UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE)


Clover Zhang

Meet Clover, she studied the Pre-sessional English course online and is now studying Economics and Policy of Energy and the Environment MSc at UCL.


What’s your background?

I have been consistently receiving education in mainland China, focusing on the field of environmental science. The programme I applied for at UCL is in the intersection of economics and energy, which can be considered a partial transition in terms of specialisation. Therefore, the pre-sessional course serves as a safeguard for me undergoing this transition into a Master's course taught in English.

Why did you choose to study Pre-sessional English course online?

Personally, I face challenges in certain aspects of the IELTS, making it difficult for me to achieve a one-time success. Therefore, opting for a language course represents a more cost-effective choice.

Additionally, it allows me to acclimatise to the academic atmosphere of the classroom in advance.

Given that I have never experienced a fully English-language instructional environment before, this choice lays the groundwork for my academic writing.

Furthermore, considering the desire to spend more time with my family, I ultimately chose online learning.

Which degree are you studying now and what is it like?

My programme is Economics and Policy of Energy and the Environment. The intriguing aspect lies in the fact that I could apply my environmental knowledge into other fields and gain insights into the entirely new field of economics. This, however, presents its own set of challenges. With the assistance of professors and the teaching assistants, my current learning progress is satisfactory.

What was the biggest challenge you faced during your time on the Pre-sessional English course and how did you overcome it?

The foremost challenge lied in the constraint of time and the substantial workload each week.

This was attributed to the multitude of topics I must independently delve into for learning, encompassing not only new teaching methodologies but also necessitating advanced preparation for each class from the outset.

Additionally, early groundwork for the final exams is imperative to navigate the demanding academic schedule effectively.

What advice would you give to future students who will be taking online Pre-sessional English course?

The sincerest advice is that future students could grasp and enjoy every class, every seminar and every opportunity to study independently.

Approach learning with a relaxed yet diligent mindset. The teachers are making every effort to help you succeed in the final exam and adapt to this mode of learning in advance.

If you encounter any problems, do not be afraid; boldly seek assistance.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with at UCL so far?

At UCL, what is most captivating is the endless array of activities available for you to participate in.

Each week, a plethora of information is delivered through email, and both student clubs and the university itself consistently organise various events.

The most memorable experience for me was during Freshers’ Week, where the schedule was both rich and diverse, featuring activities such as guided campus tours by senior students and engaging presentations for new club recruitments.

How is the UK education system different to your home country?

The most significant difference between education in the United Kingdom and China lies in the ability to ask the lecturer questions specifically related to the content just discussed during a class. There is an opportunity for active interaction with professors.

Additionally, the online resources at UCL are extensive and well-organised. Despite the current offline in-person teaching format, each course has a dedicated website link where you can access resources such as reading lists for each class.

Where is your favourite place on campus and why?

My favourite place is the libraries at UCL. As far as I know, UCL has dozens of libraries, and each one has a unique style! For those who appreciate novelty, this serves as a source of motivation for learning. Being in a new learning environment each time encourages me to study diligently.