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Academic advising information for prospective and new students

Note: there are a number of different cohorts of students, depending on whether their study is full-time or part-time, day-time or evening, undergraduate or taught postgraduate or research postgraduate, in the Faculty of Arts, Divinity, Medicine or Science, and so on. For simplicity, this page focuses on full-time undergraduate students in Arts, Divinity and Science. See Rules for links to relevant information for other cohorts.

Most of the information in the Academic advising section of the website is applicable to both new and returning undergraduate students. This page summarises some of the most important aspects for prospective or new undergraduate students who are not yet familiar with the St Andrews system. See also the FAQs.

Academic flexibility

The St Andrews undergraduate degree structure is designed to be flexible. Many students end up graduating with a different degree from the one that they applied to.

In first year, you're not restricted to taking modules in the subject that you've been admitted to, and in most cases you will have to take some other subjects to fill up your timetable, anyway. The module catalogue tells you which modules you have to take (in the programme requirements), and the details of all the modules available. You should read the programme requirements for your degree carefully.

Not all modules are available to all students. In particular, Science students cannot take modules in International Relations, and only students who have been admitted to study Medicine can take modules in the Faculty of Medicine. Some modules are limited in student numbers, and operate a balloting system to allocate places.

The modules that you take in first year will, obviously, affect your options for switching between degree programmes later on. So one important consideration when choosing your modules is to keep your options open. On the other hand, you may also want to take advantage of the opportunity to study a subject that interests you but doesn't lead to an alternative degree programme. Your Adviser of studies can give you advice on this.

You cannot change your registered degree programme before the end of your first year of study at St Andrews.

You can take two extra semesters to complete the sub-Honours part of an Honours degree in Arts, Divinity or Science, subject to any visa requirements. Once you enter the Honours part of the programme, the time available is fixed at either 4 or 6 semesters depending on the type of degree.

Changing your mind

You can change your mind about your module choices for semester 1 up to the end of the re-advising period, at mid-day on Monday of week 2. Although you choose your semester 2 modules at the start of the academic year, you can change your mind about these up to the end of re-advising in semester 2.

As long as you have achieved the necessary results in the appropriate modules, you can change your mind about your degree programme, by switching to an alternative programme within the same Faculty, up to the start of the Honours part of the programme (the last 4 or 6 semesters, depending on the type of degree). In some cases it's possible to switch into a different Faculty, though never into the Faculty of Medicine.

Sources of advice

Your Adviser of studies is the main contact for advice on the academic aspects of your studies. You can also contact one of the Associate Deans if you have an academic question that you can't resolve elsewhere.

Within academic schools, you can find out the appropriate person to contact with a given query via the school office, or the school's website.

Advice on many other aspects of University life can be accessed via the Advice and Support Centre. This is also the contact point for Student Services, where you can access support on many welfare-related issues.