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Study Abroad at Birkbeck, University of London, England

About Birkbeck, University of London in England

  • Minimum GPA: 2.8 (4.0 scale)
  • Application deadlines: October 1 for spring semester (Jan-April)
    April 15 for fall semester (Sept-Dec)
  • Program advisor: Emma Diebold
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Program Snapshot


We're so excited that you are thinking about studying abroad at Birkbeck, University of London with IFSA-Butler. London is a thriving, eclectic city and we're sure you're going to love studying there! In addition to small, interactive and academically-challenging courses, students at Birkbeck can also explore hundreds of hands-on internships that cater to their interests and abilities.

What Birkbeck has to offer

  • An exciting curriculum developed especially for American students and based at a world-class teaching and research institution
  • Academically challenging courses and a variety of internships
  • Students are taught in Gordon Square, once occupied by the novelist Virginia Woolf and the economist John Maynard Keynes
  • Participation in IFSA-Butler's Exploring Community & Culture program
  • Part of the University of London, so students can use the University of London Union's excellent facilities
  • Opportunities to interact with British and other international students
  • Set in the Bloomsbury area of central London, the hub of the University of London federation and famous for its literary, intellectual and artistic history
  • Close to Covent Garden shopping and Soho's great nightlife


  • Housing is with other IFSA-Butler students in IFSA-Butler-operated housing in Notting Hill Gate, an easy commute to class and 10 minutes from the West End
  • Students purchase or prepare their own meals


  • Program courses are semester-length versions of courses that are part of the regular Birkbeck curriculum
  • Lecturers are Birkbeck faculty members or drawn from other colleges of the University of London
  • Most courses take advantage of London as a "living laboratory"
  • Students take four courses per semester or an internship and three courses

We look forward to working with you!



Where can I find a list of courses that the university offers?
All of the courses on offer are listed below, along with their course descriptions. Course descriptions give you a good overview of topics covered during the course. Please note that you will have to fulfill any prerequisites listed in the course description.

What if I need to take a required course?

Please be aware that IFSA-Butler cannot guarantee that your host university will offer a particular course, or that you will be allowed to take that particular course. However, if you need to take a required course, you may indicate that it is required on your course preference form. Your IFSA-Butler program advisor will communicate your needs to your host university.

Birkbeck, University of London Course Descriptions

Art History
Aspects of Modern Art in London: This course addresses the historical concept of modernity, avant-gardism, and theoretical criticism related to modernism. It examines the antecedents to modernism, including post-impressionism and surrealism. Examples are frequently drawn from works in London and surrounding areas.

British Art and Architecture in London: This course aims to give students a thorough understanding of the changing nature of the patronage of arts in and around London through a study of some of the buildings and works of art produced between 1600 and 1830. The English cult of classicism in architecture is discussed through a study of the importance of the Grand Tour and the introduction and revivals of styles based on antiquity and their application to religious, domestic and public buildings. The importance of collections of works of art and the transmission of European styles in painting is considered, together with the emergence of a British school of painting and the establishment of the Royal Academy.

Business and Economics
Globalisation and Regionalisation: This course analyzes global developments and trends in economic activity. Key issues are the movements towards breaking down trade barriers, the globalization of trade and the role of organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) in this process, the role of technology in driving world economic and trade growth, the impact of the collapse of the Communist bloc on the global economy; the role of developing economies in the new economic order, and strategies of different individual regions in coping with globalization trends.

International Business: An introduction to the environment of international business, the nature and determinants of basic international business strategies and the structural arrangements that foster the successful operations of international business. The course includes: the conception, theories and practices of international management, multinational corporate structures, a survey of the increasingly interdependent nature of business, business environments other than the U.S., and the impact of the European Union on international business strategies.

Climate Change and Sustainable Business Practice: This course analyzes the relationship between business strategy and the ecological environment. It examines the emergence of the environment as a policy issue for business and outlines effective strategies for addressing the business threats and opportunities posed. Topics include economic growth and sustainability, business response to environmental pressure groups, the European Union (EU) Fifth Environmental Action program, and green marketing and eco-labeling.

Sports Business Management: This course analyzes the economics and business management of professional sports leagues in the U.K. with particular reference to soccer leagues (with some reference to European soccer leagues and competitions where appropriate), focusing in particular on the factors that distinguish the sports industry from other types of industry.

English Literature and Drama
Modern Theatre and the London Stage: This course examines key modern dramatists and movements of late 19th and 20th century theatre in Britain and Europe to help students develop a critical understanding of major plays. Students examine text and performance, as well as the crafts involved in theatre production. The class examines directing, acting, sets, lighting, costumes, make-up and other elements. Performers and guest lecturers are invited to some sessions, and the course includes a backstage visit to a major London theatre.

The Twentieth Century British Novel
: An introduction to some of the major novelists of the 20th century (D.H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell). Emphasis is on reading texts to identify the major characteristics of the modern writers within the wider social, political and cultural contexts of the first half of the twentieth century, especially the impact of World Wars I and II.

London in Literature 1837-1984: This course aims to give students an awareness of the variety of ways in which 19th and 20th century writers have responded to the subject of London. Students will explore a number of themes that link early Victorian reflections of the city to the work of a writer including: alienation, cultural change, loss of spiritual faith, class, and the "primitive" beneath the "civilized" city. The course also includes field trips to the east end of London to explore Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper territory, and to link this with contemporary popular culture.

Shakespeare in London: This course introduces students to the plays of William Shakespeare and to the culture of theatrical performance, both now and in the Renaissance past. The course encourages students to read the plays in their contemporary context, considering the political and social circumstances in which these plays were produced. As well as looking closely at a number of Shakespeare's plays, this course will also introduce one comparative play from another Renaissance playwright, allowing students to make connections and contrasts between the work of Shakespeare and one his contemporaries. One of the opportunities offered on this course is to visit the reconstructed Globe theatre on the South Bank and to consider the differences between modern and Renaissance theatre space and experience.

The seminar programme will be devised by the incoming course tutor. However, classes might include: "The Tempest" and court drama "Richard II" and the cult of Elizabeth I "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and popular politics "Henry V" and censorship "The Merchant of Venice" and Jews in Renaissance London, and "Othello" and household service. ("Titus Andronicus' and Revenge Tragedy").

The class which introduces one other play, will complement another class on the course. So, for example, "The Tempest" would be taught in the week following one on Jonsonian masque. A class on John Webster or Thomas Kyd would be best followed by one on "Titus Andronicus." "The Merchant of Venice" would follow well from Christopher Marlowe's "Jew of Malta," etc.

London: The Growth of a Modern World City: This class looks at the history of London through the growth of its population, its buildings and its government. The course considers London's efforts to maintain its order and prevent disease in the city in the face of an explosion in its population and the existence of great wealth beside unremitting poverty. The role of the court and parliament in the city is explored, as well as the dependence of London society on the poor for its industrial and domestic labour and for the supply of food, drink, and consumer goods and services.

Media Studies
British and European Cinema: This course is composed of an introduction to the study of European cinema, concentrating on films from France, Germany, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom:

  • The early days of film in Europe through the work of the Lumiere Brothers and George Melies.
  • Russian cinema in the period after the 1917 revolution, emphasizing the work of Eisenstein and Vertov.
  • German film production in the 1920s, with particular reference to what has come to be known as Expressionist cinema. The major director to be considered is Fritz Lang.
  • The French poetic realism of the 1930s and 1940s, particularly the work of Jean Cocteau.
  • British film and the way in which it has been influenced by the documentary realist tradition. Much of the film material to be shown will come from the 1940s, but there will also be a consideration of more recent film.

Media Forms and Institutions in Britain: Using television as a focus, this course examines a range of media forms and institutions in Britain, their inter-relationships, their European context, and their relationship with U.S. forms and institutions. The course also investigates the British print media, music industry and popular culture in national and global context. Organized around screenings, lectures, seminars, workshops, a student-led debate and a visit to the Museum of Moving Image, the course examines the institutional history of British broadcasting, representations and genres.

Please contact Nikki Bruckmann to request a syllabus.

Modern British Politics: This course covers the history and functioning of political institutions and processes, the main issues in contemporary political controversies in British society, and the links between political and other institutions. Particular attention is paid to the impact of European community integration on the politics of present-day Britain.

Social Psychology: This course deals with the elements of social perception and cognition, communication, social influence, conformity, compliance, obedience, attitudes and persuasion, prejudice and discrimination, aggression, pro-social behavior, and group processes.

Modern British Society Since 1945: This course aims to give student a critical understanding of British society. Topics include the social structure and the relationship of classes, gender and race as reflected in the social institutions, changes in the family and in the patterns of work and leisure, and the policies of social control and welfare.

An internship may be taken in lieu of one taught course. The internship includes guidance and discussion designed to facilitate learning through the field assignment and to establish parameters for the related academic research project. Internships require 20 hours per week of on-site employment as well as a research project. Please see separate details. The internship is usually incorporated into your weekly timetable of Monday-Thursday. The internship must be taken for academic credit.

Course Restrictions

There are no course restrictions for this program.


How many courses am I able to take, and how do I determine U.S. semester credit hours?
You must enroll in a full course load as defined by IFSA-Butler. A full course load at Birkbeck is 16 credits for the semester (equivalent to 16 U.S. semester credit hours). Each course is worth 4 U.S. semester credit hours, so you will enroll in four courses. Rank your top four choices, along with two alternate course choices, on the course form. If you plan to do an internship, this will count as one of your four courses. You must take all courses for academic credit, and must complete all coursework and exams in order to obtain credit on the Butler University transcript.


What are the registration conditions?
You must take a full Birkbeck course load as determined by IFSA-Butler. Credit will be awarded on a Butler University transcript based on a typical U.S. full course load. All courses are graded on an A-F scale, and there is no provision for pass/fail or auditing courses unless pass/fail is the only method of assessment for the course. You are not allowed to register for online, distance education or hybrid courses.

You should also be aware that you may be charged additional fees by your home institution or host university to take or process additional credits. Taking less than a full course load may jeopardize your student status and result in personal academic repercussions and/or loss of financial aid.

The course preference form is not a registration form; it is a guideline to let your host university know which courses you are interested in taking abroad. You should discuss your course selections with your academic advisor at your home institution and have several backup choices in mind. Neither you nor the university is bound by your selections, and you will not officially register for courses until you arrive on campus.


What do I need to know about exams?
Because of the differences in the academic systems, you will not know your exam schedule until after you arrive at your host university. Please refer to your program calendar to review the exam period for your host university. Your host university's policies do not permit you to reschedule any exams, request alternate assessments or arrange to have your exams proctored in the United States. If this occurs, IFSA-Butler cannot assist you in conducting an academic record appeal for the course in which you made this arrangement. You will need to complete and submit all academic work prior to departing the program.


How will my home university know what my classes were and what grades I received?
After you have returned to the U.S., your home university will receive a Butler University transcript with the credit you earned at Birkbeck, University of London. The Butler University transcript will report the equivalent U.S. semester credit hours and letter grades. We also will send an official transcript to your permanent address.

Exploring Community & Culture

 Student praise for C&C:

"We were able to discuss current issues while bringing information from our classes to the table. My friend from college was in another study abroad program and she was jealous because they didn't have a C&C."

"At first I wasn't sure if I wanted to do it, but it really helped me to see things from a different perspective. I am pretty sure I would not have gotten the same out of my time in London without doing the C&C."

IFSA-Butler's Exploring Community & Culture program (C&C) at Birkbeck is designed to take students' study abroad experiences to another level. It encourages them to get the most out of their time abroad by blending intercultural learning with an exploration of the local community and local community groups. Selected activities will foster your intercultural learning through a series of on-site discussions and self-reflection. Through this program you will be encouraged to engage with the community in which you are living and question your own perspective of the world, while learning to appreciate similarities and differences between cultures and communities.

At Birkbeck, the C&C is a seminar certificate program which will be a complementary addition to your four courses. You will receive a total of 16 U.S. semester credit hours for the semester as well as the certificate of completion for the C&C seminar. The C&C seminar is comprised of at least eight sessions which include classroom discussion combined with field excursions designed to assist you in exploring the complexities and curiosities of London's varied neighborhoods.

Students who have participated in the C&C in past semesters have found it a great way to explore and get to know London and, with their fellow IFSA-Butler students, to learn interculturally from their everyday experiences there.

You may participate in C&C the seminar for 3 U.S. semester credit hours. The C&C seminar is comprised of class discussions combined with instructor-guided field excursions designed to assist you in exploring the complexities and curiosities of London's varied neighborhoods. Students who have participated in the C&C in past semesters have found it a great way to explore and get to know London and, with their fellow IFSA-Butler students, to learn interculturally from their everyday experiences there.


Housing Options

What are my housing options?
As a Birkbeck student, you will live at 21 Pembridge Gardens in Notting Hill. This flat is also the same location as our IFSA-Butler London office. You will live in double or triple rooms. You will also have access to a kitchen, dining area, refrigerator and ample cupboard space to allow you to cook your own meals. Bath and shower facilities are found on each floor, and there is also a television lounge. All beds are twin, and blankets (duvets) and pillows are provided. You must bring your own sheets and towels, or purchase them in London upon arrival. There are several shops and a huge mall nearby. There are no laundry facilities in the residences, but launderettes are located within walking distance. Because you will be sharing a bathroom, you may wish to bring a robe.Phones in the residences are for outgoing calls only. In cases of emergency, you can always be contacted via the U.K office phone or staff pagers. There will also be graduate residents (GR's) living in the building to take care of questions or problems you may encounter.

SINGLE ROOM REQUESTS: Single rooms are only available for students with special needs. If you have a special need that requires a single room, please let Emma Diebold know immediately.

CONVERTERS: Please do NOT bring converters to London. This is a fire code violation in your Pembridge Gardens housing, so any converters you bring will be confiscated. It is best to purchase any small electrical appliances that you need after you arrive in London.


All accommodations are self-catering. No meal plans are available.

Housing FAQs

Is my housing included in the program fee?
Yes. Your program fee includes accommodation at the university while classes are in session. You will be responsible for the cost of your meals and any commuting costs you may incur. Your housing fee includes the cost of accommodation during university breaks.

Please keep in mind that while IFSA-Butler guarantees housing, we cannot guarantee your preferences.

Do I have to pay a housing deposit?
Yes. IFSA-Butler requires a refundable housing deposit of $300 before going abroad. We will return this deposit to you after March 1 for fall programs or September 1 for spring and year programs, less any fines, damages or outstanding debts in your name.

Can I arrange my own housing?
Yes. IFSA-Butler recognizes that some students require independent housing for their time abroad. If you choose not to take advantage of our guaranteed housing, you may sign up for independent housing on the housing preference form. Once you've made this choice, we will not provide housing for you or bill you for the accommodation fee.

Please be advised that housing costs can be high abroad, and many times students living independently end up spending more money than students living in IFSA-Butler arranged housing. If you are hoping to save money by arranging housing on your own, please research your options early so you can compare costs. You must notify us of your intention to live in independent housing by the program application deadline for your term abroad, listed at the top of this page. We are not able to accommodate independent housing requests after the deadline.

Location Info

Living and Studying in London, England

About London
Population: 9 million
Location: Southeast England

City features

  • One of the most cosmopolitan, hip cities in the world, with an atmosphere of excitement and sophistication
  • A major global city with remarkable cultural, historic, artistic, political and intellectual offerings
  • Home to many universities scattered throughout different neighborhoods, each with its own atmosphere and attractions
  • A diverse population with more than 300 languages spoken within the city
  • One of the world's leading business and financial centers

Do more!

  • Use London's excellent transportation links to explore continental Europe
  • Take advantage of Britain's extensive rail system to visit other areas of the U.K.
  • Take a break from the constant bustle of London and experience the beautiful and historic regions of England

Visit London 
London On Line
London Net
Time Out: London
London Town
London Transport

Dates & Fees

Program Dates

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Important: Once you are abroad, please verify the program end date with the department(s) in which you are studying. Ending dates may vary from department to department, and you will be expected to complete all course obligations prior to your departure. Program housing is available only until the program end date.

Your program end date may change due to circumstances beyond IFSA-Butler's control. Upon arrival at your host university, be sure to verify your exam schedule and program end date. We also strongly recommend that you investigate fees and penalties associated with your airline tickets in case you need to make date or route changes.

In the United Kingdom, exams are taken under formal conditions and changes cannot be made for individuals. Exams must be taken where and when scheduled.

Program Fees

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What's included in our England program fees
Expense calculator

Fall Payment Due: July 1
Spring Payment Due:
November 15

Program Fee Bills
IFSA-Butler will send a single bill for the entire program fee, which includes tuition, services and housing. Students who opt for independent housing will not be charged the housing component of the program fee.

The housing component of our program fee is based on the average cost of local student self-catering accommodation, usually a shared room in a regular dormitory, apartment or house without any extra features.

† Housing Deposit
This program requires a housing deposit of $300. This payment is in addition to the program fee but is due on the same date. The deposit is held separately from the program fee and should be paid separately. The deposit is refunded to the student after the program, less any damages, fines or outstanding debts in the student’s name.

Personal Cost Estimates

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Expense calculator

These figures are designed to assist students with financial planning but are only estimates based on past students’ experiences at the current exchange rate. Rates are current as of 12/9/2016.

They do not include any entertainment or vacation travel costs. Meals are estimated based on the cost of a weekly standard grocery shop with one or two meals out.  If you plan to eat out once a day or more, we recommend using a higher estimate.  If you have dietary restrictions or follow a specific diet (gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, organic, etc), you may also wish to budget more due to the higher cost of specialty food items.

The above numbers are general estimates of expenses during a program abroad. We recommend taking into account your current spending habits, the cost of living in your host country and the current exchange rate. Your IFSA-Butler program advisor can be helpful as you attempt to work on a personal budget for your experience abroad.

*Student Visa: Some students will be required to obtain a student visa for the U.K. These include all full year students, any student participating in an internship and citizens of certain countries. U.S. citizens studying in the U.K. for less than six months (180 days) can enter the country as a student visitor at no cost but are not allowed to undertake an internship, paid work or unpaid volunteer activities. Detailed instructions regarding U.K. visas will be sent to all students upon acceptance.

Personal Miscellaneous: Covers general expenses of college life, including course supplies, photocopying, toiletries, snacks, personal care, etc.

Commuting: Estimates are for transportation between housing and university. Transportation for personal or recreational purposes is not included in the above estimates.

All costs are in U.S. dollars.

Meet Your IFSA-Butler Team

IFSA-Butler has a dedicated team of staff who are here to help students prepare for their program in London:

emmaProgram Advisor Emma Diebold assists with the application process and is here to answer program, cultural and academic questions before departure. Emma completed her undergraduate degree in Geography: Travel & Tourism at Ball State University. She went abroad with the BSU Geography Department to Eastern and Central Europe and has enjoyed personal travels to several destinations including Belgium, France, Ireland, Peru, Ecuador and The Bahamas. Emma joined the IFSA- Butler team to aid students who want to explore the world and advises students planning to study abroad in England. Emma can be reached at the email link above or at 800-858-0229, ext. 4258.


angelitaStudent Accounts Coordinator Angelita Shaffer assists with the financial side of study abroad and processes payments and invoices. Angelita can be reached at the email link above or at 317-940-4221.




altStudent & Parent Services Manager Donnetta Spears is available to both students and parents for travel questions and information. Donnetta has worked with IFSA-Butler since 2000, and she has traveled through parts of Europe, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand. As the mother of 4 college students (including one who studied abroad on an IFSA-Butler program), she has a deep understanding of the ins-and-outs of study abroad from a parent perspective. Donnetta can be reached at the email link above or at 317-940-4252.

Once abroad, our students are in the capable hands of our on-site office, including our resident directors. Click here to read more about Resident Directors Lynne Alvarez and Andrew Williams.

altUpon return from your study abroad program, Assistant Director for Academic Affairs Rhonda Hinkle processes your Butler University transcript and assists with any academic record appeals. Rhonda completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Evansville and received her master's degree from Bowling Green State University. She also has taken doctoral courses at Ball State University. For Rhonda, study abroad not only increased her awareness of the world around her but also ignited her passion for travel and education. Rhonda can be reached at the email link above or at 800-858-0229 ext. 4259.

Get Connected

Connect with IFSA-Butler Students

If you really want to know what it's like to study abroad, connect with IFSA-Butler alumni and students who are currently abroad on an IFSA-Butler program. Check out the following:

Student Network
Student Blogs
Experiences Abroad Videos
For Students


Birkbeck offers an opportunity for students to participate in an intensive internship option. Some of the most common internships are in arts management, business, media and communications, and politics. Past interns have earned placements at top U.S. companies, Parliament, British financial institutions, fashion designers, theatres and concert halls and prestigious media outlets.

The minimum GPA required for participating in an internship is 3.0. The internship requires students to obtain a tier 4 visa, which will cost approximately $550 (as of January 2015). The internship duration is one semester and is worth 4 U.S. semester credit hours. The internship replaces one of your courses at Birkbeck.

Participating in a Birkbeck internship involves a work assignment of two and a half days a week or a minimum of 20 hours each week, with no work commitments on Fridays. Students who register for the internship option must be prepared to make a full commitment to the internship program, as the opportunity is very time consuming. In addition to the weekly placement hours, students participating in the internship program will take a tutorial course comprised of four two-hour seminars and prepare a related academic research project that will be assessed by a Birkbeck faculty member. Your academic project carries most of the weight in determining your final grade.

An overseas coordinator arranges your placement, which is subject to a successful interview after your arrival in London. Please note that if you express interest in an internship placement and then decide to withdraw from the internship option, Birkbeck will charge a withdrawal fee of more than $1,200.

The minimum GPA required for participating in an internship is 3.0. The internship requires students to obtain a tier 4 visa, which will cost approximately $550 (as of January 2015). The internship duration is one semester and is worth 4 U.S. semester credit hours. The internship replaces one of your courses at Birkbeck.

To discuss the internship option more in depth, please call our office and speak with the Birkbeck program advisor.

Download an internship application from the Forms tab.


Students planning to study abroad at Birkbeck, University of London can apply for the Marcus Ames-Lewis Memorial Scholarship for $2,000. Download a scholarship application.

Summer Program

Birkbeck also offers a summer study opportunity. The summer program offers a wide selection of courses, a social program of events and activities and an amazing experience in the heart of London. Click here to learn more.

Institute for Study Abroad, Alliance For Global Education and MORE CULTURE. LESS SHOCK. are registered marks of the Institute for Study Abroad, Inc.