Find out what happens when you return from studying abroad, including details about marks and degree classifications.

Your experience

After your placement abroad, the Sussex Abroad team will convert your marks, but we also want to hear from you about your experiences. We often organise debriefing meetings and workshops to help you articulate what you have learned from your year or semester abroad.

Advice for future students

To help us advise each group of students, we ask those returning to fill in a student-to-student report. This will include advice for future students, such as modules studied, accommodation, cost of living and socialising.

We also make sure outgoing students are put in touch with returning students (where permission has been given), allowing them to share valuable insights.

Reverse culture shock

Upon your return, you may experience what's called 'reverse culture shock'.

Typical symptoms are:

  • initial euphoria (possibly followed by disappointment and ‘flatness’)
  • criticism of the way things are done back home
  • feeling restless, sadness, frustration, isolation
  • feeling like a stranger at home
  • a longing to go back abroad.

This is common and feelings can differ from one person to another. This process will be similar to the culture shock you may have experienced when you first went abroad, only in reverse.

It can take some time to re-adjust to home. The coping skills and strategies that helped you to adjust to your host culture will be just as useful when coming home.

Tips for adjusting to coming home

  1. You may find it helpful to create a travel goal, either for work or holiday.
  2. Try something new, including international societies and clubs on campus.
  3. Keep in contact with friends made abroad.
  4. Talk to friends family about your feelings.
  5. Look out for seminars run in October/November by Careers and Employability Centre (CEC) for returning students, to learn about how to maximise their study abroad experience.
  6. Share your experience of study abroad in fun ways, like taking part in international food evenings on campus.
  7. Make friends with an incoming exchange or international student, and help them settle in at Sussex. The Student Union runs a Buddy Scheme, matching Sussex students with incoming international and study abroad students.

Study abroad marks

At the end of studying abroad you will be given a transcript from the host university. It will record all the modules that you have taken and the marks that you achieved.

All study abroad marks will be converted using our approved conversion scales [PDF 980KB]. This applies to marks achieved on an integrated or voluntary study abroad year and to a study abroad semester. 

The conversion scale will check if you achieved an overall mean mark of 40%. For a year abroad, this will allow your degree title to include ‘with a study abroad year’.

All study abroad marks are considered at a Module Assessment Board and published on Sussex Direct afterwards. 

  • semester abroad - the Board meets in April (for marks in semester 1) and September (for marks in semester 2)
  • voluntary or integrated year abroad - the board meets at the end of October.

The mark you receive for a study abroad year will appear on your Sussex transcript, including where the study abroad year is failed (unless you withdraw from the study abroad year before the end of week 3 in semester 1). 

Degree classification

The marks achieved for: 

  • a voluntary study abroad year won’t count towards your degree classification 
  • an integrated year abroad will go towards your degree classification (contributing to 20% of your grand mean)
  • a semester abroad will go towards your degree classification (replacing the marks you would have achieved at Sussex during that semester).

Find out more about degree classifications

What happens if I fail

If you fail to achieve 40% overall during your study abroad year, you must ask your host university about resit opportunities for the modules you have failed. If you do not achieve 40% on the study abroad year after a resit opportunity your course title will not include the suffix ‘with a study abroad year’.

You do not need to pass all 120 credits to pass the study abroad year, as long you achieve a mean overall of 40% across your modules. However if you fail a module, or have an incomplete module, the fail or 0 grade will bring your overall mean down and may result in you failing the study abroad year. Failed modules will also appear on the transcript from your study abroad host institution.

You cannot use the Sussex exceptional circumstances procedure to make a claim in relation to assessments on your study abroad year. You should instead contact your host institution to see if a resit can be set. You should contact the Sussex Abroad team if you find that your circumstances are ongoing to see if there are other ways that you can be supported on your study abroad year.

Failing a study abroad semester

You will need to repeat the semester at Sussex (the following academic year) if you do not achieve an overall mean mark of 40% and secure the 60 credits. You must pass this to progress to the next stage of your course.

Failing a semester abroad may require you to temporarily withdraw from your studies for the semester which you have passed. 

Conversion of study abroad marks

University Education Committee approves the conversion scales [PDF 353KB].

The approved conversion scales for study abroad marks are based on the following:

  • where a 0-100 continuous scale aligned with the UK is used, the marks are directly imported without conversion
  • where a 0-100 continuous scale not aligned with the UK and/or a categorical scale is used, the marks are normally converted based on a 5 or 12 point scale, mapped to the fail and distinction boundaries adopted by the sector.

The following principles apply to study abroad marks to ensure transparency and equity:

  • the University publishes conversion scales to students in advance of a period of study abroad;
  • students are advised that the practice of converting marks across the UK Higher Education sector varies between institutions;
  • a single conversion scale has been agreed for each partner country/institution, regardless of discipline;
  • non-linear conversion has been reduced, where possible;
  • School Progression and Award Boards (PAB) may refer cases via the Absurd Outcome regulation where conversion of the study abroad mark introduces inflation/deflation which has a significant impact on an individual student.

The scales will be reviewed every three years.

See more from Studying abroad