Learning at Birmingham

learning

At Birmingham we believe in the importance of developing confident learners who are able to discover and master new academic skills.

Our tutors and staff will teach you using a range of methods that are appropriate to your chosen pathway or course. When you enrol at the BIA, you will be allocated a tutor who will help you to monitor and reflect on your progress. You will also have access to a welfare tutor who can assist with any difficulties you have in your personal life.

The University of Birmingham has a reputation for excellent teaching and is proud to count 11 Nobel Prize winners among our staff and alumni, including three prizes awarded in 2016. In 2017, we received a Gold rating by the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), demonstrating our commitment to providing our students with outstanding teaching.

Teaching methods

Lectures

You will listen to and engage with academics who will introduce you to key facts and ideas in your subject. You may wish to take written notes but most lectures are now recorded, so you can access the information afterwards using our virtual learning environment (VLE).

Seminars

You will be encouraged to present and discuss your ideas in small groups and to debate with other students.

Tutorials

Your tutor will provide continuing academic support and guidance on a one-to-one basis.

Workshops

You will engage in problem-solving sessions facilitated by a member of academic staff; these sessions usually involve students working in groups.

Laboratory-based work

Students on the Engineering and Physical Sciences or Medical, Life and Geo Sciences pathways are likely to get experience analysing real-life problems in a laboratory setting.

Peer group learning

You may be asked by your tutor to direct a lesson or prepare a presentation with your fellow classmates. By interacting with the lesson material, you will remember the content more effectively.

Assessment and progression

Assessment

Assessment on the Foundation Pathways is by a combination of exams, laboratory work, coursework exercises, project work and written assignments, depending on the subject. Assessment of your English language progress will be made by the BIA.

If you have made satisfactory progress at the end of your first year at the BIA, and are progressing to an undergraduate degree programme at the University of Birmingham, you will not normally be required to take another English language test.

Progression

Upon successful completion of the appropriate pathway, you will be guaranteed progression to an extensive range of our undergraduate programmes in Arts and Law, Engineering and Physical Sciences, Life and Environmental Sciences, Medical Sciences or Social Sciences. Academic and English language progression requirements apply for each programme. For a small number of programmes you will need to pass an interview, workshop or audition stage.

Around 85-90% of Foundation students progress onto an undergraduate degree at Birmingham.

Learning environment

With the latest classroom technology, Birmingham offers an excellent learning experience. Most of our teaching rooms are equipped with touch-screen digital whiteboards and all have WiFi.

Language, discourse and SocietyOur new, technology-rich library houses a variety of learning spaces to cater for different modes of study. With over 2.1 million printed books and journals, the Library boasts 40 miles of shelving and a heritage print collection. Students also have access to an array of learning areas including informal seating, group study spaces and individual desks; there are over 1800 seats in total. Alongside traditional learning resources, the library uses a number of innovative tools including wireless mobile charging, media rooms and video editing booths.

Wherever you are on campus, you will be able to log on to the student portal. This is your personalised gateway to the digital campus, connecting you to email, news, online communities and the e-library, which alone provides access to over 16,000 periodicals, databases, websites and other resources.  

International opportunities 

Your education at Birmingham will prepare you for a career that has no geographical boundaries. With over 6,500 international students from more than 150 countries, we have one of the largest global student communities in the UK. You will live and study alongside students of all nationalities, enabling you to see the world from a different viewpoint. 31% of our academic staff are non-UK nationals, demonstrating that Birmingham attracts the brightest talent to its academic community from around the globe. 

We have longstanding links with universities throughout the world, including membership of Universitas 21, the prestigious consortium of global research-led universities in 16 countries. We have also established networks which promote excellence in global engagement via centres such as the China Institute and Africa Hub.  Once you progress to your undergraduate degree, this network of global partnerships will offer you exciting international opportunities, such as work experience placements and annual summer schools that attract the best students from across the world to engage in an exchange of culture, experience and intellect.

Careers and employability 

Our Careers Network offers a range of services that will help you identify and work towards your career goals from the day you arrive at Birmingham. This includes a dedicated careers advice and guidance service delivered by experienced and professionally qualified employability consultants and advisors. The University of Birmingham is the second most sought after university by graduate employers. Each year our dedicated Employer Liaison Team organises over 120 employer presentations, graduate recruitment fairs and events. We can also develop work experience opportunities for you, greatly enhancing your employability skills.