Study Abroad in University of Birmingham
The application process takes place exclusively online and is clearly structured. The MicroEDU staff are available to fill out the fields in the formavailable for questions. However, it is advisable to plan enough lead time, since in addition to general information about the person and the résumé, two letters of reference and a letter of motivation must be submitted for the application. The letters of reference should primarily be academic, ie issued by a former professor or lecturer. If you already have professional experience, a reference letter from a former supervisor is also accepted. An internship lasting several months can also count as work experience in individual cases. However, this should definitely be clarified in advance. It is helpful for the reference writer if he / she receives a few bullet points in advance so that the reference letter can be tailored as precisely as possible to the degree program. For the letter of motivation you should look for specific, practical and / or academic experience and explain to what extent this qualifies you for the chosen course of study. General letters of motivation, in which only the name of the university is exchanged for several applications, usually have a worse chance. A tip is therefore to take a look at the module descriptions, which are often available online.
Studies & courses taken
A full-time Masters course in the UK typically lasts one year. Depending on your personal performance requirements, you can then work full-time. If you want to work on the side, it is advisable to consider a part-time program. Most master’s courses are also offered part-time. You then have fewer courses per week, but the total duration of study is extended to a total of two years, since the same modules have to be completed in terms of content. According to the descriptions of some fellow students, however, it is almost impossible to work parallel to full-time studies.
In my case, lectures and seminars took place every day: First there is a lecture block of one and a half hours, followed by an equally long seminar. The seminars are comparable to German tutorials. However, the way of teaching is very different compared to German universities. The lecture is supported with a few PowerPoint slides, so that depending on the lecturer, it is more of a free lecture. At the end of each lecture there is a so-called “reading list” and some key questions for the next seminar. It is then your own responsibility to sift through the material, set priorities and deal with the content. In the seminar, critical points can then be discussed in small groups. A tutor helps with any ambiguities. However, no prepared standard solutions are written to, which are then collectively written off. The seminar is clearly oriented towards the participation of the students. This has certain advantages and disadvantages that one should be aware of. If you are more inclined to “seasonal work”, you will feel uncomfortable in this system. This also applies to the performance appraisal: Depending on the course, there are not only the final exams but also smaller tests during the semester, graded group work and one or more assignments. If you don’t stay on the ball here, you quickly lose touch.
The on-site support is extensive and very service-oriented. On the one hand, there are cross-university offers such as the “IT Service Desk” for all conceivable IT problems. On the other hand, there are specific offers that vary depending on the faculty and department. In my case, the “MSc Office” is responsible for all administrative matters. My “personal tutor” takes care of academic matters. This is usually a lecturer at one of my events, with whom I am in regular contact. Over coffee, for example, you discuss how you have settled in, whether you have been able to get used to the reading workload or discuss possible solutions to individual problems. It should be emphasized that the Business School has its own “Career Service” for master’s students. It is possible to have your CV checked quickly and easily. But it is also feasible to simulate a telephone interview, a case study or typical elements of an assessment center with a career advisor. Since most of them have several years of professional experience outside of the university in HR departments, the feedback is very extensive and valuable.
There is a so-called “Guarantee Scheme” for students outside the UK. If you apply for a room in a student residence run by the university by a certain deadline, you will also receive a place. This doesn’t have to be the top priority room you choose, but at least you don’t need to worry about ending up empty-handed. Living in student residences is comparatively expensive. For this, the standard is usually better than you know it from Germany or other European countries. The opposite is true for private apartments or houses. Some of my fellow students moved again after a few months due to mold, leaky windows or a partially functioning heating system. That too is not tragic at first,there is enough living space for students. However, one should of course try to keep the risk as low as possible. You can also get support from the university and the “Guild of Students”, the student body. Whatever you decide in the end, it is definitely advisable to look at the accommodation before signing the contract and to pay attention to your gut feeling. Moving during the current semester can become unnecessarily stressful.
Leisure & excursion possibilities
Birmingham is the second largest city in Great Britain. Accordingly, there is also a lot to experience. There are numerous “societies” at the university itself. These are student-organized and self-governing interest groups. The offer includes several hundred such groups, which thematically cover the entire conceivable spectrum. Whether sport, music, art, languages or religion, there is actually nothing that does not exist. But before you start reading the descriptions on the website, you should just stop by the next meeting of the “Society” and get an impression of the location and action. That definitely makes more sense. In general, it is important to take as much as possible with you in the first few weeks to get a broad insight into the diverse range on offer.
The city center can be reached by train in less than ten minutes. It is practical that the university has its own train station. The old industrial charm still characterizes the cityscape, but many parts of the city have now been very nicely renovated and modernized. We recommend a trip to “Brindleyplace”, where numerous bars and pubs are located directly on the canal. From time to time an old steam boat also drives by. For shopping enthusiasts there is the “Bullring”, a huge shopping center in the city center, to which even Brits come from surrounding cities. And if you prefer it a little quieter and more relaxed, you can use your student ID to go to the university’s botanical garden for free, where you can sit on the terrace and have a wonderful cup of tea.