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.
Academic English and Study Skills
In addition to your academic subject modules you will study on your pathway, you will take a module in Academic English and Study Skills. This will enable you to develop you academic communication. We are a British Council accredited language centre, so you can be assured of the quality of the English language teaching you will receive.
You will be learning in a supportive environment in small classes (maximum 15 students) that are focused on your individual needs. Classes are dynamic, with many opportunities for you to actively develop your communication skills in groups.
Regular one-to-one tutorials provide you with feedback on your progress throughout the module and e-learning workshops allow you to work on specific aspects of academic communication such as constructing arguments and communicating complex ideas. They will also allow you to develop the academic skills needed to thrive in an undergraduate programme at a top 15 UK university.
We will assess your language proficiency at the start of the programme and you will then follow one of two module structures: core or high-level English.
You will take either:
One of three 40-credit modules, or a 20-credit module depending on your current level of English.
Each module will equip you with the English required for your undergraduate degree. All modules will allow students to become familiar with what is expected from excellent Undergraduate students. The lower levels also include work on overall language proficiency.
Please note that all students take one of these modules as an integral part of their foundation year.
You will take a module determined by your initial placement test and your entry qualification (eg IELTS). The decision of the Birmingham International Academy (BIA) is final.
Class times: Classes take place from Monday to Friday. All lessons are 50 minutes in duration followed by a ten minute break. Lessons are scheduled between 9.00am and 6.00pm.
Taught hours per week: Each University taught hour is 50 minutes in duration. Depending on your level, you will be taught for 2,6 or 8 hours per week. In addition you will participate in a 15 minute tutorial every fortnight.
Independent study periods: The number of hours for guided independent study for the English element (1 year pathway) is 160 hours in total.
Non-teaching hours: Teaching is during term-time only. There are no lessons on Saturdays or Sundays, on University closed days and on public holidays.
Minimum enrolment age: The minimum enrolment age is 16 years.
Maximum class size: The maximum class size for the foundation is 15 students.
We also offer Presessional English programmes for students who do not yet meet the English language entry requirements.
Presessional courses are offered during term-time and the summer with flexible entry and exit points depending on your current level of English (IELTS score) and the requirements of your main UoB offer for Foundation Pathways.
The length of course you need depends on your existing level of English, and on the score specified in your UoB offer letter.
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.
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, and meet other requirements such as a check for criminal convictions – these are detailed for the individual destination programmes.
The number of contact teaching hours you will have per week vary by module, and the time of year, but will be broadly based on ~5 hours per week for a 20 credit module. The modules you need to take for your pathway will be delivered equally in Semester 1 and 2.
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).
On some modules you will be encouraged to present and discuss your ideas in small groups and to debate with other students. The number of students in these sessions will vary by module, but will be fewer than 20 students to encourage discussion.
You will engage in problem-solving and/or data presentation sessions facilitated by a member of academic staff; these sessions usually involve students working in groups.
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.