Assessment and Grading System

Under the Portuguese system grades are given on a scale from 0 to 20, the minimum passing grade being 10.

The official Transcripts of Records are issued by the Academic Services both in Portuguese and ECTS scale. The transcripts are sent directly to the incoming students' International Relations Offices up to 1 month after the end of all exams at ISCTE-IUL. 

For international guest students grades are given according to the ECTS system.

Foreign students take the same type of examination as Portuguese students, who are continuously assessed in a variety of different ways. These may include formal examinations at the end of each semester, participation and class attendance, group projects and the presentation of case studies or essays. You will also be asked to work with other students to illustrate your ability to work as part of a team. You will be actively involved, encouraged to ask questions, join in discussions and argue with your teachers.

Even in some courses in Portuguese, foreign students will be allowed to do their reports and written examinations in English or other foreign language but this will have to be agreed upon by teachers on a case-by-case basis at the beginning of classes.

What is the ECTS grading scale?

ECTS Scale Definition % of Successful Students Normally Achieving the Grade
A EXCELLENT - outstanding performance with only minor errors Best 10%
B VERY GOOD - above the average standard but with some errors Next 25%
C GOOD - generally sound work with a number of notable errors Next 30%
D SATISFACTORY- fair but with significant shortcomings Next 25%
E SUFFICIENT - performance meets the minimum criteria Next 10%
FX FAIL - some more work required before the credit can be awarded -
F FAIL - considerable further work is required -

As many different national grading scales co-exist in Europe, in order to facilitate the mobility of students and their grades between institutions a common ECTS grading system has been developed.

The grading scale is based on the combined use of keywords with short explanations and alphabetical definitions from A to F. The ECTS grading scale ranks the students on a statistical basis.

ECTS provides an instrument to create transparency, to build bridges between institutions and to widen the choices available to students. The system makes it easier for institutions to recognise the learning achievements of students through the use of commonly understood measurements – credits and grades - and it also provides a means to interpret national systems of higher education. ECTS is based on three core elements: information (on study programmes and student achievement), mutual agreement (between the partner institutions and the student) and the use of ECTS credits (to indicate student workload).

ECTS provides transparency through the following means:

  1. ECTS credits which are a numerical value allocated to course units to describe the student workload required to complete them;
  2. The information package which supplies written information to students and staff on institutions, departments/faculties, the organisation and structure of studies and course units;
  3. The transcript of records which shows students’ learning achievements in a way which is comprehensive, commonly understood and easily transferable from one institution to another;
  4. The learning agreement covering the programme of study to be taken and the ECTS credits to be awarded for their satisfactory completion, committing both home and host institutions, as well as the student.

What are ECTS credits?

ECTS credits are a numerical value (between 1 and 60) allocated to course units to describe the student workload required to complete them. They reflect the quantity of work each course unit requires in relation to the total quantity of work necessary to complete a full year of academic study at the institution, that is, lectures, practical work, seminars, tutorials, fieldwork, private study - in the library or at home - and examinations or other assessment activities. ECTS is thus based on a full student workload and not limited to contact hours only.

ECTS credits are a relative rather than an absolute measure of student workload. They only specify how much of a year’s workload a course unit represents at the institution or department allocating the credits.

In ECTS, 60 credits represent the workload of an academic year of study and normally 30 credits for a semester and 20 credits for a term.

ECTS credits ensure that the programme will be reasonable in terms of workload for the period of study abroad.

How are ECTS credits transferred?

Home and host institutions prepare and exchange transcripts of records for each student participating in ECTS before and after the period of study abroad. Copies of these transcripts are given to the student for his/her personal file. The home institution recognises the amount of credit received by their students from partner institutions abroad so that the credits for the course unit passed replace the credits which would otherwise have been obtained from the home institution. The Learning Agreement gives the student a guarantee in advance that the credits for the approved programme of study will be transferred.


International Office

(+351) 210 464 331