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Dutch educational and grading system

Classes: no tutor system

Groningen has quite big classes especially for courses at bachelor level. Working groups have fewer students (maximum 30 in general), but not every course has working groups, especially not at master level

Groningen does not have a tutor system, which also means that students should plan their studies themselves. Students need to make a workable study schedule and to start studying right from the beginning. This will avoid not having enough time to prepare for exams.

Our University’sStudent Service Centreoffers special workshops for students who have difficulties planning their studies. These workshops can be very helpful.


The Dutch educational system is built on the notion that it is the student’s own responsibility to actually study. As a result, the University informs the student of what is expected of him/her in each course. This is mentioned in the course information on the Student Portal or by the lecturer(s) in the individual courses. Students are supposed to keep track themselves to see if they are still on schedule with their reading and preparations.


This also means that if they get stuck, it is strongly advised for them to contact either the lecturers directly or thestudy advisersat the International Office. Help will surely be offered, but only when asked for.

Build-up of programmes in Groningen

As the Faculty strives to deliver self-sufficient students at the end of each programme, the programmes are set up in such a way that students become more and more independent throughout the programme.

For a bachelor programme this e.g. means that all courses in year 1 have working groups.

Not all courses in year 2 will have working groups though, as students should already be able to go through the materials by themselves.

In year 3 hardly any working groups are offered.

The same goes for the master programmes: no working groups are offered, only lectures.

Keep up with the reading

Our lecture blocks are immediately followed by the exams of that block. Students should be aware of this and should start studying right from the start of the lecture block.
The entire system is based on the idea that students prepare well for their lectures and working groups. No preparation means that the lectures will be a lot more difficult to comprehend. Working groups can only add value to your studying if you have prepared the materials beforehand. In working groups, lecturers will start discussions with students and ask questions; students are supposed/expected to engage and actively participate.

Contact hours per course

In general, a course has 4 contact hours per week; some courses offer an additional working group per week. This means that students will have to do a lot of studying on their own. It is therefore very important for students to make a workable study schedule right from the start of lectures which will enable them to keep up with the weekly workload and assignments.

Answering exam questions and example exams

Usually lecturers provide examples of exams/exam questions on the Student Portal. These examples usually come with model answers and can be used to practice taking exams in the Dutch system.

Answering exam questions may also be different from what students are used to: in our exams, students are supposed to strictly answer the question, be to the point (and please write legibly!) and mention the applicable (treaty) articles and case law. They should not just write down everything they know about the subject/question as this will not give them any extra points if it is not the answer to the question. Not the quantity but the quality of the answer will count.

Each exam should mention the number of points allocated to each correct answer, so that students will know what to expect when examiners review their work.

Grading system

The Dutch grading system is using a 1 to 10 grading scale in which 10 is the highest grade, 6 the minimum pass grade, and 1 the lowest grade. However, the grade 10 is rarely awarded. The scale used translates as follows:
10 = outstanding
9 = excellent
8 = very good
7 = good pass
6 = pass
1-5 = fail

In the Netherlands, grades are given on an absolute basis. Results of exams will hardly ever be adjusted to a curve, because we do not use a comparative system for grading. The Groningen Law Faculty does not use class rankings and no statements to imply class rankings can be produced.

The distinction Cum Laude is awarded, when a degree programme is completed with an average grade of at least 8.0 or higher, including a Bachelor’s or Master's thesis marked 8.0 or higher.*
The distinction Summa Cum Laude is awarded, when a degree programme is completed with an average grade of at least 9.0 or higher, including a Bachelor’s or Master's thesis marked 9.0 or higher.*

All assessments are graded in full marks. The only exception to this are the Bachelor's thesis (Research Colloquium), seminars and the Master's thesis. These can be graded in half grades. The grade 6.0 is considered to be a pass grade in this respect. For all other assessments only full marks are given.

* The precise regulations for awarding the distinctions Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude can be foundhere.

Last update: 21-7-2023

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