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Choosing Courses on Your Year Abroad

(NOTE: This information applies to students doing a JYA in 2018/19 or later; students wishing to remind themselves of the 2017/18 requirements should consult the PIR JYA coordinator.)

Whatever your degree, there are three main issues you need to consider when choosing Politics courses:

  1. the level they are taught at;
  2. the content of the course;
  3. the credits you receive.

We are here to help, but the onus is on you to ensure you have met course requirements while on your overseas exchange. Take the initiative yourself.

Information for all Politics and International Relations students

Slides from the PIR year abroad talk on Wednesday 25th October 2017. (NOTE: The requirements on JYA course choices have changed since then and the ones given on this webpage, below, are the correct ones for 2018/19 onwards.)

LEVEL. Courses should generally be at year 3 level or higher, though there is leeway here depending on local circumstances. For example, if you are studying in a foreign language some of your credits may be at a lower level. We try to look at each case on its merits.

CONTENT. To receive credit for a politics or international relations course, the courses you choose should be substantially politics or international relations in content, though close cognate areas may be acceptable. Again, local circumstances are important. Studying the culture and history of the country you are in, even if these courses are broader than politics, is often acceptable.

CREDITS. You need to take a normal full load at your overseas institution. If you are not sure what this is, check first with advisors there, Edinburgh Global, etc, before asking your Edinburgh junior year abroad contact. Typically at an American university a full load will mean 4 courses per semester. At an EU university you should have 60 ECTS for the entire year. There is no longer a possibility of making up credits in year 4 at Edinburgh. That means if you return without sufficient credits you may need to stay beyond your 4th year to gain the missing credits.

Note that it is up to you to make sure that sufficient Politics/IR courses are available at the right level at your destination university to meet our requirements, before you start your Junior Year Abroad. Note also that full-year credit requirements must be met: semester-only exchanges are not permissible through PIR.

In terms of course choice, you will make a preliminary selection using the information below and information from your destination university, and check it with the Politics and International Relations Year Abroad Coordinator before starting your Junior Year Abroad. However, sometimes this preliminary selection turns out to be inappropriate or unfeasible or unavailable when you start at your destination university. If this happens, it is important to find alternatives. Normally, course selection can only be finalised when the student arrives at the beginning of the semester.

Requirements for single honours Politics students

Requirements for single honours International Relations students

Requirements for joint honours Politics students (not doing MEL or Arabic)

Requirements for joint honours International Relations and Law/International Law students

Requirements for Sustainable Development students, Politics pathway

Requirements for Sustainable Development students, IR pathway

Requirements for joint honours with Modern European Languages (MEL)

NOTE: if you are a Modern European Language & Politics joint honours student, we recommend that you study at a university, in which case you must take Politics courses for credit (as above). However, if you will NOT be studying courses for credit (typically doing an internship or some other work experience) your Politics assessment will be by essay.

Requirements for joint honours with Arabic

Arabic & Politics students usually don't study courses for credit during their year abroad. Your Politics assessment will be by essay - more information can be found here.

Requirements for Politics with QM students

Requirements for IR with QM students

Transferring marks overseas into Edinburgh grades

This only happens with language-based degree students.  Non-language students will be marked on a pass-fail basis, and your Honours degree will be classified solely on the basis of your performance in your fourth and final year. However, the year abroad performance is still important. You need to achieve satisfactory completion of the approved programme of study abroad before being permitted to proceed to 4th year, and Final Year Exam Boards can take into account exceptional performance, either good or bad, during the study abroad year if your degree classification is borderline.


Politics & International Relations Year Abroad Co-Ordinator:
Dr Elizabeth Cripps (