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Higher Education Structure

("Paysage" Decree)


Higher education in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation is currently undergoing a major reform implemented by the Decree of 7th November 2013 (“Paysage”), defining the structure of higher education and the academic organisation of studies . This decree establishes a new organisational structure of university studies, which is shared by all higher education institutions.

Start your studies off on the right foot by learning about the reform of higher education!

The “Paysage” Decree modifies the organisational structure of higher education. Students embark on a course leading to a Bachelor’s degree upon successful completion of 180 credits worth of subjects.

The student starts studying for a Bachelor's degree with an initial block of 60 credits broken down into Educational Components (UE) in their annual programme. They must obtain at least 45 credits of their annual programme in order to continue their course.

Each UE comprises one or more Teaching Activities (AA).

The credits are associated with the UEs.

A UE is organised over one term (with the exceptions set by the Decree).


The academic year is divided into 3 terms (Q1, Q2 and Q3) of approximately 4 months each:


Q1 = Term 1 (from 14th September until 31st January)
Q2 = Term 2 (from 1st February until 30th June)
Q3 = Term 3 (from 1st July until 13th September)

Assessments and Credit Accumulation

At the end of each term, the student is assessed on the AAs held during this period. Attending all exams in January is compulsory. In June of the 1st year, students can retake the exams failed in January. Credits are awarded per UE. All AAs of a UE must be passed and validated so that the credits of this UE can be awarded.

The pass mark is set at 10/20 for each UE and the concept of an average has been abolished and replaced by a concept of credit accumulation.

After obtaining at least 45 credits from Block 1, the student then registers for a maximum of 60 credits in Block 2. If the student obtains between 30 and 44 credits, they can, subject the Board's agreement, complete their annual programme (PAE) with UEs from the next block of credits.

Bachelor courses are divided into 3 blocks of 60 credits that are offered by default. Subject to the Board's agreement, students are able to customise their individual programmes.

Please consult the UMONS regulations: Study Regulations and Board Policy and Examination Regulations.


Summary of a Bachelor’s course:



The information on this page can be downloaded here (in French; available in English soon).

Key Terms *

Learning Outcomes (AAP):

Statements of what a learner knows, understands and is able to do on completion of a learning process. The achievement of learning outcomes has to be assessed through procedures based on clear and transparent criteria. Learning outcomes are attributed to individual educational components and to programmes as a whole. They are also used in European and national qualifications frameworks to describe the level of the individual qualification.

Teaching Activities (AA):

These include: 1. Courses organised by the institution, including lectures, supervised exercises, practical work, laboratory work, seminars, building exercises and research workshops, excursions, visits and work placements ; 2. Individual or group activities, including preparation work, projects, information search, end-of-studies projects, professional integration projects and activities; 3. Study activities, self-study and personal enrichment.

Academic Year:

A 12-month period commencing on 14th September and ending on 13th September the following year; the activities, decisions and actions associated with these missions are in relation to an academic year, but may be extended beyond this period.

Bachelor's Degree (BA):

A level 6 academic qualification conferred on completion of undergraduate (first cycle) studies comprising at least 180 credits.


The division of a study programme into “sets” of educational components amounting to 60 credits. Bachelor programmes are divided into 3 blocks of 60 credits; Master programmes are divided into 2 blocks of 60 credits.

(Study) Cycle:

One of the objectives in the Bologna Declaration in 1999 was the ‘adoption of a system based on two main cycles, undergraduate and graduate.’ In 2003 doctoral studies were included in the Bologna structure and referred to as the third cycle. The EHEA has thus defined a hierarchy of three Higher Education cycles (first cycle, second cycle and third cycle). All higher education qualifications in the European Higher Education Area are located within these three cycles.

Credit (ECTS):

ECTS credits express the volume of learning based on the defined learning outcomes and their associated workload. 60 ECTS credits are allocated to the learning outcomes and associated workload of a full-time academic year or its equivalent, which normally comprises a number of educational components to which credits (on the basis of the learning outcomes and workload) are allocated. ECTS credits are generally expressed in whole numbers; in accordance with Article 62; awarded to the student by the Board.


A coherent set of one or more study cycles forming specific basic training.


The academic body primarily responsible for considering admissions, validation of students’ annual programmes, tracking students’ progress, assessing and certifying learning outcomes, and organising the corresponding examinations.

Student's Annual Programme (PAE):

As approved by the Board, a coherent group of educational components of a study programme on which a student is duly registered for an academic year, during which they attend classes, sit the corresponding exams and are assessed by the Board.

Study Programme (PAE):

All teaching activities in a cycle, grouped into educational components, some of which are compulsory while others are selected by the student, consistent with the competency framework of a study cycle; the programme specifies the corresponding credits and time organisation as well as the pre-requisites and/or co-requisites of the various educational components.


Organisational division of the teaching activities of an academic year covering approximately 4 months; the academic year is divided into 3 terms.

Educational Component (UE):

Teaching activity or set of teaching activities that are grouped together because they have common objectives and constitute a training package at the level of the expected learning outcomes (max. 30 credits).

* Decree of 7th November 2013 (“Paysage”), defining the structure of higher education and the academic organisation of studies