University of Birmingham


Image of a tall red brick building in Birmingham

  • Birmingham is Britain's second largest city with a population of just over one million people, with 2.3 million people in the greater Birmingham metropolitan region. 
  • Located two hours by train from London, the city once proclaimed the first manufacturing town in the world is now recognized as a top international commercial center and a leader in higher education, with three universities in the city.
  • Birmingham has long been a major music and literary center in Britain.
  • The university is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of the top research universities in Britain, as well as a founding member of the international network Universitas 21. The University of Birmingham's faculty and alumni have won eight Nobel Prizes.

Birmingham is Britain's second largest city with a population of just over one million people, with 2.3 million people in the greater Birmingham metropolitan region. Located two hours by train from London, the city once proclaimed the first manufacturing town in the world is now recognized as a top international commercial center and a leader in higher education, with three universities in the city.

Birmingham has long been a major music and literary center in Britain.  The "Brum Beat" movement of the 1960's gave way to bands that earned Birmingham the claim as the birthplace of heavy metal, followed by a steady stream of 2-Tone and New Wave bands. On the literary front, J.R.R. Tolkien and W.H. Auden called Birmingham home, and the city possesses a very active contemporary literary scene, covered extensively by the local independent publisher Tindal Street Press. The city that can claim both Tolkien and Ozzy Osbourne as native sons will surely have something to meet anyone's cultural tastes.

The KU Great Britain Direct Exchange Program (GBDX) is designed to stimulate and enrich the intellectual development of KU students through a direct experience in the British academic and cultural environment, promoting friendship with Great Britain and broadening international horizons. To realize this mission, KU has signed direct exchange agreements with ten universities in Great Britain, which allow KU students to study for a semester or year abroad at greatly reduced costs. In exchange, British students from these same universities will study for a semester or year at KU.

The University of Birmingham is the oldest of the six British "Red Brick" universities, receiving its royal charter in 1900, though it traces its lineage back to 1825 with the founding of the Birmingham Medical School. The university has 17,000 undergraduate and 8,000 graduate students, and was Britain's first university to offer women's dormitories, a purpose-built students' union building and a School of Business.  

Classes begin in late September or early October and finish in very late May or June. All universities offer generous vacation and travel times. There are also several semester-long options, although availability varies from semester to semester.

Students may earn up to 30 hours of KU credit for the year (120 Birmingham credits). Most disciplines are offered in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, Engineering, Business, Education and Health Fields. Students are required to enroll in 60 Birmingham credits each semester, the equivalent of 15 Kansas credits. At least 40 Birmingham credits (10 KU credits) must be taken within one School at the University of Birmingham. The remaining credits may be taken from up to two additional Schools. A list of faculties, schools and departments at Birmingham can be found at the University of Birmingham Schools Index Local.

Courses and grades will be posted as KU equivalents on your KU transcript and grades will figure into your KU GPA. The relevant KU academic department will make the final decision regarding posting of credit and grades, and their application toward graduation.

Steps to selecting courses at Birmingham: Course Selection Guide (.docx)

Birmingham courses available to KU students: Birmingham Course Catalog

Birmingham course equivalencies: KU Course Database

Members of the KU Honors Program are eligible to participate in Birmingham's Liberal Arts and Sciences program, Birmingham's version of an Honors Program. Participants take one class each semester with their Birmingham Liberal Arts and Sciences peers. These classes tend to examine contemporary issues on an interdisciplinary basis, and feature a number of prominent guest speakers and opportunities for research and field trips. Learn more about the Birmingham Liberal Arts and Sciences program.

KU students are free to choose from several different university housing options, including rooms that come with a meal plan, self-catered rooms, rooms with en-suite bathrooms, and even studios and apartments, depending on your budget.

A good overview of the different housing available at the University of Birmingham, including cost, can be found at the Birmingham Student Accommodation Website.

SAGE is dedicated to creating international engagement opportunities that meet the needs of all our students and providing resources to support you through the process of studying abroad. Study abroad is achievable for students of all identities including our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students, students with disabilities, and students with religious/non-religious viewpoints. Before selecting a program, consider how your identities may impact your experience abroad in unique ways and talk with your Program Coordinator about any program-specific concerns. Students with documented disabilities should discuss any accommodation needs with their Program Coordinator early in the planning process.

Check our Identity Abroad page and resources listed below for information specific to you and other students who may be on your program.

Open to KU students who have achieved junior status by the beginning of the program and who have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.8. Exceptions may be made for sophomores with high academic qualifications who meet the course prerequisites. Some of the British sites may have additional requirements, including pre-requisites and number of credit hours completed.