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International Students


Studying at Cambridge

Going to study in another country, another culture and possibly in another language can be a daunting prospect. The online learning tool has been designed to help international students prepare for studies at Cambridge prior to arrival. The interactive training modules have been developed primarily for students who have English as a second language and have not previously studied in the UK although other international students unfamiliar with UK Higher Education and Cambridge may find some aspects useful. Whilst the modules have been written for postgraduate students, undergraduates are likely to find them a useful introduction to study at Cambridge in the context of developing academic English skills.

The aim of the online learning tool is to guide you in what to expect from academic study at university in the UK, introduce you to cultural aspects of life and study and help prepare you for the transition to Cambridge and its methods of teaching and learning. Both students and academics have contributed to the development of the modules and you will read and hear their views on a wide range of matters central to successful studying in English as part of the modules. Each section features activities, audio clips and videos, and offers notes on UK HE and the University of Cambridge, its history, culture and conventions. We hope that this will help you prepare for your studies here and will be of use to you during them too.

Your College, Faculty or Department will send you information to prepare yourself for your time in Cambridge. You may also find it useful to look through the general information for new students on student registration and University policies.

Developing Academic English Skills

Since you will study in English, the University requires all applicants to demonstrate competence in the English language at a very high level and in an idiom suitable to their subject before beginning their proposed course of study. Do not be surprised if you experience a period of linguistic, cultural, and academic acclimatisation on arrival. You may need to work continuously on refining your academic English literacy skills throughout your time at Cambridge. After all, these skills are not innate for native speakers but must be learned and continually practiced and refined.

The University provides many sources of guidance and support for students whose first language is not English to ensure that they can achieve their academic potential.  However, in preparation it is helpful if you recognise the challenges that studying in English will pose. This is not simply in terms of language proficiency, but more importantly in terms of the approach and conventions of academic English, which may vary quite considerably from those of your first language.

Experience with students whose first language is not English shows that where they encounter difficulties this has far more to do with their lack of awareness of the expectations and conventions of studying in English and far less to do with their competency in the language.

The Academic Development & Training for International Students (ADTIS) section at the Language Centre offers programmes and support to students who wish to improve their academic English literacy skills.