UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE)


Qin Liu

Meet Qin from China, after studying the Pre-sessional, she progressed to UCL's MSc Infancy & Early Childhood Development.

Qin Liu photograph

What’s your background?

I am originally from China. My background is early childhood education, and I am currently studying MSc Infant & Early Childhood Development at UCL.

The pre-sessional course helped me adapt to my postgraduate studies in the UK. Specifically, there is an early familiarity with the mode of study and the ability to learn academic writing well ahead of time. Importantly, it helped me to improve my overall English language skills, including listening, reading, and writing.

Why did you choose to study at UCL?

I chose to study at UCL for two main reasons. Firstly, UCL has a good reputation worldwide and academic atmosphere. The other reason is that I am extremely interested in the courses I am studying at UCL. The curriculum is extensive, and the students are from a diversity of backgrounds and there is a wonderful learning environment.

What course do you study now and what is it like?

I am studying in the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health in London. The course I studied is mainly a mixture of online and face-to-face lectures. The modules in my major are both compulsory and optional and it is great that you can learn about different perspectives from your modules. Part of the challenge is that the majority of students on this course are native English speakers, so a high standard of English is required for seminars.

How has the Pre-sessional helped you in your Master’s degree?

The academic writing training has been helpful for my current coursework, mainly covering basic academic writing style and the rules of citation. Moreover, the Pre-sessional course has improved my English communication skills by adapting to the group learning model in advance. Finally, it provided me with a great opportunity to learn independently.

What was the biggest challenge you faced during your time on the Pre-sessional?

Learning how to write academically was the biggest challenge for me when I was on the course. This is because, in a relatively short period of time, you need to quickly acquire the ability to search for literature, filter it, and learn how to write an article with critical thinking. Fortunately, I have gradually acquired these skills as I followed the course's guidance and completed my assignments in a timely manner.

What advice would you give to a prospective Pre-sessional student?

If you are an online learner like me, I hope you will pay attention to the independent learning part, as it is a great opportunity for you to get a systematic grasp of knowledge. At the same time, make sure you also focus on the timely completion of group work, which is a great collaborative learning process. Finally, maintain a positive attitude as you move forward with your studies.

What is it like to live and study in London?

London is a diverse and modern city with plenty of opportunities to explore and stimulate your interests and hobbies. Certainly, there may be language and food differences at first. However, finding your way around as soon as possible will help you in your studies and life afterwards.

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

The most interesting part of my first term study was attending a talk of TED at UCL. The topic this time was the environment, which was interesting to me, because it was very similar to the subject coverage studied in the pre-sessional course. Finally, especially during the epidemic, experiencing a face-to-face lecture was a very rare experience.

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

The UK education system emphasises the ability of students to learn and think independently. For example, before each lecture you will be required to read relevant background materials. Secondly, integrity in academic writing is also valued. It is great that each module has a clear timetable and clear assignment requirements and learning materials before the module starts.

Which UCL residence did you live in and how was your experience?

I live in the Handel Mansions on the UCL Co-operative. I am very satisfied with the location. It is within walking distance to UCL's main buildings, the facilities are very well equipped, and it is safe as it is occupied by students. Most importantly, the value for money is excellent.