Make sure you understand the academic requirements of an exchange.
Before you go
You should be aware of the following academic requirements and implications before you apply for exchange:
Yes, providing that you successfully complete your time abroad, the work that you have undertaken at your host institution will be credited towards your Edinburgh degree. You will have to pass the year abroad in order to progress to your final year at the University of Edinburgh.
However, for most students on an optional exchange, the grades you achieve will not be converted into Edinburgh equivalent marks, and your degree will normally be classified only based on the work you complete in your final year at Edinburgh.
Therefore, if you go on exchange for a full academic year, your degree classification will normally be based only on the fourth year grades you achieve at the University of Edinburgh (unless you are undertaking a five year programme of study in which case it may be based on your fourth and fifth years - please check with your School for confirmation).
University of Edinburgh policy requires that in order to proceed with your exchange in third year, you must pass all your second year courses at first sitting. Students who have not passed a full 240 credits of courses at the end of the May exam diet will not be permitted to proceed with their exchange.
If you know that you have failed an exam it is important to notify your relevant exchanges team and your exchange coordinator as soon as possible so we can look into the impact this may have on your ability to proceed with your exchange.
Where students nominated for exchange have had special circumstances approved, please contact your Exchange Coordinator, who will consult with the College and SWAY regarding the feasibility of proceeding with your exchange plans. Please note, as this credit requirement is a degree regulation, any exceptions have to be granted by the College and cannot be made by SWAY.
Unfortunately, the timeline for exchanges will not allow for resits during the August exam diet.
While you are abroad, you are expected to take equivalent courses to those you would have taken had you remained in Edinburgh, and which will allow you to meet the outcomes of your degree programme.
Not all of our partners offer courses in all subject areas, so it is very important that you research the different options available to you before you apply. You would need to explore the websites and course catalogues of your host institution.
Subject-specific exchanges provide a degree of certainty with regards to availability of courses in your subject area, as each School has specifically established these exchanges for their students. You should therefore be able to enrol on sufficient courses to meet your academic requirements.
However, course offerings vary from institution to institution and from year to year, so before applying, you should do some research to check that you are interested in the courses on offer and that you meet any pre-requisites, including language skills.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you select institutions where appropriate courses are available.
Before departure, it is vital that you liaise with your Exchange Coordinator to ensure that your course selections satisfy requirements for your degree programme here at Edinburgh. They will be best placed to inform you of your requirements and any compulsory courses you have for which you may need to find equivalents at your host institution.
You must also consult your Coordinator over any changes to your study programme and learning agreement during your exchange period. Your Exchange Coordinator will be your key academic advisor and approver of your exchange courses.
You can find your Exchange Coordinator here.
If your host institution does not yet offer a course catalogue for the year you plan to go, we recommend that you look at the course catalogue from the previous academic year and make an educated guess on the courses you intend to take.
You will then be able to alter these should any not be available in the new academic year. Ensure you choose some back-up courses in case some are not available.
You should normally take whatever constitutes a full academic credit or course load at your host university.
In most instances you should be looking at selecting the equivalent of 3rd year courses. To know whether the level and content are appropriate to meet your academic requirements, you should consult your Exchange Coordinator who will be able to advise.
If you are a joint honours student, you will have 2 exchange coordinators. Please contact them to enquire into how your school/degree programme would like you to split your courses whilst on exchange.
In order to calculate how many courses constitute a full course load, you may need to be aware of the credit system your host university uses.
Credit systems will vary from institution to institution. To find out the required credit/course load requirements for your host institution, please view the document below.
If your host institution doesn’t have a semester system but rather quarters, you will be able to see how many credits you should take per term/quarter.
Most European institutions use the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), awarding credit which is comparable and equivalent throughout Europe. A standard annual course load at most institutions is 60 ECTS credits - this equates to 120 Edinburgh credits.
The academic requirements for your exchange may be different depending on whether the exchange period is a compulsory or optional part of your Edinburgh degree programme. All students are required to meet the academic requirement of their degree programme in order to progress to their final year at the University of Edinburgh.
You are normally expected to undertake and pass the equivalent of 120 Edinburgh credits for the year (60 per semester).
Students on compulsory exchanges (including Modern European Languages)
If your study abroad period is a compulsory part of your Edinburgh degree programme, grades obtained whilst on exchange may count towards your degree. Ensure that you know how many credits you need to return to Edinburgh and how your grades will be translated.
Some programmes, such as Modern European Language programmes, may not require students to take a full credit load at the partner institution if credits are gained through courses assessed in Edinburgh.
Please speak with your Exchange Coordinator who will be able to advise on the specific course and credit requirements of your programme and how your year or semester abroad will impact your Edinburgh degree.
Students on optional exchanges
Students undertaking study abroad as a non-compulsory part of their degree programme will transfer only credit to their Edinburgh degree. Grades for courses taken whilst on exchange will not be included in the calculation of your degree classification and will not be listed on your University of Edinburgh transcript.
On returning to Edinburgh, presuming you pass your year abroad, you will proceed to your fourth (or final) year of study. Your degree will normally be classified only on the basis of the work you complete in your fourth year at Edinburgh.
If you are undertaking a five-year programme of study, you should check with your School as to how your degree classification will be calculated.
After your exchange
You should also be aware of what will happen at the end of your exchange period:
At the end of your exchange period, you will receive a transcript of results from your host institution. This is an official document that should clearly indicate:
- all courses you completed and at what level
- grades and marks obtained
- credit awarded
Once your transcript has been considered by the relevant Progression Board/Board of Examiners at the University of Edinburgh, if full credit has been achieved, then your University of Edinburgh records will be updated to indicate the credit awarded for your exchange period and you will progress to your subsequent year of study.
All students undertaking an exchange period are expected to return a transcript of results to the Study and Work Away Service (SWAY) at the end of their exchange period. You must ensure that you know how to obtain this from your host university before you leave - please do not simply assume that it will be sent to Edinburgh as a matter of course.
Some institutions may send it to Edinburgh automatically whilst others may send it directly to you or require you to collect it before your departure. At some institutions, you may need to collate and submit individual certificates to a particular office or member of staff at your host university, whilst at others, you may need to specifically request a transcript in order for it to be generated.
It is your responsibility to make sure your transcript is transferred from your host university to the University of Edinburgh at the end of your exchange. If we do not receive this before the start of the academic year, you will not receive credit for your year abroad before you resume your studies here - should there be any shortfall in the credit obtained at your host university, this may affect your ability to continue your studies at Edinburgh.
If you have undertaken project work or research (rather than courses and assessments) then you must request and obtain a summary or report from your supervisor outlining the work completed.