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9 evil UCPH exams

Anxiety — Complicated algorithms, microeconomics, the A-Z of film history or Arabic grammar. We have found nine examinations that really have University of Copenhagen students breaking out into a sweat.

This is what we did

First, we asked the students what examinations they fear the most. Then we read the subjects’ curricula for a description of the exam form and cross-checked them with the heads of the different study programmes. Then we checked the latest fail rate on

Film history

Subject: Film and media studies (bachelor)

Type of examination: 30 minutes preparation without notes and 25 minutes oral test in international and Danish film history from 1895 to today. The students draws a question from 25 possible topics such as ‘American film 1930-1945’, ‘The French novel’ or ‘Russian film before 1930’. There are 15 minutes of presentation and ten minutes of dialogue with the examiner.

Syllabus: Compulsory curriculum of a total of 1,200 standard pages covering international and Danish film history from 1895 to the present. ECTS:15

Fail rate: 38.9 per cent

Historical methods

Subject: History

Type of examination: Written assignment in historical source criticism of 10-15 standard pages to be written in 54 hours. Based on a presentation of 25-30 standard pages (sometimes written in Old Norse or Swedish), the student is to answer two to three questions that show he/she masters classical source criticism. All technical devices/aids allowed. It is a prerequisite that the student has passed two exercises prior to the exam. The exam is assessed on the 7-point scale.

Syllabus: Basic book and compendium – total of approx. 330 standard pages.

ECTS: 10

Fail rate: 16 per cent


You should be able to reel off the entire history of film at preparation with no technical aids whatsoever
Ida Rud, studied film history in spring 2014


Subject: Political Science

Type of examination: One of the exams that is the cause of panic among new students of political science is microeconomics. The exam is a three-hour written assignment without electronic aids which takes place at the department under supervision. In the assignment the student answers a number of questions and demonstrates that he or she can include relevant microeconomic theories and models with both text and geometry. A prerequisite for passing the exam is that the student has had approved two out of three exercises during the semester.

Syllabus: 600 standard pages

ECTS: 7.5

Fail rate: 14 per cent

Law of Property

Subject: Law

Type of examination: Law of Property is an important part of classical property and contract law. The course is completed with a four-hour written exam under supervision, in which the student explains central, national, law of property principles and rules of law, their systematic coherence, and the reasoning applied to one or more specific legal issues. The student should demonstrate that he/she masters the digital property registration system and the rules for debtors and creditors.

Syllabus: Approx. 500 standard pages

ECTS: 10

Fail rate: 30.2

Arabic propaedeutic 1

Subject: Arabic

Type of examination: Most students of Arabic break into a sweat over the propaedeutic 1 exam, which is a two-hour written exam, where students are tested in basic Arabic grammar, reading comprehension and writing skills. Approved aids are dictionaries, grammar and approved lists of words. The prerequisite for passing the exam is that the student has attended at least 75 per cent of the course’s teaching.

Syllabus: Four standard pages Arabic text and grammar book. ECTS: 15

Fail rate: 25 per cent

The structure and function of the central nervous system

Subject: Medicine

Type of examination: Three-hour written exam without electronic aids, in which the student demonstrates that they are able to use the correct vocabulary for structures, functions and concepts in the central nervous system and the sensory organs. The student discusses the anatomical, embryological and physiological conditions that may underlie a functional disorder in the central nervous system. The assignment also contains medical test images, where the student must indicate what it is that is being asked for. The assignment is assessed on the 7-point scale. Syllabus: 1,008 standard pages.


Fail rate: 13


It has been many years since you took mathematics in high school. You could say that it is necessary for new students to take an introductory math course before being chucked into the microeconomics deep end
Ida Juul, studies political science on her second year

Bible Studies

Subject: Theology

Type of examination: In Bible Studies, selected Old Testament, and all New Testament texts, are analysed. The exam is a written test of one hour’s duration with limited electronic aids. To pass the test, the student must prove that he or she has basic knowledge of the Bible through a statement of the main points in a particular written text. In addition, the student must have a basic understanding of historical problems in connection with the biblical exegesis. The assignment is assessed as passed or not passed.

Syllabus: Approx. 700 pages.

ECTS: 7.5

Fail rate: 21.9

Algorithms and data structures

Subject: Computer Science

Type of examination: 30 minute oral test with 30 minute preparation where the student draws a question and evaluates which algorithmic paradigms will be applied to a particular problem. He/she outlines the evidence for run times for the algorithm. All electronic aids are allowed. A prerequisite for passing the exam is that the student has had approved 4 out of 5 written weekly assignments.

Syllabus: 250 standard pages

ECTS: 7.5

Fail rate: 30.2 per cent

Statistics 2

Subject: Psychology

Type of examination: In Statistics 2, students are taught the statistical analysis of psychological data from studies of several groups in treatment. The exam is a three-hour written test with limited electronic aids, in which the student must use the correct statistical method to solve the exam paper. In addition, the student should be able to perform statistical analyses using a statistical programme, like for example SPSS. It is a prerequisite that the student has a 75 per cent attendance rate in class and has handed in, and passed, two exercises.

Syllabus: 250 pages


Fail rate: 4.9

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