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Studying overseas: what college courses in the UK have to offer


A chance to gain some valuable life skills, learn about a different culture and work towards a qualification at the same time, no wonder studying overseas is more popular than ever. Here education expert Sophie Watts talks up the case for studying in the UK…

Study programmes differ in structure around the world, and there are some key variances between studying at college in the UK and other countries. From course structures to academic content, college courses in the UK offer a new experience to foreign students choosing to study abroad. Here are some of the most noticeable differences.

More varied course structures

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In some countries, college courses require a certain amount of independent study and you may need to memorise course notes in order to pass exams. Other courses may require a large amount of written assignments and research.In the UK, both of these methods contribute to a college degree. However, there’s also emphasis on seminars and small study groups as playing an important role in learning. Group discussions are a big part of UK education programmes whereas other countries may focus more on directive study.

A mix of teaching methods

In the UK, a college course will likely be made up of a mixture of lectures, seminars and tutorials. Depending on the kind of course you’re doing, there may be a heavier weighting towards just one of these. Seminars are particularly encouraged as they focus on student participation and discussion. 

Extra-curricular activities encouraged


In other countries, such as France, colleges are almost always about study with limited time for activities. Extra-curricular activities, however, are positively encouraged in British colleges with a wide range of clubs and classes to enrol in. For example, schools such as SKOLA offer sports, horse riding and off-campus trips as part of all of their foreign language programmes. Although sports don’t form an integral part of UK education as they do in American schools, British colleges encourage their students to become involved in as many different activities as possible. 

Less formal contact time

Although UK college courses are structured in nature, there is plenty of time factored in for informal discussion. This gives students scope to express themselves and to put forward their own points of view. This is different to how educational programmes function in other countries, such as China and Japan.

More individual responsibility

Studying the UK

In some countries, teachers and lecturers clearly set out assignments for students based on what’s needed to pass a particular class. Although this does also happen in the UK, assignments are usually more open and there is more emphasis on independent study. This means that students are required to take more responsibility for their work outside of the classroom and to pursue aspects of a course which hold particular interest for them. 

Grading not just based on exams

While exams play a big part in education in the UK, coursework is equally important. Grading can also be based on factors such as individual tutorials and participation in shared discussions. Portfolios of work are also counted towards final grades and there’s less emphasis on multiple choice tests.


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