Forum study

Academic programme

All of our courses are accredited and provided by faculty within our colleges with input from specialist external speakers and researchers. We try to provide a range of courses to bring people from all walks of life together and offer them the chance to learn from each other as well as our staff.

Our courses are intermediate or advanced undergraduate levels and so are suitable for anyone who has completed a year of undergraduate study or more. We also welcome Postgraduate students and professionals onto our courses in each area.

Each course is accredited at 15 Exeter credits and 7.5 ECTS which is equivalent to a semester module and courses typically transfer as 3 credits in the USA.  Courses are intermediate or advanced level undergraduate modules open to students who have completed at least one year of university education.  While the majority of our students are undergraduate students, we also welcome a large number of postgraduate students each year.

Each course is designed to be 150 hours in total with 48 hours of academic contact time. You are expected to complete pre-course readings as well as individual study before and after each academic session.

The courses are typically structured in the following way:

  • 10 hours of pre-course reading
  • 24 hours of lectures
  • 24 hours of seminars
  • 2 hours of student group presentations
  • 4 hours of field trips
  • 4 hours of Academic Writing Skills
  • 40 hours of research, reading and essay preparation
  • 42 hours of individual study, lecture readings and group study

There are usually 2 taught sessions per day, between 10am and 3pm, and you should expect to complete at least two hours of independent study each day in preparation for these sessions.

A syllabus and timetable with further details of the schedule and content is sent to each successful applicant.

Teaching will be delivered through a mix of lectures, seminars, labs, debates and IT sessions depending on your chosen subject. Each course is coordinated by a member of faculty who will be available throughout the programme. There may also be contributions from faculty who may be from different academic departments but who are experts on their particular topic. It is this interdisciplinary approach which will give you a comprehensive view of your chosen subject.

The aim of our teaching is not to tell you the ‘correct’ answer, but to explain the main points of a topic and encourage debate. This helps you to understand the different arguments, make judgements about their merits and learn to analyse a topic critically.

Our teaching style and ethos means that you will become a partner in the learning process. Classes are delivered to small groups, encouraging all students to participate and actively contribute to the programme. Participation is an important part of the learning process and it is important to do some reading before each class, so that you can follow and contribute to the discussion.

The course descriptions mostly include a key text which aims to give you an idea of the level of the course and content which will be covered.  Successful applicants will be sent a syllabus with details of any reading to be completed before the course starts so that you can get the most out of the course from the first day. During the course, readings to help you prepare for each class will be posted to ELE, our virtual learning environment (i.e. moodle).

An important part of UK academic culture is independent study.  This usually involves working on your own or in a small groups to research a topic and contribute to a seminar.  Independent study is intended to develop skills such as critical analysis and problem-solving to help develop your own ideas.  Most of the courses include group work designed to encourage team-working skills.  As groups will include students from different countries, it is a good way of learning about working in a multi-cultural environment.

The format of your assessment will depend on your chosen subject but will include a piece of ‘formative’ assessment early in the programme which will help you complete final assessments and achieve the best possible grade.  The final assessments consist of a presentation on the final day of the programme and/or written assignment due either by the end of the programme or within 2 weeks of the end of the programme.

Many students are able to take summer school courses for credit and each course has been accredited at 15 Exeter credits and 7.5 ECTS. North American universities generally award 3 credits.  If you wish to receive credit for your course please check with your academic advisor or international office at your home institution regarding transfer policies before you apply.  We will be happy to supply any additional information that they need. 

Once you have registered after arriving in Exeter, you will have full access to our IT network and library.  The Forum Library is at the heart of the campus and houses over 1 million books, journals and e-books.  It is open 24/7 and also contains 3 computer clusters and study spaces for independent and group study.

The International Summer School provided me with a unique experience wherein I was able to gain in-depth knowledge about a field in which I am passionate, while simultaneously interacting with people and their views from around the world.  This has enabled me to look at problems with a more open mind.

Dominique Kren, American University