Year abroad and student exchange

The University of Birmingham is committed to producing global citizens by providing students with as many opportunities as possible internationalise their degree. Each year from within POLSIS up to a quarter of our students have the opportunity to complete a year abroad as part of their degree programme and benefit tremendously from increased confidence and different academic perspective of having studied a politics based degree in a foreign country.

Courses and details

Sony centre, Berlin.All programmes offered in the Department of Political Science and International Studies provide students with the opportunity to develop a broad disciplinary knowledge base and a range of analytical and transferable skills, as well as allowing them to build up expertise in specific areas of political life.

On our four-year Year Abroad programmes, you will undertake a year abroad between your second and fourth years at a partner HE institution. This will give you the opportunity to experience a different academic environment and way of teaching (and even different approaches to the subject).

The year abroad will also enhance employability prospects through a proven ability to succeed in a foreign setting, and will provide an additional opportunity to develop relevant, marketable skills in terms of organisation, communication, and intercultural awareness.

Single honours:


Joint honours

Full list of Undergraduate Degrees offered in the School of Government and Society.

How does it work?

Access is by direct entry or transfer assuming you are registered on a relevant three-year degree programme. Please note however, students must achieve a 2:1 (60%) average in their First Year at the University of Birmingham to be eligible to apply for the Year Abroad, though students who achieve close to this average will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Students wishing to transfer from a three-year programme should contact the School Exchange Tutor (Huw Macartney) as soon as possible and certainly no later than the end of term 1 of the academic session preceding the year abroad. The Year Abroad will be weighted at 10% of the final degree classification. Year 2 will contribute 15% and final year 75%.

Where can I go?

A lot of our European partner universities teach in the native language and so, if you wish to apply to one of them, it is usually a requirement that you have a good working knowledge of the respective language.

Freie Universitaet BerlinOutside of Europe, we have exchange partners in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Ecuador, Ghana, Israel, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, the USA, Uruguay, and the West Indies.

For more specific details on the names and locations of our partner universities, you should consult the study abroad website.

Recent international universities include:

  • University of Minnesota Duluth - USA
  • Loyola University, New Orleans - USA
  • New Mexico State University - USA
  • University of Melbourne - Australia
  • University of Lund - Sweden
  • University of Maine - USA
  • University of Queensland - Australia
  • Western University - Canada
  • Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina - Argentina
  • National University of Singapore - Singapore
  • University van Amsterdam - Netherlands

Do I need to speak a foreign language?

At certain post universities there will obviously be a requirement that you speak a foreign language, since teaching is conducted only in that native language. As you will see from the above list though, there are a wide range of universities where teaching is conducted in English. For more specifics you should contact the Study Abroad office.

How much will it cost?

Further information: Funding your year abroad.

Financial support

For additional financial support you should consult the following Student Finance England PDF, or the Student Finance England homepage for more details.

How do I apply?

There is an online application form available.

This form should be completed and signed by the school exchange tutor (Huw Macartney) and returns to the Study Abroad office:

Study Abroad & Exchanges Assistant (Outgoing)
University of Birmingham
Aston Webb Building
Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT

Year abroad student profiles:

Student profile: Kirna Kataria, 4th Year, BA International Relations with French (Year Abroad)

When I then saw that the POLSIS department had an exchange agreement with Sciences Po, I felt that we were presented with a great opportunity; not only did we have the option of going to France to improve our language skills, but Sciences Po is also a world-class institution for Political Science and International Relations. I was particularly interested in gaining a French perspective on International Relations, which is otherwise a very Anglo-Saxon discipline.
22 March 2016

Student profile: Esther Naylor, 4th Year, International Relations with French (Year Abroad)

I chose to do French alongside International Relations because i wanted to keep up my language skills and one of the main reasons to do a language is doing the year abroad because it's such a unique experience; seeing a different country through the eyes of a student.
22 March 2016

Student profile: Evgeniya Chalakova, International Relations with German (4th year)

As part of the study abroad scheme I spent the third year of my degree studying in Berlin, Germany at the Free University of Berlin.
17 January 2014

Read more of our Student profiles from across the School of Government and Society.

Other useful information

For more detailed information from the Politics, Sociology and International Studies department, please contact:

Huw Macartney, email:
Michelle Dennant, email:

For more detailed information on host universities and potential locations please see our Outgoing students page.