Study Abroad: University of Edinburgh, Scotland or City, University of London, England?

I’m currently a freshman at the University of Iowa and plan on studying abroad during my spring semester of my sophomore year. I have narrowed it down to University of Edinburgh and the IES direct enrollment program at City, University in London. I’ve been to London on vacation and loved every minute of it and would love to go back, but am open to other options as well. What are the main differences between Edinburgh and London? What do you think will give me a better study abroad experience? Any and all advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks. :slight_smile:

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Hi there!
I currently study at the University of Glasgow in Scotland I can only reccomend Scotland over London. It is a wonderful country with rich culture and incredible people.
London is beyond expensive and hectic. You won’t have much campus life as its right in the city. Edinburgh uni is beautiful and also one of the most prestigious in the country.
TL;DR: scotland!

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I’m currently planning an upcoming trip to Scotland, and though I’ve never been , I, personally would also choose the University of Edinburgh ( but, then I’m a lot older than you!) . The city is smaller/ more charming than London, but big enough to find lots to do. It’s absolutely beautiful, historic and fascinating. The University of E. has a storied history from the Middle ages. It sits on the edge of the medieval “Old Town” of Edinburgh of twisting, narrow streets. Just a few blocks away is the 18th-century New Town, full of parks and gracious Georgian buildings. The Edinburgh Castle towers above it all. The University is also walking distance to the train station. You can travel by rail all over the country and south to London. Glasgow (bigger, grittier and maybe more exciting in some ways) is only 35 minutes away by train…,so in a sense both cities form one big metropolitan area to explore.

If you love the idea of living in one of the largest, most diverse and exciting cities in the world, London may be what you’re looking for, but it also could be a bit overwhelming (and expensive.) But I have a feeling that Edinburgh could be an easier place to make personal connections and feel at home in quickly. YMMV!

Also, don’t know if you’re from Iowa, but if you are, Scotland’s rugged landscape would be SOOO different from what you’re used to…rugged mountains, jagged rocky coastlines, islands (not to mention castles everywhere…) and a lot of it accessible by train, bus and ferry.

Vacation and everyday life are really different things, and imo, Edinburgh will make for a better overall university experience. London doesn’t have a campus life- think of it as a commuter college really- which might seem great, b/c there is all that fun stuff to do in London! but it makes it harder to build a friend group. Edinburgh students are spread out around town, same as in London- but it’s a much smaller town! I love visiting London, but my vote is Edinburgh.

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Edinburgh is an amazing city. One of my favorites I’ve ever visited. The center of the city is a UNESCO site. It’s unbelievably steeped in history. The countryside is stunning. The people welcoming and friendly. London feels too much like NYC to me.

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Another vote for Edinburgh here - I love the city, and D did her study abroad there. One thing to bear in mind, though: If you’re looking at going for the fall term, it is going to be a dark few months. Really. Be sure to budget for some cheap weekends away in sunny places.


Go to Edinburgh for an amazing visit. Go to London to live! Absolutely love the energy of this city. My d did a spring semester abroad at UCL in London. Her favorite thing about it was to step out the door of her dorm room and be in the middle of such a vibrant city. So much to do and see. Wonderful place to walk and explore. It was also a good jumping off point for travel to the rest of Europe. It was expensive but definitely a highlight of her college experience. Congratulations & enjoy!

DD spent a wonderful semester abroad at Edinburgh. When we visited her there two of her best friends from home were also visiting for the weekend as they were studying in London and Leeds. Their take on the city was that it really felt like they were in a different county and that she was having a different experience from them. London felt like another big city and Leeds was very industrial but Edinburgh has the scenic Old Town right near the school and Arthur’s Seat right in the city. She really loved her time there - you can’t go wrong with it!


I’m just about to be in High School, and I’ve been dying to apply to Edinburgh. Edinburgh is such a beautiful place, and through the pictures I see, I feel like I really belong there (didn’t mean for it to sound cheesy).

I was wondering, and I’m sorry if this sounds really forward, what your High School stats were when you applied to Edinburgh? I don’t know if that’s really a personal question… and it’s okay if you don’t! But if you can that’d be amazing!

Spring semester in Edinburgh, Scotland is a great option.

Your career may take you to London so better, in my opinion, to study in a beautiful city which you may never have the chance to visit later in life.

@rhiap, please start your own thread, instead of re-activating a 2 year old thread.

You can read up on what is required for admission to Edinburgh by going to their website. You will notice that Edi (and most universities outside the US) expect you to apply to study one (sometimes 2 subjects) for your entire university experience. They also base admissions almost entirely on standardized test scores (SATs/APs). It takes hopping about, but you can find exactly what scores you need for each course, and even what classes you will take each year of university. Good news is that if you meet the required scores and have a decent essay & letter of reference you are likely to get an offer- the system is much more predictable than the US.

Given that it is 3.5 years away, you don’t have to know what you want to study in college, but if you get to spring of Grade 11 and still aren’t sure, Study Abroad may be better for you than full time in the UK.

Okay, thanks so much!