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Academics

Fields of Study: Humanities, Social Sciences, Science, Engineering, Biology, Environmental Studies, African Studies, Caribbean Studies, Women’s Studies

At the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill you can access a wide variety of coursework in most disciplines. Courses with an emphasis on Caribbean studies are available across majors and departments. UCEAP students often take courses in African diaspora studies, gender studies, political science, chemistry, literature and art, history, religious studies, and sociology. As the leading provider of management, business and finance education in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, UWI Cave Hill also offers particularly strong offerings in business management and international economics. A wide selection of courses are also available in psychology.

Barbados is an excellent location to focus your studies on tropical and marine sciences. The department of biological and chemical sciences houses the Barbados National Herbarium and Giant African Snail projects. Through several exchange agreements, the department has access to the marine biology and fisheries facilities of the Bellairs Research Institute and the Andromeda Botanic Gardens. The Cave Hill campus is home to the Barbados Sea Turtle Project which can offer volunteer opportunities for 2- to 4-month periods throughout the year.

Unique study opportunities

While Caribbean studies is the focus of the program, you can enjoy a wide range of unique study opportunities. Highlights of a few of these options include:

  • Study tropical plant biology at the Andromeda Gardens, the island’s botanical garden.
  • Learn about the political and economic challenges facing small island states in today’s competitive world.
  • Broaden your knowledge of settlement in the Americas.
  • Examine the role of women in work and the family in Caribbean society.
  • Conduct research in living laboratories to investigate marine resource management and preservation and tropical horticulture.
  • Study and experience the music, dance, and literature that make the Caribbean unique, particularly through the extensive offerings of the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination.

Language

Language of Instruction: English

Language Study: Optional

Courses and credit

Requirements While Abroad

To successfully complete this program:

  • Take a full-time course of study: A minimum of four courses and 24 quarter/16 semester UC units each semester. 
  • You may select one course for pass/no pass; co-curricular courses (COCR) are often graded for pass/no pass credit only, but will not count against your one course pass/no pass limit. 
  • Physical activities (PA) courses do not count toward the minimum required load. 
  • To take courses in your major, be sure to complete some upper-division courses in your field first.

Current Program Courses

You will finalize your study plans and register for classes after arrival with the assistance of the UCEAP Liaison Officer. Although you’ll be assigned to one faculty, you will be able to select courses from any faculty at UWI as long as you meet the course prerequisites. Some courses (such as law and natural science courses) may limit student enrollment. UWI professors grant final registration approval.

The UCEAP Liaison Officer will give you specific deadlines, including the final deadline to make any course changes such as drops or grading option changes.

Catalogs and resources

  • UWI Undergraduate Faculty Handbooks: Find lists of course titles and catalog descriptions across all UWI degrees (called programmes). If the current handbook is unavailable, refer to the previous year’s handbook.
  • UWI Undergraduate Programmes: Look up degree programs at UWI to get to specific faculty websites. You can search by faculty, majors and departments. Each faculty site is set up differently, but look for links that say Programmes, Areas of Study, or Courses Offered.
  • The UWI Schedule of Classes is available through the Cave Hill Online Student Information System, or CHOL. Follow the Student Access link, go to Class Schedule then select any Semester I field. Class schedules are not available ahead of time, but because offerings typically rotate each semester, you can still see what is usually available each fall, even if the schedules aren't yet set.
  • UCEAP Course Catalog: See a list of courses UC students have taken on this program.
  • Campus Credit Abroad: Learn the types of credit (major, minor, general education, elective) students from your campus received at this location.

Academic culture

The University of the West Indies is a public university system with three campuses serving 15 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean. The Cave Hill campus is in Barbados. The other campuses are located in Jamaica (Mona campus) and Trinidad and Tobago (St. Augustine campus).

The undergraduate degree at UWI is a three-year degree. Local students are specialized in their field by the time they enter second- or third-year courses. The typical student in Barbados has 13 years of education before entering college. Admission to one of Barbados’ universities is highly competitive for the local students. At age 16, they must pass a special exam, and at 18 they must earn a proficiency certificate.

The UWI Cave Hill is based on the British university model. This means more formality, centralization and structure than at UC, and more than many might expect within an island culture. Past students say that the laid-back aspects of Barbadian culture can be deceptive when it comes to academics. This academic rigor and formal framework encourages independent learning and challenges students in a way that is quite different from much of the US system. The UCEAP Liaison Officer will help you adjust to the academic rigor and structure of the UWI system, and can also speak directly to faculty expectations.

Since academic work is independent, there is rarely immediate accountability for the material presented in lectures (i.e., quizzes and exams are infrequent). Instead, you’ll demonstrate your mastery of material in exams at the end of the term. The advantage of such a system is you can set the agenda of your own education and tailor it to your interests.

Courses typically consist of two hours of lecture and one hour of tutorial each week. Lectures do not usually include discussion, and these require you take detailed notes. Tutorials are discussion sessions in which you’ll present papers for discussion and critique. You will receive required and recommended book lists for each course, which you can purchase at the campus bookshop. UWI professors seldom give course readers or packets, making it slightly more difficult to obtain written materials than it is at UC.

Tips to succeed in UWI classes

  • Keep up with readings
  • Maintain good attendance throughout the term
  • Establish strong study habits
  • Seek help balancing the workload if your start to fall behind
  • Go beyond the required readings to explore suggested resources
  • Develop informal networks and study groups to share academic resources

Grades

You will earn direct UC credit and grades for all coursework. While methods of evaluation vary by subject, grades are based primarily on coursework during the semester and written exams at the conclusion of each semester. The exam format usually consists of essay questions. Good writing skills are important. In many cases, the final exam is 60 to 100 percent of the course grade. You must know the material thoroughly to perform well. Some course grades may depend on one final exam.

In the UWI system, professors often have little flexibility to manipulate grades, since the grades are based on the exam and are awarded after consultation with a second UWI professor, who is referred to as a second marker.

Grades for this program are typically available within two or two and a half months after the end of the semester.