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Off-Campus Study

ISEP at University of Essex

The University of Essex is ranked 4th in the UK for Social Science Research, with top Politics and Sociology departments, and our Economics department ranking 4th in the UK. At Essex, you will be taught by world- leading academics in all fields, and be encouraged to participate to become involved in the community through your work and innovative ideas. Located in the oldest recorded town in the UK, University of Essex offers a unique academic community, with the academic offer across departments that includes Human Rights, Drama, and Theatre, as well as entrepreneurship, to name but a few. Their International Students Association accommodates programs for over 130 nationalities and celebrates diversity.


This program would be suitable for students that are ready to be abroad, but would still like some of the academic services that a U.S. college provides.  It is a good choice for someone that is a world traveler OR has never left their hometown.

Learn More about the University of Essex here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.

Program Type

Exchange or Direct-Enroll


Essex, United Kingdom

Languages of Instruction


Program Dates

Fall 2018: Late September to mid-January

Spring 2019: mid-January to End of June

All dates are tentative and may change.  ISEP will alert all accepted students of final dates.


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have junior status or higher before participation. 
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75.  


Students applying to ISEP must apply for an Exchange option (in any country) as a first choice but may apply to a Direct option as a back-up.  Direct options may have an additional cost.

The chance of placement for Exchange is generally limited.


Located in the oldest recorded town in the UK, the Colchester area has everything from arts and culture to water sports, vintage shopping to high tea in country estates, and the hottest gigs to ghost walk. Being an hour away from London, as well as Stansted makes University of Essex a great location to enjoy both the UK campus life and travel. On our campus, you are about 3 hours away from the rest of Europe.


The University of Essex is highly regarded for teaching and research in the social sciences and humanities with the departments of government and sociology ranked as the top in the U.K., and economics ranked fourth. Essex was one of the first European Universities to offer both law and social science degrees in human rights. Being 4th in the UK for research excellence, we are a unique community of scholars who live, work and play together, backed by donors such as Sir Winston Churchill who believed in our vision of a new type of university for a new age. With a student population of around 12,000 from more than 137 different countries, Essex is the ideal community to experience UK higher education. Our academic offer is varied, with strong areas to include accounting/finance, business, computer science/gaming, mathematics, psychology, art history, linguistics, sports science, film, theater studies, history, philosophy, criminology and biological sciences.


Read more about the education system, grading, and average course load in the UK here.



Economics, Sociology, and Political Science are particularly recommended for ISEP students.



On the University of Essex website, use the search function to identify ‘module directory’. Using the database search provided, students can identify any modules available for study in various departments. Modules that are open to incoming exchange and I-I students are marked with: ‘available for exchange students: yes’.


Course Approvals

Check to see if your department has pre-approved courses here. If not, don’t worry. You can work with your advisor.

Experiential Opportunities

The University of Essex has an active volunteering club, which offers various opportunities for activities throughout the academic year and winter and spring holidays. V-Team (Volunteering Team) offers various projects students can get involved with, around Colchester area. Activities range from teaching young adults and mentoring them for access to higher education, to interacting with small children and creating alternative learning activities. Alongside teaching and mentoring activities, the V-Team offers one off events, such as Colchester film festival, ‘keep Colchester tidy’ initiative and other outdoor activities that students would like to become involved with. Membership in the society is, of course, free of charge, and the hours of volunteering are recognized both by the Student’s union and the University through the Big E award (on completion, the Big E award is recorded on the student’s transcript).

Student Life


The orientation program for students differs depending on the time of participation in the program. For the autumn term, students are expected to arrive during Welcome Week, which is orientation week for all students entering the first year, and any exchange students starting in the autumn term. During Welcome Week, students are introduced to departments, have the opportunity to engage with the clubs and societies on campus and participate in the events and nights out in the Student’s Union club on campus. During Welcome Week, exchange students have a dedicated day to orientation for the exchange program, in which they will register, receive information regarding their academic year and module enrollment and changes, as well as tips and tricks for their year abroad. This day usually ends with a welcome party, on campus, to which exchange students are invited. 

The university’s Students’ Union offers airport pickups on designated days of arrival. Students will be informed of the pickup day before they arrive. Alternatively, if students make other arrangements, they will be provided with instructions on how to arrive on campus in their welcome/acceptance pack. For the spring term, students are expected to arrive on campus on the weekend before the start of the term. The first week of the spring term is similar to Welcome Week, however, the activities on campus may vary. The clubs and societies that are part of Student’s Union organize a fair for students to join. During the first week of term, incoming students will have an orientation day provided by Essex Abroad in which the activities will be similar to the Welcome Week activities during Autumn term.


Throughout the year, our dedicated team of peer advisors organizes various trips and events for exchange students, which are optional to participate in. Events such as ‘Movie night’ or trips to the local attractions are organized to suit students’ schedules. The University of Essex has a very active and vibrant community, with over 150 societies and clubs, and the Students’ Union offers all types of activities to students, whether they are engaged in societies or not. Students can be engaged in cultural societies, course specific societies, or hobbies ranging from archery to Model United Nations. Every student has access to booking sports facilities for team sports, or individual sports, without purchasing a gym membership. Each student is assigned a tutor at the beginning of the academic year to help with academic matters. The students are responsible to arrange meetings with their tutors and voice any concerns or issues they may have. To further support our students, Essex Abroad has a dedicated team of peer advisors, which students can email, or meet in our office to discuss any issues they need to. If the issues are serious, students are encouraged to contact the advisor team in Essex Abroad and of course student support.

Housing and Meals

Students are housed in residence halls located on campus. Each type of residence offers non-shared rooms, however, the type of accommodation available varies with regards to bathrooms (ensuite, or shared) and a shared kitchen. Housing is not available for students with spouses/dependents. ISEP Exchange students will receive a monthly meal stipend

Financial Information

The program fee for a semester with the ISEP Exchange to Essex includes orientation, on-site director, university fees, housing, and the equivalent of 19/meals per week.  

ISEP costs for Exchange are usually the most cost-effective, as it is intended to promote mobility of students around the world. Direct options are available for those students that prefer to attend a school with limited availability for Exchange, though costs may be different as they are set by the host school. For students that participate in ISEP Direct to Essex, the program fee has not yet been set.

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 Exchange semester:

Budget Item





Lake Forest College Tuition



Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost



College Deposit (credit)



Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College



ISEP Fee due on Stage 2 Application



College Deposit due on Acceptance (non-refundable, but shows as credit on bill for off-campus term)



ISEP-required health and repatriation insurance ($90/mo estimated)

Note: Some countries require national insurance. Check ISEP



Additional Meals



Estimated Airfare



Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance, if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)



Total Out-of-Pocket Expenses








For students that participate in ISEP Direct to Essex, the program fee will be set soon.  This fee includes housing and insurance, but no meals.  Many of the other estimated out-of-pocket costs will be similar. However, as Direct does not include meals, you can assume you will spend an additional $800/month on meals.

Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of January 2018. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate, nor fees to enroll in courses at partner institutions, and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

Do check your student account on My.Lakeforest for your aid awards, as much of this will go with you. If you want to compare your program to the cost of being on campus, those numbers can be found here: https://www.lakeforest.edu/admissions/tuition/fees.php

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.