The structure of the periods at WUR

By Samuel

Why it’s good to know the structure of the academic year

Moving back in time, one key question I wanted answers to before starting my MSc education at Wageningen University and Research was bothering the structure of the periods. This is because knowing the structure, for example in my Bachelor’s degree, helped organise my life in the best way, which resulted in optimal results. The greatest breakthrough is to understand the structure of your new learning environment. So, Cara Carroll, through her rich experience in education, said that “The key to a successful learning environment is structure”.

From this premise, I am aware of how studying in a new environment can be difficult if one doesn’t have any tips on how to surf the waters. The good news is that I was on top of my studies when I discovered this information. In this blog, I will explain the structure (periods) at Wageningen University to you with my experience as an International student. This information may be useful to you if you didn’t have your bachelor’s at WUR.

Difference between universities

Studying in a new education system may vary little or substantially from your previous system. As an international student from Ghana, the universities operate with the ‘2 semesters per academic year structure’. With the first spanning from late August to late December and the second from January to May. Afterwards, students are entitled to a deserving summer break. Perhaps many prospective students are used to this system. I guess you know where I am going ?, it is different over here at WUR.

Structure of periods at Wageningen University

Wageningen University has six periods in an academic year. Oh, don’t panic yet because there is nothing to fear about. Within every period, there is a morning and afternoon session of class. What you would do, exactly, in these periods depends on how you planned your programme. Let me quickly take you through the period structure. Most of the information below relates very much to the 1st year of MSc or the times of the academic year where you wouldn’t be doing your thesis and internship. It is therefore a general overview of the periods at WUR. If you in the 2nd year of your master’s, you will ideally use the entire academic year for your thesis and internship. So, the information below does not really govern that.

Please take note that this is a general overview of periods. Therefore, the nuances of course credits and the structure of every programme are not captured here. In case, of any discrepancies regarding the number of credits per period and the type of course for a particular period within your study programme, that of your study programme holds. Hence, no right can be derived from this post as the official timeline for your study programme.


Academic year 2021-2022

structure of academic year

A shot of the 2021-2022 academic year

Period 1

Period 1 is, of course, the beginning of every academic year. It begins on the last day of August and ends in late October. It is an 8 weeks period of intensive teaching, learning and examination. Normally, you take 12 ECTS (credits) worth of courses in this period. If you take two courses (6 ECTS each, then one course will be in the morning and the other in the afternoon session. There are six weeks of intensive education, a study week that would help you prepare for the exams, and the last week is the examination period.

Period 2

Perhaps you are wondering if there will be a break. Well, there is no lengthy break but you will enjoy the weekend as a period of rest. The next week, right after period 1 is the beginning of period 2. Period 2 begins in late October and ends around mid-December. There also is a morning and afternoon session in this period as the previous one. This is also an 8 weeks period with 6 weeks of intensive education, a week for exams preparation and the last week for examination. Let me answer the question on your mind ?. At this point, the academic year is on break. So, you enjoy a well-deserving Christmas Holiday for 2 weeks.

Period 3

Right after the Christmas Holidays, usually the first or second week of January, the academic year resumes with one of the shortest periods. This period, unlike the first and second, lasts for one month. It is 4 weeks long of intensive education, preparation and exams. Because this period is really short, you normally take a single course or combination of courses that worth 6 ECTS. I must emphasize that there is no week reserved for exams preparation. Hence, you shouldn’t procrastinate on the things you have to study, else you wouldn’t get much time in the end for preparation. The period ends at the end of January.

Break or an exam

Break? You heard me right. The next 2 weeks after the third period is technically a break for some students. Who are they? It is a break for students who don’t have re-exams/resit in their previous courses. The university has reserved this break mainly for students who have resits to study and rewrite those papers that didn’t meet the sufficient passing grade so that they can catch up with their studies. Usually, students use the first week for preparation and the second for the exams. Well, if you don’t have a re-exam or don’t want to take the re-exam this time, then it is technically a break for you. This also lasts from the beginning to the middle of February.

Period 4

After this break, there comes another one-month-long period of intensive teaching and exams. This period is also indifferent from the third period so, all tips for the third period apply here. This period starts from mid-February to mid-March.

Period 5

In period 5, you will resume the 8 weeks (2 months) long period from the middle of March to the beginning of May. You should to take 12 ECTS worth of courses with intensive teaching and (preparation) exams in there as well. This is indifferent from the first and second periods.

Period 6

You may have a clue from the beginning that this is the last period of the academic year. Yes, it is! This period starts from the beginning of May to the last days of June (the first few days of July). This period normally requires students to take 12 ECTS worth of courses. With 6 weeks of intensive education and (preparation) exams. After this period, you enjoy the well-deserving summer break from early July to late August. There is another provision for resits in August so that students can catch up with their studies again.

For more information about the academic year and the periods, visit the website.

General tips from my own experience

I didn’t see this structure to be stressful as an international student, because I harnessed the opportunities for students at Wageningen University. These are some things I did to surf the waters smoothly;

  • You should judiciously use your time by kicking procrastination out of your student life.
  • Take deserving rest on weekends because it helps you to regenerate the energy lost on the weekdays. If possible, visit different cities so that you can refresh yourself with a new environment.
  • At WUR, the rule is ‘Just Ask’. So, please, feel free and approach colleagues or teachers if you are struggling to understand anything.
  • Wageningen University organises programmes like ‘Surf your stress’ and ‘Get a grip on your studies’. These programs help you to stay on top of your studies. Do register and get tips on how to study with ease.
  • Being far away from home sometimes contributes to stress. To avoid this, please reconnect to family and friends from home frequently. It helps you to still feel belonged and most of it all; it fuels your energy to study.
  • Make some friends in your house and in your study programme. There is a countless number of friendly people at WUR.

I hope you will soon be part of our wonderful ‘WURld’ . Bedankt voor het lezen.?



By Samuel

There are 4 comments.

  1. By: Wenwen · 17-05-2022 at 23:16

    Thank you thank you THANK YOU for taking the time to write this informative article! My head was spinning from trying to understand the academic year table but not anymore.

    – a fellow exchange student

    1. By: Samuel · 18-05-2022 at 10:00

      Hi Wenwen,

      I am glad this information was helpful to you! Please, keep an eye on the International Student Blog page. We have more exciting topics to share with you in the future 🙂

  2. By: Nica · 18-05-2022 at 14:44

    Thank you for this article! It is really important and very useful!

    Special thanks for tips 🙂

  3. By: Samuel · 18-05-2022 at 15:17

    I am glad to hear that these tips are useful. You are welcome 🙂

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *