By knowing the amount of work that will be required, you can plan your course load more systematically and realistically.
Academic work at the university is measured by “units of credit.” Units of credit are assigned to courses based on one unit of credit for three hours of work by the student per week. Usually this means one hour of lecture or discussion led by the instructor and two hours of outside preparation by the student. In laboratory courses, two or three hours of work in the laboratory are typically assigned one unit of credit. As the unit of credit increases, so do the number of hours expected for outside preparation by the student.
For most UC Davis courses, the standard procedure prevails, so that a 3 unit course meets for three hours a week, a 4 unit course meets for four hours, and so on. Courses that are an exception to this pattern may require additional class time or give more demanding assignments. If you have questions about the number of units assigned to a course, you should check the expanded course descriptions (available at your college, department, or on the Internet) or ask the instructor what is required in terms of outside reading, term papers, problem sets or field trips. These are not always spelled out completely in the General Catalog.
In conjunction with the letter grade you receive from the course instructor, units of credit give a fairly accurate evaluation of the amount of time you have devoted to a given subject. Units of credit also make it possible to anticipate the amount of work involved in a particular course and enable you to transfer from one campus or university to another without undue difficulty. To convert quarter units to semester units, multiply by 0.66; from semester to quarter units, multiply by 1.5.