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Scotland Study Abroad Program at the University of Edinburgh

University of Edinburgh

  • Minimum GPA: 3.0 (4.0 scale)
  • Application deadlines: April 15 for fall or full year
    October 15 for spring
  • Program advisor: Julia Lieberman
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Program Snapshot


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. Edinburgh is a wonderful study abroad destination, combining the rich history of an ancient city with the modern feel of a capital city. We're sure you're going to love studying there!

What the University of Edinburgh has to offer

  • A renowned university founded in 1583 in a glorious city dominated by Edinburgh Castle
  • Located in the heart of Edinburgh
  • A member of Britain's Russell Group of universities, similar to the Ivy League
  • Known for academic excellence and as an international research center
  • University facilities include cafeterias, shops, bars and entertainment venues
  • More than 270 societies and 63 sports clubs
  • The largest student orientation in the country, Freshers' Week
  • Excellent computer support across all disciplines


  • Housing is in university accommodation near the academic buildings or throughout the city, but still close to the central university area
  • Housing may consist of a traditional residence hall complex with a mandatory meal plan or a flat with four or five students
  • Students in flats purchase or prepare their own meals


  • Faculty at the forefront of their disciplines conduct much of the departmental teaching
  • Students take three or four courses per semester
  • A member of the prestigious Russell Group of major research universities in the United Kingdom

We look forward to working with you! You can learn more about the University of Edinburgh by visiting their website.



Where can I find a list of courses that the university offers?
Click here to access the University of Edinburgh's online course catalog online.

What if I need to take a required course?
Please be aware that IFSA-Butler cannot guarantee that your host university will offer a particular course, or that you will be allowed to take that particular course. However, if you need to take a required course, you may indicate that it is required on your course preference form. Your IFSA-Butler program advisor will communicate your needs to your host university.

What courses am I eligible to take?
If you have completed at least three to four courses in a specific subject area and earned at least a B in all of those courses, only then can you consider taking third year/honours level courses. You can consider second-year courses only if you have completed at least one to two courses in a subject area. First-year courses are appropriate for subjects you have not previously studied. These requirements must be visible on the transcript you submit with your application to IFSA-Butler and not on the transcript you will have completed by the time you study abroad.

First- and second-year courses typically have large weekly lectures, some exceeding 300 students. Small discussion groups of around 10 students, called tutorials, complement large lecture courses. Third-year courses are much smaller and typically have 10 to 30 students per course. Failure to adhere to the guidelines outlined above and below will result in a critical delay to your application’s admissions decision, as well as course registration. You will not be considered for courses if you do not meet the guidelines given.

Edinburgh Course Value vs. Academic Background Required

  • First Year (100 level) = First-year courses; no background knowledge required.
  • Second Year (200 level) = Equivalent to Junior level U.S. courses; some background knowledge required (i.e. one to two classes in the subject area)
  • Third Year (300 level) = Equivalent to Senior level U.S. courses; three to four classes in the subject area required as background. These classes must be shown on current transcript with a B or better. Advanced placement high school courses are not considered.
  • Fourth Year (400 level) = Equivalent to U.S. graduate courses. For the College of Humanities and Social Sciences: For the College of Science and Engineering: Other than biology, visiting students can take fourth year courses in any subject if they meet the prerequisites. Year 4 biology courses may have more limited availability for visiting students.

Special Opportunities

Beginning Piping
The University of Edinburgh offers a beginning bagpiping class for study abroad students. The class includes group piping lessons, as well as coursework on the history of the bagpipes. Students taking this class will need to purchase a chanter from the department for a cost of £40. If you're interested in this class, please list The Highland Bagpipe: History, Context and Performance on your course preference form. Please note that this course is extremely popular; there are only 10 spots available, and priority is given to students in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Highlighted Courses
IFSA-Butler has created a special PDF of unique and popular courses at the University of Edinburgh. Click here to download the PDF.

Scottish Studies
The University of Edinburgh offers several courses that are a great introduction to all things Scotland. Click here to view course listings and to find classes in Celtic or Scottish ethnography in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, and Scottish history in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology.

Course Restrictions

Do any of the departments have restrictions?
There are a number of restricted and/or competitive courses at the University of Edinburgh. A full list is available here.

Do any departments have prerequisites?

  • English Literature: Students who want to take third-year courses in the English department must have a Junior standing when they arrive and have taken four English literature courses for gradse of B or better. Please note that Edinburgh does not consider interdisciplinary classes, composition or creative writing classes or workshops, comparative literature classes, or freshman year seminars to be literature courses.
    • Qualified study abroad students may enroll in a maximum of two third-year (honours) English literature courses per semester, one Core course and one Option course (Core vs. Option). If you need to take more than two English literature courses while you are abroad, you will need to consider first- and second-year literature courses. Edinburgh's Critical Practice courses are not included in this two-class maximum.
    • Due to scheduling conflicts, students may select only English Literature 1 or English Literature 2 and either English Literature 1 or Scottish Literature 1.
  • For third-year classes and above, students must have Junior standing at the time that they arrive in Edinburgh in order to be approved for these upper level classes.
  • Students can take architecture–history (also known as architectural history), history of art and music courses at Edinburgh College of Art. However, studio-based courses at Edinburgh College of Art are off-limits to study abroad students.
  • Philosophy: To be considered for third-year philosophy courses, students will need to have taken at least three philosophy courses for grades of grade B or better. Students can be pre-approved for only two third-year (honours) philosophy courses prior to arrival. After arrival, students can request that the university consider them for a third course.
  • Business: Students wishing to take first-year business courses at Edinburgh will need to have already taken an introductory level business course and received a grade of B or better.
  • Politics and International Relations: In order to be considered for third-year politics or international relations courses, students will need to have taken four previous politics or international relations courses and received grades of a B or better.
  • EASC09029 Geology 3rd Year Field Course has mandatory spring break travel as part of the course, so please don't make spring break plans if you take this course. Also note that this course has an additional fee because of the travel.
  • Sport Science courses are typically not available to visiting students.
  • For a number of the Law courses, enrollment is limited for visiting students. Only those students coming on a direct exchange agreement within the School of Law can be considered for those courses. Courses with this restriction are specified in the prerequisites note in the Course Finder as follows: This course is only open to visiting students coming through a direct exchange with the School of Law (this includes Erasmus students on a Law Exchange.


How many courses am I able to take, and how do I determine U.S. semester credit hours?
IFSA-Butler requires students to enroll in a full course load at the host institution. The number of courses you take depends on the credit value of the courses you select. A full course load for one semester is 60 University of Edinburgh points, or 15 U.S. semester credit hours. For information on the credit weight, please look below:

10 University of Edinburgh Credits = 2.5 U.S. semester credit hours
20 University of Edinburgh Credits = 5 U.S. semester credit hours


The course preference form is not a registration form; it is a guideline to let your host university know which courses you are interested in taking abroad. You should discuss your course selections with your academic advisor at your home institution and have several backup choices in mind. Accepted students will receive their provisional schedule shortly after an admissions decision is made. This schedule will be based on the courses listed on the course preference form. You will not officially register for courses until you arrive on campus.

What are the registration conditions?
You must take a full University of Edinburgh 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 will not officially register for courses until you arrive on campus.

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.


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 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 course in which you made this arrangement. You will need to complete and submit all academic work prior to 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 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

What are my housing options?
Please download and review our Edinburgh Housing Guide to see all housing options available at University of Edinburgh. The following types of housing are available during your semester or year abroad:

  • Catered housing at Pollock Halls of Residence
    Pollock Halls of Residence has a mixture of standard rooms and en-suite rooms (a bathroom in your room). Students living in standard rooms have a sink in their room and share a bathroom with six other residents in their corridor. Pollock Halls of Residence is mixed-gender. All rooms are singles and have ResNet, a portal providing access to the Internet and university intranet. Rooms also include a telephone and voicemail. Pollock Halls of Residence provides bedding for all residents interested in purchasing a bedding pack (flat sheet, fitted sheet, duvet, duvet cover, pillow and pillowcase) for £20. Pollock Halls of Residence has a mandatory meal plan. Breakfast and dinner are provided five days a week, with brunch and dinner served on weekends. As lunches are not included in the meal plan, it is not possible to order a packed lunch. There are vegetarian options, but the selection may not be as extensive as at some U.S. universities. Many students with dietary restrictions find that the selection of food is not adequate at Pollock Halls and therefore prefer the flat option. Pollock Halls requires an average of a 25 minute walk to the main campus.

  • Self-catered flats
    The University of Edinburgh owns and manages student flats throughout the city. Self-catered housing is an average of 10 to 25 minute walk from the main campus. 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, such as Kincaid's Court, have up to 12 students sharing a large kitchen and bathroom. All housing is mixed gender unless specifically requested otherwise.

    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.

Meals and Linens

Does the University of Edinburgh offer meal plans?
Students living in Pollock Halls of Residence will have a meal plan, while students living in the self-catered flats will not. Please see the housing options tab for more details.

Does the University of Edinburgh provide bed linens?
Yes, the University of Edinburgh provides the opportunity for students to purchase a bed linen pack. These packs are distributed on a first come, first serve basis.

Bed linens are provided at Pollock Halls, but duvets and pillows are not included. A bedding pack containing a pillow and duvet can be purchased for £20.

If you are placed in a flat, Edinburgh does not automatically provide bed linens. However, international students may reserve and purchase a bedding pack for £25. This pack includes:

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

If you would like to reserve either pack, please log in to your MyED portal and pay online. If you reserve a pack, Edinburgh will have it waiting in your housing.

These packs are completely optional, as there are local stores where students can purchase bedding. Students in the past have found these packs generally easier because they are provided at check-in at the university.

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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* Family visit weekend may alternatively take place January 26-28, February 2-4 or February 9-11.

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

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.

*Student Visa: U.S. citizens studying in the U.K. for less than six months (180 days) do not need to apply for a visa, but can instead enter the country as a student visitor at no cost. Student visitors are allowed to remain in the U.K. for up to six months but are not allowed to undertake any paid work or unpaid volunteer activities. Citizens of some countries may be required to obtain a student visa. If this applies to you, your IFSA-Butler program advisor will notify you. Detailed instructions regarding U.K. visas will be sent to all students upon acceptance.

Academic year students also have to pay a healthcare surcharge of £150 in addition to visa costs.

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:



Institute for Study Abroad, Alliance For Global Education and MORE CULTURE. LESS SHOCK. are registered marks of the Institute for Study Abroad, Inc.