UK vs US: University

First Impressions

Okay, so coming out of my first week of my Study abroad experience, I’ve noticed some differences and similarities between the US and UK education systems at the university level. I’m taking two English classes (which is my main degree at my home university in the US) a film history class, and a museums of London class made up of entirely study abroad students.

Hannah Reads (2)


  • Structure

    • The UK system is essentially an hour lecture and an hour seminar each week for every class. The seminars tend to be a bit smaller (15ish people) while the lectures include the whole class. During lectures the professor talks the whole time and the students take notes and during seminar it’s more of a guided discussion.
    • In the US I tended to have 3 hours of class a week, either two 1 1/2 hour sessions or three 1 hour sessions. Each of those classes would incorporate both aspects of a lecture and a seminar.
    • After week one, I think I like the UK structure more, because I like to know what I’m getting myself into. So it’s nice to know what I’ll be expected to do in a given class and how much I’ll have to participate.
  • Syllabus Week

    • US: The first week of classes, or at least your first time in each class is reserved for going over class expectations and going around the room and doing cringeworthy icebreakers.
    • UK: The syllabus is online for every class and there was reading that you should have already done.
    • While it’s nice to hit the ground running, I was expecting a more relaxed week and definitely was not anticipating summer reading.
  • Textbooks

    • US: spend so much more on textbooks for GE courses and never look at them.
    • UK: Pick up giant “coursepacks” of printed copies of books and actually read that otherwise you will fail. ( They literally gave me at least 600 pages of printed pages for two of my classes. But it’s FREE, so who am I to complain.)
  • Major/ minor vs degree

    • US: So in the US, we have to take a lot extra courses that don’t relate to our main degree as ‘general education’ requirements, which is why it takes us 4 years instead of 3. But, we also have the opportunity to minor in different subjects to diversify our degree.
    • UK: As I understand it (someone correct me if I’m wrong), they are accepted into a certain major and then only take classes in that major. So in my film class, I’m the only person that is not majoring in film studies so I don’t know all of the lingo that everyone else does. Also, they keep referencing all these movies that I haven’t seen and I feel so uncultured- help.
  • Assessment

    • UK: Guys, THERE ARE NO QUIZES HERE. On the other hand, my entire grade for each class comes from pretty much one essay. So that’s going to be stressful.
    • US: There are a lot of random little assessments that serve to pad your grade so that nothing can really make or break you.
    • I haven’t yet discovered which is less stressful, updates to come.
  • Attire

    • US: leggings and a sweatshirt.
    • UK: Everyone looks cute here and I don’t know if it’s just because it’s the first week of school and everyone’s trying to make good first impressions or that Brits are actually just better dressed.

Hannah Reads (2)


  • Participation

    • No one wants to talk in class. Especially a class at 4 in the afternoon on a Friday.
  • Coffee Consumption

    • Enough said.


I’ll be updating this list later in the term, probably once I’m back on American soil in December so keep a look out for that if that interests you.

Hannah Reads (1)

What’s the education system like in your hometown? Is coffee consumption universal? Have I terribly misconstrued the British Education system? (Also, what is the difference between A levels and Sixth form and GSCEs?)



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