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Fields of Study: Humanities, Social Sciences, Science, Engineering

You enroll in a large university and choose courses from a wide array of disciplines. You will immerse yourself in a new academic culture and take courses alongside local and international students.

The College of Science & Engineering at the University of Edinburgh has an outstanding reputation and offers a vast range of subjects, from materials chemistry to geophysics, to differential geometry. The School of Mathematics is excellent and has been rated highly in Pure Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Statistics, and Operational Research.

Unique study opportunities

The Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) (School of Art) pursues the innovative practice, research, analysis, and communication of visual, material, and sensual culture. Art majors apply to the ECA with the regular Edinburgh application, and they select one of four study areas:

  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Intermedia
  • Sculpture


Language of Instruction: English

Optional. Foreign language study is available. Check host institution course catalog.

Courses and credit

Requirements While Abroad

To successfully complete the program:

  • You are required to take a full-time course of study while abroad: Three to six courses of 21-24 quarter/14-16 semester UC units per semester. A total of 42-48 quarter/28-32 semester UC units are required per year.
  • You may take up to one-third (33%) of your total unit load pass/no pass.
  • Courses may transfer as lower or upper division to UC.

Current Program Courses

After arrival, on-site staff will help you find and enroll in classes to fulfill degree or general requirements.

Catalogs and resources

  • University of Edinburgh Course Catalog: Find a full selection of courses offered at the university. Open each course to see a description that states whether it is open to visiting students.
  • UCEAP Course Catalog: See a list of courses UC students have taken on this program.
  • Academic Offerings: See an overview of academic offerings at all Scottish partner institutions.
  • Campus Credit Abroad: Learn the types of credit (major, minor, general education, elective) students from your campus received at this location.

Academic Culture

You'll find the university system unfamiliar, so be ready to spend time in the early weeks adjusting to a different academic culture.

The pace and the amount of direction will differ than UC. Rather than receiving a syllabus detailing what to read for each class meeting, expect to simply receive a long reading list. This list will constitute the material of the course and you will likely need to find your own way through the reading. Tutors and lecturers may give some guidance about what will be covered in a certain class meeting, but they may also assume that you are familiar with the works on the list. This lack of specific direction can be frustrating, especially at the beginning. Expect to ask questions about reading and background knowledge.

Faculty members, most often called lecturers (professor is a rare title held only by the head of a department or the holder of a chair), can often be found in their offices, but they are not generally required to hold specific office hours. Like their UC counterparts, some are readily available, some elusive.

You'll have to adapt to the relative infrequency of class meetings. Classes typically meet once a week. At some host universities, there will be one lecture and a tutorial/seminar meeting each week. Although you will spend far less time in class, this does not mean less work. You'll be expected to read more independently. An exception to this schedule applies to the science classes, which often involve frequent class meetings and long lab sessions, called practicals. Since most classes meet infrequently, each class meeting is extremely important. Come to class prepared and expect to participate when appropriate. For the most part, UC students often speak up in class, and find this gives them an advantage over the local students, who are sometimes more reticent about participation.

You may need to buy some texts. However, you'll have fewer required texts than at UC, and you can use more library resources. Unfortunately, academic libraries typically have smaller collections, and the hours are more restricted. Students frequently photocopy the chapters and sections of books they need. (The costs of photocopying are about twice what they are in California.)


You're expected to be more independent than you might normally be at UC. Students often demonstrate their mastery of material in exams at the end of the year. You'll need to work with less direction, fewer in-term assessments, and less sense of how your performance will finally be judged. The advantage of such a system is that you can set the agenda of your own education and tailor it to your particular interests.

Writing Ability

There is more emphasis on writing than at UC, and you may need to submit two or three essays per term, even in the sciences or mathematics. Excellent writing ability is the norm, and marking down for poor writing, spelling, and grammar is common. Change your laptop setting to English (UK) or English (Ireland), and use the spelling and grammar check function. Seminars and tutorial sessions often require papers and oral reports.

You'll need to familiarize yourself with a different style of essay writing. Instructors typically expect more outside (secondary) sources in essays than at UC. Research your topic thoroughly (or more thoroughly than the hectic pace that UC quarters generally allow) and use that research in your essay. Pay close attention to the correct citation of sources.

Study Habits

Students may seem rather puzzling in their study habits. They may seem to study very little, especially early in the term. This is particularly true of first-year students, who most often are not required to do more than pass their exams. While American students may be accustomed to talking about how much and how hard they have to work, local students are not, and in fact like to appear altogether nonchalant about their studies, as if there is always time for a free evening. You will probably find your own secret weapon is the study habits formed in the crucible of a pressured quarter or semester system.

Academic Progress

In the UK or Ireland, you may find it difficult to gauge how you are doing with a class as you may have only one essay and one exam, and you may not receive grades for the essay until late in the term. Under these circumstances, you have to continuously assess how you are keeping up with tutorials and discussion sessions.

You should also look at past exam papers, which are often available in the libraries. In addition, you should speak to your tutors or faculty to discuss particular concerns or request guidance with reading. You could ask for additional reading suggestions, or you could put together a draft/mock essay (not for grading) and discuss with faculty to see if you are going in the right direction. Some courses now have non-graded formative essays, which, although additional work, help you find out where to improve. The formative essays can also show you what grade you would have gotten.

Our study center staff in London and Edinburgh highly recommend that you enroll in study skills workshops at the start of the term. By enrolling in workshops, you can practice and learn about the academic system and expectations.


Grades for the fall semester are typically available late March, and grades for the spring semester are typically available late July or early August.