Guidelines for selecting modules

Almost all of our modules are now open to incoming exchange and study abroad students, which means you have access to one of the widest ranges of courses available at any UK institution.

Before searching the online catalogue make sure you read the guidelines for selecting modules carefully. You should also check with your adviser at your home institution that you have selected appropriate module choices before submitting your application to the University. This will ensure that you select modules that are appropriate to your level of study and for which your home university will award transfer credit. 


Here in the UK we use the word ‘modules’, to refer to what you may know as courses, units, or classes. You can search the online module catalogue by College, School and Department to access the modules on offer in your chosen subject area. Keep in mind that Birmingham discipline areas will not necessarily be called the same thing as they are at your home institution, so think laterally when exploring the module catalogue.

For example, what some universities call 'Theatre', others call 'Drama' and some may call it 'Fine Arts'. 'Gender' or 'Women's Studies' may be under Sociology, or may be listed as a separate discipline. Kinesiology is more commonly called 'Sports Science' in the UK. Many more examples could be given, but the idea is that you should try various terms when looking at the catalogue.


You can select modules across subject areas to develop an academic programme that is suitable for your level, interests, and subject specialism, providing you meet the pre-requisite requirements.

Enrollment in advanced level modules typically requires you to have a specific level of background knowledge in the subject area. Make sure you’ve checked you meet the pre-requisites before you apply. You will need to demonstrate that you have taken the relevant equivalent modules at your home institution in order to be enrolled. We will review your home institution transcript before registering you for your chosen modules.

Level of study

Bear in mind that third-year courses will usually only be available to you if you are majoring in the subject area and have at least two years background in the discipline. Remember as well that, unlike North American degree programmes, UK degrees are typically 3 years in duration and students specialize from the outset. This means that even if you are in your Junior (third) year at your home institution, you will not necessarily be admitted into year 3 modules at Birmingham. Make sure you have covered the required background material as stated in the prerequisites, and if necessary have your home adviser send an accompanying note supporting your application.

Credit load

Incoming exchange and study abroad students are required to enroll in 60 credits per semester in order to be considered full time. Credit weightings vary across modules, but generally speaking you will be looking to select six modules per semester. However, please check the number of credits attached to each module as there are variations.

The University module catalogue does not operate on ECTS credits. You will need to halve the number of Birmingham credits to work out the equivalent ECTS rating (for example, a 10 credit Birmingham module is worth 5 ECTS).

Semester of study

Pay attention to which semester your chosen module is running in. Some modules are taught in either the Autumn Term or the Spring Term. Modules starting in September (Autumn) are indicated as Semester 1; Modules starting in January (Spring) are indicated as Semester 2. Some modules are listed as Semester 0 indicating that, at the time of publication, the semester has yet to be determined. To check for the most up to date information, please contact the Study Abroad office directly at:

Many modules commence in Semester 1 and continue during Semester 2. Such modules are indicated as Semester 1&2 or Full Term. It is often possible for students who are at Birmingham for only part of the academic year to take just the relevant portion of year-long modules. You will be advised prior to arrival if you have requested year-long modules that are not in fact suitable for part-year study so that you can make alternative selections.

UK institutions don't have class schedules in the way that North American universities do. Timetable information will not be finalised until the summer. 

Over-subscribed modules


Spaces on modules in the subject areas listed below are in high demand and will fill up very quickly:

  • English Literature
  • English Language
  • American Studies
  • Politics
  • History
  • Psychology

We therefore strongly recommend that you submit your application as soon as possible to maximise your chance of being able to take your first choice module options. We also advise you to select additional reserve modules at the application stage to prevent any delays should your first choices be unavailable. Please ensure you indicate your module choices in order of preference on your application form.

Subject restrictions

The following disciplines are not usually available to study abroad students given the clinical and professional requirements of the degree programmes:

  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Pharmacy
  • Midwifery


Every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in the online module catalogue is as up-to-date and accurate as possible at the time of publication. However, please note that we are unable to guarantee availability in all of the modules listed herein. The University reserves the right, without notice or liability, to withdraw or alter module information subject to teaching restrictions, insufficient demand, or any other exceptional circumstance.

All of the modules available for study abroad and incoming exchange students can be searched using the online module catalogue.