Lectures in the UK

Lectures in the UK


For international students studying abroad in the UK means more than just getting to know a new culture and language. There are also some differences in the courses at the colleges and universities in Great Britain compared to the home university in Germany.

When choosing courses in Great Britain, it can help to find out in advance either from the experience reports of former students or from a student advisory service or agency.

UK universities are known around the world for their high quality study system. The high standards in the courses can be found in the Bachelor and Master courses, but also in short-term study programs such as language courses. The following notes contain a guideline on what should be observed when preparing and choosing a course.

Types of courses in the UK

In contrast to Germany, courses in Great Britain primarily encourage independent work. The individual courses are on the island rather than ” course ” but as a ” module called”. The English word “ course ”, on the other hand, describes the course of study.

Depending on the study program, the number of modules to be taken can vary. As a rule, Bachelor students, for example, take three modules, which corresponds to six to eight hours per week in a semester. In the graduate area, for example in a research-based Master by Research, sometimes even fewer modules are completed.

Depending on the admission requirements for the respective programs, international students can choose courses that suit their field of study, level and interests. As in Germany, students receive a certain number of credit points for each “ module ”. Depending on the subject, there are different types of courses in the UK:


Similar to the German seminars, but with two main differences: The number of course participants in British seminars is often smaller and the lecturers require active participation.


The lectures, called “ Lectures ” in Great Britain, usually last only one hour and are often offered in combination with a seminar or tutorial. In the lectures, mainly theoretical knowledge is conveyed in a lecture by the lecturer. Here, too, the maximum number of participants is lower than in Germany.

Laboratory and practical classes

In fields such as engineering or life sciences, in which students spend a lot of their studies doing research, there are so-called laboratory classes or practical classes in Great Britain. The description of the practicals in the course catalog indicates whether they are offered independently of or in connection with a lecture or seminar.

Field trips

Especially in the natural sciences, but also in the social sciences, students can gain practical experience on excursions outside the campus. On Field Trips international students are offered not only the opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge, but also British companies and know the island.


The tutorials are often offered in addition to theoretical and complex seminars or lectures. In small learning groups supervised by a tutor, the subject matter from lectures and seminars is worked through in a targeted manner.

Course catalogs at UK universities

Almost all course catalogs in Great Britain can also be viewed digitally. To learn more about United Kingdom and Europe, please visit computerminus. About six months before the start of the new academic year, the course catalogs for the courses are also online. The course catalog contains not only information about the content of the course, but also about the level of the course and the type of course.

When choosing a course during the semester abroad, it should be checked in advance for courses at an advanced level whether the student meets the required admission requirements.

Attention: If you are interested in a semester stay in Great Britain, you should keep in mind that individual subjects may be named differently than in the course catalog at your home university.

Types of examinations and grading in Great Britain

The UK exams consist of term papers and presentations in many subjects. More rarely, proof of performance is provided by writing exams or tests. For this reason, grades are not awarded, as is usually the case in Germany in the bachelor’s degree, via a central term paper or written exam at the end of the semester.

The type of examination differs depending on the subject. The assessment of the exams is based on a uniform grading system in Great Britain. The grade of a course is calculated from several small performance records.

The lecturer should be asked in advance whether the individual certificates are weighted differently or equally weighted into the final grade. When planning a semester abroad, the recognition of examinations at the home university should also be clarified.

Rather, the grade for a course is made up of the work performed continuously during the semester. The classic certificates of achievement during a semester in Great Britain include:

  • Homework
  • Presentations
  • Group work
  • Exams
  • Practical tests
  • Essays

Self-organization and time management

Students from Germany who are used to timetables at their home university of 16 semester hours per week or more will initially be surprised by the low attendance time at the university.

In Great Britain it is common for students to take only three to four courses, depending on the study program. Courses in engineering, medicine and natural sciences, which require a lot of attendance in practical or laboratory classes, are an exception.

For the courses in Great Britain, in contrast to Germany, more time is required for self-study. If you find it difficult to organize the learning material yourself while studying abroad, you can fall back on a wide range of services at the British universities.

Atmosphere in courses in Great Britain

A British polite tone and pleasure in debating define the atmosphere at universities and colleges in the United Kingdom and have shaped the nature of the courses for centuries. The waiver of the formal address of the faculty with the academic title is to encourage the students aware to express their own ideas and theories.

In addition, lecturers encourage and challenge the students with comprehensive support – whether online or in person. The open and friendly atmosphere in the courses is also supported by limiting the number of participants.

British courses and differences to Germany

Although the UK is not geographically far away, there are some differences to be aware of. Basically, the courses in Great Britain differ in the following points from courses at German universities:

  • In many courses, active participation and good preparation and follow-up are required.
  • Attendance is compulsory for proof of participation in the courses.
  • There is often a much more personal relationship with the lecturers, as there are fewer participants in British courses and the lecturers often offer comprehensive advice and support.
  • Grades are not awarded on the basis of a major exam at the end of the semester. Instead, the student’s performance is continuously queried throughout the semester.
  • As an examination form, exams are only used in small numbers.

Lectures in the UK