Luke Ross, Washington University St Louis
'The difference between the UK and US systems were laid out very clearly so there were fewer surprises on day one than I expected.
Two of my modules are lecture-based while the others have both a lecture and seminar component. Lecture sizes are smaller than at WashU but seminars are a little larger. Each week my instructors assign a certain amount of reading for the next class period but the assessments call on you to read more than the minimum requirements.
Each WashU course includes three or four major assignments while each of my King's modules centers around two papers or a single exam. There is also a less formal week-by-week homework structure, which forces each student to be diligent about keeping up with the readings. However, the paper word counts are significantly smaller at King's which does allow you to spend more time honing your arguments.
I like the focus on independent study and personal responsibility. Although having one major assignment count for so much of my grade was daunting, keeping up with the readings and dedicating a bit more time to each assignment made me confident in my work.'
Shan Song, Renmin University of China
'Here at King's I'm lucky to have a glimpse of Arts and Humanities and discovered my interests in comparative literature. After I complete my degree in my home university, I will again apply for graduate school abroad. On the other hand, my study abroad experience helped me to grow stronger in a way that it teaches you how to solve problems independently, how to manage your time, how to associate with different people, how to think critically etc. All of these things broaden my horizons and make my life goals clear.
Here we have less modules but all of them cover a comprehensive area of knowledge and require a lot of reading. In a way, this helps consolidate knowledge and asks students to go above and beyond to discover what they like. The process is rewarding. I have a better life style here. In China, the university has a pressing atmosphere that pushes students to work hard all the time. Here there is a relaxed environment and I have learnt to use my time efficiently so I can enjoy studying and life at the same time.'
Wendy (Jiawei) Lu, Duke University
'Orientation told me a lot of differences between the US and UK academic system and definitely prepared me for later classes. I've met other American students who are very confused about the instructions and don't know what to do because they didn't go through orientation. So I think it definitely helped.
All my modules have one lecture (a large class with about 50-100 students) and one seminar (with less than 20 people). During the lecture, the professor usually talks about the main points of the week and explain a little regarding what we need to do for homework and seminar during the week. And in the seminar, we have more detailed discussions and the seminar leader will answer our questions in class.
There isn't much emphasis in class about the deadlines, all the homework, detailed instructions and office hours and review sessions. I'm used to the professor/TA telling me everything I need to do at the beginning of a class at Duke and I was kind of confused by the system at King's during the first week of class. Later I solved most of my problems by emailing my instructors and asking them questions actively in class (even though I noticed that British students usually don't ask that kind of questions), and I think everyone is definitely helpful even though things are not done the same as they are at Duke.
I like that we've got a lot of free time to do our own stuff outside from class. But it's also one of the biggest challenges: since no one is pushing you to do everything and forcing you to turn in homework and highlighting everything you need to do through Emails or online systems, it's crucial for me to know all my deadlines, all the homework instructions and formality/style requirements for essays.'
Kendra Kumor, Boston College
'I talked to a lot of upperclassmen who had studied abroad in past terms in the U.K. They gave me excellent insights as to what to expect and what the major differences were between the U.S. and U.K. systems.
For me, the King's system has been much more independent learning than the U.S. system. Students are expected to do much for reading outside of class, but with fewer major assignments such as essays and tests. My most of my modules are taught in two segments: one lecture led by a professor with limited student interaction and one seminar led by mostly student discussions. Similar to the U.S., attending professor office hours are a good way to follow up with class discussions and lectures.
The main difference I have experienced is that at King's I am able to personalize my education more. By that I mean that lecturers provided additional or suggested readings in addition to the mandatory ones so students are able to pursue ideas and subjects that most interest them. In all of my classes, I am afforded multiple choices for essay and exam topics, and I am constantly encouraged to make the questions my own.
What I like most about the U.K. system is the personalization of my education and the class seminars. Both have given me a completely new perspective on my schooling. I learn so much more by pursuing the topics that specifically interest me and by getting the opportunity to listen to what my peers have to say during class discussions every week.'
William Wright, Emory University
'Modules at King's are commonly taught with a single lecture component and a single seminar component during the week. Students are expected to read the assigned readings in preparation for class, and while it is tempting to skip certain readings at times, a missed reading will almost always make itself apparent in class discussion.
Overall, I enjoy the rigor of the UK system and the focus upon primary and secondary texts.'
Scott Huhn, University of Southern California
'There are fewer hours spent in class than in the US. Most modules are split between a seminar and a lecture. While the lecture is typically an hour of the teacher speaking to the students, the seminar attempts to provoke more student / teacher interaction and discussion. The amounts of reading expected each week for class is comparable to my US classes. However, the type of assessments at King's are different than in the US. Classes at King's typically rely more on essay's and a final exam than midterms / intermittent coursework.
Studying seems to take the form of essay writing more than midterms and examinations. However, since the final examinations represent a much larger portion of our final grades than in the states (>60% often), I anticipate I will need to study much more in the near future!
I enjoy the structure of the UK education system. Students are given rigid course schedules that map their courses out for all three years of college. This in turn ensures that students studying in a given second or third-year class have all taken similar prerequisites to get where they are. I think the biggest challenge with the system is spreading out your studying for final exams and avoiding procrastination. Since there are fewer intermittent assessments, it is easy to slack off during the semester and have a ton of work at the end.'
David Gelsomino, George Washington University
'I took three Management modules and one History module at King’s. Similar to U.S. universities, my Management modules were heavy on group projects. Learning about U.S. independence from the opposite viewpoint was a highlight of my academic experience at King’s!
Knowing the difference between the UK and US academic system is important. UK modules focus much more on in-depth critical analysis as opposed to the regurgitation of material that is more common at US universities. Textbooks are less common with a stronger emphasis on academic journals and individual works of literature. There are also far fewer assessments throughout the term than in the US. In most of my modules we only had one major assignment, either a team project or an individual research paper, which was used for overall assessment. Some classes also used a small percentage of points for attendance and participation, but the majority of the semester grade came from one assignment. Although this may seem overwhelming, you will get lots of time to improve that assignment and won’t have distractions like weekly quizzes or nightly homework. The grading scale is also different. Anything from a 70 and higher transfers back to the States as an A, so don’t worry if you get a 68 on your final exam – that’s an A-! You will likely spend much less time in class at King’s than you do at your home institution. Modules are taught either as a two-hour lecture or as a one-hour lecture with a one-hour tutorial/seminar, which takes place in a smaller group to hone in on specific topics from the week’s lecture. All of that extra time is meant to be spent doing independent research for your assignment(s). Students are expected to be much more independent than they are in the US.
I found the UK system to be much more intellectually stimulating and challenging than my college experience in the US. I definitely felt pressured having only one major assessment rather than multiple assessments dispersed throughout the semester, but I came to realize that this gave me much more time to focus on improving my single assignment. I also would study with my flatmates and model my study habits off of theirs, even though they all took different modules.'
Rachel Desch, UNC Chapel Hill
'I'm currently taking Intelligence in War Studies, War in International Order, European Union: Power, Politics, and Economics, and Museums of London. Orientation mentioned the differences between the UK and US system. The presenters offered helpful resources for the transition including tours of the library and information on peer tutors!
The academic system at King's is heavily focused on independent study. Most of my classes have a 50 minute lecture that meets once a week and a 50 minute seminar consisting of a smaller group of students which is discussion based. You definitely need to do the introductory readings!
Studying at King's is most different from UNC in regards to the amount of contact hours students have with the professors. While office hours are still available, lectures occur only once per week and a lot of introductory reading helps offset the difference.
The UK system is a lot more focused in regards to majors and programmes. Students take modules only relating to their programme, while in the US, most universities have an abundance of general education requirements. The biggest challenge was getting accustomed to the readings. The key is to find a good balance between coursework and your desire to explore London!'