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University of Birmingham Exchange

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring, Academic Year


Birmingham, United Kingdom




Junior or senior standing, 3.0 GPA

Application Due:

September 22 for Spring 2016

Program Cost:

Check the 'Costs' section under the Application tab.

University building

The reciprocal exchange program between the University of Iowa and University of Birmingham in Birmingham, England allows undergraduate students to spend a semester or academic year fully integrated with their British peers in student housing and attending regular classes.

Under the reciprocal exchange agreement, University of Iowa students pay their regular UI tuition and fees to participate in this program. Room and board is comparable to Iowa costs in the Mayflower residence hall. Added expenses include airfare, a UI administrative fee, and similar costs as described in the 'Costs' section of our website.

Academic Program

Birmingham offers a wide variety of courses (called 'modules') for exchange students. Depending on their level of experience, and length of time they plan to study abroad, students can choose from a huge variety of courses in Life & Environmental Sciences, Engineering and Physical Sciences, Arts & Law, and Social Sciences. Popular courses focus on Biosciences, Chemical, Civil, Computer, Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering, Historical Studies, Law, Business, Education, and Public Policy.

University of Iowa students enroll in classes that are part of the regular curriculum at the University of Birmingham. This means participating in a system that is significantly different from the U.S. broad-based, liberal arts education, both in terms of calendar and specialization of studies. Students usually take between three and five courses each semester, earning between 12 and 16 semester hours of transfer credit for each semester.

One of the distinctive features of academic life in the UK is the specialized nature of the study which students undertake in higher education. Students will usually 'belong' to one and, at most, two schools or departments and will take the majority of their modules at Birmingham. As far as possible exchange students should try to choose the majority of their modules from one specific department as this will help to give them a better 'identity' during their time at Birmingham.

What classes can I take?

Take a look at the course options open to study abroad students by exploring the University of Birmingham's online 'Study Abroad and Exchanges Module Catalogue' (check for 'Certificate' and 'Intermediate' which are roughly equivalent to first and second year courses at the University of Iowa).


A Note on Grading

As a study abroad student, you are required to undertake the same form of assessment as the local students do in order to earn transfer credit at the University of Iowa. This means that if you do not take the exam or turn in a required final paper, your British academic record will report a grade of 0 and you will not receive credit for the course.

The grading system in the UK is significantly different from the US system. Grades are given as 'marks', and a score of 60% is typically considered a high mark. UI does not convert British marks into U.S. letter grades. While you WILL receive credit for the courses you take in the UK, you will NOT receive a typical A-F grade.

However, this does not mean that you are taking courses on a Pass/Fail basis. You will earn a final mark in the UK system, and your British academic record will always report these. In order to receive credit for the course, you must receive a passing grade in the British system and, in the future, when official transcripts of your college work are requested, you will need to provide both an Iowa transcript and the British academic record – your British grades will be clear.

Cultural Activities

The University of Birmingham Guild of Students organizes events and excursions throughout the academic year, and is home to almost 200 student groups, including societies (focused on like-minded people having fun doing activities together), volunteering projects, support groups, and residents’ associations.

Program Dates

Dates for the Fall 2015 session: (Dates are subject to change)

September 21, 2015 - Arrival/Program Begins
September 21 - September 26- Welcome Week/orientation
September 28 - December 11- Fall semester classes in session
December 11, 2015- Fall session ends

Dates for the Spring 2016 session (Dates are subject to change)

January 8, 2016 - Arrival/Program Begins
January 8 - January 11- Welcome Week/orientation
January 15 - June 17- Spring semester classes in session
June 17, 2016- Spring session ends

For More Information

Cory Petersen, Advisor and Program Coordinator
Study Abroad | International Programs
1111 University Capitol Centre
Iowa City, IA 52242-1802

Phone: 319-335-0353
Fax: 319-335-0343

The University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham was established by Queen Victoria by Royal Charter in 1900 and was the UK’s first civic or 'redbrick' university, where students from all religions and backgrounds were accepted on an equal basis. It is home to almost 28,000 students, 4,000 of whom come from 150 different countries. It is situated in a park-like suburban setting and has its own rail station, making the trip downtown fast and convenient.


Birmingham is the second-largest city in the United Kingdom (after London), with a vibrant city center dedicated to commerce, the arts, sport, and entertainment. It is located in the West Midlands which are in the center of England, making it a nice location from which to explore the country. Birmingham has its own international airport and is two hours from London by train. The central location of Birmingham and its extensive rail and road links makes it easy to travel through the UK. Day trips to Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare's birthplace and the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company) and the quaint towns of the Cotswolds are easy to arrange.

United Kingdom

The 'United Kingdom' (UK) refers to the four countries of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. This is in contrast to another common name, 'Great Britain', which excludes Northern Ireland. The UK Exchange program offers exchange with universities in England and Scotland. Life and culture in the UK is different from that in the US. Experiencing this rich tradition is what the UK Exchanges are all about!

Some quick general facts about the UK:

• The UK uses the British Pound as its currency.

• Communication from the UK is easy. Cell phones are relatively inexpensive, the internet is easily accessible, and post offices are plentiful.

• British food is unique! Try fish and chips, bangers 'n mash, steak pie, Indian curry,'neeps and tatties, haggis and more!

• The UK is a relatively safe environment. Police are helpful and visible. Emergency services are reliable. Pharmacies, called 'Chemists', are common and carry a wide variety of medicine and other essentials.

• The UK has a temperate climate, influenced by the ocean that surrounds it. It is never too hot in the summer nor too cold in the winter. Rain is common most of the year. Make sure to take plenty of warm clothes and waterproof shoes.

Living Arrangements

The University of Birmingham offers accommodation in student housing. Student housing in the UK tends to resemble the style of Mayflower Residence hall, with 4-6 students sharing a 'flat' with common kitchen and bathroom facilities and individual rooms, however variations to this style do occur. Meal structure varies according to each student's preference and residence.

In the past, UI students have stayed in Pritchatts Park Village and also in the Vale Village. Pritchatt's Park is a little closer to campus but does not have the newer flats like the Vale (Mason, e.g.). Most of the residences have single study-bedrooms with shared kitchen and bath. Meal plans are available on campus and also in the Vale.

Information about all of the housing options can be found on the University of Birmingham's accommodation website.

Travel Arrangements

Students will make their own travel arrangement with support from the Study Abroad office and the International Student office at Birmingham.

Local Transportation

Birmingham offers a good public transportation system. Buses, trains, and taxis are easily accessible, and the campus, and much of the city, is pedestrian friendly.

In general, travel within the United Kingdom is very well organized. Busses, and taxis (and subway systems in larger cities) make getting around town quick and easy. Trains and busses also interconnect every city in Britain, making inter-city travel easy, fairly cheap and as quick as possible. You are never far from interesting places such as London or Ireland. Ferries and bargain airlines also allow you to reach many destinations in mainland Europe very inexpensively.


Minimum eligibility requirements include junior or senior standing and a 3.0 cumulative grade point average (4.0 scale). Students must also be in good academic and disciplinary standing at the University of Iowa at the time the program begins. Students who do not fit these requirements should contact their study abroad advisor for alternative options.

Application Deadline

Final applications are due on September 22 for the Spring 2016 session.

How to Apply

Interested students should make an appointment with Cory Petersen, the program coordinator for the University of Birmingham exchange, to determine whether this program is a good fit, and discuss the application process.

After submitting an application, your application will be sent to the University of Birmingham for review, where final acceptance decisions are made.

Applicants are officially notified of their acceptance status by Birmingham by late October/early November for the Spring session, and by late March/early April for the following Fall/Academic Year.

Please call the Study Abroad office (1111 University Capitol Centre) at 319-335-0353 to set up an appointment, or email Cory with any questions at


University of Iowa students pay their regular UI tuition and mandatory student fees, plus a $400 study abroad administrative fee, and then study at our partner university without further tuition payment.

Additional costs include the application fee ($50), the study abroad administrative fee ($400), round trip airfare (approximately $1500 from Cedar Rapids), housing (approx. $3500 per semester, but varies depending on your specific housing choice), food (approx. $2000 per semester), passport (approx. $135), textbooks (approx. $300), local transportation ($300+ per semester), immunizations (variable), CISI health insurance (approx.. $150 per semester), visa fees (approx. $180 for the semester, and $550 for the academic year), or any personal expenses ($2500+ per semester).

University of Iowa study abroad administrative fees are included for all participants. They are based on tuition set by the Iowa Board of Regents. Please check the Costs of Study Abroad page for more information on these administrative fees.

Program cost sheet

A cost sheet detailing all estimated costs for the Fall 2015 session will be posted here during late spring 2015.

The cost sheet captures the best possible estimate for all costs a participant on this program will be responsible for, including fees paid to UI as well as out-of-pocket costs and personal expenses, although actual spending amounts may vary. This information will be provided to the Office of Student Financial Aid to help determine your eligibility for aid for this program.

Withdrawal Policy

Notice of withdrawal must be made in writing to the Study Abroad office at the University of Iowa. The date on which the letter or e-mail message is received is the date by which your costs will be calculated. If for any reason you withdraw after the confirmation deadline and before or during the course of the program, the amount shown in the following chart represents what you will be required to pay to the University of Iowa.

Date of Withdrawal Student Financial Responsibility
Between confirmation and 45 days before program start date $500
Between 44 and 30 days before the program start date $1,000
Between 29 and 15 days before the program start date $2,000
Less than 14 days before the program start date 1) 100% of Study Abroad Course Fees ($400), 100% of UI Tuition and Fees

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Students may be able to use financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) to cover some of the costs of this program. Take a look at the Financial Aid section of our website for information on applying your aid package to study abroad, including the Suggestions for Scholarship Applications, and contact with the Office of Student Financial Aid to find out what might be available to you.

The Study Abroad office offers several scholarships and grants. The awards listed below are available to University of Iowa students studying on this program:

1- Merit-based scholarship (requires a 3.33 GPA or higher)

2- Need-based study abroad grant (for students who are eligible for financial aid, based on available FAFSA information)

3- Diversity Ambassador scholarship (see web site for details)

Other UI-affiliated awards

4- Other University of Iowa awards

5- External Awards

Awards from organizations outside of the University of Iowa

(Note that when searching for financial aid from organizations outside of the University of Iowa, it's always best to be safe. Be sure to take a look at these tips to avoid scams before you apply!)

6- NAFSA’s US Study Abroad Scholarships and Grants List

7- IIE Passport's Study Abroad Funding page

8- US Department of Labor's scholarship page


10- Or try a Google search for 'study abroad scholarships'!

Finally, if you’re having trouble writing scholarship essays, you may want to contact the UI Writing Center for a helping hand!

If you have any questions about funding for this program, please contact Cory Petersen at or call the Study Abroad office at 319-335-0353 for an appointment.

There are no photos available for this program yet. Do you have any photos to share with us? If you do, please contact us at:

1111 University Capitol Centre
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1802

Phone: (319) 335-0353
Fax: (319) 335-0343