Courses and international equivalency

International students wishing to complete all or part of their studies in the Department must take into consideration course equivalencies in order to make sure that their academic qualifications are in line with Quebec university requirements.

In France, students normally have 2 options:

  • LMD-type university (3-year licence: L1, L2, L3; 2-year masters: M1 and M2; 3-year PhD)
  • Engineering (5 years)

For all practical purposes, for courses and projects we assume that L1 to L3 corresponds to the first 3 years of an engineering degree, and M1 and M2 to the last 2 years.

The French LMD system essentially matches the North American BSc (undergraduate, 4 years), MSc (1-2 years) and PhD (variable length). Note that the North American MSc calls for much more independent research.

UdeM courses in the 3rd (final) year of the BSc are coded as CHM3***. Those offered at the MSc and PhD levels have identical codes, i.e. CHM6***. Some required courses in the French L3* are offered in the 2nd year of our BSc, and have the form CHM2***.

Consequently, we suggest that students in:

  • L3 mainly take CHM2*** level courses
  • M1 mainly take CHM3*** level courses
  • M2 mainly take CHM6*** level courses

A short description of each course is available on the « Study at UdeM » website (in French), with timetables over 5 terms. The summer, fall and winter timetables are not finalized and posted until May. The timetables for previous terms may provide a useful indication, but there are always minor changes from one year to the next.

A detailed description of some chemistry courses can be found on the Courses and schedules page.

Most exchange students come to the Department to do the L3, M1 or M2 years of their European programs. Although it is possible to do your L2 or even L1 year here, remember that the programs are different and you must carefully check for equivalency with your original program in your country.

Credits and workload

It is important to note that our 3-credit (unit) courses call for work outside the classroom. A course normally represents 3 hours of lectures per week, a 1-hour tutorial (exercises, additional explanations, answering questions, etc.) and 3 to 6 hours of individual work (study) per week. Depending on the student's aptitude and the difficulty of the course, more hours of individual work may be necessary.

In general, all assignments are evaluated. They contribute to the final grade. A normal course load is 4 to 5 courses per term (12 to 15 credits, 24 to 30 ECTS credits), with a limit of 18 credits. Each course is graded individually. There is usually a midterm exam and a final exam at the end of the term, as well as a number of individual assignments during the term. There are no make-up exams, and no mark is given for the whole year.

There is a study week halfway through each term. This week is often used to work on assignments or prepare for midterms, if they have not already been held. Although some students use this week to relax, this is not always possible or even desirable.

Master's and doctoral-level courses (MSc and PhD) are equivalent to 3 credits. They include 3 hours of lectures a week with no tutorials. These courses usually require more individual work, from 10 to 15 hours a week, and more independent research. An MSc student typically takes only 2 such courses per term. Each course is usually the equivalent of 9 or 10 ECTS credits.

Examples of courses for a term

The typical selection of courses for a term is listed below, reflecting the experience of students educated in the French and European system. Examples of courses taken by certain exchange students are given farther below.

Typical term, by year

Year Course Type
M2 2 x CHM6*** + 1 external + research project (12-15 credits, 24-30 ECTS) R
1 x CHM6*** + 1 x CHM3*** + 1 external + research project (12-15 credits, 24-30 ECTS ) P
M1 1 x CHM6*** + 2 x CHM3*** + 1 external + research project (15 credits, 30 ECTS) R
3 x CHM3*** + 1 external + research project (15 credits, 30 ECTS) P
4 x CHM3*** + 1 external (15 credits, 30 ECTS) P
L3 4 x CHM3*** or CHM2*** + research project (15 credits, 30 ECTS) R
4 x CHM3*** or CHM2*** + 1 external (15 credits, 30 ECTS) P
L2 5 x CHM2*** or CHM1*** (15 credits, 30 ECTS) R
4 x CHM2*** or CHM1*** + 1 external (15 credits, 30 ECTS) P
L1 5 x CHM1*** or MAT1*** (15 credits, 30 ECTS) R
4 x CHM1*** or MAT1*** + 1 external (15 credits, 30 ECTS) P

P = Possible
R = Recommended

External courses

An external course is one in another department, i.e. in languages (English, Japanese, etc.), management or business (HEC), or communication. The choice of external course must be approved by the corresponding department.

It is also possible to take a course at Polytechnique Montréal or another Montréal university (UQAM in French, McGill U. and Concordia U. in English). This is an exception, however, and not the rule, thus approval is required from the Department’s Graduate Program director.


Our marking system, using letters from A to F, is different from the French and European system. A mark of E or F is considered a failure. Class marks are distributed as follows on a bell curve:

  • 20% A
  • 30% B
  • 40% C
  • 10% D

Each mark is further subdivided using " + " or " - " (A+, A and A-, for instance). The class average is normally between B and C+.

At the MSc and PhD levels, marks range from A+ to C. A mark of C- or lower is considered a failure in a graduate program. The distribution of marks and the average can vary substantially from one course to another at the graduate level, where there are fewer students in each class.

Each professor is free to adopt a marking system somewhat different from the one described above, depending on the composition of the student group. Ask your professor for more details.

Research projects

International students are not required to conduct research if their home university does not require it. However, it is commonly required in the M1 and M2 years. The Department of Chemistry encourages students to take the CHM3551 and CHM3552 research internships in L3 and M1, and CHM6551 and CHM6552 in M2.

The projects associated with these courses will give you a better understanding of scientific research methods. Contact the professors in the Department whose research interests correspond to your objectives to help you find a laboratory where you can do a credited research internship (CHM3551/CHM6551 type).

Once you have found a research director, you should enrol in the research project course. Consult the Internships section of the website (in French) for details on the procedure.

The CHM3551 research internship should represent 10 hours of laboratory work per week, over 2 terms, or 20 hours of laboratory work per week for a single term.