Happy Friday! This week’s blog post is about optional coursework at Surrey.
There are of course many differences between studying in the UK and the US, however, one of the most striking differences that I have found is just how tailored and specific coursework in the UK is compared to coursework at home. Although it varies between American universities, it is a safe bet to make that most require students to complete some sort of “gen eds” – a.k.a. general education requirements. Typically these are comprised of one or two courses from different educational disciplines – natural sciences, social sciences, mathematics, and foreign languages. In the UK, coursework is tailored to the student’s subject and it is uncommon for students to be required to take classes outside of their discipline.
General Education Requirements: Pros and Cons
Sometimes general education requirements are great – it can help undecided students determine what their interests are and potentially select a major. Additionally, depending on the university’s offerings, it can be a great GPA booster. (Note: I remember “Beaches and Shores” was the most sought out natural science class among my undergraduate cohort because of the “easy A.”) But this requirement can also present disadvantages. Personally, natural science isn’t my thing. I took Biology I and Chemistry I to fulfill my natural science general education requirements during undergrad and quite honestly it tainted my GPA until I reached my junior year. Additionally, I found that completing general education requirements kept me from undertaking more in-depth coursework in my subject. AP credit was never stressed at my high school and I entered university with only one exemption so I ended up having to fit general education requirements into my schedule until my first semester of senior year.
Global Graduate Award Program
Lucky for us, Surrey does not require students to fulfill general coursework in different disciplines than the one that they are enrolled in. Rather, they give students the option to explore different subjects through their Global Graduate Award Program. Depending on your level of study, the Global Graduate Award Program is a full-year for-credit (undergraduates) or non-credit (postgraduate) course. There are two Global Graduate Award options: Languages and Sustainability. While that all sounds exciting, perhaps the best thing about the program is that it is absolutely free of charge.
Global Graduate Award in Languages
Students can either learn a new language or continue a language that they previously have studied through Surrey’s language branch of the Global Graduate Award. Languages may vary year-to-year but typically include the following:
- British Sign Language
- Chinese Mandarin
Most languages meet once a week and students can enroll in the day, time, and level of their choice on a first come, first served basis. While the program does not offer credit for postgraduate students, students that successfully complete the course receive a certificate of completion. Undergraduates receive 15 credits upon successful completion.
Global Graduate Award in Sustainability
If languages aren’t really your thing or if you are more of a sustainability type of person, don’t fret, Surrey has the perfect program for you. The Global Graduate Award in Sustainability focuses on all facets of sustainability: environmental, economic, animal welfare, etc. Meeting weekly, the course invites industry professionals to speak to the class about pressing sustainability issues. Afterward, students write a short reflective essay. The sustainability branch of the Global Graduate Award program is extremely popular and there is typically only one class section a week so if you are interested it is important to sign up early. You will receive information and a more in-depth introduction during your orientation.
I hope that you found this information helpful! If you have any questions, do not hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the Global Graduate Award in Languages, please visit: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/school-english-languages/study/global-graduate-award
For more information on the Global Graduate Award in Sustainability, please visit: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/centre-environment-sustainability/postgraduate-taught/global-graduate-award-sustainability
Until next time –