I was under the impression two ECTS credits were worth one US credit generally speaking.I've spent 18 of the last 20 years involved in university assessment and credit transfer, etc, etc, so am reasonably confident of my ground when I say that's a bit of a misunderstanding.
For the sake of simplicity, the European Credit Transfer System has a generic rule of thumb which is 2 UK Credits = 1 ECTS Credit = 2 US Credits which enables a generic comparison to be made.
To mildly complicate matters, although the UK and Europe use what's called the Bologna Process so that there is standardisation between us, we inevitably chose to use a slightly different form of calculation so that a UK 30 Credit module is a European 15 Credit module and an undergraduate degree is 360 Credits in the UK and 180 in Europe (for a 3 year programme)
Nevertheless 120 Credits in the US = 60 ECTS/120 UK Credits. And so on.
However, this isn't that precise- because it means that an Undergrad at the University of London gains 360 US Credits over three years compared to our American student's 120-130.
Which isn't that helpful in making any sort of exact comparison, even if our splendid (irony alert) Secretary of State for Education, in one of his more nationalistic moments, might cheerfully claim that UK graduates are 3 times better than US graduates and be puzzled when the reaction (from within the UK) was 'Errrrrr....' I can say from experience that US students are 3 times less capable or do 3 times less work than UK students.
When you get into the actual business of credit transfer and accrediting international institutions in terms of years/terms/semesters abroad, then this nice, neat calculation falls to pieces and you can have a single institution in the US (say) calculating credits for UK institutions in 3 different ways (so a semester studying at (say) Oxford Brooks can bring 30 UK and 15 US Credits for a University of South Carolina student, whereas if a student does a semester at LSE, they get 30 UK Credits but 2 US Credits...) And having done one inordinately long post on Arrse today, I'm not even going to begin to try to explain why that sort of wild difference can make sense.
But what is considered a full course load for a normal UK/European University?
Doing a semester abroad would have been fun, but was not a real possibility.
But why the lack of electives in degree programs? It makes it easier to get a degree when one doesn’t have to worry about racking up credit hours.