Georgia - University of Edinburgh

B Law/Arts
Semester 1, 2019

Academic experience

At UQ I study Arts/Law with a major in Political science, yet while I was at Edinburgh I studied three law courses - Introduction to Criminal Justice, Governance of the European Union and Slavery in Eighteenth Century Scotland. Although all of these courses were within the law school, they were not like typical law subjects that you might find at UQ. They were far more like Political Science or history courses, and there was no expectation that you memorised (or even knew!) cases or legislation. Two of my courses, Governance and Slavery, were, much to my surprise, honours level courses, however they were not too different from normal courses, just the assignments were a bit longer. Classes at Edinburgh tend to be quite small - my Governance class only had 5 people - and the learning is more self-directed than at UQ with far fewer contact hours. The marking system appears more severe than at UQ, however 40% is a pass. 

The enrolment process before I got to Edinburgh was a bit stressful - trying to line up course approvals from UQ and available subjects from Edinburgh. It is also worth noting that Edinburgh has a cap on how many visiting students can take a class, so whilst there may still be space free, the visiting student quota may already be filled. However, once I got to Edinburgh the process was really simple and the visiting student office immediately sorted out my classes.

Personal experience

The best thing I gained from exchange were the friendships I made. Exchange is a strange bubble in time, and strong friendships are made very quickly often with people you would never otherwise meet in day-to-day life in Brisbane. Exchange is also a really easy and largely stress-free way to experience living overseas. I have lived out of home before, so for me it was more about living in and navigating a new country, however if this is your first time living out of home you can also get to experience the mundane experiences of independence in a far more exciting environment. Grocery shopping in Edinburgh will always be infinitely more interesting than in Brisbane. It was also great to be able to easily and cheaply travel throughout Europe but also have a home base close by. As travel was so simple and affordable I travelled to a number of countries that I wouldn’t ordinarily have had the chance to visit, just because there weren’t the usual time restraints an overseas holiday would have.


I lived in Warrender Park Crescent which is non-catered student accommodation, in a flat with four other girls. Non-catered gave me more freedom as I wasn't bound by meal times, groceries weren't expensive, and you could invite people over for food and drinks. Warrender was in a really good location - I lived on Bruntsfield Links (a public golf course & park), and just walked through the park each day to get to university. It's worth looking at the location of the accommodation as the easiest way to get around Edinburgh is on foot, but some of the newer places for student accommodation are quite a distance from the university. Also read reviews online: there are so many of them, and many of the problems people encountered I had seen flagged online.


My accommodation cost $4500 for the semester and this included all utilities, internet and the apartment being cleaned once a week. Groceries are comparable to or cheaper than Australia depending on where you shop - Aldi, Lidl are the least expensive, Tesco and Sainsbury are in the middle and M&S and Waitrose are up the top end. I spent on average $40 a week, though would fluctuate depending on what was happening that week. Flights to Europe and trains around the UK can be super cheap, so it's worth keeping an eye out. Often where we chose to travel was purely based on bargain flights or discounted accommodation. My biggest mistake cost-wise was not booking a return flight. Although it ended up being quite affordable, it is probably better to get a return flight with a flexible fly date, than booking it a month out from my return to Australia!

All up I spent about $14,000 - though I was not particularly conscious of my spending, and this involved travel throughout the semester and for a month after, so it could definitely be done for less.


My biggest challenge probably occurred before I arrived in Edinburgh - it was quite difficult to line up the available courses at Edinburgh and get course approval from UQ, and the time differences made emailing a protracted process. However, once I got to Edinburgh the Visiting Student Office immediately sorted any issues I had - so don't stress if this happens to you.

Once I was there though the only real challenge was keeping my feet and hands warm!

Professional Development

I attended a Law Conference on Social Justice. This conference, along with my subjects - particularly Criminal Justice - offered a great insight into alternative solutions to common social justice problems, based predominately on a welfare model. My subjects also highlighted more clearly how my two subject areas of law and political science could be integrated and what kind of career paths might be open to me.


The absolute highlight for me was the opportunity to live in Edinburgh - it's such a beautiful and liveable city. Living in Edinburgh was particularly poignant as my Grandma lived there until she moved to Australia at 21, and here I was aged 21 doing the opposite. The friends I made and the trips I took with them - from celebrating my birthday in Hamburg, to staying in house built into a cliff face in France, to booking a ticket to a gig in London on a whim - were also a real highlight.

Top tips

When you first arrive go to any and all events, no matter how cheesy, as they are a great way to meet people. Also try and become really good friends with your housemates: not only do you have to live with them, but they might introduce you to even more people.

Go to as many Ceilidhs (Scottish dancing) as possible, they are an absolute craic, and no-one takes themselves seriously. Also, when it gets warm have as many picnics in the Meadows/Bruntsfield Links as possible. In Edinburgh there are open liquor laws, so you can also drink in the park.

Finally, I was always a bit sceptical of people who said that exchange was the best thing they ever did, but it really is. I particularly recommend it if you are doing a really long degree, as it is a great way to break it up without extending your degree.