Note: The information in this section is generic for all the universities in Lisbon. To get more specific information, check your incoming university’s site! (Check the map at the bottom)
Terms and examination
- University terms in Lisbon are normally divided in two semesters.
First semester: September to January
Second semester: February to July
- Exam periods are normally in December-January and May-June.
- Some universities will have make-up periods after the regular exams for students who did not pass in the first attempt.
- Avaliations normally are a mix of: final exam/project + continuous avaliation (quizzes, assignments and participation in classes).
- Attendance to class may or may not be mandatory. Attendance can affect the final grades in some courses.
- Grades are normally given on a 0-20 scale. In most subjects you need at least a 10 to pass.
Teachers and language
You may be surprised to learn upon arrival that some of your lessons are in Portuguese. Don't panic! If you already speak some Portuguese, or your native tongue comes from Latin, you will catch the language pretty quickly.
If you are not familiar with the language at all, considered checking one of the following options:
English curriculum courses for international students
- Many universities offer some classes in English. If your International Office has not told you about them, ask about them.
- Check the courses on the first weeks, talk to the teachers and then ask, or not, for changes in your timetable at the International Office.
- Consider joining a Language Course to improve your Portuguese level (more info below).
- If you don’t speak any Portuguese check with your teacher to see if
- They are willing to explain part of the subject in English
- They can provide you some materials in other language for you to work with
- They will let you take the final class exam, present or write the class projects in English
If they are not willing to do any of the above and you don’t think you can catch up with the lessons, maybe is best to change this class for another.
- However, Portuguese teachers are generally understanding and are used to teaching international students. On average, Portuguese staff (and students) have a good English level.
- Teachers usually have extra class hours dedicated for tutorships and attention to students, weekly. Don't be afraid to ask for a tutorship if you need it!
- Most Portuguese universities have some kind of online platform for students to access their academic information, grades, and even class assignments. It may be called 'moodle', 'online campus' or something similar.
- Teachers will assume that you know how to access your account...make sure to set it up on your first days, or you may be missing on some class-related contents. The workers at the International Office, the Secretary or 'Atendimento Acadêmico' should be able to help out with this.
- Most Universities hand out student ID cards, that you can pick up or not.
- You will also have a student number, which you may need to sign up for some online services and to identify yourself on exams.
- Printing on campus is normally a cheaper option than printing in regular copy shops in town.
- Ask if you have discounts with a student ID.
- A B/W single copy normally costs around 0,05€.
Most faculties have their own library or at least a study room. You may or may not need a student ID to enter, depending on the faculty and the demand on the library. There are also other options:
- Municipal / Neighbourhood libraries : Lisbon has a network of public libraries, BLX (Bibliotecas Municipais de Lisboa), with centers spread all around the city. Probably there is one or two nearby your house! You can check their location and opening hours in this link (Portuguese).
- Study rooms: there are a few study rooms around town. Some depend on a university, like the ones at FCSH Nova, IST Técnico or Caleidoscópio Lisboa (all open 24h) , and some are independent or belong to the Town Hall, like Picoas Plaza.
- Cafés and other venues: since Lisbon is full of cafés and pastelarias, you may find yourself more comfortable working or studying in a café. Check our blog to see some of our suggestions.
In many universities, lunch menus at given times (12.30-02.00PM) are subsidized. You can get a full menu (soup + dish + side) for 2,50€.
To improve your Portuguese level, you can take a course on Portuguese as a Foreign Language. There are many schools and academies teaching this kind of courses across town. Here are a couple of suggestions:
- Instituto Camões : this institution is an official organism for the promotion and internationalisation of Portuguese language and culture. They offer language and culture courses at different entry levels. You can check them in this link.
- Portuguese Language Courses by FLUL (Universidade de Lisboa)
- Portuguese as a Foreign Language course by FCSH (Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
If you are wondering about the ‘Harry Potter-looking’ guys and girls around campus, they are are part of the ‘praxe’. The praxe (from Latin ‘praxis’) is a well-established Portuguese academic tradition, that traces back hundreds of years.
-The older students (‘veteranos’) are allowed to wear a suit, cape, and some special badges, as a recognition for their acquired wisdom. They wear it mostly at the start of the year or during some special events, like graduation, although some choose to wear it all year long.
-The newcoming students (‘caloiros’) are subject to some light pranks or tasks by the finalistas.
Some of the most famous events related to the praxe are the Latada and the Queima, that happen every year in Coimbra. In Lisbon you will find some parades and other events involving praxe, but in a smaller scale.
The praxe tradition has had some critics in the last years, but it is nonetheless very popular across the country, specially in cities like Coimbra, and it still is a big part of the unique Portuguese university culture. Legend has it that J.K Rowling got inspired by the student outfits during her time living in Portugal.
On campus events
Arraiais, gordaos or churrascos are some of the most typical student events you can find in campus. They normally happen at the beginning of each semester or during Lisbon's Semana Académica, a full week dedicated for this type of celebrations. Usually they consist in group concerts, tuna performances, and food and beer at student-friendly prices.
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