It is true that when choosing the University that you want to spend your year abroad at, it is important to consider the academic side of your life as well as where you think you will have the most fun. For me, I chose the University of Queensland due to it’s broad physical geography module choice and facilities such as the Heron Island Research Station (where David Attenborough filmed the Great Barrier Reef episodes). However, it is also necessary to consider that for a variety of reasons, you may not always end up completing the modules that you first seek out.
Before jetting off to UQ, I had my heart set on studying a module about Coral Reefs that was taught within a 2 week field trip to islands across the Great Barrier Reef. However, when I arrived in Brisbane it became apparent that the course was unavailable. At first I was upset that I was not able to complete this module as it was a big part of selecting UQ as my first choice, but as I attended my first couple of weeks of lectures I realised that it was not as bad as it seemed. Due to this module not running, and a few of my other courses being a lot more physics-based than I had realised, I was able to try out lots of other courses that I would have otherwise dismissed. For example, I took another coral reef based module that was listed under environmental management, and a module on the Torres Strait Islanders, both of which were my favourite courses and neither were on my first choice sheet that I filled out while in Manchester.
When comparing academic difficulty, it is fair to say that studying in Australia is a lot easier than studying in Manchester! While there is more continuous assessment at UQ, typically with 5 pieces of assessment per module compared to the 2 per module that I have while studying geography at UoM, each assessment piece has a lot less weighting, and therefore there is less pressure to spend days and days writing essays. Assessment at UQ is also a lot more varied in style as I have been asked to give presentations, create posters, write reports and simply attend workshops to gain marks! In comparison to this, it is unusual to have to complete anything other than one essay and one exam while studying in Manchester. In addition to this, gaining marks for assessed work also feels like a very simple process. For example, I feel like I have submitted work that has been of a very low standard while at UQ, but have achieved grades of at least 70% in every single one of my modules. A friend of mine also managed to achieve 90% in a marine biology report (she also studies geography) that was written between 2am and 8am on the day of submission as we had been out for the night and she had forgotten when the deadline was!
In summary, don’t stress too much about your module choice before you travel abroad, it’ll all work out in the end!