International prospective students


Find the answers to some of the questions most commonly asked by students from the United States.

What is the difference between studying in the US and the UK?

At undergraduate level, degrees in the UK (outside of Scotland) are usually completed within three years — sometimes longer if the degree includes a professional placement or year abroad (common for language degrees). UK degrees are typically more specialised than US degrees. You apply for a particular programme and normally most of the courses you take will be within your major, so the degree is quite 'concentrated'. 

Professional programmes, such as medicine, veterinary medicine, law and teaching are usually undertaken as undergraduate degrees (sometimes over four or five years), rather than postgraduate.

At graduate level, it is very common for students to take a Masters degree as a stand-alone qualification to further their understanding of a subject, develop research skills (sometimes in preparation for a PhD) and improve their employment prospects. UK Masters degrees are highly intensive and usually completed within one calendar year, with taught components in the autumn and spring.

You will need to have completed a Masters degree for entry to most PhD programmes. A PhD in the UK (called a 'DPhil' at Sussex) is usually completed in three-to-four years if full-time. You will need to produce a research proposal, outlining your research aims, before you enter the PhD programme. When you are admitted for research, you are carefully matched with a supervisor in your field, who will assist you in developing the research proposal in your first year. The PhD is not 'taught', but you will receive skills training during the programme. For more information, visit our Doctoral School pages.  

How can I be sure of the quality of a British university?

The overwhelming majority of UK universities are government funded (in part), with only two private universities at the time of writing: the University of Buckingham and BPP University College of Professional Studies.

The power to award degrees in the UK is regulated by law and it is illegal for an institution to offer to award a UK degree without proper authorisation. To see which universities and colleges have degree awarding powers, see Recognised UK degrees.

UK universities are widely regarded as being among the best in the world and maintaining the highest academic quality and standards is crucial to that reputation. A complex quality assurance framework is used to ensure quality and standards across British Universities.

Primary responsibility for academic standards lies with individual universities. However, the UK also has a single national system for quality assurance (with adaptions across the devolved nations), and institutions are subjected to publicly reported external quality reviews conducted by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). The QAA produces a Code of Practice with guidelines on how institutions should manage academic standards and quality; it also carries out inspections of universities (called ‘Institutional Reviews') to see if they are reaching these targets.

What are the subject strengths at Sussex?

Sussex is a comprehensive university that offers a wide choice of subjects at undergraduate and postgraduate level. We understand how difficult it can be to find information on study programmes in another country, and our list of league tables may be helpful in comparing courses at Sussex with those at other UK universities — the Guardian and Independent rankings both include subject tables. If you are considering a postgraduate degree at Sussex, you may also find the Research Assessment Exercise (2008) results useful, as these provide an indication of research quality within departments at Sussex.

How far is Sussex from London?

It takes just over an hour to get to central London from the Sussex campus by train, changing in Brighton. Many people live in Brighton and work in London, so rail connections are very frequent. For train times and fares, visit National Rail Enquiries.

What’s the weather like?

Sussex is in the warmest, sunniest part of the UK. Average temperatures range from 0-5 degrees in January to 20-25 degrees in August, with low humidity for most of the year. For the current forecast, see BBC weather (Brighton).

Can I explore Europe easily from Brighton?

Yes, Gatwick Airport which hosts numerous low cost operators is just 30 minutes away enabling you to fly to most popular tourist destinations in Europe in just a couple of hours! From Brighton you can also take a train to Paris and Brussels (via London). The trip takes 4 hours 30 minutes. You can travel onward from these destinations to cities such as Amsterdam, Berlin, Geneva, Munich, etc.