5 Key Differences Between Canada and UK’s Academic System

(Thompson Rivers University Vs The University of Salford)

1) Grading System

The grading system in the UK is very different from Canada. Unfortunately this was one thing I absolutely did not expect coming over here and took a long while for me to wrap my head around it.

  • Letter grades aren’t used; instead they use classes and divisions (1st, 2:1, etc.)
  • A 70% in the UK isn’t the same as a 70% in Canada. In order to get a first in the UK the same amount of work is required as to receive and A in Canada.

Class I                   = 1st  (70% and above)  A

Class II Division I  = 2:1  (60-69%)                B+

Class II Division II = 2:2  (50-59%)                B

Class III                 = 3     (40-49%)               C

Anything below 40% is considered a fail.


2) Textbooks

I haven’t bought any textbooks since I’ve been here! My first few days I made sure to double check with each of my instructors, but they all said roughly the same thing – students spend so much money on education already that they don’t think we should have to put out more for textbooks.

  • Perhaps some faculties might require one or two within the modules for your semester, but overall they seem to be much less common. More money for me!


3) Assessments

The way I’m assessed here is a bit different from what I’m used to back at TRU. The major difference for me is that the final mark for most of my modules is based off of one assessment. That assessment is usually due over holiday break or during exam period and makes up the whole of your mark. It can be an essay, a project, an exam or even a seen-exam but that’s it… so being decent at managing your time might help a lot with that one.

4) 3 Years

An undergrad in the UK is three years here. So figuring where you fit academically can be a little difficult. In my faculty the second and third year students are mixed so the only difference is the criteria of the final assessments differs depending on your level.

  • 1 year students = level 4
  • 2 year students = level 5
  • 3 year students = level 6

Levels of study within the Framework for Higher Education qualifications

FHEQ level 4 = first-year undergraduate-level study (Certificate)

FHEQ level 5 = second-year undergraduate-level study (Diploma)

FHEQ level 6 = third-year undergraduate-level study (Advanced Diploma)

FHEQ level 7 = postgraduate-level study (Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma, Master’s Degree)


5) Multiple Instructors

Some modules (classes) in the sociology/criminology department at The University of Salford rotate instructors based on the lecture topic of the week. My modules had up to four instructors and depending on their area of study an instructor would teach the lectures that had the most relevance to their research. Occasionally the instructor leading the seminar would be different from the one who taught the lecture and the difference in opinion among professors was engaging.

Although going to school when abroad can seem like a chore at times, having the different teaching style, makes is slightly less tedious.

Written by: Sarah Bingham-Hall, a TRU student who is currently studying abroad at The University of Salford in Manchester, England.

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