From 2023/24, the academic year moves from three terms to two semesters.

Exceptions: Some courses - typically those which include professional placements - will be structured differently. You should check with your department to see what’s planned for your course.

What is a semester?

From 2023/24, each module you take is worth 20 credits. You study and are assessed on three 20-credit modules each semester. The idea is that you begin, complete and are assessed on your teaching and learning within each semester. Each semester consists of:

  • One week for induction
  • 11 weeks of teaching
  • Four weeks for revision and assessment

Semesters guide

Download our semesters poster to see where your teaching, assessment and vacation weeks are in 2023/24:

University of York semesters 2023/24 (PDF , 23kb)

Semester dates

Date Week
11 Sep Postgraduate welcome activities begin
18 Sep Freshers week
25 Sep Teaching week 1
2 Oct Teaching week 2
9 Oct Teaching week 3
16 Oct Teaching week 4
23 Oct Teaching week 5
30 Oct Consolidation week*
6 Nov Teaching week 6
13 Nov Teaching week 7
20 Nov Teaching week 8
27 Nov Teaching week 9
4 Dec Teaching week 10
11 Dec Teaching week 11
18 Dec Vacation*
25 Dec Vacation*
1 Jan Vacation*
8 Jan Revision week*
15 Jan Revision and assessment
22 Jan Revision and assessment
29 Jan Revision and assessment

*Attendance on campus is not compulsory these weeks

Date Week
5 Feb Refreshers week
12 Feb Teaching week 1
19 Feb Teaching week 2
26 Feb Teaching week 3
4 Mar Teaching week 4
11 Mar Teaching week 5
18 Mar Teaching week 6
25 Mar Vacation*
1 Apr Vacation*
8 Apr Teaching week 7
15 Apr Teaching week 8
22 Apr Teaching week 9
29 Apr Teaching week 10
6 May Teaching week 11
13 May Revision week*
20 May Revision and assessment
27 May Revision and assessment
3 Jun Revision and assessment

*Attendance on campus is not compulsory these weeks


You will be expected to be on campus for the 11 Teaching and Learning Weeks each semester and also whilst you are undertaking assessments. It is also highly recommended you attend during Freshers/Refreshers weeks as these contain key orientation events for all students.

You aren’t required to be on campus for the consolidation, vacation or revision weeks but University resources will continue to be available throughout the year. 

Taught postgraduate students also have a summer semester and are required to attend over the summer period.

Semester dates

Your questions answered

You sent us your questions about the introduction of semesters. Deb, YUSU's Academic Rep, answered your most common questions in an Instagram takeover.

Why change?

There are four reasons:

1. To balance out teaching and assessment throughout the year, rather than have assessments in one concentrated period 

2. To create a common design so that there are more opportunities for interdisciplinary study 

3. To help align our academic year with other institutions to allow for more foreign exchange and placement opportunities 

4. An earlier end to the academic year allows more students to take up employment, placements and internships earlier than they would have been able to

Lots of unis have adopted semesters - they are the most common pattern for universities around the world.

Terms are a very old system and don’t allow much flexibility in terms of allowing students opportunities to study abroad, where semesters are far more common. 

Many UK universities are already on semesters - even those who call their teaching periods ‘terms’ are often working to two per year. 

Teaching and learning

In terms of teaching hours, the University can’t give a universal answer because of the variations between programmes. In practice, teaching for undergrads remains 22 weeks.  

Tuition fees won’t change and, though the total number of contact hours for any given student might be different, the overall content of the programmes will be similar.

Introducing semesters will standardise teaching time and the labelled weeks for teaching and assessment, for example, make it clearer what the weeks are meant for (both for students and staff). 

It’s going to vary more than it does now, because instead of taking a set break that’s long enough to accommodate Easter no matter when it falls, we’re going to just break up for two weeks around the actual holiday. 

But - teaching blocks will usually be 5 or 6 weeks long.

You’ll do three modules per semester.  That’s one of the advantages of semesters - no one will be taking six small modules while their flatmate on a different course is studying one huge one.

Everyone will be doing three 20 credit modules, and when you hit semester two, you’ll be doing something new. This should help you in managing your workload. 

Vacation and 'down time'

The breaks during the year will be shorter, but more regular. 

Christmas and Easter breaks won’t be as long, but the teaching periods won’t be as long either. 

Overall, you’ll have the same number of ‘uni’ weeks and the same number of vacation weeks.

The breaks are shorter, but they’re also more frequent - so students can pause and refresh more often, though in most cases not for quite so long. 

It's similar to what might be called a ‘reading week’, but you can use it for more than just reading. It's a chance to reflect on the learning you’ve done so far, and to catch up on anything that might be slipping. You can catch up on missed lectures or to do some extra reading on something that you’re interested in.  

It’s not a vacation week, but it is a chance to catch your breath and get yourself prepared for the second half of the semester.

Examination and assessment

The last four weeks of each semester are for revision and assessment. There is one revision week, followed by three revision and assessment weeks. 

There may also be some coursework during teaching weeks. You’ll get more detailed assessment timetables for each module at the start of the semester. 

Semester 2 runs straight on after semester 1 - though the first week is a ‘refreshers week’ so there isn’t any teaching. 

Attendance for returning students at Freshers Week and Refreshers Week isn’t compulsory - though you are very welcome to attend events and activities and all university resources are available.

The majority of assessments - whether it’s coursework or exams - will take place or be due during the revision and assessment weeks at the end of the semester.  

Some assessments will happen during teaching periods - like presentations and lab work - but most students will have the majority of their assessments in the last four weeks of each semester.

Employment and money

It shouldn’t make a big difference. You’re still going to be doing the same number of credits per teaching week. Different disciplines have different levels of contact hours, and those differences will be the same after semesterisation too.  

So you’re likely to still have enough time to work part time and the semester pattern will give you a longer summer break to find work.

Student Finance payments will work in the usual way and the move to semesters won't change the way your finance payments are made.

However, we encourage you to refer to your Notification of Entitlement letter to find out specific details about your payment schedule and where these will fall under the new semester structure. 

Why semesters?

There are a number of benefits to this change:

1. Balancing out teaching and assessment

Our previous term system had assessments in a concentrated period at the end of the academic year. Adopting a semester pattern helps to balance out teaching and assessment loads for both our students and staff throughout the year. We see this having a very positive impact on their welfare and wellbeing.  

2. Interdisciplinary study

A semester pattern unlocks more opportunities for interdisciplinary programme/module design and delivery, meaning that students have more choice in the topics they wish to study, allowing them more ownership in designing their own learning and development. Previously, module credits were inconsistent, so to unlock the potential of interdisciplinary teaching we are also changing all the modules to a common 20 credit value.

3. Studying and working with partners

Semesters will help align our academic year start and end dates with other domestic, and global institutions. This allows for greater flexibility and opportunities to study or work abroad for part of the year, either as exchange students to another institution or as students on industrial placements.   

4. Better summer employment opportunities

An earlier end to the academic year allows for more students to take up employment, placements and internships earlier than they would have been able to, and more aligned to that timing with other universities.