 credits are equivalent to the full time study workload achieved during one academic year, and thereby 30 credits are equivalent to the full time study for one semester.

Mälardalen University has as of July 1, 2007 adapted to most parts of the Bologna process.

Diploma Supplement

Diploma Supplement (DS), provides sufficient independent data to improve transparency and professional recognition of academic achievement of students. Students that complete a degree program at Mälardalen University will receive a DS together with the degree certificate and both are free of charge.


The Swedish academic system

Higher education in Sweden is divided in cycles. Each cycle builds on the knowledge, skills and conceptual understanding from the previous cycle.

  • First cycle (undergraduate / Bachelor’s degree)
  • Second cycle (postgraduate / Master’s degree)
  • Third cycle (postgraduate / Doctoral studies)

The Swedish higher education system was decentralised in the early 1990s. As a result, the government now sets degree frameworks and conducts quality controls but leaves decisions regarding course content to the institutions themselves.

After you have successfully completed three years of study at first cycle, you can apply for second cycle studies. Only after you have been awarded a second cycle degree, you can continue to third cycle studies.

The Higher Education Act and the Higher Education Ordinance state that first cycle (undergraduate) programmes must have an academic or artistic basis and be grounded in best practice. A first cycle programme lasts for six semesters / three years and is made up of self-contained courses some of which are compulsory and some optional. First cycle programmes lead to professional or vocational qualifications.

Second cycle programmes build on the knowledge, skills and conceptual understanding acquired in first cycle programmes. In addition they further develop the students' ability to independently apply knowledge, deal with complex phenomena, issues and situations and acquire the skills for future careers in the professions or within academia.



Some teach one course at a time (7.5 ECTS credits over 5 weeks or 15 credits over 10 weeks), others give two courses parallel as part time courses (7.5 ECTS credits over 10 weeks or 15 credits over 20 weeks). Courses can also be taught parallel during the whole semester - e.g. four 7.5 - credit courses given parallel over 20 weeks.

In ECTS, 60 credits are equivalent to the full time study workload achieved during one academic year, and thereby 30 credits are equivalent to the full time study for one semester.


Teaching methods

Lectures are given to both smaller (20-30 people) and larger groups and students are encouraged to ask questions in either case. Attending lectures is sometimes compulsory and always recommended.

Students in Sweden are expected to put a great deal of individual work into their studies. The course literature is studied thoroughly and to pass the examination it will not be enough to take notes during lectures, although this is essential. In many courses you will need to present a paper, often completed together with one or two fellow students, at a seminar. At seminars, attendance is always compulsory and students are expected to participate in discussions. The paper normally carries some of the credits awarded for the course.

The relationship between teachers and students at Swedish universities may seem informal to foreign students. Teachers and students usually call each other by the first name and you are encouraged to ask questions or make comments both in and out of the classroom.


Forms of examination

A written or oral examination plus a presentation of a paper is a common form of examination. Typically, group papers are discussed during seminars towards the end of the course and a written examination takes place at the very end of each course. In some courses continuous assessment is used and based on compulsory attendance and participation at seminars throughout the course.

Traditionally, three grades are awarded at Swedish universities: Pass with Distinction (VG), Pass (G) and Fail (U). You can also obtain the grades 3, 4 and 5 (in which case 5 is the top grade) and fail. Certain projects or labs will be rewarded only with a pass (G) or a fail (U).

If you fail the examination, you are entitled to take the examination again, on the occasion of scheduled examinations, until it has been passed. As an exchange student, you can count on getting one more chance to take the examination later in the same semester.


Course literature

Be prepared to buy your own books. Books are considered rather expensive in Sweden but in both campus cities you can buy the required course literature at reasonable prices in book stores. You can find course literature for sale online as well. Articles and compendiums can mostly be aquired at the university.

Sometimes students sell their used books at reduced prices. In Eskilstuna second hand course literature as well as various office supplies can be purchased at the Student Union Office.