University of Kent Psychology Study Abroad 

Program Description and Objectives

  • This program will be a direct-enrollment program at the University of Kent in Canterbury (UKC) targeted primarily at MSU psychology majors, but other majors are welcome.
  • The Department of Psychology at UKC is a strong one, with particular strengths in the fields of social, cognitive, and developmental psychology. The Department’s excellent faculty is also an international one, with many getting their primary training outside of the UK.
  • The program seeks to expose students to knowledge, concepts, and/or experiences that reflect a different cultural frame of reference, and stimulate students’ interest in cross-cultural, international, and comparative learning, to accelerate students’ personal growth, especially by expanding their ability to interact in unfamiliar situations, to develop students’ skills for relating to culturally different others, and to provide opportunities to compare and contrast host country customs, values, and traditions with their own.
  • UKC has a number of characteristics that make it particularly well suited to meet such objectives. UKC has a vibrant and extensive set of study abroad programs, with over 100 European partner institutions and with 16 American universities (including 3 Big Ten universities; viz. Indiana University; Purdue University; Penn State University). As a consequence, ~20% of UKC’s students are non-British. Hence, MSU students studying at UKC will have frequent and varied contact not only with local (i.e., British) students, but with students from a wide variety of cultures and nationalities (over 130 nations).

Student Qualifications

  • MSU students who have successfully completed the first half of their Sophomore year requirements with a GPA of 2.75 or higher may be eligible to participate in the program.
  • Students must also have demonstrated a proficiency in spoken and written English. For students whose first language is not English applying to do international study at UKC, this is demonstrable with an average of 6.5 on IELTS (with 6.0 in Reading and 6.0 in Writing), or TOEFL scores of 580 (paper-based), 237 (computer based), or 85 (internet-based).

Program Length

·         There are two options for length of stay at Kent. Regular full-time students at UKC take all their final exams (for the whole academic year) during the 6 week Summer term (For UKC's academic calendar see https://www.kent.ac.uk/academic/University-term-dates/Menutermdates.html). Thus, in theory, MSU students taking part in this program would be at UKC for 12 weeks during the Spring Term, on break for 4 weeks between terms, and then back to take final exams during the 6-week Summer term. However, many UKC courses (or modules, as they're known there) have a provision allowing short-term, visiting students to complete their course work during the 12-week regular term (the Spring term for this program), eliminating the need to return for the Summer term. The UKC Psychology Department has given assurances that this option would apply to all psychology courses taken by our students in this program, and the option will definitely be available to those taking SP636 (the MSU ISS course option at Kent). So, for students taking only psych coursework AND those taking non-psych courses where this option is offered, the program would only last 12 weeks.

·         Those taking non-psych courses where this option is not offered would be in an 18 week program (with a 4 week break inserted).

·         So, the length of the program would depend on what courses a student chose to take. With a bit of planning one could, without too much trouble, put together a course of study that would not require returning for the Summer term.

Handbooks for Participants

·         UKC’s many foreign partners have developed materials to assist their students during their visits to UKC. The UKC-program sponsored by Indiana University has developed very detailed handbooks to assist students in every aspect of planning and completing their visits to UKC. (Please note that a few aspects of the content in these handbooks is specific to the Indiana programs [e.g., an option to attend in the Fall Term], but most of the information is equally useful to an MSU student participating in our program.)

·         For a general description of what it is like to be an American student studying at UKC, see http://www.indiana.edu/~overseas/programs/handbooks/canterbury.pdf

·         For a description of many of the tasks required to get to and settle in at UKC, see http://www.indiana.edu/~overseas/programs/handbooks/Gettingstarted.pdf

Course Options at Kent

MSU Psychology Majors

  • It is likely that the bulk of these students’ coursework will be drawn from Stage 2 (intermediate undergraduate level, survey coursework) or Stage 3 (advanced undergraduate level, topical coursework) in UKC’s Department of Psychology. The former, Stage 2 courses are roughly equivalent to 200-level survey courses offered at MSU (e.g., PSY 200, Cognitive Psychology: PSY 236, Personality Psychology). The latter, Stage 3 courses are more equivalent to 300- and 400-level MSU courses (e.g., PSY 424, Child and Family Psychopathology; PSY 441, Interpersonal Behavior and Groups). Those students who need or want to fulfill an ISS requirement will also be able to do so by taking SP636, the UKC equivalent of MSU’s ISS 305 when it is offered.
  • A complete list of available UKC Psychology courses (Level 2 and 3, offered during the Spring Term) and their MSU PSY and ISS equivalencies may be found here. A description of all UKC Psychology undergraduate courses (modules) may be found here. You can determine what the course objectives are, how grades will be determined, and whether the instuctor routinely offers the option to complete your course work without returning to take an exam during the Summer Term (you may also contact the instructor directly to inquire about this). MSU Psychology majors should consult with the Undergraudate Advisors of the MSU Department of Psychology to make sure that your preferred courses at UKC will fit well with your general study plan at MSU.
  • In addition to these psychology courses, there are many other undergraduate courses (called modules at UKC) which a Psychology major might want to consider as elective subjects. A full description of all undergraduate modules at UKC available for short-term study may be accessed here. Please note that some of these non-psychology modules could require you to take a final exam during UKC’s 4-week Summer Term (see Program Length description for more details), although one can, through suitable preparation, choose modules that can be completed during the 12-week Spring Term (see Course Selection for more information).

Non-Psychology Majors

    Although this program has been tailored to the needs of MSU Psychology majors, students with other majors may also participate. There are over 400 undergraduate courses which an MSU non-Psychology major might want to consider taking. A full description of all undergraduate modules at UKC may be accessed here.  You can determine what the course objectives are, how grades will be determined, and whether the instuctor routinely offers the option to complete your course work without returning to take an exam during the Summer Term (you may also contact the instructor directly to inquire about this).
  • Again, please note that some of these non-psychology modules could require you to take a final exam during UKC’s 4-week Summer Term.

Studying at a British University

·         In the Humanities and Social Sciences, some courses consist of a large lecture session with accompanying small seminars, while others are offered exclusively in seminar format. Natural science courses consist of lectures and labs. In British lecture-seminar courses, the seminar is more important than the lecture, and attendance at seminars is compulsory. Grades in the lecture-seminar courses are based on performance in the seminars, most of which require two ten-page essays (term papers) per term. Seminars typically include informal presentations by the instructor, with student response, discussion, reports and essays.

·         Courses meet less frequently than in the U.S., which requires self-discipline to keep up with the required reading.

·         Your professors at UKC will be strict about deadlines to submit essays; students strongly advise that you meet the deadlines so that you plan ahead and do not find yourself overwhelmed by a pile of essays to submit at the end of the year.

·         Here’s how one Indiana University (IU) student described the difference between studying in the US and in Britian.

“British classes are not as structured as American classes. This is probably the hardest thing to get used to; this is where you can waste a lot of time, or have a very productive year. At IU there is usually little question of what to do with your time; certain doom looms if you do not do certain things by certain times. That kind of pressure is totally absent here. On the other hand, this lack of structure allows you to probe more deeply into a subject, to branch off in di­rections that interest you, to determine your own pace and direction. But it is a freedom that can be hard to adjust to; at times you probably will miss the simplicity of having to do specific things.”

·         University instructors in Britain are referred to as “lecturers.” The term “professor” is reserved for those who actually hold professorships (usually only a few in any field). Find out the appropriate title for your instructors. You may find that the relationship between lecturer and student is often less formal than at large American universities. This is true in class as well as out. The system of seminars encourages students and teachers to get to know each other and to work together closely. However, in courses consisting of lectures and seminars, the actual lectures are fairly formal and impersonal, without student participation. Professors will have office hours, although they may be more limited than you are used to in the U.S.

Grading & Textbooks

·         Different modules weigh different inputs in determining your course grade. You need to study the module description for this information.

·         The range of grades in the British university system differs markedly from the range of grades in the U.S. Although there is a 100 point scale, grades above 70 are rare. You should strive for grades in the 70-55 range, which fall within MSU’s A-B range. Faculty also use “class” designations: I = excellent, II.i = very good, II.ii = good, III = average, Pass and Fail.

·         The grade conversion chart between UKC numeric grades and approximate US letter grades can be found on the MSU Registrar's website under Study Abroad Partner Programs.

·         Most classes have long book lists, but you are not expected to read all of them, and you certainly are not expected to buy all of them. How much you spend on books depends on how interested you are in having them on hand, how much demand there is for the library copies, whether the library has them at all, etc. Photocopying journal articles for class is a good idea but may become costly.

Course Selection

·         You must take a full course load during the term. At Kent all undergraduate degree programs comprise 120 study credits per academic year, and the modules are usually weighted at 15 or 30 credits (or, respectively 4 or 8 U.S. credit hours). For most MSU students in this program, this would mean you would take 4 modules, each worth 15 UKC credits, for a full load of 60 UKC study credits. These will then translate into 16 MSU credits.

·         If you want to take non-Psychology courses, you may also have to sit for exams during the Summer Session. When selecting your modules, if you do not want to return to take an exam during the Summer Term, you must be sure that the course instructor will give you the option of completing all course work during the 12-week Spring term. [This option is available to all students in the program taking Psychology Stage II and III modules.] If you are given this option, you will be usually be graded based on a combination of written assignments and class work (although some modules may also include special examinations that substitutes for the regular final examination, normally given during the Summer Term). Study the module description and if there is any doubt about the availability of this option, contact the course instructor by email.

·         When you send your application to Kent, they will have you complete a scheduling form with your preferred classes and alternate choices. If you are going to take courses in the natural or mathematical sciences, your schedule will not be finalized until you arrive at Kent.

·         Kent may allow you to change modules during the first couple of weeks of the term, but change will be difficult once a course is full. In lecture modules with required seminars, you may be able to change seminar leaders within the same course. See your Kent advisor to make such changes.

Basic Application Proceedures

  • If you’d like to apply, the first application is to the MSU Office of Study Abroad (OSA). You can apply on-line here. The application deadline for the spring semester is October 15, but applying early is recommended.
  • There is also financial assistance (e.g., scholarships) available for MSU study abroad programs. You can find general information and an application form here. You are advised to “submit your scholarship application before the deadline corresponding to your program”. [That deadline is October 15, for participating in the Spring program.]
  • If you are accepted for the program, you will next need to meet with the OSA’s coordinator for the program. The coordinator is Max Chappuis (chappui1@isp.msu.edu, 517-353-8920) and his office is in Room 105 of the International Center. Max will have information about just what you’ll need to do to complete the application process.
  • You should also meet with your academic advisor to plan the courses you’ll take at the University of Kent and how they’ll fit into your whole study plan and major/minor requirements. You should also discuss possible choices of elective courses. You will need to have a list of the UKC courses you would like to take to fill in your Provisional Module Registration Form (see here for a copy); this will be part of the materials you will send to UKC to complete your application.
  • The next important step is sending application materials to the University of Kent. You will find a description of what you need to send here. Basically, you need to send the following:

1.       a completed Exchange or short-termapplication form (pdf)

2.       a current photograph

3.       a provisional module registration form (pdf)

4.       full certified transcripts of your academic achievements/results to date (that is, your prior undergradute transcripts)

5.       a letter from a teacher who is familiar with your academic work at MSU

6.       a personal statement (you can use the statement you wrote for your MSU application).

[If you want to participate in the Spring program, the deadline for getting all these to Hazel Lander (h.lander@kent.ac.uk) at the University of Kent is October 30, but to have preference on housing, this process should take place in early fall.]

·         Although the application materials described above need to be processed before an application for accommodations (room & board) at UKC can be approved, you are also supposed to submit your application for accommodations before November 30. The various on-campus accommodation options are described here. Once you’ve decided on the accommodations you’d like, you need to apply on-line.

·         You must also apply for a Student Visitor Visa to study in the UK. You can get information at the Office of Study Abroad and from their website.

·         There are also official requirements for establishing your financial ability to study in the UK. These are in flux and you are advised to consult with Max Chappuis to know what you’ll need to meet this requirement.

·         This list of application steps is not complete. You will need to consult with the Office of Study Abroad to cover all the steps necessary to complete your application and prepare for your time in Kent.

Housing Options at UKC On campus accommodation is offered to all short-term students at UKC, although off-campus apartments are also an option. On-campus accommodation is either a room in one of the colleges, or in self-catering flats or houses with several bedrooms in each. You can see descriptions of all these options here. Nearly one third of the accommodations are en suite. The deadline for housing applications for the Spring Term is November 30 of the prior year.


·         College rooms. Housing is limited at the University, so college rooms are allocated primarily to first-year and overseas students. The rooms are singles, with a bed, two chairs, desk, closet and (usually) a sink. There are shared shower, bath, and toilet facilities on each corridor. Breakfast is included in the cost of the room, but you pay separately for all other meals (typically at one of the student cafeterias). Blankets and pillows and maid service are included in the housing fee, but sheets and towels are not. Rooms do not have telephones, and storage space is limited. Rental refrigerators are not permitted. All rooms have internet access (which opens up internet phone service options, e.g., Skype; Magic-Jack). College rooms must be vacated during vacation periods. However, if you have arranged to complete all your work during the 12-week Spring Term, this is an efficient housing option.

·         Student apartments. These self-catering accommodations, called Park Wood Courts and Darwin Houses, are on campus and fully furnished. Each modern, terraced, two-story house consists of five bedrooms with shared kitchen and shower facilities. Self-catering apartments are attractive because you can prepare your own food there, while also keeping the option of eating in any college cafeteria. Moreover, rooms do not have to be vacated during vacations. There is one telephone (for campus calls only) available per house of five students.

·         Meals. The University provides a range of catering facilities from traditional dining halls to bistros, and other bars, shops and snack machines across campus. There is a considerable variety of food available, from sandwiches to roast dinners, including national and international cuisines. Basic groceries and other incidentals may be purchased at one of the campus shops, located near the Student Union in the center of campus. There are also large groceries (e.g., Tesco; Waitrose) nearby off campus for more bulk shopping.

·         For more detailed information, see www.kent.ac.uk/accommodation/ for UKC student housing, and www.kent.ac.uk/catering/ for food/catering options.

 

Off campus accommodation. Complete descriptions of off-campus options and advice can be found here.

Housing Costs

·         A complete list of on-campus accommodation costs may be accessed http://www.kent.ac.uk/.

·         The UKC’s Student Finance webpage suggests that off-campus accommodation is somewhat less expensive than on-campus accommodation but not usually recommended for a new student.

General Information

·         A rich source of information about the University is its web page, http://www.kent.ac.uk/ .

·         UKC is a relatively young university, founded in the mid-1960s. It is located on a beautiful and park-like 300-acre campus overlooking the ancient cathedral city of Canterbury.

·         About 18,000 students attend the University of Kent’s 3 campuses, most of them at the main campus in Canterbury.

·         There are three faculties (Humanities, Sciences, Social Sciences) including 21 schools or departments.

·         Especially important to this program is UKC’s School of Psychology (see here for their webpage). The Department of Psychology at UKC is a strong one, with particular strengths in the fields of social, cognitive, and developmental psychology. The Department’s excellent faculty is also an international one, with many getting their primary training outside of the UK. . The undergraduate psychology programs at UKC are accredited by the British Psychological Society. The Department of Psychology was rated as the 8th best in the UK (by both the Guardian University Guide 2009 and the 2007 National Student Survey). The social psychology research group of the Department of Psychology received the highest possible rating (5*) in the last national assessment.

Student Life

·         The UKC campus is self-contained with nearly everything required for day-to-day study and life available on campus. It is made up of five residential colleges, each of which has student sleeping rooms, faculty offices, classrooms, lounges, pubs, small libraries and dining halls. In addition, the university has a central library, a theater, a gymnasium, a book shop, self-catering accommodations, and a small student union. The offices of several banks are housed on campus, including ATMs.

·         UKC offers lectures, film series, plays, clubs, rock band performances and other activities. The gymnasium has basketball and handball courts, and there are outdoor playing fields on the campus. At “Freshers' Fair” during welcome week, students have an opportunity to find out about more than one hundred societies and clubs—everything from hiking and bicycling to theater, singing, belly dancing, medieval warfare reenactment, and debating societies. Students may register for as many activities as they like. Since they do not have to pay membership dues right away, they can attend a few initial meetings and discover which activities are worthwhile. These societies provide one of the best ways to meet English students. The Kent Union provides information regarding student activities, including volunteer opportunities in the Canterbury community. Volunteerism is a very effective means of getting involved in British society.

·         The campus is a 20 minute walk, or 10 minute bus ride, from Canterbury city centre. There are bus stops at several locations around the Canterbury campus. Canterbury of course, has a fascinating and significant history that students may explore in its cathedral, museums, and libraries. From Canterbury, one may readily explore the Kentish countryside (and its classic villages, castles, walking/cycling trails, orchards and vineyards), the English Channel coast, the Thames estuary, the Normandy coast (via a short Chunnel train ride from Folkestone), and beyond.

·         An excellent network of transport links connects East Kent with London and mainland Europe. London is only 60 miles away and you can reach London Victoria, Charing Cross, Waterloo East and London Bridge by train in just 90 minutes. The Channel ports are less than 20 miles away and Calais or Boulogne are approximately 75 minutes by ferry from Dover, Folkestone and Ramsgate. It is only 20 minutes train ride to the Eurostar terminal at Ashford International. From there you can be in Paris in about two hours. The Channel Tunnel at Folkestone is approximately 30 minutes drive away. The nearest main airport is Gatwick, with good local motorway connections.