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Geography and Environmental ScienceUndergraduate study

Frequently Asked Questions

Everything you need to know about the study abroad process whether you are a current University of Southampton student and wish to apply to a partner institution or whether you are interested in studying with us from a host University. We provide a variety of information from who to contact to start the application process to funding, insurance and accommodation advice.

For students currently studying at the University of Southampton:

I’m interested in the exchange scheme – what do I need to do?
It’s best to express your interest in the exchange scheme as early as possible so that you can plan your exchange placement with your department. This will give you time to prepare the practicalities of your time abroad, to consider which modules you should be taking and to ensure that adequate language training can be arranged where required prior to your placement. You should discuss your plans with your tutor and our International Liaison Officer, Dr Sam Cockings. Various briefing events will take place throughout your first year – make sure that you attend these as they will provide answers to a lot of the things you are wondering about, and let you know what you need to do by when to apply.

What universities are part of the exchange scheme?
We participate in exchanges with several European partners, under the Erasmus Scheme, as well as with partners in Australia, Canada and Hong Kong. Our current partners can be found here.

Do you advertise the exchange opportunities?
We will promote the opportunities available to students towards the end of the first term in your first year, just before you break for Christmas. This will tell you where you can study, for how long, what modules you can follow and what you can expect from studying abroad. It will also provide details of the application process and relevant deadlines.

How do I apply?
There are three stages to the application process:

1. University of Southampton Geography and Environmental Science application process
This is a competitive process. You will need to download the slides from the briefing session (held during November of your first year), do some research on where you would like to go on exchange and then submit your application via the Geography and Environmental Science Undergraduates Blackboard site by the specified deadline (usually Feb of your first year). Your submission will need to include:

  • A completed application form (downloadable from Blackboard)
  • A CV (maximum 2 pages A4)
  • A confidential reference from your tutor, emailed to the International Liaison Officer

You will be notified of the outcome of your application as soon as possible, usually during March of your first year. If successful, you can then start planning your exchange, together with the help of the International Liaison Office in Geography, the International Office and students who have previously been on exchange.

2. University of Southampton pre-departure paperwork.
Prior to your departure, you will need to read,complete and upload the following documents (all via Blackboard).

  • Outgoing Student Mobility Contract (Erasmus only) – this is your application to participate in the scheme and to receive a mobility grant. You need to return this form to the Student Office by 30 November for semester two exchanges
  • Learning Agreement – this confirms what you will be studying while you are abroad and should be completed and signed by the Geography International Liaison Officer and the host university before you start your exchange
  • Risk Assessment Form – you will need to complete this with help from the Geography and Environmental Science International Liaison Officer
  • Proof of insurance – free via University of Southampton but you must provide proof that you have acquired this
3. Host university application process
All host institutions have a slightly different application process and deadlines. Details of how to apply will be on their website, and staff in the International Office, or Dr Sam Cockings (our International Liaison Officer), or the Geography Student Office will be able to guide you through the process.

You should complete and return the application form direct to the host university, either online or by post. It is up to you to follow the progress of your application, meet any deadlines and make other practical arrangements for your placement, such as applying for accommodation, choosing your courses and organising appropriate insurance. If you need any help with your application ask the International Liaison Officer or the Student Office.

What is the deadline for applications?
Our internal deadline in Geography and Environmental Science for first year students is usually during February for semester two exchanges.

What modules should I take at the host university?
Research the host institution to see what modules are on offer to you as an exchange student. Whilst abroad, you are normally required to follow courses deemed to be equivalent to those you would have taken had you remained at Southampton. You should agree with your tutor and International Liaison Officer which subjects and how many credits you are required to take during your exchange placement.

Your Learning Agreement will specify which courses you intend to take and the number of credits for each course. Your selection of courses must be approved by both staff in Southampton and at the university you will be visiting.

If you need to make any changes to this selection during the year you should inform the International Liaison Officer and the Student Office.

How will my studies be assessed?
Assessment methods at partner universities vary between courses but usually include coursework and either written or oral examination. The host university does not usually award a certificate or other qualification. However, you will be asked to provide a statement of attendance and a list of the courses you did, including an indication of the level of attainment achieved in examinations or coursework. You should be able to request a transcript from your host university and marks should be reported to Southampton and incorporated into your University record. Please note that there may be some degree of moderation to take into account differences in the grading systems between the two universities but note that the guiding principle in any translation of marks is that students should not be academically disadvantaged by studying abroad.

Do I need to be fluent in the language of my host country?
The language of instruction at our partners is shown in our partnerships page. The majority of our exchange partners teach in English: in these Universities there is no requirement for you to speak the language of the host country. For partners where the language of instruction is not English, you and we need to be confident that you are sufficiently fluent to cope with studying Geogaphy and Environmental Science in another language. The International Liaison Officer, International Office and Modern Languages and Linguistics will be able to advise on a suitable level of language proficiency if this is the case.

Opportunities to learn a new language or to brush up on existing skills are available free via the Southampton Language Opportunity and/or the Erasmus Online Linguistic Support (OLS).

Does the exchange scheme provide accommodation in my host country?
This varies by the host institution. Some provide guaranteed places in halls of residence as long as you submit your application by the relevant deadline; others do not. All host institutions are obliged to provide some form of assistance to students in finding accommodation. For example you may be able to use their accommodation services to find private rented accommodation In this case it is worth arriving early at your destination to ensure you have enough time to find suitable accommodation. You may find it helpful to contact other students who are currently on exchange at the university you wish to visit, or who have been on exchange there, to find out how they found accommodation. Alternatively, you may find it useful to talk to any students currently studying here from the university you will be visiting.

If your host university is able to offer you accommodation, you need to find out what types are available, how you apply for it and what the deadline is for receipt of your application.

What are the fees for universities in the exchange scheme?
As a Southampton Geography and Environmental Science student, you can go on exchange for one semester only, in year 2. You will therefore continue to pay the full tuition fee for that year to the University of Southampton as you would normally do. You will not be liable to pay any tuition fees to your host university. However, some universities abroad may charge small ancillary fees for the use of facilities such as the Students' Union, or for activities such as non-compulsory language tuition. You should also bear in mind that you may need to pay for things like health insurance in some countries, although these are usually heavily discounted and available via agreements with the host university.

Is it possible to get funding for exchanges?
Yes, there are various opportunities available to seek funding for your exchange.

You are eligible to apply for any grants or student loans in the normal way and you will also retain any financial support from Student Finance England. Students with a Student Finance England loan can claim back expenses incurred during their time abroad. The amount reimbursed is assessed on household income. Full reimbursement is usually paid to students with a household income of less than £40,000 and on a sliding scale as income increases. Students who do a year/semester abroad should receive a greater maintenance loan.

The University of Southampton offers scholarships to students going on non-Erasmus exchanges (via the Southampton Opportunity). The Erasmus+ programme offers grants for a specified monthly amount depending on where you are studying. There are also various externally-funded scholarship programmes to which students are encouraged to apply.

Will I need to open a bank account in my host country?
Inform your bank that you will be going abroad and ask them to help you with credit cards, travellers cheques and foreign currency. If you are going abroad for a year, you may find it useful to open a bank account in your host country. It’s likely that you will need to take along certain documentation such as your passport and proof of residence.

Will I need insurance?
You should ensure that you have suitable travel and health insurance for the duration of your stay, which will cover you for travel to and from your destination, any travelling you do during your placement, and for all the activities you intend to undertake. The University offers a free insurance policy for students going on exchange, which you are advised to take up. Prior to going on exchange, you must provide evidence that you are covered by a suitable level and type of insurance policy.

Can you give me a checklist to prepare for the exchange?

The more you can arrange and find out about your exchange before you go abroad, the better. Remember, this is your exchange placement and it is essential that you actively plan and prepare for your time abroad.

The following list highlights some of the key things to remember when planning for your placement.

  • Decide on your placement and ensure that you research it thoroughly so you have a clear idea of what you can expect from your exchange. Attend any information meetings organised by Geography and/or the International Office
  • Find out the contact details for the Institutional exchange coordinator, the departmental exchange coordinator and the accommodation office of your host university
  • Find out what courses are available to exchange students at your host university and which you need to take. Also find out how these will be assessed
  • Ensure all application forms are completed and returned to both Southampton and your host university in time to meet the deadlines. Check that your application has been received
  • Find out what accommodation is available and organise this well in advance of starting your placement
  • Ensure you have the necessary identification documents and academic documents. Also make you have an up-to-date passport, which is valid for the duration of your time abroad. Take several recent passport sized photographs of yourself with you
  • Ensure you have appropriate travel and health insurance for the duration of your stay

For students wishing to study at the University of Southampton from overseas institutions:

Who can come to Southampton as an exchange student?
The University will accept applications from students:

I’m an international student coming to Southampton – how do I apply?
We will usually send you an application pack by email, or you can download the documents here.

University of Southampton Erasmus Application form 2015-2016
Ethnic origin form (standard procedure for all University applications)
Information booklet for incoming exchange students

Return your completed forms to the Geography Student Office by post or fax.

Your academic department will send you a letter of acceptance and details of when to arrive, how to register for your courses and accommodation arrangements. Contact your academic department if you have any queries.

What is the deadline for applications to come and study at Southampton?
For full year and semester one students arriving in October, the deadline for applications is 30 June. For semester two students arriving in February, it is 30 November.

Do I need to be able to speak English to come to Southampton on the exchange scheme?
Studying at a UK university is an interactive way of studying. You will be encouraged to participate actively in discussions in lectures, give presentations at seminars, work with other students in small groups and discuss your studies in tutorials with academic staff. Before you come to Southampton, you should therefore ensure that your level of English is good enough to be able to write essays, to express your opinions and to interact socially with other students. This is vital to ensure you get the most benefit academically and personally from studying in Southampton.

Language classes are usually offered for Erasmus students to provide extra assistance in the English language. For further information, please see the Centre for Language Study website.

Will you provide accommodation in Southampton?
The University is not obliged to offer University accommodation to exchange students.

For information on how to apply for accommodation see our Accommodation Service website [link to www.soton.ac.uk/accommodation].

If possible we would recommend you visit Southampton over the summer or several weeks before the start of the semester in order to look for accommodation. It is essential that you arrange somewhere to stay for at least your first few nights in Southampton. A list of possible guesthouses is available on the Accommodation Office website.

We will send you further information about how to apply for accommodation in autumn when we have received your application form.

What accommodation and facilities do you have at Southampton?
See the Accommodation Service website for details of the halls of residence and their facilities.

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