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Academics

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

At the University of Barcelona (UB) you can take a wide variety of courses. Within the university facultades, UC students usually take courses in the humanities and social sciences, especially in the fields of Spanish literature, history, art history, Catalán studies, and linguistics. Many other disciplines are also available if you have the requisite background. UB Estudios Hispánicos also offers coursework specifically for international students taught in Spanish and English. Many of these courses focus on Barcelona and Spain so you can better get to know the country in which you will be living.

Unique study opportunities

  • Complete 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: Optional

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. 

Spanish Courses at UB

Most courses offered in the UB facultades require at least a B2 (upper intermediate) level of Spanish proficiency in order to keep up with and understand class work and discussions. If you do not have a B2 level or higher, you can opt to take courses taught in Spanish in Estudios Hispánicos. These are courses designed for international students so they can accommodate a variety of proficiency levels. Refer to the Current Program Courses section below for more details.

Even if you plan to only take courses in English, you may find Spanish language study to be helpful as you navigate living in a Spanish-speaking country. Barcelona is an international city and many folks speak some English but being able to communicate even with a little Spanish can be incredibly useful and could open up more opportunities for getting to know locals. 

Estudios Hispánicos offers several options for language study. Their cursos de lengua provide intensive language study whereas cursos de cultura provide language study focused on specific aspects of the language (see the Estudios Hispánicos link in the Catalogs and Resources section for further information).

Courses and credit

REQUIREMENTS WHILE ABROAD

To successfully complete this program:

  • Take a full-time course of study: minimum of four courses and 18 quarter/12 semester UC units; most courses are 5 quarter/3.3 semester UC units.
  • You may select one course for pass/no pass credit.

CURRENT PROGRAM COURSES

Course information and schedules for the next academic year are typically updated on the UB website by mid-July. However, you can use the current academic year course listings as a reference for what will likely be available in the future. This is because course offerings in the UB degrees do not change much year-to-year. 

Regular university courses in most academic disciplines are available. Before departure, you’ll complete an initial host registration (fall: May 10, spring: November 15). Unlike Spanish students, you may take classes in any facultad with a few exceptions (see below). 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 independent investigation as you can to find out what is available.

ESTUDIOS HISPANICOS

UB Estudios Hispánicos offers coursework designed specifically for international students. Courses are offered on a variety of subjects such as Art History, Business Administration, Catalan, Film & Media Studies, Geography, History, Political Science, Sociology, and Spanish. 

COURSES IN ENGLISH

UB degrees with fifteen or more English courses offered across both fall and spring semesters:

  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Computer Engineering
  • Early Childhood Education
  • English Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology

UB degrees with at least five English courses offered across both fall and spring semesters:

  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Biotechnology
  • Chemistry
  • Law
  • Physics
  • Sociology

Outside of these degrees, English offerings are very sparse and change from year-to-year so you will not be able to confirm availability of English courses in other degrees until the next academic year courses are posted in June. You will need to get comfortable searching the UB website (in Catalan) in order to find course options. 

COURSE RESTRICTIONS

The following UB degrees are impacted and international students may not enroll in courses in them:

  • Business Administration
  • Economics
  • International Business

The Faculty of Law is open to international students but coursework there is impacted so it will be difficult to enroll in these courses.

UCEAP students may not enroll in courses in the following UB schools:

  • Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Faculty of Farmacy and Food Science
  • School of New Interactive Technologies
  • Centre for Advanced Studies in Cinema and Audiovisuals
  • Institute of Public Security of Catalonia.

UB Faculties with enrollment specifications:

  • Faculty of Psychology-- only Psychology and related majors may enroll in these courses. You must provide a copy of your unofficial transcript as proof of your major when requesting to enroll in these courses.
  • Faculties of STEM (Biology, Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics, etc.) require that you submit a copy of your unofficial transcript when requesting to enroll in their courses to confirm that you have adequate background knowledge in the field.
  • Faculty of Fine Arts-- only Fine Arts and related majors may enroll in these courses. 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.

Common UC degrees not offered at UB include:

  • Global Studies
  • International Relations
  • International Studies
  • Women's & Gender Studies

This is not an exhaustive list so please review the UB course offerings carefully in order to confirm that coursework you are interested in taking is available.

RESEARCH

Research opportunities and independent study are not typically available on this program.

COURSE REGISTRATION AND SELECTION

Two to three months before the start of the program, the UCEAP Study Center staff will email you to complete a course registration form in which you will indicate the courses you wish to take. The Study Center staff will then work with the UB departments to determine if space is available for you in the courses you've selected. Please be aware that once the UB semester begins, the process for requesting to add or drop courses is time-consuming and it may be a while before the department confirms any new course enrollment. It is important that you review course offerings on the UB website and communicate with your college or major academic advisor to determine what UB courses can be used to fulfill your UC degree requirements well before completing the course registration form. Do not wait to do this until you are in Barcelona!

Remember that, similar to your UC campus, you are not guaranteed enrollment in UB courses. You will need to be flexible and have a back-up course plan if your top course choices are full.

Catalogs and resources

  • Tutorial on how to find courses at UB.
  • 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.
  • 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 (fall or spring) the English course is offered.
  • UB Estudios Hispánicos offers courses for international students. You can select from courses in the cursos de cultura presenciales and the cursos de Business, Communication and Society presenciales offerings. UCEAP students may take up to two Estudios Hispánicos courses total per term.
  • Learn Catalan at UB: you can begin your Catalán study immediately by going to the UB’s listing of resources for learning Catalán.
  • UCEAP Course Catalog: See a list of courses students have taken on this program. This is not a current representation of course offerings on this program. Reference the above links to review recent course offerings
  • Campus Credit Abroad: learn the types of credit (major, minor, general education, elective) students from your campus received at this location.

Academic culture

Successful students on this program need to be independent, self-motivated, and plan ahead. While UCEAP does have Study Center staff in Barcelona to assist you, you will largely be responsible for navigating the ins and outs of the university yourself.

Before applying, look at the UB website to see if coursework you want or need to take is available.

CAMPUSES

UB has several campuses scattered across the city. If you plan to take coursework in different facultades, pay attention to what campuses the facultades are located on since you may need to factor travel time between campuses into your course schedule. Transit time between campuses can vary.

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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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.

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. Your professors will determine the final exam dates and you may not approach them to request earlier exam dates.

If you study at UB during spring semester, final exams in the facultades or degrees will extend into mid- to late June. Again, your professors will determine the final exam dates and you may not approach them to request earlier exam dates. Estudios Hispánicos course exams finish by mid-May.

Although the Spanish system often allows for multiple final exam sittings (convocatorias), you must take your final exam during the first exam period. UC policies also specifically prohibit re-taking final exams.

Grades

You will earn direct UC credit and grades for all coursework. While UB may offer a suggested grade conversion scale, UCEAP uses its own conversion scales approved by UC faculty. Grades for this program are typically available in early April for the fall semester and mid-September 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 major academic advisor about your graduation plans.