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Preparing to study in the UK

University life and study methods may be very different in the UK to your home country, and it is important to be aware of this, and to know where at QMUL you can get study support if you are having difficulties.

Please also see our web page on Study, for more information.

You can also use the Prepare for Success website to help you prepare for study in the UK. This is designed to help you practice your English but also to prepare you for all the different aspects of study in the UK. You can read, listen, watch and do tasks to help you understand more about what academic life is going to be like in the UK

Find out what other students say

Watch our videos to hear from some of our international students about how they settled into life and study at QMUL and in London.  The interviews are with medical students studying at Barts and The London; QMUL's School of Medicine and Dentistry, but they are of interest to all students joining QMUL.


Adapting to study at QMUL

Studying at QMUL may be very different from the way that you have studied in your own country. Courses are taught in different ways:

  • lectures – large classes where the tutor talks and students take notes
  • seminars – smaller classes where groups of students and a tutor discuss a topic
  • tutorials – individual meetings between you and your tutor
  • practical work – for example, working in laboratories.

Many courses also involve group work where, for example, you work with other students on a project.

Much of your study at QMUL will be independent study. This means that the time that you spend in lectures, seminars or tutorials may be much shorter than the time that you spend studying by yourself. It also means that you have to also source information by yourself. Courses have some core texts but you will have to read much more than this and you will have to find reading material and information by yourself. You can get help on how to do this at the QMUL libraries.

If you have any questions about your studies, you should contact your academic department.

The Language Centre at QMUL has prepared a series of short films to help you adjust to studying in the UK, on topics such as teaching methods, independent study, plagiarism, asking questions, and your relationship with tutors. You will need to log in to be able to watch these very useful videos. 


Your work will be assessed in different ways:

  • written examinations
  • coursework
  • project work
  • oral and practical examinations.

Many courses at QMUL also include continuous assessment, which means that some or all of the work you do during the course will count towards some or all of your final mark.

It is important to attend lectures, seminars and tutorials. You must tell staff if you are ill and unable to attend classes. It is also important to contribute to discussions at seminars and tutorials. This may take you some time to get used to but it is an important part of the learning process.

Each department at QMUL has its own handbook. This contains essential information about your course and explains all the rules and regulations for your department. You will receive this when you start your course. If you arrive late, contact your department administrator to ask for a copy.

The UKCISA website has information on study methods in the UK and on assessment methods


Plagiarism is the use of the work of another person, including another student, as your own without acknowledging the source. This includes both the intentional and unintentional attempt to pass someone else's work off as your own. Students found guilty of plagiarism face serious penalties, which can include deregistration from your course. Plagiarism often occurs when students are unsure of what is allowed or expected of them. Make sure you are clear as to what is expected of you in assessed work.. Different academic departments will have different rules about referencing work. You can check this in your course handbook, available from your academic department. 

Academic advisers / personal tutors

You will have a personal tutor or academic adviser who is a member of the academic staff from your main department. They will offer general advice and support, and academic guidance. Many departments also have a senior tutor. Most tutors/advisers have regular times when they can see you to discuss your general progress, or any issues of concern, either academic or personal.

Remember that if you have a question or a problem, it is best to ask for advice as early as possible. Do not wait until the problem has become critical.

When you arrive at QMUL, you can also read the Student Guide. This explains about QMUL enrolment, procedures, regulations, attendance and exams. You can download the PDF of the Student Guide on the Academic Registry and Council Secretariat (ARCS) website.

English Language Support

You can attend full-time pre-sessional English courses to help you prepare for study at QMUL. For information go to the Language Centre website.

You can also attend free courses during the academic year, in Semesters A &B. There are different modules for different skills, such as reading, listening, and academic writing. If you are studying Law, there is a specialised series of interactive lectures designed to improve your writing and research in law. For information, including how to book, go to the Language Centre website.

Study Skills Support

Study Skills support is available from the Learning Development team, based in the Mile End Library. This includes one to one tutorials.

If you are studying Maths or Science, you can attend the Drop-In Study Centre (DISC), where you can get free and impartial advice about your academic work. They offer guidance on how to approach your subject, general help on questions, and provide some one-on-one tutoring.

Peer Assisted Study Support (PASS)

PASS is a course-based mentoring scheme where first-years are given the opportunity to explore their problems with higher-year students (mentors) in a friendly, informal environment, to help them settle in to university life, the department and their studies. Find out more on the PASS website, including the PASS contact person for your academic department. 

Academic issues

If you encounter any academic problems while you're studying, which you are unable to resolve with your academic department, the Student Union's Academic Advice Service can advise you on matters such as academic appeals or complaints. This is an independent, free and confidential service open to all Queen Mary students.

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