Study Abroad in Scotland

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A Guide to Studying Abroad in Scotland

You need a “braveheart” to study abroad in Scotland: it’s a frightening land where people eat haggis, lochs are inhabited by monsters, and all castles are haunted. Luckily, it’s also full of high-quality academics, sports, and a unique cuisine (Scots eat more than just sheep intestines). Studying abroad in Scotland is like stepping into a history book; it’s full of stories of Vikings, Romans, and Scottish kings. The noble history of the nation has left a legacy of stunning buildings, which you might be lucky enough to attend classes in. Take the leap and study abroad in Scotland and you’ll get a first-class education in how to roll your ‘r’s.


Scotland is as colorful as a tartan kilt; with every region offering something different for study abroad students, you can choose from a modern metropolis, regal architecture, or starkly beautiful landscapes for your study abroad experience. 

Edinburgh is the cradle of Scotland’s history, and beautiful to boot. Edinburgh’s tall, elegant buildings meld seamlessly into the rocky cliffs above the North Sea. The centerpiece of the city is the stunning medieval castle, which keeps watch over the town laid out below it. Don’t let the olden-day appearance put you off though; Scotland’s capital is a lively city, and allegedly has more pubs and restaurants per capita than any other UK city.  It is also a great jumping-off point for trips to the Highlands, where you can photograph stunning mountainous landscapes, historic castles, and Loch Ness, or jaunts to some of the Scottish islands, such as the Isle of Skye. 

Feisty Glasgow might not be as beautiful as Edinburgh, but it is an innovative, modern city which still retains its traditional roots. Scotland’s best live music scene takes places in earthy pubs, alongside stylish bars and world-class restaurants. The city’s industrial heritage mixes a little grit with the handsome Victorian buildings that Glasgow is famous for, making a city that is both sophisticated and down-to-earth, qualities that make it a fantastic second home for international students. 

Those familiar with the story of William Wallace, a hero during the Wars of Scottish Independence (you might know him better as the character Mel Gibson plays in Braveheart) should visit the monument to this “Guardian of Scotland” in Stirling. It is the site of the Battle of Stirling Bridge, where Wallace helped to defeat the English army. Wander through the ages as you explore the fantastically preserved Old Town, and the cobbled streets that wind up to the ramparts of the brooding Stirling Castle.

Study Abroad Programs in Scotland

Studying abroad in Scotland will give you invaluable insight into a different culture, geography, and history than you’d ever find in your home country. Therefore, there are many subjects that are enriched simply by being immersed in Scottish culture; consequently, arts and humanities are among the most popular fields of study in Scotland. With the outstanding quality of education available, you will be able to find a course suited to every major if you study in Scotland. 

History students can immerse themselves in Scotland’s history by visiting the nation’s numerous (and free) museums, such as the National Museum, the Police Museum, and the Portrait Museum. Art history students can benefit greatly from Scotland’s artistic heritage (and yes, more free museums). Maybe it’s because Macbeth was Scottish, but theater and the performing arts are embraced wholeheartedly by the Scots, giving students the chance to experience theatrical influences in daily life. Anthropology majors will no doubt thrive in the culture-rich environment of Scotland too. With the presence of the Scottish Parliament, and an ongoing conversation about Scottish independence, Scotland is also an ideal destination for political science students. 

Course structure largely depends on the program or school you enroll in, but as the school years are more or less the same as North American term times. It is possible to study in Scotland year round, so it’s easy to slot in for a spring, fall, winter, or summer semester, or even a whole academic year.

Scholarships & Costs

Funnily enough, Scotland has its own pound (same value, different designs). You will find your sterling goes a little further in Scotland than in other parts of the UK, but is still fairly pricy to study abroad in Scotland.

Living costs are usually between £700 and £1000 per month for students, including rent, food, and expenses like stationery and mobile phone plans. Some study abroad program providers may cover accommodation and other costs in program fees, so be sure to determine what you will receive so you know what you will have to budget for when you arrive. You will want to take some savings with you, to cover outings and other social costs, so don’t forget to add this to your budget. To give you an idea of the prices of a few necessities, a student cinema ticket costs around £8, a restaurant meal is £10 to £15, and a pint of beer is around £3. 

It is always a good idea to investigate scholarships you may be eligible for when studying in Scotland. Your host institution may offer financial aid for selected foreign students or you might be able to find a more general scholarship under the GoAbroad Scholarship Directory, for starters. There are a range of scholarships available to students who plan to study in Scotland, based on demographics, athletics, academics, and needs, so DO take advantage of them.

Accommodation & Visas

Will you be living in a croft? A stone blackhouse? A medieval castle? What exactly is it like to live in Scotland, and how do you get a visa to do it? 

Don’t worry, Scottish housing has improved a lot since the days of thatched roofs and dry-stone walls. Housing for international students studying in Scotland, whether provided by your program or sourced independently, usually means living in shared flats. You will have your own sleeping space, but share a kitchen, living area, and bathrooms with flatmates, who may be other international students or locals. Either way, you will bond with your housemates while cooking meals together, making travel plans, and learning to use the well-oiled public transportation system, all of which will enhance your study abroad experience in Scotland.

Students from a country within the European Union or European Economic Area do not need a visa to study abroad in Scotland. Students from all other countries are not so lucky, and will need to apply for a visa to study in the UK legally. The type of visa you need will vary depending on your age, chosen course of study, and the length of your study abroad program in Scotland. The best way to determine the appropriate visa for your individual situation is to contact an Embassy of the United Kingdom in your home country.

Benefits & Challenges

Obviously, the best part about studying abroad in Scotland is that you can pretend you’re studying at Hogwarts. It’s no secret that J. K. Rowling was inspired by Edinburgh (if you look in the right places, you can find Tom Riddle’s grave and the turreted school that bears a striking similarity to Hogwarts) and walking through the narrow, cobbled streets it’s easy to imagine you are on your way herbology instead of biology.

On a more serious note, you will also get access to excellent quality education. University education has been available in Scotland since the 15th century, so it is safe to say they have plenty of experience educating young scholars. Today, Scotland’s universities are amongst some of the best in the world and draw students from all over the globe. You will be guaranteed an exceptional learning experience and benefit from a thriving community of fellow international students.

You can also take advantage of a multitude of outdoors activities. Small and compact, Scotland is easy to travel, with dozens of possible weekend and holiday destinations. Studying abroad in Scotland means you will be positioned to discover the unique beauty of the Scottish Highlands, the Scottish Isles, and the many mysterious lochs.

Kilts, bagpipes, indecipherable accents, and deep fried Mars bars: Scotland can be confusing at times, but it is loveable always. For sure, studying abroad in the land of the Scots is an experience you cannae miss!

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A Guide To
Studying Abroad in Scotland


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