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 exchange available subject areas. Otherwise this file can be requested from our Incoming Exchange Team, firstname.lastname@example.org
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 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 descriptions and Masters-level students from our postgraduate degree descriptions. Alternatively, our online module catalogue (please choose the correct year) provides full 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.
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 course and one study level, 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 new 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 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. The relevant semester is indicated at the end of each module title ('Semr1' and 'Semr2') and towards the top of each module description 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 capped numbers 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 pre-requisites. 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, email@example.com
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 speakers is:
- IELTS – 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 6.0 in each component (listening, speaking, reading, writing). Nursing students are required to have IELTS 7.0 with a minimum of 7.0 in each component.
- TOEFL - 92 overall, with a minimum of 20 in each component. Nursing students must have TOEFL 100, with at least 25 in each component.
- Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) B2 – minimum required. CEFR C1 – recommended.
- Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English – Grade B
- Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English – Grade C
- HKCEE or HKAL – Grade C
Exchange applicants who are non-native English speakers will be asked to provide evidence of their English language proficiency ie. a test certificate, transcript of results or other formal language assessment. The full list of accepted qualification can be found here.
Students who will be applying for a Tier 4 Student Visa must submit a current IELTS certificate from a UKVI-approved test centre with their exchange application.
All non-native English speakers are encouraged to sit a short online reading and 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 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 English and Languages runs an English Language Support Programme under which a range of courses are provided free-of-charge to non-native speakers studying at Surrey. 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. At the end of each course you can download an attendance certificate. For more information and a complete list of courses offered, click here.
For students wishing to learn a language other than English, the University provides:
- Evening Classes
- The Global Graduate Award Scheme (GGA) –The GGA language courses are open to full-year students, who are awarded 10 credits for successful completion of the course.
- The Language and Culture Exchange Scheme (LACES) – LACES enables students and staff to practice their oral language skills with a native speaker.
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 Provisional Module Catalogue (please select the correct year) gives details.
Exchange 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 (see our key dates). Surrey exams may not be taken at a student's home institution.
Exams and other assessments normally take place over the last 2 weeks in January and from late May to the end of the semester (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 a month before the start of the exam period ie. mid-December and late April.
Resits/resubmissions normally take place in 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, but it is not guaranteed. Successful exchange applicants will be sent their student number and a link to our online accommodation application form once all of the applications have been received.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 students can stay in Royal Surrey County Hospital keyworker accommodation, which is located next to the hospital, if rooms are available. Details of how to apply for this 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 accommodation village (5 minutes by bus)
- Hazel Farm (2 miles north/20 minutes by bus – free Guildford area bus pass provided to all residents)
For campus maps showing the different Courts of Residence, click here.
The University’s Courts of Residence are divided into blocks containing a number of flats/apartments. Each flat shares a kitchen and some share a bathroom. University accommodation is divided into different price bands. See descriptions, virtual tours and images of the rooms in each price band.
Click here for a site map showing the location of each Court of Residence.
Exchange students must pay for their accommodation while they are 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 order of preference. We do our best to offer students one of their top preferences.
We will email successful exchange applicants with details of how to apply for University accommodation. Application is by online form, which goes live from July and November.
Our Lettings site has advice about renting in the private sector as well as links to StudentPad, our online private-sector student housing search facility, and to local letting agents who manage some student accommodation. StudentPad has details of rooms to rent in shared student houses and in private family homes, and students can access it once they have their Surrey student number. StudentPad accommodation is recommended as it has been tried and tested by Surrey students.
The University Accommodation Office can also assist students looking for accommodation in the private sector: email@example.com
Visas for the UK
If you have a current passport/national identity card from a European Economic Area (EEA) country (includes all EU member states, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland) or from Switzerland, you will not need a visa to come and study in the UK.
If you do not have a passport from an EEA country or Switzerland, you will need to either
- request entry clearance as a Short-term Study Visitor as you enter the UK (for non-visa nationals* only, who are studying or doing research in the UK for up to 6 months as part of their overseas degree – you will need to carry all of the necessary supporting documents for the Short-term Study Visa in your hand luggage), or
- apply for and obtain a Short-term Study Visa before you travel (for visa nationals**, who are studying or doing research in the UK for up to 6 months as part of their overseas degree), or
- apply for a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa before you travel (for students staying longer than 6 months and/or wishing to study and work – including paid work, voluntary work, work experience, work placements or internships).
*Non-visa nationals are citizen of certain countries who do not need to obtain a Short-Term Study Visa before travelling to the UK, though may if you wish to. Students requesting entry clearance as a Short-term Study Visitor at passport control as you enter the UK, may still leave and re-enter the UK during your stay, but you will need to have the supporting documents in your hand luggage and request entry clearance each time you re-enter the country.
** Visa nationals are citizens of certain countries who must obtain a Short-Term Study Visa prior to arrival in the UK. This is a multi-entry visa which means you can leave and re-enter the UK during your exchange without having to request a new visa each time.
Please go to the UK Government visa website to check if you need a visa and to find out how to apply. You may apply for a visa up to 3 months before you travel.
For further information about student visas and the supporting documents you need to provide, please refer to the UK Council for International Student Affairs website.
Alternatively, visit the University’s visa information website.
For visa advice, please feel free to email our International Student Support team: firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here for visa processing times for your country.
Students will not be eligible for a Tier 4 visa unless they meet the University of Surrey’s English language requirements - see English Language section above. Tier 4 visa applicants must submit a current IELTS certificate from a UKVI-approved test centre with their Surrey exchange application. IELTS certificates are valid for 2 years and must be current at the start of your exchange.
If you are a citizen both of a country outside and a country inside the European Economic Area (EEA) or of Switzerland, we would recommend that you complete our exchange application form with details of your EEA or Swiss passport/national identity card to avoid the need for a visa.
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 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: