Category Archives: Academics

Semester Abroad at NUI Galway

Michael Chen is an international student from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon spending his Spring 2017 semester abroad. Follow along on his blog as he snaps a photo a day during his time at NUI Galway!

Michael Chen_Ireland Photo Challenge.jpg


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Filed under A Day in the life.....of a NUIG student!, About Ireland, Academics, On Campus, Students

Photo Tour of NUI Galway Part 2

James Hardiman Library

James Hardiman Library

James Hardiman Library

The James Hardiman Library houses over 450,000 printed books, 350,000 e-books and more than 30,000 full text electronic journals. It is also home to the University’s impressive literary and theatrical archive.

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Research Building

Arts Humanities and Social Sciences Building

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Building

The recently completed Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Research Building is located at the heart of the campus and provides next-generation graduate, postgraduate and faculty library space dedicated to academic research.

Arts Millennium Building

Arts Millennium Building, NUI Galway

Arts Millennium Building, NUI Galway

The Arts Millennium Building has recently been extended to house the School of Psychology.

Arts/Science Concourse

Arts/Science Concourse

Arts/Science Concourse

The Arts/Science building houses the university’s main lecture theatres and classrooms as well as the Science laboratories.

Orbsen Building

Orbsen Building, NUIG

Orbsen Building, NUI Galway

The Orbsen Building hosts two of the University’s largest research institutions; the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) and the  Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI).

IT Building

IT Building, NUI Galway

IT Building, NUI Galway

The IT Building was completed in 2001. € 11.5m was spent on this dedicated 4100 m2 building on the banks of the River Corrib, providing state-of-the-art facilities for IT teaching and research.

Aras na Gaeilge

Áras na Gaelige

Áras na Gaelige

Galway is close to the Connemara Gaeltacht, one of several Irish-speaking regions in Ireland.  The University’s Irish language institute, Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge works with other schools and departments to provide a number of courses through the Irish language.

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out Part 1 of our Photo tour of NUI Galway.

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Spring Recruitment Week – USA

We are delighted to announce that NUI Galway is taking part in the forthcoming Education in Ireland Spring Recruitment Week in the United States.

Representatives from NUI Galway and the other Irish universities will be visiting high schools in Chicago and Boston. In addition, there are two public events, where students, parents and college counselors can come along to learn more about studying in Ireland.

Saturday 6th April – Irish Universities Open House (Chicago)

Chicago Open House, April 2013‌ – All Welcome!
Doubletree Oak Brook Hotel
1909 Spring Road, Oak Brook, Illinois, 60523, USA
<<Download the Poster>>

Sunday 7th April – Irish Universities Open House (Boston)

Boston Open House, April 2013‌ – All Welcome!
Boston College High School,
150 Morrissey Blvd, Boston, MA 02125
<<Download the Poster>>

These events are a great opportunities for US students to find out about majors on offer at NUI Galway, admissions requirements as well as financial aid and scholarships.

We look forward to seeing you there! For more information, please contact

Brian Hussey
International Affairs Office
NUI Galway
t: +353 91 495358

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Photo Tour of NUI Galway (Part 1)

Quadrangle Building, NUI Galway

Quadrangle, NUI Galway

Quadrangle, NUI Galway

Built in the 1840s, today the “Quad” is a multipurpose building that includes administrative and academic units, the Aula Maxima as well as the University Art Gallery and Geology Museum.

Martin Ryan Building

Martin Ryan Building, NUI Galway

Martin Ryan Building, NUI Galway

Across the lawn from the Quargrangle, you’ll find the Martin Ryan Building. Built in the early 1990s (with the help of a generous private donation by the late Dr. Tony Ryan, founder of Ryanair) this neo-classical style building houses the Ryan Institute, one of the University’s main research institutes dedicated to Environmental, Marine and Energy research as well as the University’s Zoology Museum.

Civil Engineering Building

Civil Engineering Building, NUI Galway

Civil Engineering Building, NUI Galway

The building across the Martin Ryan Building formerly housed the Department of Civil Engineering. The building is currently being renovated and Civil Engieering has moved to the new Engineering Building.

Student Centre (Áras na Mac Léinn)

Student Centre (Áras na Mac Léinn), NUI Galway

Student Centre (Áras na Mac Léinn), NUI Galway

The Student Centre (Áras na Mac Léinn) houses the Bailey Alen Hall, a large auditorium, two student theatres, the Art Room, the Student Union’s offices, Flirt FM (student radio station), the Health Centre and the College Bar.

O’Shaughnessy Footbridge

O’Shaughnessy Footbridge, NUI Galway

The O’Shaughnessy Bridge crosses the Eglinton Canal behind the Martin Ryan Building and is used by both pedestrians and cyclists as a short cut into the city centre. The bridge is named after Michael O’Shaughnessy (1864-1934) who graduated in Civil Engineering from Galway in 1884. In 1912, O’Shaughnessy was appointed Chief Engineer of the City of San Francisco and undertook the building of new infrastructure for the city after the disastrous earthquake and fires of 1906.

Irish Centre for Human Rights

Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway

Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway

The Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway is one of the world’s premier research institutions for the study and promotion of human rights and humanitarian law. Establishment in 2000, the Centre has also developed a number of internationally acclaimed masters programmes as well as an undergraduate programme in Human Rights.

Huston School of Film & Digital Media

Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUI Galway

Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUI Galway

The Huston School of Film & Digital Media at NUI Galway was established with the support of the family of the noted director, screenwriter and actor, John Huston.

Check back later this month for Part 2 of our Photo Tour of NUI Galway, when we’ll take a look around the centre of the campus.

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How to Blend In When Studying Abroad In Galway, Ireland – Tip No. 4, Get to class on time (or not!)

One of the things many visiting international students notice when they first study abroad in Ireland is that they show up at the scheduled time for a class, only to have to wait 10 minutes or so for it to begin.

Friar's Chapel, Lecture Theatre

Lectures are usually timetabled to last an hour, however it is generally understood that teaching begins at about 10 minutes after the hour.

The main reason is because students may have lectures in different buildings throughout the campus, and therefore may need the time to get from one to another.

Of course, some lecturers may begin on the hour, so it’s probably best to gauge each one individually over the first few weeks. However, if you do find yourself running late, there’s usually no problem getting in a few minutes after the hour, even if this would be not allowed at your home university.

***Update, August 2013 From the 2nd of September 2013 9am Lectures will begin on the hour and finishing at 10 minutes before the hour i.e. 9am-9.50am, 10am-10.50am etc.***

If you found this tip helpful, then be sure to check out our other tips on blending in when studying abroad in Ireland, 1, 2, and 3.


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FAQ: Postgraduate Degree Programmes at NUI Galway

Following on from previous FAQ posts about Study Abroad and Undergraduate Degree Programmes at NUI Galway, this week we turn our attention to Postgraduate degree programmes.

What is a Postgraduate programme?

A postgraduate programme, commonly known as a graduate programme in the United States, is an advanced degree programme of study undertaken after the Bachelor degree programme. The most common postgraduate programmes include Postgraduate Diplomas, Master’s and PhD (Doctorate) Degrees.

Please refer to our website for a full list of postgraduate degree programmes available at NUI Galway.

All levels of educational attainment in Ireland are classified within the National Framework of Qualifications.

National Framework of Qualifications

National Framework of Qualifications (Click to Enlarge)

Postgraduate Diploma (Level 9)

A Postgraduate Diploma programme is commonly offered at universities in Ireland, the United Kingdom as well as many countries that follow the British tradition of higher education including Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Postgraduate Diplomas are normally one year in duration and generally have a more vocational or professional focus than other forms of postgraduate degrees.

Master’s Degree (Level 9)

There are two types of Masters degree programmes offered at Irish universities; Taught Master’s and Research Master’s. Both versions are considered of equal academic level within the National Framework of Qualifications.

Taught Master’s (Level 9)

A Taught Master’s degree normally lasts one year (12 months) and consists of lectures, tutorials and coursework over two semesters followed by a research project.

Research Master’s (Level 9)

Research Master’s degrees usually take a minimum of two years and involve working on a piece of original research under faculty supervision, culminating in the writing of a thesis. A Research Master’s may suit a student interested in a career as a researcher or someone who enjoys working independently.

Doctoral (Level 10)

Doctoral (PhD) programmes usually take four years to complete and involve undertaking sustained original research under faculty supervision before presenting a thesis for assessment. Structured PhD programmes also include a significant amount of professional and general skills training in addition to research.

How long does it take?

Postgraduate programmes vary in length. A Postgraduate Diploma usually takes 12 months, as do most Taught Master’s degrees. A Research Master’s may take two or three years however a PhD usually takes a minimum of 4 years.

What are the entry requirements?

Entry requirements for postgraduate programmes vary, however an good undergraduate degree in a relevant subject is normally the minimum requirement to be considered for admission. Certain programmes, known as conversion programmes, are open to students from a wider range of academic backgrounds.

Irish universities do not usually require standardized tests, such as the LSAT, GRE or GMAT etc. Instead, your applications are assessed based on the applicant’s undergraduate record, as well as their references and personal statement.

What is the cost?

Tuition fees also vary, however funding in the form of scholarships is generally more widely available for research students, i.e. those Research Master’s and PhD programmes. Research students should contact the relevant College or School of the University for more details on funding opportunities.

Please refer to the NUI Galway website for international tuition fees.

How do I apply?

Applications for all postgraduate programmes are made online via the Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC) at The online form is easy to use and you will be guided through the system step-by-step. Applicants may apply for up to three taught programmes OR three research programmes when making an application to NUI Galway via PAC.

Please refer to our website for a full list of postgraduate degree programmes available at NUI Galway.

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Teaching, Learning and Assessment at NUI Galway

While the opportunity to travel and experience other cultures is probably the main reason most students decide to go abroad, whether for a semester or for their full degree, one of the less talked about benefits of studying abroad is the opportunity to experience new ways of teaching, learning and assessment.

Higher education in Ireland shares many common features with Europe and North America, however most international students will encounter some differences in how courses are taught and assessed here compared to their home country.

Teaching and Learning

Most courses are delivered through lectures, which are normally held in large lecture halls. Lectures provide the foundations of a topic on which students are expected to explore further through their independent study and are quite different therefore to the classroom based learning you may be familiar with in your home country, which tends to be more interactive and discussion based.

Lectures are also usually supplemented by smaller tutorials, laboratory classes or seminars, which provide an opportunity for more in depth study and discussion in a smaller group setting.

The academic culture in Ireland therefore places a strong emphasis on independent learning and students are required to undertake a good deal of self-directed study outside of regular teaching hours.

When you first get your timetable, you might be pleasantly surprised to see you only have about 15-20 contact hours per week, depending on your programme, but you shouldn’t make the mistake of assuming that all that free time is just for hanging out out with your friends 😉  That ‘free’ time is when you are expected to undertake your own reading and research around the themes highlighted in your lectures and to work on your assingments.

Overall , whether you are a degree-seeking international student or a visiting student from another university, it’s important to understand that you are expected to take charge of your own learning and that this also includes your attendance at lectures and tutorials, keeping up with your reading and handing in your assignments on time.

Of course, transitioning to university life is not just a challenge for international students, and the University is committed to helping students adjust to their new learning environment as easily as possible.

Lecturers are generally friendly and approachable and above all keen to help their students succeed, however the relatively lower level of monitoring and structure, compared to secondary school or indeed colleges in some countries, means you may have to request help before its forthcoming.

Assessment and Exams

Another big change that comes when attending university abroad is adapting to new ways of assessment. While continuous assessment is increasingly used in Irish universities, end of semester examinations are still the main method of assessment for most courses.

End of semester exams usually entail 2 hour or sometimes 3 hour written examinations, though this can vary by course. This means that students are required to demonstrate an in depth understanding of the course material through a number of essay-style answers.

This can big a big challenge, especially for international students from countries where continuous assessment and/or short multiple choice type tests are commonly used.

If you are not sure what may be required of you in an end of semester exam at NUI Galway, you should speak with the relevant instructor at the beginning of the semester, so that you understand what is required of you.

Past exam papers for courses are available from the Exams Office and are a great way to practice exam type answers and get a feel for the type of questions that are likely to appear in your exam.

The NUI Galway Students Union website also provides some great tips on adapting to university life in general as well as practical advice on sitting examinations. The Students Union also runs The Academic Writing Centre, which offers (free) one-on-one teaching sessions tailored to the needs of individual students who require help with written assignments.


Plagiarism is defined by the NUI Galway Student Code of Conduct as “the act of copying, including or directly quoting from the work of another without adequate acknowledgment, in order to obtain benefit, credit or gain.”

Plagiarism is considered a serious academic offense in Ireland and can result in sanctions for a student found to have copied someone else’s work.

As an NUI Galway student or a visiting student from another university, you are subject to the normal rules and regulations of the University. Therefore, if you are unsure about what plagiarism is or how it can be avoided, please refer to the NUI Galway Students Union website for practical tips and explanations.

What Happens If I Fail?

Finally, while failing an examination is relatively rare, it can happen and it’s important to understand how it may affect your studies. The different colleges of the university have their own policies regarding appeals, rechecks and repeat examinations, so the first thing you should do is contact the relevant college office or refer to your handbook for further information.

Students are usually required to retake a failed examination, however, in the case of a non-formal examination, such as an essay, project, continuous assessment, you should contact your instructor or the relevant College Office to discuss your options. Please refer to the Exams Office website for more information.

For more information about the NUI Galway grading system be sure to check out our previous post Making the Grade.

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