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Unit information: Semester Abroad in 2020/21

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Semester Abroad
Unit code THRS30179
Credit points 60
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. D'Costa
Open unit status Not open

60% minimum average mark for year 2 of MArt in Religion and Theology.

If going to a university where teaching is practised in a language other than English, students must show proficiency in that language at C/4 level or equivalent - usually by successful completion of first year language unit(s) taken at the University of Bristol. A language test will be undertaken if no formal qualifications are presented (e.g. by someone who is bilingual).



School/department Department of Religion and Theology
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The academic session is spent at a foreign higher education institution which has a student exchange agreement with the University of Bristol. The current institutions are: Germany (Heidelberg University), Austria (Karl-Franzens-University, Graz), the United States of America (Universities of Rochester, Richmond, North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Canada (McMaster and McGill Universities), the Republic of Ireland (University of Dublin, Trinity College), the Netherlands (Leiden), and Belgium (KU Leuven). All the programmes in these institutions allow student progression in either a single religion specialism or a dual religion specialism or to add new specialisms to the specialisms already undertaken in Bristol.

As a formative year of personal as well as academic development, the Year Abroad moves students into an environment where they will be required to take greater ownership of their learning experiences, whilst at the same time developing the resourcefulness and adaptability that is necessary to living and working abroad. They will have be involved in internationalisation and new cultural experiences that will enhance their academic and personal profile, skills, and experience.

Aims: to develop intellectual breadth and depth through pursuing the study of religions and methodologies already begun at UoB or developing new interests outside of the UoB programme. The change of teaching staff, intellectual culture, assessment patterns, and working within a different international and intellectual perspective all enhance the student learning and study process. Many of the places allow in depth courses on materials already engaged with at level 1 and 2, so these allow for high levels of specialism if that is what the student wishes to pursue.

The unit aims:

  • to impart knowledge and skills in the subject pathway and complementary optional units at level H/6 as preparation for the fourth year of the MArts in Religion and Theology with Year Abroad
  • to develop qualities of independence, self-awareness, and self-organisation, and encourage individual approaches to learning
  • to develop intercultural awareness by the experience of living and studying in a non-UK environment

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit successful students will be able to demonstrate: 1) knowledge and skills in their subject pathway and optional units at level H/6 2) enhanced familiarity with another country’s language and/or culture 3) a firm basis for advancing to level M work in the fourth year of the programme 4) enhanced understanding of themselves and their goals as students

Teaching details

Methods of teaching will vary widely according to the institution in which the study abroad is pursued.

To facilitate student preparation prior to departure, academic and administrative support is provided as follows:

(a) one 2-hour introductory session (Thinking About the Year Abroad) at the end of Year 1;

(b) one 30-minute presentation on the Year Abroad at the start of the Year 2 academic session, introducing the Year Abroad Handbooks;

(c) use of Consultation Hours as required to consider individual requirements;

(d) one half-day pre-departure briefing in March of Year 2, organised by the SWAP Team (Study and Work Abroad Placement) from the International Office, to address practical aspects of the Year Abroad;

(e) online tutorials through Blackboard during the second semester of Year 2 on how to prepare for the Year Abroad;

(f) one half-day pre-departure briefing at the end of Year 2 to review, and to brief students on the Reflective Essay.

All relevant presentations, handbooks, and other information (including a model for the Reflective Essay, and in due course annotated examples of successful student essays, and testimonials from Year 4 students) will be posted on a Year Abroad webpage. Their Academic Personal Tutor will contact them at four different junctures throughout the year to monitor their progress, and will also be available for academic consultation as required. Funding for pastoral visits is available from the International Office if required.

Assessment Details

Summative reflective diary of 2000 words (10%) [ILOs 2 and 4] Final aggregated mark from units taken at an overseas university during the year abroad (90%) [ILOs 1 and 3]

Reading and References

Lidstone, and C. Rueckert, The Study Abroad Handbook (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)

J.A. Moon, Learning Journals: A Handbook for Reflective Practice and Professional Development, 2nd edn (London: Routledge, 2006)

Specialist books recommended by academic tutor depending on chosen place of study.