Academic Development and Quality Enhancement

Study abroad

The FAQs below have been created to answer possible questions arising around study abroad. The FAQs were updated in October 2017. The Examinations and Assessment Regulations Handbook provides the definitive regulations (see regulations 1.47 and 1.51). These regulations apply to all students currently studying at the University.

Towards the bottom of this page you will also find information about conversion of study abroad marks including the University's approved conversion scales.

The Study Abroad for Sussex Students web pages are available at:

http://www.sussex.ac.uk/students/support/studyabroad/index

1) Types of study Abroad

i. What is a voluntary study abroad year?

As part of Sussex Choice, students on an undergraduate course can apply to do a voluntary study abroad year.  This is an additional year of study which must be taken in year 3.  It is not possible to take both a voluntary study abroad year and a placement year, or to take the study abroad year in year 2 or in the final year. The marks you receive on your study abroad year will not contribute to classification. However, you will be given a transcript from the host institution which will include all the marks given on your study abroad year modules. 

If you’re receiving, or applying for, USA federal Direct Loan funds, you cannot take a course with a voluntary study abroad year/term in any country or a voluntary placement term/year in the USA.  Further information on this is available at:

http://www.sussex.ac.uk/studentlifecentre/funding/americanstudentloans

ii. What is an integrated study abroad year?

A course with an integrated study abroad year is a 4-year course which includes a study abroad year as part of the validated course structure.  The study abroad year is taken in year 3. The marks you receive on your study abroad year will contribute to classification. 4-year courses that include American Studies or a language have an integrated study abroad year.

iii. Can I study abroad for a term instead of a year?

You may apply to take a study abroad term in your second year.  This is called a variation of study.  See Question 8 for further details.

If you’re receiving, or applying for, USA federal Direct Loan funds, you cannot take a course with a voluntary study abroad year/term in any country or a voluntary placement term/year in the USA.  Further information on this is available at:

http://www.sussex.ac.uk/studentlifecentre/funding/americanstudentloans

 2) Academic Requirements on a study abroad year

i. What do I need to achieve to go on a study abroad year?

If you are on a 4-year course, or intending to transfer to a 4-year course including a voluntary/integrated study abroad year, you are required to achieve a capped mean mark of 50% in your first year to continue on/transfer to a course with a study abroad year. (Accepted exceptional circumstances may not be taken into consideration.  A late appeal may be made to ask the PAB to take into consideration performance in Term 1 of Year 2.  However, you should note that this will be in the Spring of year 2 and it is therefore unlikely that a space at a study abroad year institution will be available for the start of the next academic year).  If you do not achieve 50% in year 1, after any resit opportunity, you will be transferred to (or continue on) the 3-year degree title (without the ‘with a study abroad year’ suffix to the degree title).

If you fail a module in year 2, you will usually be given a resit in the summer vacation assessment period.  You should plan to take the resit before you start your study abroad year.  Resit assessments that are written submissions can be submitted early, or remotely.  If the resit assessment is an exam scheduled after the start of your study abroad year, the exam board will consider allowing you to trail this into the summer vacation assessment period at the end of your study abroad year.  Please contact your School Office if you wish to discuss this with a member of faculty.

ii. What modules will I take on a study abroad year?

A study plan for the study abroad year (voluntary and integrated) must be approved in advance by your School.

For a voluntary study abroad year the modules you take must be equivalent to 120 credits.  At least 50% of the modules you take must be related to your course title. Therefore, you can take up to 50% of the credits for the study abroad year in modules in other subjects or in modules related to your subject area more broadly to help you consolidate your learning for your course.  You could take a module linked to the cultural heritage of the country that you are studying in, for example, a module in flamenco if you are studying in Spain, provided this was approved in advance as part of your Study Plan.  Or you could take a language module, particularly if you are studying in an English-taught class in a non-English speaking country.

For an integrated study abroad year, for example American Studies, all the modules you take must be related to your course title and be equivalent to 120 credits.  If you are taking an integrated study abroad year, you should not take modules which are pass/fail only.  This is because all modules need to be assigned a grade which will count towards classification.

For both the voluntary and the integrated year, please remember that you are expected to take the modules that have been approved as part of your Study Plan.  If for some reason the module is not available, you should get in touch with your School immediately to agree an alternative module, otherwise you may be short of credit.

The Study Plan for an integrated study abroad year will be provided by your School.

iii. What do I need to achieve during a study abroad year?

To have the study abroad year included in your degree title you need to achieve an overall mean of 40% on the study abroad year.  This applies to a voluntary study abroad year and an integrated study abroad year.  A voluntary study abroad year will not contribute to classification, however, you will still be required to achieve the pass threshold of 40% in order for the study abroad year to be included in the degree title.

If you fail to achieve 40% overall, you must ask your host university about resit opportunities for the modules you have failed.  If you do not achieve 40% on the study abroad year after a resit opportunity your course title will not include the suffix ‘with a study abroad year’.

You should note that you do not need to pass all 120 credits to pass the study abroad year, provided you achieve a mean overall of 40% across your modules.   If you fail a module, or have an incomplete module, the fail or 0 grade will bring your overall mean down and may result in you failing the study abroad year.  Failed modules will also appear on your foreign transcript.

 3) Process for applying for study abroad

i. Voluntary study abroad

If you would like to include a voluntary study abroad year as an additional year to your degree, you need to apply to the Sussex Abroad office by mid-November of your second year.  A meeting is held in the spring term to inform first year students of the voluntary study abroad year, and the deadlines for application.  Information on how to apply for a voluntary study abroad year is available at:

http://www.sussex.ac.uk/students/support/studyabroad/studyabroadoptions/voluntaryopportunities

Once your application has been agreed your School will transfer you onto the 4-year degree course title that includes the suffix ‘with a study abroad year’. This will normally be during Term 2 of year 2.

A voluntary study abroad year is not guaranteed, even if you meet the Sussex academic criteria to go.  This is because there are restrictions regarding the number of places at partner universities, and also availability of places for different subject areas. Many universities abroad require a high academic threshold for incoming exchange students.

ii. Integrated study abroad year

The Sussex Abroad team, and the department, will start supporting students to prepare for the integrated study abroad year at the start of their second year.

iii. Study abroad term

Please see Question 8(i).

All applications for study abroad are subject to acceptance by the host institution.

4) What are the costs of a study abroad year?

i. What are the costs of taking a voluntary/integrated study abroad year?

The course fee for an additional study abroad year is 15% of the standard course fee. There will of course be other associated costs, such as travel, insurance, visa and accommodation.  The Sussex Abroad Office can provide further details.

ii. What are the costs of taking a study abroad term?

The standard fee for the year applies where a study abroad term is taken. There will of course be other associated costs, such as travel, insurance, visa and accommodation. The Sussex Abroad Office can provide further details.

5) Study abroad marks

i. Will I get a transcript from the University that I study at?

Yes, you will be given a transcript from the host university. It will record all the modules that you have taken and the marks that you achieved.

ii. Will my study abroad mark be converted?

Yes, all study abroad marks will be converted using the conversion scales approved by the University. This applies to marks achieved on an integrated or voluntary study abroad year and to a study abroad term.  The conversion scales are available via the link at the bottom of this page.

Marks for a voluntary study abroad year do not contribute to classification.  However, the conversion scale will be used to establish if an overall mean mark of 40% has been achieved in order for the degree title to include the suffix ‘with a study abroad year’. The mark achieved for the voluntary study abroad year will be recorded on the system and on your University transcript, however it will not contribute to classification.

Marks achieved on a study abroad year/term in 2016/17 will be converted using the 2016/17 conversion scale.  For students graduating in summer 2018 who undertook their study abroad in 2015/16 or earlier, a review will be conducted to see if a higher mark would have been given under the conversion scale approved for 2016/17 onwards. Where a higher mark would have been achieved using the 2016/17 conversion scale the higher mark will be used. 

iii. When will my study abroad mark be published?

All study abroad marks are considered at a Module Assessment Board and published on Sussex Direct after this.  The Module Assessment Board meets in April to consider marks achieved on a term abroad in Term 1, in September to consider marks achieved on a term abroad in Term 2 or a year abroad taken as a course variation, and in November to consider marks achieved on a voluntary or integrated year abroad.

6) Contribution to classification

i. Does the mark I achieve on my voluntary study abroad year go towards my degree classification?

No.  Award classification for courses with a voluntary study abroad year excludes the study abroad mark.  The grand mean is calculated on a ratio of 40:60 for stages 2 and 4. Therefore, the voluntary study abroad year will not contribute to classification.  This was agreed to ensure equity for all students where the voluntary study abroad year is not part of the validated course.

Exceptionally, a review will be undertaken prior to graduation in summer 2018 on some courses which included a voluntary study abroad year taken in 2015/16.  This is to ensure that students are not disadvantaged where a voluntary study abroad year previously contributed to classification in the regulations.  The higher class will be awarded where this would have been achieved by including the voluntary study abroad year mark in the weighting for classification – in these circumstances the grand mean will be changed.  Please note that this does not apply to courses with an integrated study abroad year, for example, four year courses with American Studies or a language which is part of the validated course structure.  In addition, it does not apply to courses in BMEc, EngInf, Global, MPS and Psychology, as it had been agreed that a voluntary study abroad year would not contribute to classification in these Schools.

ii. Does the mark I achieve on my integrated study abroad year go towards my degree classification?

Yes, award classification for a course with an integrated year includes the study abroad mark. The grand mean is calculated on a ratio of 40:25:60 for stages 2, 3 and 4. This means that the mark that you achieve on the study abroad year will contribute to 20% of your grand mean.  Exceptionally, a study abroad year taken as a course variation on the MMaths degree will not contribute to classification.

7) Course title

i. Will the study abroad year be included in my course title?

If you complete and pass the study abroad year with an overall mean mark of 40% you will have the study abroad year recognised on your degree certificate as ‘Degree title (with Study Abroad Year)’, provided that you have met the criteria for the award.  If you fail to complete or pass the study abroad year, your course title will exclude ‘with a Study Abroad Year’.  If you do not pass the study abroad year the mark achieved will not contribute to your classification.  This applies to both a voluntary and an integrated study abroad year.

8) Study abroad term

i. Can I study abroad for a term instead of a year?

You may apply to take a study abroad term in Year 2, instead of a Study Abroad Year.  This is a variation of study and must be applied for by mid-November in Term 1 of the first year.  All applications for a variation of study must be approved to ensure that the equivalent of 60 Level 5 credits is taken and that the learning outcomes of any missed core modules will be met, as you will be replacing modules taken as part of your course.  Marks for a study abroad term will count towards classification.  Information on how to apply for a study abroad term is available at:

http://www.sussex.ac.uk/students/support/studyabroad/studyabroadoptions/voluntaryopportunities

ii. What do I need to acheive to go on a study abroad term?

You need to achieve a capped mean mark of 60% in year 1 to be considered for a study abroad term. If you do not achieve this you will not be able to go on the study abroad term but you could be considered for the study abroad year.

iii. What do I need to achieve during a study abroad term?

You need to achieve an overall mean mark of 40% in order to secure the 60 credits for the term abroad.

iv. Can I do a study abroad or professional placement year after a study abroad term?

If you are on a study abroad term you may apply to spend the following year on a voluntary study abroad or professional placement year, leading to a 4-year course.  It is not possible to convert a study abroad term into a year.  You should contact the Sussex Abroad Office to allow plenty of time to make the necessary arrangements if you wish to apply for a study abroad year.  You should also be aware that, depending on where you spend the study abroad term, and where you want to spend the study abroad year, it may not be logistically possible, because of term dates, visa requirements etc. Furthermore, should there be competition for places at particular destinations, students who have not previously spent a term abroad will get priority.

v. Will the mark I achieve on the study abroad term be converted?

Yes, see Question 5. Marks achieved on a study abroad term replace marks that would have been achieved at the University and will therefore contribute to classification.

vi. Can I apply for a variation of study for a year, instead of a term?

Only students on a 4-year integrated masters degree may apply for a variation of study to spend Year 3 at a study abroad institution, instead of at the University. (Students on a Bachelors award title may only apply for a term as a variation of study).  The principles set out above apply including:

-       An application must be made in mid-November of Year 2  

-       the application must be for the replacement of 120 credits at Level 6

-       A capped mean of 60% in Year 1 is required for application

-       A mean of 40% on the variation year is required to secure the 120 credits

-       Marks will be converted and contribute to classification at the lowest weighted stage (with the exception of MMaths courses where the variation year will not contribute to classification)

-       The study abroad year will not be included in your degree title, because it is taken as a substitute for a compulsory part of your registered degree, rather than as an additional year.

9) Problems on a study abroad year

i. What if I want to come home because there is a risk to my safety?

You should return home if you are concerned about your safety as a result of an event, for example an earthquake or political unrest. If you have not completed the assessment you should discuss this with the host institution and/or contact the Sussex Abroad Office.

ii. Can I make a claim for exceptional circumstances?

No, it is not possible to use the University of Sussex exceptional circumstances procedure to make a claim in relation to assessments on your study abroad year. You should instead contact your host institution to see if a resit can be set. You should contact the Sussex Abroad Office if you find that your circumstances are ongoing to see if there are other ways that you can be supported on your study abroad year.

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Conversion of study abroad marks

For students on a study abroad year or term, marks will be converted in accordance with the University's approved conversion scales.  The A-Z conversion scales 2016-17 [PDF 572.96KB] will be applied to study abroad marks achieved during a study abroad year/term in 2016/17.

University Teaching and Learning Committee approves the conversion scales and has agreed the following:

(a) The approved conversion scales for study abroad marks are based on the following:

  • Where a 0-100 continuous scale aligned with the UK is used, the marks are directly imported without conversion
  • Where a 0-100 continuous scale not aligned with the UK and/or a categorical scale is used, the marks are normally converted based on a 5 or 12 point scale, mapped to the fail and distinction boundaries adopted by the sector

(b) The following principles apply to study abroad marks to ensure transparency and equity:

  • the University publishes conversion scales to students in advance of a period of study abroad;
  • students are advised that the practice of converting marks across the UK Higher Education sector varies between institutions;
  • a single conversion scale has been agreed for each partner country/institution, regardless of discipline;
  • non-linear conversion has been reduced, where possible;
  • School Progression and Award Boards (PAB) may refer cases via the Absurd Outcome regulation where conversion of the study abroad mark introduces inflation/deflation which has a significant impact on an individual student.

The scales will be reviewed every three years.

Queries

Any queries regarding the study abroad year should be sent by email to sussexabroad@sussex.ac.uk. Any queries regarding academic performance in general should be referred to a member of faculty via the School Office.

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