The Insider's Guide to the Year Abroad: An online, peer support resource for College of Arts and Law students on a Year Abroad programme

Banner image indicating the guide to the year abroad


The Insider’s guide to the Year Abroad (IGYA) is a peer-to-peer online portfolio of over 50 returning students who provide helpful advice and guidance about their experience. My Global Story (MGS) is an innovative canvas module designed to guide and support UoB students throughout their journey. It contains essential information about studying, working, researching or volunteering abroad and the information is divided into four steps: discover, prepare, experience and reflect.

In response to student feedback requesting more peer support for the Year Abroad programme, the Student Experience Team in the College of Arts and Law (CAL) have worked with 11 student ambassadors to co-create a new online Canvas (the University’s virtual learning environment) resource, The Insider’s Guide to the Year Abroad (IGYA). For students in disciplines such as Modern Languages and American and Canadian Studies, the year abroad is an integral and assessed aspect of their degree programme; as such the aim of the IGYA is also to support the transition into academic life at an international institution via advice that varies from information about classroom culture and assessment method, to language tips. As the College moves towards making a year abroad programme accessible to all students in CAL, this pastoral and academic support will become much more integral. 

The IGYA is an innovative and interactive resource that draws upon the experience of fourth year students who have completed a year abroad by providing a platform for them to give advice, tips and inspiration to other students. The resource has a fundamental educational focus in that it aims to enable students on year abroad programmes to get the most out of the year abroad in educational terms and to enable them to perform to the best of their ability on their year abroad and when they return to the University of Birmingham (UoB). To support this overall objective, the resource aims to enhance student preparation for the year abroad in Years 1 and 2 and to enable a successful transition back into final year study at the University of Birmingham. The next phase of the project will focus on providing pastoral and academic support for students returning from a year abroad, both in the transition back into university life and re-adjusting to the academic requirements and writing style of their final year of University at UoB.

Academic skills development is at the forefront of the project’s objectives. The project will enable students involved in the project to develop a range of transferrable skills – these will support academic study as well as broader professional development. The objectives detailed below support these overall aims. The site complements the existing support that is provided by Departments/Schools and the central University Study Abroad Teams and signposts students to essential information and documentation.

Phase One of the project is now complete and the guide has been piloted in EDACS (English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies) and LCAHM (Language, Cultures, Art History and Music). Phase Two will roll this out to students across CAL, recruit new student ambassadors to expand upon the information provided, develop provision for returning students and engage with incoming International and Erasmus students.

Project Category:

Students as co-creators in their educational experience
Learning off Campus (study abroad)
Alternative modes of delivery (effective use of technology)

Funding Allocated:


Funding stream:

Education Enhancement Fund


Libby Finan ( and Shantel Edwards (, Languages, Cultures, Art History, Music, College of Arts and Law


For more information, contact the projects office on, quoting reference CSLP109.