MORE CULTURE. LESS SHOCK. Programs, Internships and Volunteer Opportunities

Parliamentary Study Abroad Internships

University of Edinburgh Parliamentary Internship

  • Minimum GPA: 3.0 (4.0 scale)
  • Application deadlines: September 15 for spring
    May 1 for fall
  • Program advisor: Julia Lieberman
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Program Snapshot

edin parliamentary

Hallo agus fàilte! We're so excited that you're preparing to study abroad on an IFSA-Butler program and have chosen the University of Edinburgh as your destination. The Parliamentary Internship program offers students the rare opportunity to gain firsthand insights into the political system of a foreign nation. We're sure you're going to love studying there!

What the University of Edinburgh Parliamentary Internship has to offer

  • Pairs students with Members of Scottish Parliament for unparalleled access to political life in Scotland
  • An opportunity to pursue independent research and participate in political activity
  • Course work component balances participation in the development of Scottish political life with learning about the history and culture of Scottish society
  • Participants spend a large part of the internship semester at Parliament but still participate in university life, clubs and campus social life
  • Weekly orientation sessions help students become familiar with their internship duties and determine research possibilities
  • Although University of Edinburgh has no formal requirements for student background, the university may give preference to applicants with a history of involvement in politics, either through coursework or extracurricular activities


  • Housing is in university accommodation near the academic buildings or throughout the city but close to the central university area
  • Students will be housed in a flat with four or five other students
  • The flats have shared kitchens, and students purchase or prepare their own meals


  • Students in the internship take three courses taught intensively during the first five weeks
  • Students have study space in the MSP's office and maintain an academic base in the university's Unit for the Study of Government in Scotland
  • Members of the department assist with research project
  • Students can combine an internship semester with a second semester of regular classes at the University of Edinburgh

We look forward to working with you! Click here to learn more about the University of Edinburgh Parliamentary Internship.


Academic Structure

What are the admissions requirements?
In addition to the minimum GPA requirement, applicants to the semester program must meet the following requirements:

  • Students must have taken at least four political science courses in which they received at least a B grade
  • Students must be studying in their second year of college or above at the time of application

What is the structure of the internship program?
The 15-week program is divided into two sections. For the first five weeks, you will enroll in the following three courses: Scottish Government and Politics, Introduction to British Politics and Scotland: Society and Culture (please see below for course descriptions). These courses, although taught intensively, are regular courses offered in the Faculty of Social Sciences at Edinburgh. The three courses are taught by Edinburgh faculty members, contain the same content material as the full-term equivalent course and are assessed in the same manner. Following the completion of your coursework, you will intern for an MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament) for 10 weeks. Under the guidance of your MSP, you will pursue your independent research and participate actively in political life. Your independent research project will be assessed upon completion of the internship program. All interns will maintain an academic base in the university's Unit for the Study of Government. Members of the department will be available to assist and guide you with your research project.


How many courses am I eligible to take?
IFSA-Butler requires students to enroll in a full course load at the host institution as defined by IFSA-Butler. At the University of Edinburgh Parliamentary Internship, a full course load consists of the three mandatory courses listed below, plus the internship and research project.

What do the courses cover?
Scottish Politics: This course is designed to provide students with a basic introduction to Scottish politics. The course provides a brief history of Scottish political developments from the Union with England and Wales in 1707. Both the history of the nationalist movement and the structures and institutions of the current political situation will receive attention. Students will learn to analyze the potential difficulties facing the Scottish Parliament and the achievement of "new politics" within a wider context of constitutional reform.

Government and Politics in the United Kingdom:This course is designed to provide students with a basic introduction to British politics. The aim of the course is to ensure that students are informed about the broader institutional and political context in which the Scottish Parliament is situated. This will entail knowledge of the structures of government and an assessment of its operation.

Scotland: Society and Culture:
The aim of this course is to give students a well-rounded introduction to Scottish society and culture as a basis from which to pursue more particular interests in Scotland. It is intended to complement and provide context for those parts of the course that focus particularly on Scottish politics and government. The broader significance of major policy issues should be made clearer by the information provided in this course. The course as a whole will progress from the larger context of the social and economic history of modern Scotland, to the examination of key institutions shaping Scottish life, and finally to social groupings and questions of identity.


What are the registration conditions?
You must take a full University of Edinburgh Parliamentary Internship program course load as determined by IFSA-Butler. Credit will be awarded on a Butler University transcript based on a typical U.S. full course load. All courses are graded on an A–F scale, and there is no provision for pass/fail or auditing courses unless pass/fail is the only method of assessment for the course. You are not allowed to register for online, distance education or hybrid courses. You should also be aware that you may be charged additional fees by your home institution or host university to take or process additional credits. Taking less than a full course load may jeopardize your student status and result in personal academic repercussions and/or loss of financial aid.


How many courses am I able to take, and how do I determine U.S. semester credit hours?
You will receive 2.5 U.S. semester credit hours per course and 10 U.S. semester credit hours for the internship and research project for a total of 17.5 U.S. semester credit hours. The 10 U.S. semester credit hours for the internship and research project will be listed on your transcript using the title of your research project. All courses are graded on an A–F scale, and there is no provision for pass/fail or auditing courses.


What do I need to know about exams?
Because of the differences in the academic systems, you will not know your exam schedule until after you arrive at your host university. Please refer to your program calendar (located online at to review the exam period for your host university. Your host university’s policies do not permit you to reschedule any exams, request alternate assessments or arrange to have your exams proctored in the United States. If this occurs, IFSA-Butler cannot assist you in conducting a grade appeal or academic follow-up for the co in which you made this arrangement. You will need to complete and submit all academic work prior to urse departing the program.


How will my home university know what my classes were and what grades I received?
After you have returned to the U.S., your home university will receive a Butler University transcript with the credit you earned at the University of of Edinburgh. The Butler University transcript will report the equivalent U.S. semester credit hours and letter grades. We also will send an official transcript to your permanent address.


Housing Options

Because interns have such a different schedule from the other students, the University of Edinburgh places interns together in self-catered flats in the heart of the city. The location varies by semester but most flats consist of four to six students sharing kitchen and bathroom facilities. Most rooms are singles, but it is common in older buildings to have double rooms due to larger room sizes. Some flats have up to 12 students sharing a large kitchen and bathroom. All housing is mixed gender unless specifically requested otherwise. Self-catered housing is an average of 10 to 25 minute walk from the main campus.

If you have a strong objection to living in with the other interns in self-catered housing, please list this on the housing form. Otherwise, the university will place you with the other interns.


Does the University of Edinburgh provide bed linens?
Students living in flats are responsible for supplying their own bedding. Fall semester and year students have the option of purchasing a bedding pack from the university, which typically costs around £25.

This pack includes:

  • 1 single duvet (bedspread)
  • 1 pillow and pillowcase
  • 1 single duvet cover
  • 1 single bed sheet

Housing FAQs

Is my housing included in the program fee?
Yes. Your program fee includes accommodation at the university while classes are in session. You will be responsible for the cost of your meals (whether a meal plan or self-catered) and any commuting costs you may incur. Some university housing requires students to move out during winter and spring breaks. If you wish to remain in residence during the vacation period(s), you must notify the university housing office upon arrival to make necessary arrangements. Staying in residence during university breaks may incur additional costs not covered by the IFSA-Butler program fee.

When will I receive my housing assignment?
You will most likely receive your housing assignment one to two weeks before your departure. However, in some cases you may not receive your housing assignment until you arrive in Scotland for orientation. Your program advisor will notify you of your housing assignment via e-mail when it is released by the university.

Please keep in mind that while IFSA-Butler guarantees housing, we cannot guarantee your preferences.

Can I arrange my own housing?
Yes. IFSA-Butler recognizes that some students require independent housing for their time abroad. If you choose not to take advantage of our guaranteed housing, you may sign up for independent housing on the housing preference form. Once you've made this choice, we will not provide housing for you or bill you for the accommodation fee.

Please be advised that housing costs can be high abroad, and many times students living independently end up spending more money than students living in IFSA-Butler arranged housing. If you are hoping to save money by arranging housing on your own, please research your options early so you can compare costs. You must notify us of your intention to live in independent housing by the program application deadline for your term abroad, listed at the top of this page. We are not able to accommodate independent housing requests after the deadline.

Location Info

Population: 440,000
Location: Edinburgh, East Lothian, in eastern Scotland

City features

  • The capital city of Scotland
  • One of the most beautiful cities in Europe
  • Pubs, trendy cafes, vegetarian restaurants, small boutiques and great clubs
  • Excellent shopping and entertainment
  • Great facilities for indoor and outdoor sport
  • Home of many film, music and cultural festivals, including the International Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world

Do more!

  • Catch a train to Glasgow or St. Andrews (each one hour away) or to London (five hours)
  • Head north into the beautiful Scottish Highlands

Edinburgh & Lothians Tourist Board
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh's Old Town
Time Out: Edinburgh
Scottish Highlands
Edinburgh News

Dates & Fees

Program Dates

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Your program end date may change due to circumstances beyond IFSA-Butler's control. Upon arrival at your host university, be sure to verify your exam schedule and program end date. We also strongly recommend that you investigate fees and penalties associated with your airline tickets in case you need to make date or route changes.

Exams must be taken where and when scheduled. Under no circumstances may students request that an exam time be changed. In Scotland, exams are taken under formal examination conditions and changes cannot be made for individuals.

Program Fees

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What's included in our Scotland program fees
Expense calculator

Academic Year and Fall Payments Due: July 1
Spring Payment Due:
November 15
Summer Payment Due: May 15

Program Fee Bills
IFSA-Butler will send a single bill for tuition, services and housing. Any bills for tuition differentials and/or supplemental housing fees will be sent separately. Students who opt for independent housing will not be charged the housing component of the program fee.

The housing component of our program fee is based on the average cost of local student self-catering accommodation, usually a shared room in a regular dormitory, apartment or house without any extra features.

Personal Cost Estimates

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Expense calculator

These figures are designed to assist students with financial planning but are only estimates based on past students’ experiences at the current exchange rate. Rates are current as of 12/9/2016.

They do not include any entertainment or vacation travel costs. Meals are estimated based on the cost of a weekly standard grocery shop with one or two meals out.  If you plan to eat out once a day or more, we recommend using a higher estimate.  If you have dietary restrictions or follow a specific diet (gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, organic, etc), you may also wish to budget more due to the higher cost of specialty food items.

The above numbers are general estimates of expenses during a program abroad. We recommend taking into account your current spending habits, the cost of living in your host country and the current exchange rate. Your IFSA-Butler program advisor can be helpful as you attempt to work on a personal budget for your experience abroad.

Personal Miscellaneous: Covers general expenses of college life, including course supplies, photocopying, toiletries, snacks, personal care, etc.

All costs are in U.S. dollars.

Meet Your IFSA-Butler Team

IFSA-Butler has a dedicated team of staff who are here to help students prepare for their program in Scotland:

julieProgram Advisor Julia Lieberman assists the student through the application process in addition to answering cultural and logistic questions about the study abroad experience. Julia graduated from Clark University with a Bachelor’s degree in Geography. She studied abroad twice during undergraduate, for a semester in Belize and then for an independent study in Nicaragua. She has traveled extensively studying, working and living abroad, mainly in South America and Europe. These life-changing experiences lead Julia to her interest in study abroad and he desire to help others do so. Currently, Julia advises students traveling to the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. She can be reached through the email link above or by phone at 800-858-0229 ext. 3638.


altStudent Accounts Coordinator Angelita Shaffer assists with the financial side of study abroad and processes payments and invoices. Angelita can be reached at the email link above or at 317-940-4221.




altStudent & Parent Services Manager Donnetta Spears is available to both students and parents for travel questions and information. Donnetta has worked with IFSA-Butler since 2000, and she has traveled through parts of Europe, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand. As the mother of 4 college students (including one who studied abroad on an IFSA-Butler program), she has a deep understanding of the ins-and-outs of study abroad from a parent perspective. Donnetta can be reached at the email link above or at 317-940-4252.

Once abroad, our students are in the capable hands of our on-site office in Edinburgh. Click here to read more about Resident Director Ruth Casey.

abbyAcademic Records Coordinator Abby Miller graduated from Butler University where she worked as a guide for international students from all over the world. From that experience and combined with her own world travels, she knows the amazing experiences that studying abroad can provide. Abby is excited to work with IFSA-Butler students and to help answer any questions about their academic records. Abby can be reached at the email link above or at 800-858-0229, ext. 4217.

Get Connected

Connect with IFSA-Butler Students

If you really want to know what it's like to study abroad, connect with IFSA-Butler alumni and students who are currently abroad on an IFSA-Butler program. Check out the following:
Student Network
Student Blogs
Experiences Abroad Videos
For Students

Summer Program

The University of Edinburgh Parliamentary Internship program offers a summer program!

What the University of Edinburgh Summer Parliamentary Internship has to offer

  • The chance to live and intern in one of Britain's most culturally rich cities for eight weeks
  • An opportunity to pursue independent research and participate in political activity at the highest level
  • Students combine intensive coursework with a supervised Parliamentary internship placement for unparalleled access to political life in Scotland
  • Coursework component balances participation in the development of Scottish political life with learning about the history and culture of Scottish society


  • Students live in Pollock Halls, a 15-minute walk from classes
  • Pollock amenities include a computer lab, cafeteria, restaurant, shops and bars. Internet access is available upon request.
  • En-suite accommodation available
  • Housing is within walking distance of the city center
  • Program fee includes some meals


  • The summer curriculum includes two courses, Scottish Politics and Scottish Society and Culture
  • Students are paired with a Member of Scottish Parliament (MSP) throughout the internship
  • A research project is also part of the curriculum
  • Students earn a total of 12.5 U.S. semester credit hours
  • The program begins with three weeks of intensive instruction in Scottish politics and culture

Please click here for more information!

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