Just want to give a massive thank you to Steeevo for creating and maintaining this thread but since it's been out of date for a wee while I'm 'taking over' to update it and maintain it from a current students point of view
If you have a question about St Andrews University, chances are someone has asked it before so here is a list of the most frequently asked questions, this is a work in progress which I will be adding to as I think of more / more are asked. Please note if you have a specific question which is only applicable to you or a minority of people please post that in the Ask A Current Student Thread however if you have a suggestion of a question applicable many new students the please post the question here (with an answer too if you have one!)
Q) What is the University/Town of St Andrews really like?
That depends on who you ask. EVERYONES EXPERIENCE OF ANY UNIVERSITY IS HUGELY DIFFERENT! To tell you what you’re your perception and experience of St Andrews will be is impossible, which is why I HIGHLY suggest you visit before you come if you can! I have included a brief overview of St Andrews from a pretty neutral point of view, but it is by no means the whole story!
A brief overview of the basics of St Andrews (also see ‘Does St Andrews have any nightclubs?’ ‘What is the nightlife like?’
and ‘Which is the best hall for my degree?’
St Andrews is a very picturesque town of approximately 1600 people on the North East coast of Fife in Scotland. Its ‘town centre’ is made up of 3 main Streets, North Street, Market Street and South Street so its pretty hard to get lost, but some people still do. It has 3 beaches, a castle and a ruined cathedral. There are several Golf courses including the famous Old course wich you can freely walk down to and watch people play, if you really want to! There are also university Golf bursaries in association with the links and students get discounted rates on the links courses. St Andrews is a very safe town, so safe some people are lulled into a false sense of security in St Andrews (as we are CONSTANTLY reminded by the powers that be!) but things do still get stolen, people in the past have been mugged and it is NEVER advisable to walk around anywhere at night by yourself, but as long as you keep your wits about you, you wont get any problems!
2/3 of the towns population have direct links with the university, so the town is very university orientated with many student bars and student deals, a situation hated by some locals and loved by others. Golf tourism also makes up a large proportion of the towns temporary population, meaning there are also many hotels/bars/cafes tailored to suit their needs, again a situation hated by some locals AND students and loved by others. Generally St Andrews is quite an expensive place to live; demand for accommodation outstrips supply as well as the constant tourist trade pushing up prices meaning accommodation is generally expensive unless you hunt for some of the cheaper places in town and we are rumoured to have the second most expensive Tescos in Scotland (after Edinburgh central) but there is an Aldi and Morrisions a little further out of town if you’re feeling a little more active.
The majority of the buildings in St Andrews are 19th Century stone built buildings, giving the ‘harry potter/olde worlde’ feel that draw many people to St Andrews, but just like any growing town there ARE also modern buildings, concrete messes and a large post war council estate in St Andrews, so don’t be too shocked when you see the ‘normal’ side to St Andrews. St Andrews nearest city is Dundee (15-20 mins by car, 30-40 mins by bus) however it also has good links with Edinburgh and Glasgow. Its nearest train station is Leuchars (pronounced loookars) approximately 20 mins bus ride away which has good links to most of the UK.
The university is NOT a campus based university but it has been said the entire town is the campus, as most of the building you see are probably in some way associated with the university (either as a office, teaching classroom or student flat). The closest St Andrews has to campuses are
North Haugh - (pronounced like haw, but with a strong gh ending) which is a collection of Science buildings near New Hall and University Hall
St Salvators ‘Sallies’ Quad - near St Salvators Hall and St Salvators Chapel (duh!), between The Scores and North Street where many Arts subjects are taught.
St Mary's Quad - near St Regulus Hall, just off South Street where mainly Divinity, Psychology and Biology are taught.
However there are MANY other university buildings dotted around town, so this does not mean if you study one of those subjects you will be only in that place (if only life was so easy!) and it does not mean you will be not have lectures in any other of the ‘campuses’ (for example lectures in North Haugh are common in first year for most subjects!
St Andrews regularly performs well in research assessments and teaching quality assessments so its pretty safe to say teaching is good in most subjects, but as this is frequently asked questions only, you will have to do your own research on that!
Q) How does the credit system work?
For most subjects you need to do 120 worth of modules total in a year. Each module has a number of credits associated with it, this MUST be made up with the required modules for your course (which can be found here
) plus whatever other modules you want (also found in the course catalogue as linked before), including if you want a maximum of 60 credits from another faculty. It is a good idea if you are still unsure about your degree to do the required modules for another degree with your spare credits, this gives you the option to switch later in your course.
Q) What are 1000/2000/3000 level modules?
It just shows which year the module is aimed at, in first year you generally do 1000 level modules and in second 2000 level etc, though you can do modules from any level as long as you meet the prereqs for the module, this usually only applies to second years though some first years have done second year modules due to timetable clashes or to make up credits
Q) Does St Andrews have any nightclubs?
Yes, sort of. St Andrews does have one small "nightclub" called The Lizard though some pubs have nightclub style nights such as The Vic which has recently been refurbished and nearby Dundee is very easily accessible for nightclubs (there are often deals done with pubs such as Rascals where you can buy a band and get the bus to Fat Sams which brings you back after the club shuts). Also a taxi back costs around £30-£40 and can carry up to 6 people, so can work out just a cheap on the weekends if you get a few mates together.
Q) What is the nightlife like?
St Andrews supposedly has the most pubs per unit area than anywhere else in Scotland so you will probably find a pub to suit you. If you are looking for cheap then the union is your best option with pints for £2 (for Tenants) and most spirit mixers for around £1.80+. It also has the latest licence open till 1am Sun-Wed and 2am Thurs-Sat (I know, its not that late, but its liveable). Honestly most people don’t start the night in the union, just finish it there as it doesn’t have that much else going for it, though there are plans in place for a massive re-vamp. Other than that there are too many bars and pubs to mention here, but there is bound to be something you like.
Q) I applied weeks ago and haven’t heard anything back, have I been rejected?
Not necessarily, St Andrews is notoriously slow at responding to applications, scholarships, accommodation requests and, well just about anything! Expect applications to be responded to February at the EARLIEST, scholarships around june / july and accommodation late June/July IF you have an unconditional. If you have a conditional, you will wait a couple of weeks after you meet your conditions till you're given your accommodation offer. Don’t expect anything to be responded to overnight!
Q) Why are courses in Scotland a year longer then in the rest of the UK?
Traditionally Scottish students enter university at 17 (though most stay on an extra year at school so enter at 18) and this year is made up at university. First year can sometimes be repetition of A-Level material, but around 60-70% of it is new so don’t worry about just hearing the same things again. Many Science subjects offer direct second year entry for applicants with good grades, this cuts your degree down a year so you spend the same amount of time as you would in the rest of the UK but many students decide NOT to do this as it would require A LOT of hard work in the first year to catch up (which IS possible if your are committed) and reduces degree flexibility as you have fewer ‘free’ credits to do other subjects.
Q) Is an MA from St Andews the same as a postgraduate MA from most other unis in the rest of the UK?
No. An undergraduate MA is just a title traditionally given out at ancient Scottish universities and is equivalent to an undergraduate BA at most newer universities, though upon graduation you can still use the letters MA and do not HAVE to mention that it is only an undergraduate MA
Q) Which is the best hall for my degree?
A map can be found here
to give you some sort of indication, though what most people don’t realise is that St Andrews is quite small! A walk from Fife Park to Albany Park (one side of the town to the other) can be comfortably done in 35-40 minutes. Most subjects are based in the town centre (around 20 minutes walk from the FURTHEST halls) though others are in other locations so check the map
Q) Can I specify which hall I want to apply to?
Only returning students can specify which hall they would prefer to apply to. First years rate their preferences for accommodation on the basis of self-catered or catered; standard or en-suite; and standard or single. Although if a first year wants Andrew Melville Hall, they can specifically choose this. Check out the Ultimate Accommodation Thread for more info on accommodation. Some first years have had varying degrees of success by writing on the form separately which hall they would prefer, but accommodation DO NOT have to condenser it if you do, though the general feed-back is it will improve your chances SLIGHTLY of getting the hall you want
Q) Does New Hall and DRA really have TVs in the rooms?
Yes, these halls are rented to tourists in the Summer so have TVs in the rooms, though please note you need to buy a TV licence to legally watch it. Also note these are the ONLY halls with TVs in the rooms though all halls have a shared TV room and you can bring your own TV with you if you wish, though you will need a TV licence.
Q) I will be 17 when I come, am I going to fit in and will I be able to go out to pubs?
At university there are people of loads of different ages, from 17 to 70 so age becomes just a number after you arrive (no, honestly, you just don’t bother asking anymore and can easily find yourself going out with a group whos age range could be 5 years or more!). As for getting served, you may have a problem, the union HAS to let you in but you cant legally buy alcohol. If you are caught it is an immediate 6 month ban so be warned. Most pubs also have bouncers on busy nights and ID checks at the bar (as Fife council is really clamping down on underage drinking) so elsewhere may be a problem, but there are quieter bars that turn a blind eye, these vary by year so you will have to see which ones do by the time you get here, but there is always somewhere that will happily make a few dishonest quids!
As a note on that point BRING ID IF YOU ARE UNDER 30, this should preferably either be a photo drivers licence/provisional or a passport. Seriously, places like Tesco have policies on alcohol (if you look under the age of 25, they will ID you). You can also get rejected if whoever your queuing with has no ID so its best to make sure you and everyone else has it!
Q) Should I bring a car?
If you want to, but you won't get much or any use from it. Fully able students can only park in DRA, New Hall and Albany Park car parks and only staff can park outside of academic buildings so day to day use would be difficult and expensive if parking in the busy town centre. Also everything is well within walking distance so the best idea is you can do without a car leave it at home.
Q) How expensive is ST Andrews / what should I budget?
St Andrews can be expensive if you are lazy or horribly bad with money, but if you are careful some people get along fine with a self catered £30 a week budget! Alcohol is probably what most students spend their money on, the union sells Tenents for £2 a pint and most sprit mixers around the £1.90 mark, though elsewhere a pint costs around £2.70-£3.00 and a spirit mixer for around £2.00-£3.00. A few pubs do midweek promotions with offers like £1.50 vodka + mixer. As for food, that depends on if you're catered or self catered and what you eat! We have a Tesco Metro (which only usually stocks the more expensive brands, but is in the town centre) a Morrisons, an Aldi and a brand new Sainsburys (or soon to be) so you can work out for yourself what you would spend, if you have NO idea ask your parent s what they spend then divide that by the number of people in your house, that will give you a high estimate of what you are likely to spend in a week, though with a few sacrifices you can bring that right down. As for everything else, well that’s down to you again. If you don’t NEED new clothes or NEED transport every day obviously it will cost you nothing, if the idea of having to walk to the shops in town to buy a new outfit for the weekend then you will have to take all this into account in your budget. Most people find when they come to uni a lot of money they wasted at home simply isn’t available so priorities wants and needs, just sit down, write a list and estimate for your self, you wont be far off!
Q) How much do the gowns cost and do I need to buy one?
At the moment, gowns cost about £135 new; they are cheaper second-hand but these sell out very quickly. You don't need to buy one, but it's a nice thing to have.
Q) If I am in the Arts/Sciences faculty can I do modules from the other?
Yes, in first year at least you can usually do around 40-60 credits of modules in another faculty to your main degree (depending on your main degrees module commitments)
Q) Can I transfer from my original degree to another degree?
If you are still a prospective student (as in you haven't yet started at St Andrews) you should email the admissions tutor for the course that you have originally applied and tell them what course you want to change to and why. They will then get back to you with a definitive answer. If it is a radical change (e.g. from English to Maths) you'd need a damn good reason to change before you start the course, however if you wait until the start of semester and do modules in both your original course AND the course you want to change to it will be far easier to swap courses in second year.
If you are a current student and want to swap courses you should email your advisor to discuss you options (usually via a meeting) however if you have all the prerequisite modules for the course you want to change to there shouldn't be any problem.