Studying in the UK, how does it differ from home?

When you get to the UK as an international student, studying may seem very different to studying at home.

Depending on what you’re studying, what level you’re studying at and where you’re studying you may be faced with having to do things differently than what you’re used to.

For example, you may be responsible for managing your own research and time, instead of being prescribed set work. You may have coursework to complete in your own time, or you may have a number of exams to test your understanding.

We recommend watching some of the videos on Prepare for Success to help you to understand some of the differences between home and the UK.



Last modified: 16 December 2016

Lectures are for large groups of students, which could be everyone in the same year or studying the same module on a course. A lecturer will probably stand at the front of the room and provide information about a particular part of the course. 


To make the most of these, you’ll be expected to do relevant reading before and/or after the lecture. Brightside has further information about what to expect.



Last modified: 22 September 2016

Seminars consist of smaller groups of students than a lecture. They are designed for students to talk about topics in the course reading or lectures in greater detail, so you’ll need to take an active role. This could be taking part in a debate with your fellow students, or presenting an idea to the group.

Brightside has information about these to give you an idea of what to expect.


Last modified: 18 April 2019

Exams can be really stressful for all students to cope with. You can eliminate this stress a little by ensuring you know the layout of the exam, what topics could be featured, how long you have to take it and whether you can bring in any equipment, like a calculator or book.  There is also a wealth of information online to help you prepare.

We’ve written a blog featuring some top tips and summarised them below.


Personal problems at exam time

Last modified: 01 August 2017

If something unexpected happens before or during your exams, for example you become very unwell or have an accident or experience serious family problems, don't ignore it. If you think the illness or distress will impact on your performance or if you think you will be unable to attend the exam, you must inform your institution.

There will be formal procedures at your institution about what you need to do. For example, you may have to fill out a 'mitigating circumstances' or 'exceptional circumstances' form. This may mean that if you take your exam and don't do well your institution may be able to take your circumstances into account. Each institution has its own procedures.

If you can't find the information that you need or don't know what to do, your personal tutor or your students union may be able to advise you.

If you don't attend an exam and don't inform anyone, you may obtain a zero mark, and you may not be able to take the exam again.

Course work

Last modified: 26 April 2016

These are written assignments, which could be a report or an essay about a particular topic. You’ll be given a deadline for it to be submitted by but usually you can spend as much time as you want on them.

There is a section on Prepare for Success about exams and course work.

Plagiarism warning

Last modified: 04 April 2019

This term can vary widely from country to country.  Plagiarism means taking someone else’s ideas or work and presenting it as your own, without acknowledging the original source. This may not be intentional; sometimes it may simply be because you have not referenced your work correctly. 

Plagiarism is taken very seriously in the UK: if you are found to be plagiarising, you could fail the exam or assignment, or even be asked to leave your course. If you don't fully understand what it is - find out!  Check in your course handbook and on your institution's website. Or ask your personal tutor.  There may also be academic support classes at your institution which can help you learn how to reference correctly. 

You can learn about plagiarism using the online tool Prepare for Success is also a useful resource.