Natural Sciences degrees


Study Abroad

Natural Sciences students are eligible to apply to spend a year abroad during their third year of the MSci programme, although places are highly competitive.  To apply for study abroad, you must to achieve a first class grade average in your first year (70%+), and to be registered for the 4-year MSci programme.  You are expected to maintain a first class grade average for your second year and this is reviewed after results and examinations at the end of second year.

Natural Sciences students should be aware that not every applicant will be successful.  There is also the possibility that you might be offered an alternative place which is not on your list of choices. Natural Sciences students have recently studied abroad at the following universities:

  • McGill University
  • University of Toronto
  • Caltech
  • John Hopkins University
  • University of Washington
  • National University of Singapore
  • University of Western Australia
  • University of Sydney

Application process

During the first term of the second year, students should attend one of the Study Abroad Information sessions (there are two dates), and the evening Study Abroad Fair. Both the hard copy of the Study Abroad Approval Form and the on-line UCL Exchange Application Form must be completed in the early part of December, and there is a lot of research for you to do before then.

Having researched the universities available to Natural Sciences, students should research the modules on offer at their proposed universities extremely carefully, and attempt to match modules abroad with those that they would otherwise take at UCL, for both major and minor streams. This includes the Literature Project, where possible. This information is not always easy to locate, but you should NOT contact the university directly yourself. Check that your proposed modules are of the correct level (i.e. year 3), that you have the equivalent pre-requisites to take the course, and that you will be able to return to UCL suitably equipped to take year 4 modules.

The proposed modules should then be agreed with your Stream Rep, and signed off by them on the Study Abroad Approval Form. Only when there are two Stream Rep signatures on this form will the Study Abroad Tutor for Natural Sciences (currently Dr Ali Mozaffari) countersign the document for submission. You should start this process as early as you can in Term 1 of Year 2.

The UCL Exchange Application Form will become available on-line in November, and is due for submission in early December. You will need to write about why you want to go abroad, what you will get out of it, why you would make a good ambassador for UCL, and what challenges you anticipate if successful. You will also need to find someone to act as your referee; make sure you ask them in advance.

The Study Abroad Office staff will review the on-line applications during January, and you should hear whether you have been successful by the end of the month.

Challenges facing Natural Sciences students

The following list includes some of the challenges facing Study Abroad students, and particularly interdisciplinary students from a degree programme such as Natural Sciences.

  • UCL exchange universities generally do not have the equivalent of a Natural Sciences degree; they may not therefore be familiar with the issues faced by students taking two subjects.
  • The structure of the degrees may be different from UCL, and there may well be different methods of teaching and assessment as well as more on-going assessment than at UCL.
  • Semesters in New Zealand & Australia are reversed compared to UCL, so you will be doing “term 2” courses before “term 1” courses, which may rule out modules with certain pre-requisities.
  • The timetable may not permit you to take the most suitable modules, and you may have to select something different once you arrive.
  • If you get a recommendation for a place from the Study Abroad Office, you may still have to apply to the university directly, the Study Abroad office will advise you of the procedure.
  • Your grades and courses abroad have to be packaged into generic MAPS Study Abroad modules at UCL, and numerical marks may differ from those allocated by the other university, for standardization purposes.
  • The weighting for a student on a year abroad is the same as those just on the MSci programme, at 1 : 3 : 5 : 5.

More information