Studying Abroad: Four Key Differences Between The US and UK Academic Systems

Hello everyone!!

Sorry for my absence! I'm two weeks into my study abroad program in Canterbury, England at the University of Kent and I'm just now beginning to  get a handle on things!! However, I still encourage you all to look into the possibility of studying abroad. It's been quite the whirlwind and I've only been here a few weeks! Canterbury is beautiful!

I've noticed some pretty significant differences between the British academic system versus the American academic system. So if any of you are hoping to or thinking about studying abroad in England, here are a few differences to keep in mind. I'm not necessarily saying one is better than the other - I just want you to be aware!


I'm currently enrolled in four modules (classes) and each of them only meets once a week. All four of my modules have seminars (discussion sections) as well. All my reading has to be completed by the time I meet for my seminars because we spend the hour discussing our readings and asking questions. It's really helpful, but as someone who doesn't often like to speak up in class, it's been a rewarding challenge.

Somehow, I managed to have classes only Mondays and Tuesdays. You may be thinking that's pretty incredible and that I have so much time to travel and explore, but trust me when I say it also has its disadvantages. Most of my week is still spent with my head in the books even though I don't have classes. Education is more independent across the pond, but it's been an interesting adjustment! 


In England, and I can only imagine in other European countries, students, for the most part, are not required to purchase any textbooks for their modules. All of my reading is done from various books and online journals. At IU, I don't really utilize the books in the library unless I specifically need them for projects. Most often, I go to the library to meet up with other students for a group project. However, in England, I'm in the library almost every day, checking out and returning books. 


All of my modules only have two graded assignments. I have essays due at the end of March and final exams in either late May or early June. There are no assignments to be turned in each week. Lecturers just expect students to stay on top of their readings and participate in seminars and ask questions. So, in every class, I'm only graded on my essay and cumulative final exam. It's a 50/50 assessment.


My friends and I quickly discovered that backpacks don't exist in England. Girls usually wear large over-the-shoulder bags and boys usually wear small cross-body bags. I think my friends and I all bought new bags at Primark within a week of being here.

These are just a few of the key differences I've observed in the few weeks I've been here. Last weekend, my friends and I ventured to London. 

I encourage you all to explore your study abroad options! 

Until next time - 


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About The Author
Gillian WilsonStudent Blogger

Hello all!

My name is Gillian Wilson and I plan to graduate in May 2015! I'm double majoring in International Studies, with concentrations in Western Europe and International Communication and Journalism, with a specialization in Global Journalism. 

I'm currently secretary of IU's Online News Association and was a Welcome Week assistant for both my sophomore and junior years. I also served on Teter Quad's Board of Programmers as a freshman. I'm very focused on my studies, but I enjoy venturing out to 4th Street restaurants and shopping on Kirkwood! 

Join me as I share my university exprience with you! I'll be studying abroad in Canterbury, England, during the spring semester, so make sure you come back to read about my adventures abroad!