The academic year in Italy is made up of two semesters. The first semester starts in September/October and ends in January/February. The second semester starts in February and ends in June/July. The actual start and finish dates will vary from university to university but each semester lasts around 20 weeks and is made up of a teaching period that lasts around 14 weeks and an exam period that lasts around 6 weeks.

Students studyingTeaching and Learning

Most teaching still takes place in large lecture halls but this will depend very much on each individual course. Students are also expected to carry out a considerable amount of self study outside the classroom in order to prepare for exams.


Exams are held after the teaching period and are mainly oral exams, although some courses will have written tests that take place during the semester or before the oral exam. Each exam will have a number of dates offered during the exam period and students can choose which date they wish to take the exam. They are also entitled to turn down a failing mark and take the exam again if they are not satisfied with the result. Rules do apply, however, as to how often a student can take an exam within an examination period.

Grading Systems

Examinations are graded according to a scale ranging from 0 to 30, with 18 as a passing mark.
A “cum laude” may be added to the highest grade (30 e lode) as a mention of special distinction.

All examination grades are used to calculate the overall degree mark on a scale of 0 to 110. The final grade will be based on exam grades plus the presentation of a project or thesis in front of a Board of Examiners. The pass mark is 66 and students who obtain full marks of 110 may also be awarded summa cum laude (110 e lode).

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