About our study exchanges
Learn about the exchanges offered at the University of Edinburgh.
What is a study exchange?
A study exchange allows you to spend a year or semester at a partner institution abroad as an integral component of your undergraduate degree programme. An exchange won’t mean adding an additional year on to your degree programme.
If your undergraduate degree includes a compulsory period of study abroad, you will usually be required to spend some or all of your 3rd year abroad. But optional exchanges are also available to students on degrees programmes with no compulsory study abroad component.
Most exchanges are for a full academic year - please see the information about university-wide and subject-specific exchanges below for more details.
Usually, you apply during your second year, study abroad during your third year and return to Edinburgh for your fourth year. Some students on five-year degree programmes may be permitted to go on exchange in their fourth year - please check with your School for details.
Exchange students do not pay tuition fees at their host university and may also be eligible to have their Edinburgh fees reduced.
While abroad, you will study courses which are relevant and at an appropriate level to your Edinburgh degree programme.
Our exchange programmes are competitive. No applicant is guaranteed a place.
The University of Edinburgh offers two application types - University-wide exchanges and subject-specific exchanges.
Both the University-wide and subject-specific routes include destinations in Europe and worldwide. You can apply through both the university-wide and subject-specific routes, but you can only accept one place!
Find out more about each option below.
University-wide exchanges are open to students from most Schools and Subject Areas in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Science (CAHSS) and Science and Engineering (CSE). Places are managed centrally by the Study and Work Away Service (SWAY).
Most partner institutions offer teaching in English.
Places on our University-wide exchanges are allocated centrally by the Study and Work Away Service and can be extremely competitive as they are open to students from across the University.
Due to the diversity of academic programmes offered at Edinburgh, we’re not able to guarantee that every partner will offer courses to meet the degree requirements of every student. You need to do some independent research to work out which options will be best for you and you should only apply to an institution which clearly offers suitable courses for your degree programme.
The vast majority of exchanges offered through the university-wide route are for a FULL ACADEMIC YEAR only. For most students, single-semester exchange is not permitted.
The only exceptions to this are joint-honours language students studying either Spanish or Portuguese plus one other language, who need to split their year abroad between two countries. This is to allow them to spend the Spanish/Portuguese portion of their year abroad in a relevant Latin American country. Students wishing to apply for this option must first contact the SWAY team to check this is possible at their selected destination(s).
Subject-specific exchanges are restricted to students from just one School or Subject Area, and places are managed at School level. So where you can go depends on what you are studying.
Some of our partner institutions offer teaching in English.
Subject-specific exchanges have been set up at subject area level so should offer courses suitable to your degree programme.
Applications may be less competitive than through university-wide exchange as you will only be competing against other students from your Subject Area.
Most subject-specific exchanges are for a FULL ACADEMIC YEAR. Only students applying for exchange at one of our European destinations, and who are studying on one of the following degree programmes, may be able to apply for single semester exchange:
- Modern European Languages
- History, Classics and Archaeology
- English Language
- Some ECA programmes
Please check your options with your School Exchange Coordinator before applying. With the exception of Modern European Languages, students are not normally able to split their exchange year between two destinations.