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More in this section Course options for incoming students

Departmental course options

 When studying at Royal Holloway as a visiting student, you can often select study options that both suit your personal needs and the requirements of your home university. The assessment and credit transfer mechanisms are designed to integrate with your main degree studies. Before you choose which courses you would like to study at Royal Holloway, you should read this important information relating to the course unit selection process.

Course Units

Credits at Royal Holloway are known as course units. A course unit is a highly structured course which provides thematic consistency, defined content and contact hours, learning outcomes and assessment procedures.

Some course units are defined as ‘whole units’ and some as ‘half units’, depending on the intensity, duration, or content of the course. One ‘whole’ course unit comprises approximately 300 study hours in total, including attending lectures and seminars, as well as independent study.

The European Credit Transfer System equivalents and a rough estimate of US semester hours equivalent of course units are:

  • 0.5 course unit = 7.5 ECTS = 4 US semester hours (approx.)
  • 1 course unit = 15 ECTS = 8 US semester hours (approx.)

Visiting students at Royal Holloway are required to enrol on a full-time basis and must maintain full-time status throughout their stay. Full-time study at Royal Holloway consists of:

  • A minimum of 2.5 course units (37.5 ECTS) or a maximum of 4 course units (60 ECTS) for students staying the full year.
  • A minumum of 1.5 course units (22.5 ECTS) or a maximum of 2 course units (30 ECTS) for students staying for Term 1 only OR Terms 2 and 3.

Therefore, a student staying for the full year must take a minimum of 37.5 ECTS, but is permitted to take a maximum of 60 ECTS. A student staying for Term 1 only or Terms 2 and 3 must take a minimum of 22.5 ECTS, but is permitted to take a maximum of 30 ECTS.

Your home university may require you to take the full load of 60 ECTS for the full year, or 30 ECTS for Term 1 only or Terms 2 and 3. Please check with the International Office or Exchange/Study Abroad Coordinator at your institution.


Course units at Royal Holloway are designed to be studied at certain stages in a full-time undergraduate degree programme. Most units are therefore grouped by level (1 to 3) which corresponds to their suitability for first, second or final-year students in the UK. Course codes starting with a 1 are first level, course codes starting with a 2 are second level, and course codes starting with a 3 are final-year level.

UK students attend 13 years of schooling and choose a specialised area of study at an earlier stage than many other countries. Consequently, a level 1 course is approximately equivalent to a 200 level course at an American university; a level 2 course is approximately equivalent to a 300 level course, and a level 3 course is approximately equivalent to a 400 level course.

When selecting your study plan, please keep the following in mind:

  • Level 1 courses are suitable for students who have little or no previous knowledge of the subject matter.
  • Level 2 courses are suitable for students with previous knowledge and build upon their existing studies.
  • Level 3 courses are suitable for students who have advanced knowledge and very strong academic performance.
  • Due to the demanding requirements and advanced nature of level 3 courses, we strongly discourage Visiting Students from taking more than one level 3 course per term.

Course Unit Selection

You may apply for course units in up to three academic departments. However, please be aware that taking courses in a number of departments may lead to timetable clashes.

A wide variety of courses are available for visiting students. In most cases, you will take courses alongside degree-seeking students. However, due to the popularity of certain courses, some departments have a restricted ability to accept visiting student applications. Courses must be selected from the Departmental Course Options for Visiting Students below.

In order to cover the eventuality that selected courses may be full, unavailable, or unsuitable, students staying for the full year should select courses totalling 5-6 course units or more. Students staying for Term 1 only or Terms 2 and 3 should select courses totalling 3-4 course units.

Students applying through the Erasmus exchange programme should also be aware of restrictions outlined on the Erasmus How to apply page.

The courses indicated on your Visiting Students Application Form are requested courses only. All courses are subject to suitability and availability and the College is unable to guarantee that a student will be admitted onto the requested courses. The final decision on the course units offered will be at the discretion of the academic departments where they are taught.

Study plan check list

  • Ensure that you select courses from not more than 3 departments - although we recommend you limit course choices to 1 or 2 departments.
  • Ensure that course choices are listed by the course code in the order of preference.
  • Ensure that you are selecting courses that run during the appropriate term. For example, if you are staying for Term 1 only, then you can select Autumn term courses only - Spring term courses may not be selected.
  • Ensure that you are selecting courses appropriate to your level.

Should the selected courses be unavailable or unsuitable, you will be asked to reselect.

The links below will take you to the course options available for Visiting Students for each department, most of which can be viewed and downloaded in PDF format. To read it on-line, you will need a PDF viewer - Adobe Acrobat Reader can be downloaded here.

Please note that all courses are subject to timetabling considerations and there may be changes in course availability from year to year. 

Below are the NEW 2018-19 course options. However, please note that this page is sometimes updated to reflect withdrawn or newly added courses, so please check periodically for new information. Please therefore also make sure you have checked and clearly uploaded your final set of choices to your application form by the deadline of May 24th.

Contact us

Need guidance in making your course choices? Email:




English Language Support

We offer several opportunities for non-native English speakers to seek language support and improve their English language skills.

If your overall IELTS score is below 6.5, you may have to take an English language course before starting your period of study at Royal Holloway:

If English is not your native language, you may consider taking English language courses during your period of study to further develop your English language level and academic study skills, such as:


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