Study Abroad

Preparing to go abroad

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Student information and resources


There’s a lot of timelines, processes and general information you need to know for a year or term abroad. We find that the best way to give you this information is in the form of a Moodle course. This means that you can go through all the information at your own pace and make note of any areas you might want to ask us about if there’s something you are unsure of. 

We have two Moodle courses that you’ll be invited to complete in your second year; one before you apply and one once you’ve been allocated to a University abroad. We’ll send you an email once it’s time to complete them. 

AC_EA201 – Study Abroad 201 – Applying to study abroad

AC_EA202 Study Abroad 202 – Things to know before you go

Cultural information resources

We've selected some resources to help you research and prepare yourself for visiting a country with a different culture.

Financial Planning

The cost of studying abroad really depends on your destination. It’s all down to you to include this in your research when you’re deciding which institutions to apply to. 

Costs to consider 

  • Tuition fees to Essex. 

If you’re studying for the full year you’ll pay 15% of your regular tuition fee to Essex. If you’re going abroad just for the term, you’ll be paying your regular tuition for that year. As an exchange student, you won’t be liable to pay any tuition fees to your university abroad. 

  • Insurance 

There’s more comprehensive information on Insurance further down the page. 

  • Accommodation

Do the Universities you’re interested in applying to have campus accommodation? If so, what are the costs? Are their compulsory meal plans included? Is it guaranteed? If it isn’t guaranteed or isn’t available, what private accommodation is available? What is the average cost for renting a room? Factor in paying any deposits too. 

  • Transport

We don’t recommend booking any flights until you have official confirmation of your place abroad. Sometimes this means that you can’t book your flights far in advance, meaning that the cheapest deals are often gone. Depending on the time of year, and the destination, flight prices can vary. If you’re travelling further afield, particularly outside Europe this is something to consider. 

  • Visa

Depending on your nationality and your study abroad destination, you may need a visa to study abroad. Visa application costs can vary between countries and many often require the submission of financial evidence to prove you can afford to live and support yourself for the duration of your time in the country. 

  • Financial Evidence

This is one of the most important things to consider when applying to study abroad. Institutions where you would need to have a visa to study abroad, often require you to prove financial means of supporting yourself whilst abroad. If you’re unable to prove financial evidence to the amount they request, the embassy won’t issue your visa and you won’t be able to study abroad. 

Do not get caught out. Do thorough research beforehand. Check the institutions guidelines so you are aware of the amount of funds you would need to prove you have available to you at the point of applying for your visa. If you don’t think you can reach this amount, do not apply for that university. There is more information on Financial Evidence in our Moodle course AC_EA201 – Applying to Study Abroad.

Most institutions/embassies would accept confirmation of student finance loans and financial support from parents/friends/relatives, but it is important to make sure you definitely have this support available to you. 

  • Meal plan 

Campus accommodation offered at some institutions abroad sometimes has compulsory meal plans as part of the package. This is an important additional cost to be aware of. Factor this into your research and see if this applies to the universities you’re interested in. 

 How to fund your studies abroad

  • Student Finance
  • Savings
  • Scholarships and bursaries
  • Contribution from friends
  • Working Abroad (depending on the country you're living in, you may be able to work. You'll need to research visa restrictions and the documents you'll need to have with you in order to get a job.) 

Budget templates

After reading the information above, use our blank budget template to work out how much you can spend. Complete one for each institution not necessarily each country (if you apply to universities in different countries) as costs can vary from city to city, institution to institution (particularly when insurance cost and accommodation is involved). 

Important paperwork

All the documents you’re required to complete for your time abroad will be sent to your Essex email so make sure you’re checking this regularly. We will be setting deadlines for the submission of documents, so make sure you keep on top of your emails and requests for information/paperwork. 

Academic Information

Study abroad module choice 

While abroad you must take courses in the same discipline that you are studying at Essex. When you get back your achievements at your host university will be integrated into your marks at Essex and will count towards your final degree result.

Approval of your studies

Your Departmental Study Abroad Officer (DSAO):

  • can give you advice about your choice of modules
  • must approve your final choices

If you want to make changes to your selection you must notify your departmental officer before the add/drop deadline for course changes at your host institution, as your study plan will need to be re-approved. Taking unapproved courses could result in you receiving marks of zero at Essex.

General guidelines

You need to enrol on enough modules to constitute a full course load at your host university. All marks will be counted towards your final year or term abroad grade. If you need help understanding what comprises a full course load at your host institution, please check the exchange finder.

You must choose modules that are graded - ie ones that give you a numerical mark or grade, rather than a simple pass or fail. Pass/fail modules cannot be counted towards your Essex credits.

Not all universities use the same terminology for each subject area and may group subjects in different ways to Essex. Think laterally when researching suitable courses at your host institution and use keyword searches.

You can take outside options at the discretion of your departmental Study Abroad Officer.

Students taking "and/with" degrees

If you're studying for an and/with degree (eg BA Politics and Modern Languages), at least a quarter of your courses while abroad must be in each of your subjects.

Grade conversions

The required credit load and the grading scales abroad are usually different from University of Essex. While you would take 120 credits per academic year when studying at Essex, this may equal to 60 ECTS credits in most of the European Universities or 30 credits at most US institutions. The required credit load of each institution can be found on our Exchange Finder. The grading scales at your host institution will be also different to Essex.

More information on how grades are converted is available in our 2018-19 grade conversion guidance.


You should keep all of your marked coursework and any handbooks from your time abroad as your department at Essex may need to see these items.


You are strongly advised to have comprehensive travel and health insurance cover when you go abroad. Hospital and medical bills can be a significant cost, even for minor problems, so it is essential that you get adequate and appropriate cover.

Essex Insurance

The University of Essex provides comprehensive travel and health insurance cover for your time abroad. You’ll be directed to complete the application form once your place abroad has been confirmed. Please note there is no cost to apply for University of Essex travel insurance, it is free of charge for all students who are studying, volunteering or interning abroad as part of their University of Essex programme. The insurance is a comprehensive travel cover which includes cover for most medical emergencies. It does not cover personal possessions or personal holidays. You will need to purchase your own insurance for this.

Personal Cover

We can't recommend specific insurers but suggest you include specialist student insurance companies in your research, alongside any existing policy issuers. You should also make sure that the policy covers the whole period you are away, including any additional travel plans you have. 

EHIC Cover

If you’re studying in the EU, you will need to apply for a Student EHIC (European Health Insurance Cover) card. An EHIC gives access to reduced-cost or free medical treatment from state healthcare providers in the EU. Make sure you apply for your Student EHIC with plenty of time as you’ll have to return your regular EHIC before they issue your student copy.

Host Institution Cover

Some host universities, particularly in English speaking countries (North America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong) have compulsory insurance policies. The policy cost varies between institutions, some can cost up to $2000 in the USA so it is vital that you research any insurance costs applicable at the institution you are interested in attending to ensure you can afford to study abroad there. Some institutions may waive the compulsory fee if the cover provided by the University of Essex is sufficient but not all institutions will do this. Research the institution’s website thoroughly as part of your planning.  

Pre-Departure Conference

The 2019 Pre-Departure Conference, for students heading abroad in 2019-20 was held on Wednesday 20 March.  The event contains lots of useful information about pre-departure planning, paperwork, academic requirements, funding, health and safety, and what happens when you return to Essex. Lots of this information can also be found in our study abroad handbook.

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If you have any questions about preparing for your time abroad please contact us.
Telephone: 01206 872543