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Faculty of Arts

University of Peradeniya

Sri Lanka

University of Peradeniya Logo Faculty of Arts

Undergraduate Programmes

The faculty offers a broad based undergraduate curriculum to its students. The available undergraduate programmes are of either three years (General Degree) or four years (Special Degree) duration. The 17 Academic Departments of the faculty that are involved in undergraduate teaching offer courses in 21 disciplines for both General and Special Degree Programmes. The Department of Management Studies offers a Bachelor of Commerce, French and Hindu Civilization courses are available only for the General Degree. In a given academic year, a total of about 650 courses are offered at undergraduate level. The Bachelor of Arts General Degree Programme is a three-year programme of study, while the Bachelor of Arts Special Degree and Bachelor of Management Studies Degree programmes are of four years duration.

Programmes offered from the faculty is as follows.

  • Bachelor of Arts General (BA General)
  • Bachelor of Arts Special (BA Special)
  • Bachelor of Commerce (B. Com)
  • Bachelor of Law (LLB)
  • BSc. in Geographical Information Science
  • Bachelor of Social Work (Hons)

Students are admitted to the undergraduate programme primarily on the basis of their performance at the General Certificate of Education (Advanced Level) Examination. The number to be admitted each year and the required performance level are determined by the University Grants Commission. In addition, a limited number of students from the following special categories are also admitted each year.

  • Students who wish to study subjects in which student enrolment is usually low, such as Western Classical Culture, Sanskrit, Pali, English, Arabic, French, and History. Such students are required to continue courses in these subjects throughout their first-degree program
  • Adult students
  • Teachers in secondary schools who do not possess a first degree
  • Students with foreign qualifications
  • Disabled students
  • Students who have excelled at national level in fields other than academic study
  • Graduates who wish to follow a second course of study.

All undergraduate students are required to follow a common programme of study in their first year. This programme consists of 10 courses spread over in two semesters. Those who complete the two semesters successfully with a minimum of 30 credits have the option of following either a General Degree or a Special Degree in Arts Programme, or a Bachelor of Commerce Degree Programme. To be admitted to the Special Degree or the Bachelor of Commerce Degree Programme, students should have the required grade point average determined by the relevant Department of Study. They may also be required to face an interview if this is deemed necessary by their Department of Study.

The undergraduate programme is organized under a course units syatem of teaching and assessment. An academic year is divided into 2 semesters. The duration of a course unit is one semester. At present, all courses offered by the faculty have a uniform credit value of three credits each. A three credit course consists of 45 student contact hours which comprise 30 formal lecture sessions, and 15 discussion hours. The following are some key terms and concepts used in the operation of the course unit system of the faculty.

A complete course is taught within a semester, lasting 15 weeks, with three contact hours per week. "Course unit" is used synonymously with "course."
The abstract value is assigned to a course on the basis of contact hours per week. Thus a three credit course will have three contact hours per week. "Credit hour" and "credit" are used interchangeably.
The actual marks (0-100) a student has obtained is calibrated into a scale of 0-4, where 4 is Superior, and below 1.7 is Failure. The Grade Point Scale adopted by the faculty is given below.

Marks Grade Minimum Grade Point Comments
100-80 A/A+ 4 Superior
79-70 A- 3.7
69-65 B+ 3.3 Exellent
64-60 B 3.0
59-55 B- 2.7
54-50 C+ 2.3 Pass
49-45 C 2.0
44-40 C- 1.7
39-35 D+ 1.3 Weak Pass
34-30 D 1.0
29-00 F 0.0 Fail
---- I --- Incomplete
GPA is the average of all grade points obtained for courses. This can be calculated for a semester as well as for the entire program. The student's final performance is determined on the basis of the Grade Point Average. The Grade Point is calculated for the range of actual marks received, as shown the above table.
In this scheme, a student independently reads/researches on a specific topic under the direction of a lecturer. This option is available only at 300 and 400 levels. The student can propose the topic, but it must be accepted by the lecturer. Independent study courses are given only by lecturers approved by the department concerned and the faculty. Students can consult departmental Course Co-ordinators for details in this regard.
No-Credit courses are courses that a student takes in excess of the minimum number of credit courses required for a degree. Students taking this option must fulfill all the requirements of the course that they take. The course and the grade will be listed in the transcript. The grade obtained for no-credit courses, however, will not be counted for the GPA. No-credit courses provide an opportunity for students to take courses that are not required for their degree, but which they nevertheless find interesting/useful.
This involves following a course through an informal arrangement made by a student and the lecturer concerned. A student can follow a course without fulfilling the assignment requirements with the consent of the lecturer. Such courses will not be listed in the official transcripts.

A student in the General Degree Programme should complete a total of 30 courses to qualify for the degree. This consists of 26 subject courses and 04 foundation courses. In addition, students should also take 04 no-credit English courses. The 26 subject courses of the General Degree Programme consist of 08 courses from each of the three main disciplines, and 02 courses from other disciplines.

Students enrolled in either a Special Arts Degree or the Degree of Management Studies should take a total of 40 courses. This consists of 04 foundation courses and 36 subject related courses of which 26 must be from the specialized discipline, including two dissertation courses. Some of the subject courses may be compulsory, and Departments of Study may also require students to complete certain prerequisites before following some courses. In addition, students should also take 06 non-credit English courses. The credit and course requirements of different degree programmes of the faculty are given below.

Course and Credit Requirements for Special and General Degree Programs
Year Semester Special Degree (4 Years) General Degree (3 Years)
Courses Credits Courses Credits
1 1 3 Subjects 9 3 Subjects 9
2 Foundation 6 2 Foundation 6
1 English 3 1 English 3
2 3 Subjects 9 3 Subjects 9
2 Foundation 6 2 Foundation 6
1 English 3 1 English 3
2 3 5 Subjects 15 5 Subjects 15
1 English 3 1 English 3
4 5 Subjects 15 5 Subjects 15
1 English 3 1 English 3
3 5 5 Subjects 15 5 Subjects 15
1 English 3
6 5 Subjects 15 5 Subjects 15
1 English 3
4 7 4 Subjects
+ 1 (diss.)
8 4 Subjects
+ 1 (diss.)
Total 40 120 30 90
Total with English 46 138 34 102


  1. The 04 foundation courses must be taken in the two semesters of the first year.
  2. Students must take the prescribed number of courses during the first year.
  3. The minimum number of courses that can be followed by a student per semester is limited to 04 subject courses.
  4. The maximum number of courses that can be taken by a student per semester is limited to 06 subject courses (18 credits)

Allocation of Credits in the Special Degree Programme Excluding Foundation English

Allocation of Credits in the General Degree Program Excluding Foundation English

The assessment of student performance is based on a range of criteria adopted by the faculty. Assessment includes participation in class activities, continuous assessment through assignments and quizzes, and a mid-term and final examination. The lecturer may design a suitable scheme for computing her/his course grade using a combination of some or all of the above criteria. The detailed scheme of assessment and the syllabus, approved by the department and the faculty will be made available to the students at the beginning of the course.

There are no repeat-courses given to those who fail a course, but the same course or an alternative may be taken in the following semester if this is possible. Students who fail in a course/courses in their last year in the university are required to complete the relevant course/s and fulfill all other requirements in order There are no repeat-courses given to those who fail a course, but the same course should be taken the next time it is offered. Alternatively, a substitute course may be taken in the following semester or later, with the approval of the relevant department. Students who fail a course/courses in their last year in the university are also required to complete the relevant course/courses and fulfil all other requirements in order to qualify for the degree. Such students must request an extension of time from the Dean.

Students are allowed a period of two weeks at the beginning of each semester to change courses in consultation with Course Instructors. Foundation English credits are not considered in calculating the GPA, but these grades will be listed in the transcript.

Students need to fulfil a minimum attendance requirement of 80% of contact hours in order to complete a course. 5% of the total marks given in a course may be allocated for attendance and class participation.

The Instructor will sign the student's Record Book on the last day of the course authorizing him/her to take the examination. The Instructor can refuse to sign the Student Record Book if the student has failed to attend 80% of the course.

Course units use a three-letter prefix indicating the discipline, and three numbers following the prefix to identify the course. The prefix for the Foundation Courses is FND. The following number convention is used in number identification of a course unit.
  • First year courses 100-199
  • Second year courses 200-299
  • Third year courses 300-399
  • Fourth year courses 400-499

Students should note that there is a minimum and maximum number of students for a course. This is normally determined by the department taking into consideration the nature of the course, departmental needs and facilities, requirements for the course, and the views of the Instructor. Popular courses are usually repeated every semester.

A course in Introduction to Computers is offered as an optional course in the first year. Owing to the limited resources available in the faculty, this is not taught as a compulsory course at present. It is hoped to make this a compulsory course when facilities in the faculty improve.

New entrants to the undergraduate programme will follow a general preparatory course consisting of several general studies subjects called Foundation Studies, as well as a course in Foundation English in the first semester. The successful completion of this component is compulsory for all students.

Foundation Courses
All students are required to follow selected Foundation Courses. Foundation Courses include mathematics, writing skills, and cross-disciplinary courses. Foundation Courses have no formal departmental affiliation, and are coordinated by a faculty-appointed coordinator. Inquiries about these courses should be directed either to the Course Coordinators or to the Faculty Office. The following Foundation Courses are currently offered by the faculty.

FND 101: Mathematics
This course is designed as a compulsory foundation-level course in basic mathematics (focused on Algebra). Each section of the course will include the application of mathematical concepts to the social sciences.

FND 102: Logic
The course aims at introducing students to methods of testing for validity of arguments in prepositional calculus and class logic. It deals with symbolization of arguments in prepositional calculus, methods of derivation, truth table methods, symbolization, and the testing for validity of arguments in class logic using Venn diagrams.

FND 103: Writing Skills (Sinhala)
සිංහල භාෂාව වඩාත් ව්‍යක්ත අන්දමින් භාවිතය සඳහා අවශ්‍ය වන මූලික දැනුමක් ලබාදීම පාඨමාලාවේ අරමුණ වෙයි. එහිලා,
i. ලිවීම
ii. ව්‍යාකරණය
iii. ලේඛණ තාක්ෂණ විධි
iv. භාෂා විචක්ෂණය
යන මූලික අංශ කෙරේ අවධානය යොමු කෙරේ.

FND 104: Society, Culture and Environment I
There are four modules in this course: The human mind; World religions; Law and ethics; and Art and art appreciation.

FND 105: Society, Culture and Environment II
There are four modules in this course: The natural environment; Society and culture; International relations; and The history of science.

CMP 100: Computer Literacy
The objective of this course is to provide basic knowledge in computers to first year students of the Faculty of Arts. This is an optional course. The main topics taught in this course are: Computer literacy; Ms-Word, Ms-Excel, Ms-Power Point and their applications; and Computer languages and introduction to Internet.

MTH 101: Introduction to Calculus
This course is targeted to students who require competence in mathematics beyond the basic FND 101 level. This course will provide students with the basic knowledge of calculus necessary to follow 200 level courses in some disciplines. The Department of Economics strongly recommends that all students planning to follow 200 level Economics courses (whether in Special/General Degree or as a subject outside the discipline) follow this course. (Optional NC)
Topics in this course include: Functions; The concept of a function; Domain and range; Graphing functions; Exponential and logarithmic functions; Limits and continuity of a function; The limits concept; Left hand and right hand limits; Theorems in relation to limits; Continuity; The derivative; Rules of differentiation; Average and instantaneous rate of change; Higher order derivatives; Introduction to partial derivatives; Applications of differentiation; Marginal analysis; Concavity and inflection points; Relative maxima and minima; Integral calculus; The antiderivative concept; Basic rules of integration; Definite and indefinite integrals; and Applications of integration.
This English Programme is conducted by the ELTU. All new entrants including those who expect to follow courses in the English medium will sit for a placement test in English on arrival. Students are grouped as follows based on their performance in this test.

Course and Credit Requirements for Special and General Degree Programs
Course Code Grading
ESL 101 Lower Intermediate
ESL 103 Intermediate
ESL 105 Upper Intermediate
ESL 107 Advanced

Students doing ESL 107 will be exempted from the Intensive English Course for new students, but have the option of following it. Students doing ESL 101 103 & 105 are required to follow the Intensive Course in English, and pass the End of Course Test (ECT).

Students enrolling in English as a subject must take ENG 101 and ENG 102, which will be cross listed with ESL 101 and ESL 102 in the first year. Non English-medium students who perform exceptionally well in the ECT can select ENG 101 and ENG 102, provided they obtain prior approval from the English Department. Students will be evaluated at the end of both semesters, and must receive a pass mark. A student who fails in ESL 103 but obtains marks between 30-39 (grade point 1.5–1.95), will be considered as having obtained a passing grade in ESL 101, which grade will be determined on the basis of a Table of Reference. Such candidates can take only ESL 102 in the next semester. The Transcripts of these candidates will record that they have taken ESL 101. This provision does not apply in the case of the second semester examination, i.e., ESL 104.

A student who obtains a mark of 70 (Grade Point 3.5) in ESL 101 (Group B) in the first semester can opt for ESL 104 (Group A) in the second semester. Similarly, a student taking ESL 103 (Group A) in the first semester can opt for ESL 102 in the second semester. Students must obtain a pass (i.e., 40 marks or a 2.0 grade point) in all required English courses to receive the degree. Those who fail to obtain the pass mark the first time will have to take the relevant course the next time it is given (except in the case of ESL 103 as explained above and of students obtaining less than 30 marks or grades point 1.95 in ESL 103 who can opt to take either ESL 101 or ESL 103 again).

In the second year of study all students are required to take two compulsory English courses (each worth three credits). These are:
ESL 201 and ESL 202: Intermediate Level English Courses I and II
ESL 203 and ESL 204: Upper Intermediate Level English Courses III and IV

Students who take ESL 101 and ESL 102 in the first year are advised to take ESL 201 and ESL 202 in the second year.

Students following a Special Degree Program must take two 300 level English courses, namely: ESL 301—English for Academic Purposes I, and ESL 302—English for Academic Purposes II
The Faculty of Arts provides instruction in Sinhala, Tamil and English for its under graduate students. Although the number of students who follow undergraduate programmes in English is small, most departments make an effort to conduct classes in English to those who wish to follow courses in that language. Some departments teach certain courses only in English with the aim of familiarizing students with English.