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A Deep Dive into KTH Course Activities (and Vocabulary)

Hello everybody and welcome to this new blog post! Today, I want to talk to you about KTH vocabulary. While looking for the perfect Master’s programme in KTH website, you may have come across different terms representing course activities at KTH. Some examples are “lectures”, “seminars” and labs”. We thought it could be interesting to shed some light on these term and eviscerate what it truly means to attend a Master’s programme at KTH!

Gamla Stan from the frozen water around it
The beautiful Gamla Stan as seen from the frozen waters around it

Before starting: what’s new?

You may have noticed that things have been changing slightly on KTH social media channels. Starting from this week, Sam, Sai and I will join the Instagram team on our channel, @kthuniversity!

But what will happen to the blog, you might think? Well, we won’t leave you readers behind! We will continue to publish around three (longer) informative blog posts per month. The idea is to make the two channels more complementary than ever and provide you with the best quality content. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this new organisation as much as we do!

Random Stockholm street with a guy cycling
Just a random corner in Stockholm. the city is full of hidden gems!

Now, let’s get to the heart of today’s topic: KTH course activities and vocabulary. 


At KTH, you are usually graded based on a final project and/or exam (tentamen or tenta in Swedish). There are different kinds of exams, but they can mostly be divided into written and oral. 

Written exams can either take place at the university or at home (in this case, we call them ‘take-home’ exams – hemtentamen). They can last from a couple of hours (for exams at university) to even a couple of days (take-home exams), and usually revolve around asking questions on parts of the course curriculum. 


Oral exams, on the other hand, usually take place at KTH at a time and place decided with the professor. In my experience (I study Engineering Mechanics), they usually last around one hour and students are often given a list of questions to prepare for the oral exams. Usually, the discussion starts from those questions and then develops around them, touching other parts of the course programme. I do prefer oral exams, since they are shorter, and I like the flexibility that professors give to students. I always had multiple time slots to choose from, and the professors were always ready to help you in case of difficulties. 

Education at KTH is project-oriented, meaning that a great deal of attention is put on collaborative and practical learning (through group or individual projects). Depending on the course, the project may account for the final grade in different percentages. I had some courses where the project was just used as a starting point for the oral discussion, as well as some project-based courses where 100% of the grade depended on the project. I have talked more extensively about my personal experience with projects in this past blog post!

In general, I really like project-based learning. I don’t enjoy spending countless hours reading and highlighting books, and projects give me the opportunity to improve my teamworking, writing, organisational and technical skills. And they are also pure gold for your curriculum!

Computer room at KTH
One the many computer rooms at KTH where you can carry out your projects


Many KTH programmes offer compulsory laboratories. Typically, they complement the frontal lectures in the course, providing the students with hands-on experience. Usually, you are required to write a lab report after the lab, which often includes both a summary of the lab and the theory behind it, as well as some data post processing and/or analysis. I wrote about lab work in Engineering programmes in this previous blog post, so feel free to check it out!

I enjoy lab work, because they are usually very interesting. In particular, the post-processing part is the one that always allowed me to connect theory and practice – and it’s super fun to see that all the formulas you studied are actually working!

Unless you attend a heavily laboratory-based course (I know a couple of them), labs only influence the final grade partially. Although they usually just provide some extra points, they are still compulsory and, imho, essential to understand better what you are studying. 

Anechoic chamber
An anechoic chamber used for acoustics research and projects

Seminars and lectures

Lectures (föreläsning in Swedish) make up the majority of time in the classroom. In my experience slides are not very common in Engineering courses (luckily!), so you can expect a lot of writing on the board, along with quite a lot of interaction with the professors, who are always ready to answer your questions and help out. Some lectures are more practical, with a teacher or PhD student solving some exercises on the board or, more commonly, with a software (these are called övning).

Seminars, on the other hand, are lectures or presentation on a specific topic, usually given by external presenters or other professors. They complement the course offering by giving students insights on some specific topic or problem, as well as shedding light on current research or industrial trends. I did not have a lot of seminars during these two years, but the ones I had were always interesting!


In short, a typical KTH course is usually composed of a stimulating mix of project work, seminars, front lectures and exams. This helps you achieve a holistic view of the subject you are studying: you learn the theory, you apply it in projects and labs, and you relate it to the industry via seminars. I find this way of studying very complete and engaging, and I am sure you will enjoy it too!

If you have any specific questions regarding KTH or a specific programme, don’t hesitate to connect with KTH and ask as many questions as you want!

People working in a KTH lab
One of KTH smaller wind tunnels, often used for fluid dynamics labs and projects

This is all for today’s post. Thank you very much for reading!

Don’t forget to follow us on KTH Instagram, and feel free to check out Sai’s last post on his language journey and Sam’s last post concerning hockey at KTH!

I’ll see you on Instagram, and on the blog (in one month) 😉

// Lorenzo

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