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Academics

Fields of Study: Humanities, Social Sciences, Science, Engineering

At the University of Barcelona (UB) you can take a combination of regular UB courses and specially designed core courses on the EU & Globalization and Law, Justice, Politics, & Mass Media . Within the regular university facultades, UC students usually take courses in the humanities and social sciences, especially in the fields of Spanish literature, economics, history, art history, Catalán studies, and linguistics. Other disciplines are also available if you have the requisite background.

Unique study opportunities

  • Add an internship for academic credit during the term.
  • Take studio art courses at with UB’s Faculty of Fine Arts.
  • Access a number of courses taught in English to round out your studies.
  • Learn basic Catalán skills and interact with locals in their home language.

Language

Language of Instruction: English, Spanish, Catalan

Spanish Language Study: Required

Most university courses are taught in either Spanish (Castellano) or Catalán. If a course is taught in Catalán, you may ask questions, take notes, and write your papers and exams in Spanish. UB offers an ever-expanding catalog of courses taught in English so you could opt to take all coursework in English. 

Intensive Language Program

The program begins with a Spanish intensive language program (ILP) before the start of regular classes. During the ILP you’ll also become familiar with the classes that are available at UB in the coming term. 

Courses and credit

Requirements While Abroad

To successfully complete this program:

  • Take a full-time course of study: a minimum of four courses and 18 quarter/12 semester UC units.
  • You may select one course for pass/no pass credit.
  • The core course is optional and can count towards the four course minimum load.

Units during the ILP do not count toward the semester minimum unit requirement. 

  • ILP: one language course for a total of 4 quarter/2.67 semester UC units. Course must be taken for a letter grade. 

Current Program Courses

Regular university courses in most academic disciplines are available. Before departure, you’ll complete an initial host registration (fall: May 10, spring: November 15). After arrival, program coordinators and the study center director will meet with you to finalize an appropriate course of study. Courses offered in the fall are usually posted on the UB website by late July. 

Unlike Spanish students, you may take classes in any facultad. As you plan your academic choices, remember to explore the courses that a variety of facultades offer. For example, an anthropology course may be in the Facultad de Historia if such a course is a requirement for the history degree since each facultad provides all the courses that students need to fulfill their requirements.

The study center will help you navigate courses by providing information on class availability, schedules, locations, etc. Even so, do as much investigation as you can to find out what is available.

Courses in Studio Art

The Faculty of Fine Arts in Barcelona is an inspirational place to pursue studio art. It offers instruction in painting, sculpture, drawing, design, image, art restoration, and art education. Space is extremely limited and admission is competitive. However, if you’re an art major with a clear idea of how you’d like to develop your artistic talents, this is a great option.

To apply, you’ll need to submit a portfolio of your work (photographs, slides, résumé, etc.) and a few other documents before departure. Your application documents and portfolio will be presented to the dean of the facultad for an admission decision. Admission is not guaranteed; it is best to have an alternate academic plan for your time in Spain. If accepted, you’ll be required to take two classes and may dedicate as many as 12 hours per week to each class.

If you wish to study art history, you may do so in the Facultad de Historia. There is no need for a separate application, but it is helpful to have some background in history. The language of instruction in both art history and studio art tends to be Catalán.

Catalogs and resources

  • Access course listings, schedules, and syllabi in each UB degree here. Please note: these webpages are only available in Catalán but you can translate them in your internet browser. Courses for the next academic year are posted at the end of June.
  • UB Undergraduate Degree Listings: page available in English, Spanish, and Catalán.
  • Learn Catalan at UB: you can begin your Catalán study immediately by going to the UB’s listing of resources for learning Catalán.
  • UB Degrees and Courses taught in English: click on the course titles to access syllabi (course plans). Then use the first link above to find the course schedule and confirm the term the English course is offered.
  • UCEAP Course Catalog: see a list of courses UC students have taken on this program.
  • Campus Credit Abroad: learn the types of credit (major, minor, general education, elective) students from your campus received at this location.

Academic culture

Degree System

Spanish universities traditionally follow a career system, which means that Spanish students begin their studies with their major already selected and take courses that are preassigned within one facultad for their entire university career. Spanish students are therefore, highly specialized in their fields. Unlike Spanish students, you can take courses in more than one facultad so you have more flexibility to choose courses.

In many respects, Spanish undergraduate degrees are similar to the American bachelor's degree: students progressively advance through a degree plan over four years, starting with foundational courses, required courses, electives, and a final project.

While not always exact, be aware that many courses designated as básica, particularly those offered for first year (curso 1, or primer curso) students, are considered lower division. Unless you are specifically trying to meet lower division GE requirements, try to avoid enrolling in first year courses whenever possible.

Class Format and Expectations

While some professors tend to be more open to interaction, many courses in Spain are lectures with little or no class discussion. Given this lecture format, note-taking skills are important. You’ll also need to do preparatory work on your own outside of class, which may extend beyond what a professor assigns.

Most professors supply a syllabus at the beginning of the course. In some cases these are available online in the guía for each facultad. The syllabus may include a bibliography and reading list that may be extremely long. You probably don’t need to read every book on the list, but you do need to find out which ones are essential and how they relate to each other. You may be expected to know the arguments of important books in the field, since a principle objective of many courses is to master what has already been written on any given topic.

Assessment and Exams

Although Spanish professors may not usually take formal attendance, they’ll notice repeated unexcused absences from class. In many cases, exams concentrate heavily on material presented in class. Failure to regularly attend class can result in a lowered or failing grade.

In Spain the GPA is not as important as it is in the US, and the Spanish grading system differs greatly from the American grading system. Grades for Spanish students are rarely curved, so the performance of a fellow student does not affect another student’s grade. Grades are assigned according to how much of the course material you have mastered, not how much effort you feel you may have put into the class.

Exams are usually essays that may include subjects that were minimally covered in lectures. This is where independent research is critical. Exams may be open notebook or open book, in which case you’ll be expected to read several books and quote from them.

You may have a choice between two evaluation models. The evaluación única model bases the entire course grade on one comprehensive essay exam at the end of the term. The evaluación continua model, on the other hand, permits evaluation using two or three course elements, such as a term paper, a mid-term, and a final exam. Choose the evaluación continua model. Participants often do better overall when submitting assignments and receiving regular feedback from instructors.

Spanish students know how and at what point in the year or semester the professor will be expecting them to apply themselves and be productive. Do not wait until the end of the year to study for a final exam; it constitutes your entire grade.

If you study at UB during fall semester, you may finish your exams in December, but UB professors will not share final grades until the completion of the exam period in early February. Early departures from Spain are not allowed.

Although the Spanish system often allows for multiple final exam sittings (convocatorias), UC policies specifically prohibit re-taking final exams.

Grades

You will earn direct UC credit and grades for all coursework. Please be aware that the UCEAP Faculty Director in Spain determines final UC letter grades. Grades for this program are typically available in late March for the fall semester and late August for the spring semester.

If you are planning to graduate the same term you are abroad, grades may not arrive in time for fall or spring degree verification deadlines. Please talk with your Campus Study Abroad Advisor about your graduation plans.