Study Philosophy Abroad: Frequently Asked Questions

Can I go for the first semester only, rather than the full academic year?

Yes. You can go for semester 1 only (roughly September to December). Typically but no invariably, exchanges outside Europe are for the full year, while Erasmus exchanges are often for semester 1 only.

Can I go for the second semester only, rather than the full academic year?

This used to be impossible; it is now possible but still not the preferred option. If you study in Glasgow in semester 1, you will need to sit an exam for those courses. Normally this exam will take place in April or May. But if are away in semester 2, you won't be in Glasgow. You will have the option of doing the exam in August (in the "resit diet"). But this has two disadvantages: it will be a longer time since you've learnt the material; and if you are ill on the day of the exam, you will not have another chance to do the exam until April or May the following. There may be complications for progression to Senior Honours.  


Does the Subject Coordinator tell me what Universities to apply, and what courses to take at my chosen host institution?

No. The Subject Coordinator has to approve your choice of institution, and of courses, but will not propose courses for you. To be selected to study abroad, you need to do research into available courses at your proposed host institution. Once you have a list, you should consult with your subject coordinator about whether it is acceptable.


Do the courses need to correspond to Junior Honours courses in Philosophy offered at the University of Glasgow?

No, there is no such requirement. Courses may well deal with a topic not taught in Glasgow. In fact, you are encouraged to broaden your philosophical horizon by learning about something you would not have learnt about in Glasgow.


What courses can I choose?

The most important thing is that the courses are of the appropriate level, i.e. at the same level as our Junior Honours courses. Often, finding out what level a course is requires a bit of research on the internet. You need to familiarise yourself with what the course codes mean, and so on. Another thing to keep in mind is that courses should not overlap too extensively with our pre-Honours courses, but this is rarely an issue.


How many courses should I choose?

This depends on how many credits a course carries, and what a normal full-time credit load at a University is. If you are a Joint Honours students, you will need to make sure that you are taking the same number of credits in both subjects while abroad (if you are going for the whole year), or that you can rectify any imbalance between the subjects in the semester you spend in Glasgow (if you are going for one semester only).


Do all partner universities offer suitable philosophy courses?

No. You need to check that they do. As a rule of thumb, it is usually not a problem to find suitable courses at universities in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States, since these countries have a similar university system and similar degree structures to Britain. For all other places, you will need to do more research to establish that they have suitable courses.


What information do I need to provide to the Study Abroad Coordinator when asking for course approval?

Along with your list of courses, you should provide weblinks to information that helps in determining whether the course is of the right level (if such information is available).
In addition, you should give weblinks to information about normal credit load at the proposed host institution, and about their grading system.


Can I go somewhere where I do not know the local language?

You have the chance to learn the local language. The European Commission pays for language courses for Erasmus students, often in the summer before the academic year starts. Studying philosophy in English is typically only possible in English-speaking countries, plus some other places where English is one of the important languages, like Hong Kong and Singapore. While many universities in continental Europe now offer some philosophy courses in English, they tend to be introductory and not suitable for the Junior Honours year. The University of Barcelona, which has an Erasmus agreement with Philosophy, teaches in Spanish and Catalan, but visiting students are sometimes allowed to write essays and exams in English, subject to an arrangement with the course lecturer.

Can I go on an Erasmus exchange to a place with whom philosophy does not have an agreement?

If you are going to be a Joint Honours student, you may be able to use an agreement of your other subject, provided suitable philosophy courses are offered at that institution. It is not normally possible to go on an Erasmus exchange except to Barcelona (for Single Honours students) or Barcelona or a partner of your other subject (for Joint Honours students). In exceptional cases another subject will release a place if none of their own students applies.


Can I use an exchange to go to my home country?

This is allowed but not encouraged. You will have lower priority than applicants who wish to explore a new country.