There are three universities in Edinburgh; these include Heriot-Watt University, Napier University, and the University of Edinburgh. Most university degrees take four years to complete. Education in Scotland is somewhat more restrictive than when compared with American universities; a full load is three classes with only one class being your outside course. Thus when you choose your course, you will usually only take classes in your own field. Though it varies somewhat between programs. Courses are generally taken for two terms of the academic year, with exams being completed during the third term. Fall term classes commence in mid-September and last until the winter holiday in December. The second term begins in the second week of January and lasts until mid-March. Though it may be intimidating to be examined on an entire year’s coursework, there is plenty of time set aside for revision. The second term ends in mid march, leaving about three weeks before the exams commence in the middle of April.

The workload is not unbearable but it requires that you do a lot of reading for your course. However, there is reading, and then there is “reading”. Don’t be alarmed by the massive reading list handed to you on your first day. It is common for professors to hand out a four page reading list. The reading list is usually longer in the second and third year. Thus you won’t have as much to read in your first year as you will in your fourth year. Try to pick up hints from lectures which books are the most important to browse. Make an effort to borrow books from the library before buying all the books on the list. Not only will it be very expensive, but it may not be necessary; sometimes you will only have to read one or two chapters. Although there is a lot of reading, essays are not as abundant. Be forewarned that essay deadlines are taken seriously over here so try not to procrastinate too much; points will be deducted from your essay no matter how late it is received.

Each university has a wealth of international students. So if you were hoping to study abroad in Edinburgh, only with Scottish people, you will be in the wrong place. The University of Edinburgh for example, has a lot of English students and American exchange students enrolled as well as several others from other countries. But there are plenty of ways to become integrated in Scottish culture and society by joining different clubs and societies or getting involved in local events. There are various sports, music, dance, and academic societies that you can choose from. If you do not find what you are looking for, then you can try to start your own club.   

Heriot-Watt University: http://www.hw.ac.uk/home/
University of Edinburgh: http://www.ed.ac.uk/
Napier University: http://www.napier.ac.uk/Pages/default.aspx