Planning Your Stay Abroad

Covid-19 and Stay Abroad Requirement

The requirements for the Stay Abroad have temporarily been adjusted to the difficulties posed by the present health crisis. This concerns mainly students who are planning to write their BA thesis in 2020 or 2021. If you think you may require special conditions, please get in touch with the IC, Nicole Nyffenegger, to discuss your situation.

For your compulsory stay abroad you have basically two options: either studying or working in an English-speaking country. By all means, do travel before, after, or during your stay abroad but please note that we cannot give you ECTS points for travelling.

The Basics

  • Duration: min. 6 months (23+ weeks) for majors, 3 months (11+ weeks) for minors
  • ECTS: depending on duration of stay (23+ weeks= 10ECTS; 11+ weeks=5ECTS, other lengths of stay calculated accordingly). In order to receive ECTS points, you must be matriculated during your stay abroad and have a stay abroad agreement signed by the department's International Coordinator (IC).
  • Workload: min. 40%, i.e., 16 hours/week
  • University courses: a maximum of 30 ECTS can be accredited in addition to the stay abroad points. Please make sure to get the IC’s agreement before you leave.
  • English-speaking countries:  Countries in which English is an official language and/or spoken by a majority of the inhabitants.
  • Splitting the stay abroad: The 6 months stay can be done in max. 3 parts, the 3 months stay in max. 2 parts. Each part requires its own agreement sheet. All documentation remains with the students until completion of the full requirement.
  • Waivers: waivers or partial waivers are possible for students who have done a stay abroad, no more than 2 years prior to beginning their studies, which fulfils the usual requirements concerning duration and workload. To request a waiver, please write a formal letter including all necessary documentation, addressed to the IC.

Once your plans are fairly concrete and you have read all the information on this site, please see the International Coordinator (IC) Dr Nicole Nyffenegger (D 208) during her walk-in consultation hours (which means just that: you just walk in during these hours, no appointment necessary!) and bring along the Stay Abroad - Agreement Sheet (PDF, 557KB).

Until further notice, the walk-in consultation hours take place online: every Thursday, 9.00-10.30 on Zoom ( Or write an email:


In order to get your studies abroad acknowledged, you need to fill in an agreement sheet (see above) with the IC before you leave. There are several options to organise your study abroad:

SEMP (“Erasmus”)

The Department of English currently has agreements with these universities:

  • University of Ulster, Coleraine and Jordanstown (NI): 6 places/year
  • University of Kent, Canterbury: 2 places/year
  • University of Limerick, Limerick (I): 4 places/year
  • University of Malta: 2 places/year
  • University of Essex, Colchester: 2 places/year

Some places offer the option of choosing between one term (3-4 months), two terms (6 months), or even longer. More information can be found here.

Application is through the Department of English. To apply for the autumn term of the following year or later, please address a motivational letter to the International Coordinator (IC) Dr Nicole Nyffenegger. Only electronic submissions, please. In this letter, give a first and a second choice and outline why you are the right candidate for the universities of your choice, by:

1 December 2020

You will then be invited to a short interview in December and will know before Christmas whether your application has been successful.

Late applications for remaining places during the year may be possible; please contact Dr Nicole Nyffenegger to inquire about this possibility.

For more information on the SEMP programme, see here.


Exchanges Worldwide

A number of universities in English-speaking countries have agreements with the University of Bern through “exchanges worldwide:” They include:

  • University of Wisconsin, Whitewater Campus (USA)
  • Sam Houston State University (USA)
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute (USA)
  • State University Institute (Virginia Tech) (USA)
  • University of Ottawa (Canada)
  • University of Technology, Sydney (Australia)
  • Stellenbosch University (South Africa)
  • Nanyang Technological University (Singapore)

Application is through the university’s international office. Deadline for applications is 15 January each year (with 15 June for later registration for any remaining places). Get more information here.


ISEP Is the largest network for student exchanges worldwide. Application is through the university’s international office. Get more information here.


Of course it is possible for you to organise your study abroad by yourself. The university’s international office has some helpful tips here.

Please also consult the many reports written by students who studied abroad. They are in a folder on the departmental presence shelf marked “Stay Abroad – Studying”.

Working abroad is the other option chosen by many of our students. In order to get your studies abroad acknowledged, you need to fill in an agreement sheet with the IC before you leave. The minimal workload is 40% across the whole duration you wish to be acknowledged.

Please note that neither the Department of English nor the University’s International Office can help you find a work assignment abroad. Also, please make sure to get the necessary information concerning work permits through the respective embassies or through the EDA’s page on “Auslandaufenthalte”.

A few links that may be useful:

Please also consult the many reports written by students who worked abroad. They are in a folder on the departmental presence shelf marked “Stay Abroad – Working”