Semester Abroad in University of Birmingham

Preparation and application

I am studying business administration with a minor in spatial science at Leuphana University in Lüneburg and have decided to do a semester abroad in the 5th semester. Since I unfortunately missed the deadline for an Erasmus program, I went to the University of Birmingham as a free mover. As a result, I only applied for a semester abroad in April 2014. With the help of MicroEDU , I quickly received all of the documents and only had to fill out the forms. A toefl test I didn’t have to do it because my final grade (at least 10 points) in English was sufficient as proof of language proficiency. The semester runs from the end of September (starting week approx. From September 20th) to mid-December. Otherwise, I can recommend an account at Deutsche Bank and a credit card, as you can pay for everything with a card on site. A credit card at the DkB can also be opened quickly and free of charge. With the Deutsche Bank card you can withdraw free of charge at the “partner bank” Barclays, but as soon as this card no longer works. they don’t help you either. So you can’t get cash from the counter. So I had to withdraw money with my Sparkasse card for a short time (costs: approx. € 5)

Looking for an apartment, living and living on site

I was looking for two rooms in an apartment with my friend, who I met through MicroEDU. I visited various portals (I can highly recommend www. spareroom. co. uk). The website www. easyroomate. com is also very structured and has many offers, but few people have responded compared to Spareroom. The problem is that you can’t get a place in the dormitories for a semester on site, so we looked for something privately. Most of the student residences are very modern, but you don’t get much peace and quiet (if you want to concentrate on studying or sleeping). We have an apartment found through Brightongrovestates and were satisfied, but unfortunately there were also problems with our landlords and the internet from time to time. Therefore, in the end, I would not recommend it to others, also because of the current problem of deposit repayment.

We lived with 12 other people, had 5 bathrooms and 3 kitchens. But that was all great and our roommates were all very nice. We were lucky that we didn’t have any Germans in the house and could therefore speak English at home. We paid between £ 400 and £ 425 for our rooms. As you often read in other experience reports that the Internet often causes problems, I can confirm. Although my friend had a good connection, as her room was more central, I only had reception at the door in my room. Since our caretaker took very little care of the problem in the house, I took the initiative. I wrote a letter to the house next door asking if I could use the internet for £ 30. So in the end I had internet in my room.

The condition of the houses in Selly Oak, however, was extremely questionable in terms of furnishings and cleanliness. Selly Oak is very student and close to the university, but the price-performance ratio is definitely not right here. However, you have to say that you are only on site for 3 months and it should therefore be bearable. We lived in the Edgbaston neighborhood, so where the university is located. However, we were about 2. 5 miles from the university and the bus costs £ 4 a day and takes around 45 minutes for this route. Luckily I came by car, which I think was the best decision. But the search for a parking space on site was more difficult and you had to be prepared for a bit of walking. Unfortunately, there is no semester ticket, so traveling by bus is becoming an expensive affair. Thanks to my car, we were also able to make cheap tours to Oxford, Telford (very nice), Cambridge and other smaller places.

Introductory week and courses

As a freemover, you initially felt a little excluded, as the event mainly relates to the Erasmus students. However, all information related to us as well. I can’t say whether all the events were necessary, but you get to know a lot of people straight away. So be sure to go to all kinds of events so that you can quickly get in touch with others. At the first event, we received a slip of paper with our courses, which had already been specified in the application. It said whether or not you had received the courses. Usually you can get any course you want. I changed a lot of courses again. You then go to the various departments and have the confirmed courses or course changes entered into the computer and signed off. It’s very straightforward and the university staff are all very helpful and friendly. In general, I have to say that I hardly met any unfriendly employees or lecturers.

You definitely have to get 60 credits. For example, I didn’t have to take an exam for my French course. For some courses there are sometimes 20 credits (often in the Department of Modern Languages). You can of course choose this, but then you have to choose one less course (if the others only award 10 credits each). Since I only completed one semester but chose a course with 20 credits, I had to clarify with the Department and Study Abroad Office that I only wanted to do this course for 10 credits. You have to be prepared for the fact that you have to communicate, discuss and clarify a lot, but in the end everything worked out anyway. Everyday life at the university is much more relaxed than at my university. A new library is currently being built, which will hopefully be ready very soon. The range of courses at this university is really varied and very appealing.

My course choice:

  • 1. LC Introduction to the Italian Society today
  • 2. Natural hazards
  • 3. LI Environmental Economics
  • 4. LI Society, Space & Policy
  • 5. French level 3
  • 6. LC Introduction to Business Strategy and Supply Chain Management

LC = first year, for beginners, is pleasant if you are unsure of the topic or language at the beginning. You definitely do something to learn, but it’s not that demanding yet. I already knew most of course number 6, but linguistically it helped and the lecturer Joe Sanderson was great!

LI = Intermediate, second year, previous knowledge is often appropriate. In the case of environmental economics, previous economic knowledge would have been helpful.

LH = third level, should possibly be adapted to your own degree program. But of course it is also feasible and achievable.

Course # 1 Understanding the Italian Society Today

This course was actually a 20 credit course. It included a seminar (“compulsory” – you should already attend) and a lecture. The course only had about 20 participants and only one other exchange student was registered. The lecturer himself was also an Italian, was able to tell the material in a stimulating way and was extremely helpful. We discussed topics such as cultural history, the immigration problem, the family or women in Italy. A handout on the topics and essay questions was provided right from the start. This enabled me to start the first essay early on. Here he had given three different questions, but you could also come up with your own. I can pass this course on because the content was very exciting, for me also because I got to know an Italian troupe on site.

Examination: 1x 2000 words essay

Course # 2 Natural Hazards

This course consisted of a 2-hour lecture on Wednesday morning. I expected a little more from this course, but the essay topics at the end were very engaging. Here we had to submit two essays with 1000 words each. Topics such as volcanoes, earthquakes and landslides were dealt with. Here, too, it is possible to contact the lecturer personally if you have any questions or problems.

Examination: 2x 1000 words essay

Course # 3 Environmental Economics

Previous knowledge of economics is helpful here if you have to take an exam at the end of the year. However, this can be avoided in the essays. First, we covered many of the theoretical foundations of an economy and the effects of its actions on the environment. Later we went into topics such as fishing and forest clearing. My essay, however, was about the externalities and applications of waste management. I wanted to take this module above all because I want to specialize in sustainability in my master’s degree. However, it became very clear that economics is a must for these topics, so I now know that I still have to take a few courses in order to even be able to start a master’s in this area. Examination: 1x 2500 words essay

Course # 4 Society, Space and Policy

This course consisted of 2 hours of lectures (but only one on Tuesday and one on Thursday). In addition, you had to take part in a seminar twice, for which you also had to prepare. The reading list was handed out 1-2 weeks in advance by the very nice lecturer, so that you had enough time to prepare. There was also a city tour at the end of November, which you could take part in voluntarily. In terms of content, we have topics such as the development and change of cities, global cities or gentrification (also in German cities).

Examination: 1x 2000 words essay

Course No. 5 French

I don’t have much to say about this, except that the course was very relaxed and the other students were all very nice and you can most easily establish contact with the British here, because you also get to know each other “playfully”. However, I think that the higher levels / language levels make the lessons a little more demanding. For me, this course was also an English course, because I had to translate everything from English into German into French and thus could pick up some vocabulary again.

Examination performance: If the university in Germany does not require a grade (for me the course was voluntary and I do not have it credited), you do not necessarily have to take an examination. Otherwise it would have been a 1- or 2-hour exam.

Course No. 6 Introduction to Business and Supply Chain Management

For economists, this level is not demanding enough in and of itself, since it is really “just” an introduction. Nevertheless, I was of course able to learn new things, also through the essay and working on numerous case studies. There was a 2-hour lecture and every two weeks there was some kind of exercise that you had to participate in. But the lecturer gave a great presentation and you could understand him very well.

Examination: 1x 2000 words Essa

* Attention *: My details are now valid for term 1 2014 and may have changed accordingly. There are also other regulations for students who stay at the university for a full year, as they then have to write the final exams in the 3rd term (spring-summer). In general, the exchange students often have advantages in that they can receive the essay topics in advance and the lecturers also take into account the stressful writing phase and language.


I am proud that I went abroad to do a semester abroad. The university is well organized and the preparations are extremely clear thanks to MicroEDU. I also have the feeling that such a university does better on the résumé than some others. I got to know the country better and also the people, which can sometimes be astonishing. If you want to go out to party or meet and meet relaxed people, Great Britain is the place to be. The expectations of apartments should be lowered a bit and you should be prepared to get twice as much for a living issues compared to Germany. But look forward to an insightful time and great people.

Semester Abroad in University of Birmingham