Academic life at St Andrews may be different than what your students are used to. Find out more about how the University is organised, typical teaching methods, and the St Andrews grading scale.
The academic year at the University of St Andrews is split into two semesters:
- Semester 1: early September to December
- Semester 2: late January to May.
See specific semester dates for the the current and upcoming year.
Undergraduate exchange and study abroad students have access to modules in three of our faculties: Arts, Divinity and Science. Within each faculty, academic disciplines are grouped into Schools and Departments.
Admission to our Exchange and Study Abroad programmes is by faculty, so students should consider their course choices and requirements and stipulate on their application whether they are seeking entry to Arts, Divinity or Science. However, this does not prevent students from studying modules in other faculties as well.
Students on subject-specific Exchange programmes are usually expected to take at least one module per semester in the subject of the exchange.
Credits and grades
Each module at St Andrews is assigned a credit value, where one credit represents the outcome achievable by the average student through 10 notional hours of learner effort. A normal full-time load for one semester is 60 credits (600 hours), and for one academic year it is 120 credits (1200 hours). Thus, a student undertaking a standard four-year, full-time undergraduate degree would be expected to complete 480 credits in order to graduate.
Modules at 1000 and 2000-level are known as ‘sub-honours’, while modules at 3000 and 4000-level are known as ‘Honours’. Modules have different amounts of scheduled learning and independent guided study, and expected hours for both are detailed for each module in the undergraduate course catalogue.
Sometimes, study abroad students take modules with different credit weightings (most commonly 15, 20 or 30 credits) from different subjects or at different levels, and consequently their overall credit load may be slightly under or slightly over the normal 60 credits. The standard load for exchange and study abroad students is 50 to 70 credits.
Our credit system is aligned with the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework.
Students are sent information about pre-advising for modules before arrival at St Andrews, but module choice is confirmed when new students arrive in St Andrews and meet with an academic adviser. The adviser will check the student’s suitability for selected modules.
Entry to Honours-level modules is dependent on the student’s existing background knowledge on the subject. For most subjects this means prior study at university level.
Many subjects will also have specific prerequisites, and students should check these carefully. While many of 1000-level modules are suitable for beginners, some modules, especially in the Faculty of Science, require several years of background study at school.
Please contact CSA at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any specific questions about module suitability.
Class sizes vary from subject to subject. 1000 and 2000-level classes are larger than more advanced classes in most subjects.
Teaching methods can include traditional lectures, small group tutorials and seminars, laboratory work and fieldwork. Emphasis is also placed on independent reading and research and students are expected to complement their class contact hours with further private study.
Students are advised to plan ahead to maximise their study time early in the semester.
Depending on the subject, modules can be assessed by a combination of coursework and written exams. Examinations are typically held at the end of each semester during a dedicated exam diet with revision time provided beforehand. Schools and Departments provide feedback on every assessment, with a view to improving your performance in future.