Study abroad

If you are a MPhys and BSc student, you can spend a term or a year studying abroad at some of the world's top universities.

Our students have gone to a range of destinations including:

  • University of Texas, Austin, USA
  • University of Tsinghua, Beijing, China
  • University of California, USA
  • University of Uppsala, Sweden.

The University of Sussex has over 140 student and teaching exchange links with institutions across North America, Asia, Australia, Europe, and Central and South America, meaning you can choose to study at a variety of leading universities.

Find out where you can study abroad as a Physics student

Student perspectives on studying abroad

James' perspective

'During my degree I took advantage of the opportunity to study in Sweden for a term. I went to Uppsala and it was a fantastic experience. Teaching is in English, and so students can experience living abroad without having to be fluent in a second language. This was a brilliant opportunity that I would never have otherwise had.'

James Urquhart 
Physics with Astrophysics

Gethryn's perspective

'A major attraction for me, as well as visiting another country, was the opportunity to study geophysics at Uppsala University, regarded as the Cambridge of Sweden. As soon as we arrived we were welcomed into the geophysics department and treated as postgraduates. We were given our own office with our own computers and 24-hour access to the department.

The Swedish student social life is different from the British one in that rather than the student union they have what they call 'nations'. These are like clubs that you join which have bars and various activities. There are about thirty of them and you have to join one, and each has Swedish students whose job is to look after you.

I chose Vastgota nation purely because they had waiter service in their bar and a cracking Sunday lunch. The geophysics department had its own social events, including the popular TGIF. It starts every Friday at about four o'clock with beers in the department canteen, before heading off to a nation at about eight o'clock. As we quickly made ourselves major players in this weekly event we agreed to organise one ourselves, and so off to the System Bolaget (off-licence) we went with about 5000 Krona (about £500) of TGIF funds in our back pockets. Snacks were prepared, posters were designed and posted (an event in itself) and the best TGIF Uppsala has ever seen began.

'In the winter months the Swedish geophysics postgrads would go skiing, and as we later found out they like nothing more than a good laugh at the poor British exchange students floundering and screaming as they hurtle down a slope that Sven said was easy. This was good training because during the Easter break I caught the overnight sleeper train up to the North of Sweden, into the Arctic Circle. For a week I skied across a frozen arctic lake, dined on reindeer, saw the beautiful Aurora, and visited the famous Ice Hotel and an Inuit village and lounged in a sauna every night.

'Having returned to Uppsala it was time to get down to some serious work with the Sussex exams looming and a geophysics project to complete.

On this exchange you do one module less than your fellow students at Sussex do. Also, unlike the Sussex system where all the modules are examined at the end of the year, at Uppsala one module is studied full time (9 to 5) for about two weeks and then after a few days revision the exam is sat.

Then you start another module. The last module we did involved a compulsory field trip, which turned out to be one of the highlights of the exchange. We spent a week on an island called Birka, which is the site of the ancient Viking capital of Scandinavia. The object of the trip is to spend a week playing around with some high-tech, expensive surveying equipment.

All the equipment, computers, food and drink had to be brought onto the island by us, so it was like being on a real geophysics field trip. There were about 30 of us including staff and everybody had to take it in turns to do the cooking and cleaning every night. Being in a kitchen on a Swedish island preparing a meal for 30 hungry fieldworkers wasn't something I thought I would be doing when I started studying physics at Sussex.

The most enjoyable but arduous experience came with the annual Swedish students' festival called Valborg. It starts with a champagne breakfast at eight and goes on for 24 hours, including a raft race through the old and picturesque city, concerts and parties. It finishes at the halls of residence sitting around bonfires until the sun comes up at eight the following morning. I've never wanted to go to bed so much in my life!

To finish I can honestly say that my trip to Sweden was one of the best parts of my degree and it is due to this experience that I stayed in academia to do a PhD.'

Gethyn Lewis 
MPhys in Physics

Elana's perspective

'I decided to study at Sussex as they offer the fantastic opportunity to study abroad for a year. I was really excited about the idea of a change of scene and lifestyle without losing any time from my degree. Due to my Swedish background, I decided to spend my year away at Uppsala University in Sweden and had a wonderful time. The University has a huge international community, so as well as discovering and engaging with the Swedish culture, my horizons were also incredibly broadened by the range of people I met. I relished the chance to live abroad independently despite the challenges that it posed and definitely grew a lot from the experience.

I can now happily say that my perceptions of the world have widened, I am fluent in Swedish and, most importantly, I obtained a good degree. I am so pleased to have been able to take this opportunity as part of my degree at Sussex.'

Elana Levin Schtulberg
2014 graduate in MPhys Physics