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Study Abroad

Preparing to go abroad

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We're here to help prepare you for your time abroad, from the moment you get to Essex, to the moment you step on the plane and the journey begins. 

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Important information

Completing your second year at Essex

Every year, a number of students are required to withdraw from their year abroad due to academic failure in second year.

Failing a non-core module in second year

Students who fail a non-core module in second year can progress to study abroad in third year providing they have not failed over 30 non-core credits. They will have the option to defer their assessment (examination only) to the following year; they must undertake the deferred assessment on their return to Essex. If a student does not select to defer their assessment, they will be automatically withdrawn from their studies abroad.

If you have failed a module please check with your department to check if it is a core or non-core module.

Failing a core module in second year

Students who fail a core module in second year are not permitted to study abroad as per the rules of assessment.

Essex Abroad is not responsible for making academic decisions. Examination Boards make the decision on whether or not to allow a student to proceed to their next period of study based on the Rules of Assessment. Should a student wish to appeal the decision of the Board, they can do so following the regular process. Appeals cannot be made to Essex Abroad; we cannot overrule the decision of the Board.

We advise all students to avoid, where possible, making payments for accommodation, flights and visas before second year results are published.

Financial planning

The cost of studying abroad really depends on your destination. The cost of living varies greatly between countries and cities, so it’s down to you to include this in your research when you’re deciding which institutions to apply to.

Costs to consider 

  • Tuition fees

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. If you receive Student Finance to cover the cost of your tuition fees, this will continue as usual when you're abroad.

As an exchange student, you won’t be liable to pay any tuition fees to your university abroad.

If you are starting your course in the academic year 2020/21 and you are opting to include a study abroad year into your program, there will be no tuition fee charged for your study abroad year.

  • Insurance 

Health and medical insurance are often compulsory at certain destinations, usually where a visa is required to study abroad. There is 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 there compulsory meal plans included? Is accommodation guaranteed?  If it isn’t guaranteed or there isn't accommodation available, what private housing is available? What is the average cost of renting a room? Factor in paying any deposits too.

  • Transport

We don’t recommend booking any flights until you have official confirmation from your host university, and you have successfully passed the second year, progressing to your third year of studies. 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 the passport your hold 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 that you can afford to live and support yourself for the duration of your time in the country. You should research these costs to avoid any nasty surprises.

  • Financial evidence

This is one of the most important costs to consider when applying to study abroad. If you require a visa to study abroad, you are often required to provide evidence of how you will financially support yourself whilst abroad and a specific figure will be given. The amount can vary greatly between countries, institutions, and how long your study abroad programme is. You need to show you have access to the required amount of funds, most institutions/embassies 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.

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 institution's guidelines so you are aware of the funds you would need to prove you have available to you at the point of applying to study abroad. 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.

  • 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
  • Contributions from family/friends

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. 


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.

University of Essex travel and medical insurance

The University of Essex provides comprehensive travel and medical 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, personal holidays or routine healthcare. You will need to purchase your own insurance for this.

EHIC (European Health Insurance Card)

If you’re studying in the EU, you will need to apply for a Student EHIC. An EHIC gives access to reduced-cost or free medical treatment from state healthcare providers in the EU. Remember that although healthcare in the UK is free through the NHS, healthcare may not be free in the country you are studying abroad.

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 version.

Health insurance from your host university

Some host universities, particularly in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Hong Kong have compulsory health 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.

Some institutions may waive the compulsory fee if the medical cover provided by the University of Essex is sufficient, but not all institutions will do this so it is best not to rely on this. Research the institution’s website thoroughly as part of your planning.

Personal insurance 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.

Pre-Departure Briefing

Before you study abroad we will hold a Pre-Departure briefing - usually in 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. More details about our 2021 event will be shared soon.

Studying at your host university

Study abroad credit load

The required credit load and the grading scales abroad are usually different from 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.

Study abroad module choice

While abroad you will take courses in the same discipline that you are studying at Essex, but you may be able to take some outside options at the discretion of your DSAO. Any modules you take must be outlined on your learning agreement. When you return to Essex, your achievements at your host university will be integrated into your Essex marks and will count towards your final degree result.

Students taking "and/with" degrees

If you are on a joint degree (e.g. Law and Politics) you should liaise with DSAOs from both departments. The department that ‘owns’ your degree has the final decision regarding the modules you undertake but both of your DSAOs should agree on the split between subjects and any outside study options e.g. a non-discipline related module. There is no rule regarding the percentage of modules that should be undertaken in each discipline.

If you are on a joint modern language degrees (e.g. Art History and Modern Languages), regardless of which department ‘owns’ your degree, your Language Coordinator needs to confirm the level and amount of credits you'll need to take in order to reach a sufficient language level to proceed to the appropriate exit level when you return to Essex for your fourth year.

Approval of your modules

Your Departmental Study Abroad Officer (DSAO)/Language Coordinator:

  • can give you advice about your choice of modules
  • must approve any module choices and changes

If you want to make changes to your modules, you must notify your DSAO before the add/drop deadline for course changes at your host institution. Your learning agreement will need to be updated to reflect the changes, and your DSAO must approve them via email. 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 credit 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 credit load at your host university, please check the Exchange Finder.
  • You must choose modules that are graded (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.

Grade conversions

The grading scales at your host institution will be likely be different to Essex. More information on how we convert the grades you achieve abroad is available in our 2019-20 grade conversion guidance.

Keeping in touch

When you're abroad, we're still here for you. You'll be asked to schedule a compulsory Skype call with one of the Essex Abroad team in your first few weeks abroad so we can check you're settling in and aren't experiencing any problems. You can also book a Skype call throughout your time abroad if you need to discuss any issues.


Useful resources

Study Abroad Handbook

You can view our 2019-20 Study Abroad Handbook online. Most of the questions you'll have throughout your study abroad journey are answered in this handbook.

If you're applying to study abroad in 2020-21, and will be away in 2021-22, you will receive an updated copy of our Study Abroad Handbook when you attend the Pre-Departure Briefing in March 2021.

Preparatory Moodle courses

There is a lot of inormation you need to get your head around when you're preparing to study abroad. It can be a bit overwhelming so we've put it together 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 courses that you’ll be invited to complete in your second year; one before you apply and one after you’ve been allocated to a University abroad. We’ll send you an email when 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 resources

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


Global Graduates helps support you through all aspects by informing you about important things like money, mental health and accommodation abroad, while sharing articles, blog posts, questions and answers all written by a community of students and their own experiences.

The World Factbook

The World Factbook provides information on the history, people and society, government, economy, energy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice

Receive the latest travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) by country including safety and security, entry requirements, travel warnings and health. When you sign up you can choose what countries you want to receive updates for, and whether you receive emails daily or weekly.

two people wearing masks collect food at a Red Cross food bank in Spain
"Don't underestimate your skills to help others as it could lead to their success and happiness"
Jhamecz used her time studying abroad in Spain to also volunteer with the Spanish Red Cross. jhamecz castaneda study abroad 2019/20 - universidad de murcia 
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Get in touch
Get in touch
If you have any questions about preparing for your time abroad please contact us.
Telephone: 01206 873976