Frequently asked questions
Please note: This webpage reflects standard practices. We endeavour to offer an exchange programme as normally as possible this year, however in light of the COVID-19 situation, there may be changes and we are expecting a more hybrid approach (combination of in person and online). We will keep you updated via email regarding exchange specific changes and please refer to the university coronavirus webpage for general updates.
Study at Surrey
We have two semesters in our academic calendar. Semester 1 (our autumn semester) runs from approximately late September to late January and Semester 2 (our spring semester) from approximately early February to mid/late June. Click here for the academic dates for the current and next academic years.
The subjects available will depend on our exchange agreement with your home university - some are subject-specific, others are university-wide. Please speak to your home institution, who can also provide you with our Incoming Exchange & Study Abroad Guide, which lists all the subject areas available to exchange students. Otherwise this document can be requested from our Incoming Exchange Team email@example.com
Courses or study units at Surrey are known as ‘modules’. Most modules are worth 15 Surrey credits / 7.5 ECTS credits (equivalent to 3 USA credits). Exchange students are expected to study full-time at Surrey. A full-time workload is 60 Surrey credits or 30 ECTS credits per semester, which is normally 4 modules. You may not take more than 4 modules. In rare cases, a student may need to take a distance learning module from their home university whilst they are at Surrey and in this instance they would be allowed to take just 3 Surrey modules.
Undergraduate exchange students can choose modules from our undergraduate degree programmes and Master's-level students from our postgraduate degree programmes. Alternatively, our online Programme/Module Catalogue provides detailed descriptions of all of the modules offered at Surrey, including the module content, the semester in which it is available and the method of assessment - please ensure you have selected the appropriate academic year.
On the Catalogue, modules are grouped within programmes by department and level:
- Undergraduate/Bachelor’s degree - Level HE1 (1st year), Level HE2 (2nd year), and Level HE3 (3rd year)
- Postgraduate/Master’s degree - Level M
- As we have a range of integrated Master’s degrees – eg. MMaths, MEng, MChem – if you are an advanced-level undergraduate student in your own system, we may be able to consider you for certain M-level modules – please consult your Departmental Exchange Coordinator here before listing these on your learning agreement. You must have a subject-specific cumulative GPA of 3.0 or equivalent and a minimum of 3 years of subject-specific study.
As far as possible, you should try to select modules from one department, one degree programme and one study level/year, as this will reduce the risk of timetable clashes. Timetables are not published until a month before the start of each semester so some students may need to choose one or two replacement modules just before or after their arrival.
Students wishing to take electives at Surrey and who have little or no background in the subject, should select 1st year modules. For electives in more technical subjects and modern languages, students will need to provide evidence of previous study in the subject, even for 1st year modules, and may be tested in their first week at Surrey to ascertain the appropriate level for them.
Most modules are only available once a year, in either the first or second semester. You will need to be careful to only select modules that will be running in the semester in which you will be at Surrey. On the Programme descriptions, the semester is indicated next to each module title, and on the Module descriptions, it is indicated towards the top under ‘Module Availability’.
Some modules are not available to exchange students or require prior study of another module (prerequisite) or must be taken alongside a related module (co-requisite) or have restricted numbers of students in the class and so may not be available. This will normally be indicated under 'Prerequisites/Co-requisites' in the module description.
Each academic department has a Departmental Exchange Coordinator who can advise you on module content and whether you meet any prerequisites. There is also a Departmental Exchange Administrator, who acts as the first point of contact and will finalise your study timetable and enrol you on your chosen modules. Click here for their contact details. If you have difficulty contacting your Coordinator or Administrator, please email our Incoming Exchange Team, firstname.lastname@example.org
Students are expected to have a command of the English language suitable for their level of study. The minimum level of competence required from non-native English speakers is IELTS 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 6.0 in each component (listening, speaking, reading, writing). Nursing/Midwife/Paramedic students are required to have IELTS 7.0 with a minimum of 7.0 in each component.
For a full list of the English language qualifications that we accept, see here.
Exchange/Study Abroad applicants who are non-native English speakers will be asked to provide evidence of their English language proficiency (i.e. a test certificate, transcript of results or other formal language assessment).
Students who need to apply for a Student visa, must submit one of our accepted English language qualifications with their exchange application in order for us to send them a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number for their visa application.
All non-native English speakers are encouraged to sit a short online grammar test in their first week at Surrey. The test is designed to identify any language support that might be needed and offers students with a good command of English the opportunity to take advanced English courses. No students are sent home as a result of the test. The test simply enables us to recommend one or more of our free English Language Support Programme (ELSP) courses that may be useful to you. Students may sign up for up to 3 ELSP classes per semester.
Erasmus students complete an English language assessment (OLS) for their home institution before the start and at the end of their exchange. The results are not made available to Surrey.
Yes, our School of Literature & Languages runs an English Language Support Programme under (ELSP) which a range of courses are offered free-of-charge to all Surrey students. These include grammar and oral skills courses and English language courses specifically for students of Management, Economics, Engineering and Computing. We also offer courses for native speakers who wish to improve their academic writing or presentation skills. Students may register online for up to 3 courses per semester. Classes last between 50 minutes and 2 hours. There is no homework or exams - at the end of each course you can download an attendance certificate as evidence that you have completed the course. For more information and a complete list of courses offered, click here.
For students wishing to learn a modern language, other than English, the University provides:
- Evening Classes (fees apply)
- The Global Graduate Award Scheme (GGA) –The free GGA language courses are open to full-year students, who are awarded 7.5 ECTS credits for successful completion of the course. We offer 11 modern languages at different levels.
- The Language and Culture Exchange Scheme (LACES) – LACES enables students and staff to practice their oral language skills with a native speaker in a relaxed setting.
Exams and results
Assessment may be by examination or by coursework or both. Most modules are assessed by examination, but each module description in the Programme/Module Catalogue gives details (please select the correct year) .
Exchange/Study Abroad students are expected to be assessed at the same time and in the same way as the other students on their course, so if assessment is by examination, students must be able to stay at Surrey until the end of our exam period in January and June (see our key dates). Surrey exams can not be taken at a student's home institution.
Students who have a January semester start date at their home institution are advised to come to Surrey either for the full year or for semester 2.
Exams and other assessments normally take place over the last 3 weeks in January and from late May-mid June (see our key dates), so students taking exam-based modules must be able to stay at Surrey to the end of the exam period. The exam timetables are published about a month before the start of the exam period - i.e. early December and late April.
Resits/resubmissions normally take place from mid-August - early September.
We will email your transcript to you and your exchange office as soon as possible once results are officially released. We aim to do this no more than 5 weeks after the end of the exam period. Hard copies will not be provided unless there is a specific requirement by your home institution. If this is the case, a hard (original) copy of your transcript will be posted to your exchange office.
If you know you will need your transcript quickly in order to progress or graduate, you should inform the International Engagement Office in good time.
Exchange students are eligible to apply for University of Surrey accommodation and we can usually offer accommodation to all or most students, but it is not guaranteed. Successful exchange applicants will be sent their Surrey Student Number and a link to our online accommodation application form in July/November.
Project students – Student rooms can only be allocated for full semesters, so project students are advised to come to Surrey for the whole semester or at the start of the semester if possible. Students coming outside the normal semester dates are advised to read our University Lettings page and contact the Accommodation Office email@example.com for assistance with renting in the private sector (see section below). It may be easiest to find a room to rent in a family home or at the local YMCA.
Nursing/Midwifery/Paramedic Science students can apply for accommodation in Royal Surrey County Hospital keyworker flats, located next to the hospital and our Manor Park student village. Details of how to apply will be emailed to students once their exchange application has been accepted.
The University accommodation is arranged in groups of self-catered housing or ‘Courts of Residence’ on three sites:
- Stag Hill campus (the main University campus)
- Manor Park residential village (5 minutes by bus/20 minutes' walk)
- Hazel Farm (2 miles north/20-30 minutes by bus, depending on traffic)
The University’s Courts of Residence are divided into accommodation blocks, each containing a number of self-catered flats/apartments. The students in each flat share a kitchen and some share a bathroom (some rooms are ensuite).
University accommodation is divided into different price bands to suit different budgets. You can see descriptions, virtual tours and images of the rooms in each price band.
If you have special requirements for medical reasons, we have a small number of rooms with adaptations. Our Disability and Neurodiversity Service can discuss your needs with you.
Exchange and Study Abroad students must pay for their accommodation at Surrey. The University has rooms in different price bands. Click here for a full list of the available price bands.
When applying for university accommodation, students are asked to indicate their price band order of preference - it is not possible to specify a particular site or court of residence. However, if you need a particular band for financial reasons, you can specify this on your accommodation application form. We do our best to offer students one of their top preferences.
We will email all exchange/study abroad applicants with details of how to apply for University accommodation. This will include your Surrey Student Number, which you will need in order to apply. Application is by online form, which goes live in July and November.
University of Surrey Lettings (USL) offers advice about renting in the private sector, as well as providing links to local letting agents who manage some student accommodation. USL advertises all available accommodation on the USL Facebook group and Studentpad.
StudentPad is the University's online private-sector student housing search facility. It has details of rooms to rent nearby in shared student houses and in private homes with a resident landlord. Students can access StudentPad once they have their Surrey Student Number. StudentPad is the recommended route for finding private accommodation nearby as the accommodation has been tried and tested by Surrey students.
For advice or assistance with finding a private rental, contact the USL team firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition, the central Guildford YMCA has a small number of rooms available for short-term lets, all with wifi and some of them ensuite. The YMCA can offer a very reasonable deal, including breakfast and dinner in their restaurant.
Visas for the UK
Visa rules for students coming to study in the UK after 31 December 2020 have changed.
Check whether you will need a visa to study in the UK by entering brief details into the UK Government visa checker.
UK study of more than 6 months
Non-UK/non-Irish nationals coming to study in the UK for more than 6 months (i.e. two semesters) or wishing to work as well as study (including paid work, voluntary work, work experience, work placements or internships), will need to apply for and secure the new points-based Student visa before travelling to the UK. There is a visa fee and many students will also need to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge as part of the visa application – this entitles you to treatment under the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) on the same basis as UK residents. Non-native English speakers are required to submit one of the University's accepted English language qualifications with their exchange application as evidence that they meet our minimum level of competence in English.
UK study of 6 months or less
Depending on your nationality, non-UK/non-Irish students coming to study in the UK for 6 months or less will need to either:
- apply for and secure a Standard Visitor visa before travelling to the UK (the visa checker will say you need a visa)
- enter the UK as a Visitor without needing to apply for a visa in advance of travel (the visa checker will say you don’t need a visa).
We will email students a visa support letter/formal acceptance letter to show at border control, once you have been formally accepted.
For further information about visas and the supporting documents you need to provide, see
For advice regarding visas, please contact the University’s International Student Support team on email@example.com.
If you are a citizen both of a country outside and a country inside the European Union (EU)/European Economic Area (EEA) or of Switzerland, we would recommend that you complete our exchange application form with details of your EU/EEA/Swiss passport and travel using that. This is because their visa application process and non-visa entry as a Visitor are simpler than for other nationals.
Life as a student in the UK
Have a look at some of these links. Please bear in mind they might not be targeted at Surrey exchange students, so not all the information will apply to you.
- British Council’s official website for international students who are interested in studying in the UK: Living and Studying in the UK
- The University’s webpage for new international students is aimed at international students coming to study a full degree at Surrey, but some of the information will be relevant to you.
All exchange students at Surrey are automatically members of the University of Surrey Students' Union (USSU), a student body run by students for students.
The USSU organises events, activities, and trips in the UK and abroad, as well as offering over 100 student clubs and societies.
If your University has an exchange agreement with us and they have nominated you for a study exchange, you will not have to pay tuition fees to study here. To find out if your University has an agreement with us, click here.
If your University does not have an exchange agreement with us, you may be able to come here as a fee-paying ‘occasional’ student for one or more semesters.
If your home institution does not have an exchange agreement with Surrey or you have not been nominated for exchange at the University of Surrey, but are interested in coming as a fee-paying 'occasional' student, please visit our ‘occasional’ student website.
Setting up new Exchange Agreements
Exchange partnerships are established where a relationship can be developed and sustained over time and so regrettably are not set up for individual students.
You may be able to come as a fee-paying ‘occasional’ student.
Travelling to the University
Our International Student Support team offers a free Meet and Greet Collection Service from nearby London airports the day before your orientation.
Successful applicants will be sent a web link to the Meet and Greet information and application form in July-August/December. To register for this service, you will need to have details of your flight booking.
Orientation and settling in
Please refer to the arrive, orientation and welcome week parts of our important dates page
Project students who are not able to arrive at the same time as the other Erasmus+ students should arrange meetings with their supervisor, Departmental Exchange Coordinator and Zoe Stevenson in the Global Engagement Office prior to departure and make their own way to the University.
Nursing students will be advised of their arrival and orientation dates separately.
Yes. Before students come to Surrey, they are invited to sign up for our Buddy Scheme, which puts incoming students in contact with a current Surrey student who can answer their questions and give them useful tips and advice to help them settle in and make the most of their stay.
The Orientation programme is compulsory for all exchange students arriving at the start of the semester. It includes a key talks including talks/workshops including VISA, exchange & study skills. Additionally there are a number of social activities, including tours and events. You will also meet with your Departmental Exchange Coordinator and Administrator to finalise your module choices and some students will have a laboratory safety talk. The Orientation Programme is a great opportunity to ask any questions you may have, familiarise yourself with your department and get to know some of your fellow exchange students before teaching begins.
The Orientation Programme will be emailed to you a week or two before your arrival.
Places to visit and life in and around Guildford and the UK
Surrey Students’ Union (SSU), to which all Surrey students automatically belong, has a lively programme of events and activities for students at the University of Surrey and runs a lively programme of trips to cities and attractions in the UK and in neighbouring countries– to find out what’s coming up, visit the SSU facebook page:
The following websites also have information about places to visit and life in Guildford and the surrounding area:
The following websites provide information about places to visit around the UK: