Get the Real Experience at SHU

Jake T., Bachelor of Justice
Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom (Semester 1, 2017)

So, if you asked anyone from Australia to pin point exactly where Sheffield is in the United Kingdom, you’d be pretty far stretched to find someone who actually could. Well, I want to put Sheffield on the map. Over the past year, I spent my time studying abroad in the most underrated town and university in the UK. Okay, so maybe I’m a little biased because my girlfriend lives there, but hear me out. Sheffield Hallam University, or SHU as it’s fondly known as, is amazing, not because it’s old or in the top 10 unis in the world, but because it’s real. SHU is the kind of uni actual English people go to, not just exchange students. It’s the real Northern England. I mean come on guys, we go to the ‘Uni of the real world’ and this place is authentic. I love the fact that I never heard another Australian accent once, in fact for the whole year I was at SHU I don’t think there was another Aussie there. Sheffield is also extraordinary, it’s a town specifically built for uni students; there’s heaps of bars, and everywhere you go has student discounts.

The amount of students helps reiterate the fact that Sheffield is one of the safest cities in the UK, and it’s cheap compared to most major cities. Sure it’s not London or Manchester, but hop on a train and you can go anywhere soon enough. I still travelled all of Europe from Sheffield as well (and yes I found a little bit of time to study). SHU is great for another reason too, they have more students coming out the whazoo to come to QUT, so I got to apply late to go, and study abroad at QUT doesn’t usually allow you to stay for two semesters at one UK uni but hey, at SHU you can. Not to mention the staff from SHU helped me out tremendously and I almost received a round of applause for helping an SHU student be able to see the sun in Brisbane. I’m still picking my brain as to why no one wants to go to Sheffield Hallam, it’s awesome and I’ve come back to Australia wishing I was there instead trying to understand the northern accent (don’t try to, just nod and say yes) and eating greasy cheesy chips from a shop with questionable hygiene. Study Abroad for me wasn’t about the class and sophistication Cambridge university, it was about having an authentic and real experience. If you want to pretend you’re a real English student, attend a three letter uni, meet genuine people, go to Sheffield Hallam.

Why I Chose To Study Journalism Abroad at Sheffield Hallam University


You’ve dreamt about studying journalism abroad for years, and now the time has come to choose the university you want to study at in the UK. There’s just one catch: you need to sort through all of QUTs compatible UK universities with a journalism degree to find the one that’s right for you. It sounds like a lot, but don’t stress! Whatever you want from an overseas university – whether it be an ease-of-travel location or accredited journalism experience – Sheffield Hallam University will be a definite contender for one of your top three preferences.


Sheffield Hallam University is based in Sheffield; a city in which one in every ten residents is a student. With such a large amount of students in its populous, Sheffield has developed with its students in mind – it’s safe, green, cheap, independent and lively!


To cater to such a large student population, Sheffield has established a diverse, student-safe nightlife. Pubs, clubs, restaurants and cinemas offer discounts to anyone wielding a student card and student nights are held during the week, to avoid the weekend rush. Talk about convenience!


Sheffield is at the midway point between London (England’s capital city) and Edinburgh (Scotland’s capital city), making it the perfect place to study at if you want to explore the UK.


Sheffield links into national motorways, national and local bus lines, inland waterway services and local cycling routes. It also boasts several major railway routes via the Sheffield railway station – perfect for those fleeting weekend getaways. To top it off, Sheffield also neighbours Leeds Bradford International airport, which flies to over 75 European destinations. Talk about it being too easy to travel abroad!


Temperatures average at about 15°C during Sheffield’s hottest month of the year, August, and dip down to an average of 3°C in its coldest month, January. Don’t get me wrong, those are some cold temperatures – but it’s not the wear-ten-pairs-of-socks kind of cold. Plus, the small variance in temperatures between the seasons ensures the transition from summer to winter (and back again) isn’t too much of an unsettling experience.


The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment or complex in Sheffield is around £130 per week. This is a lot cheaper than the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the UK, which sits at around £185 per week. However, it’s still a fair amount, especially considering the conversion rate from dollars to pounds. The good news is Sheffield Hallam University has a solution for this – student accommodation!


Sheffield Hallam University’s student accommodation is grouped into three price ranges to ensure there’s housing suitable for every student’s budget. With prices starting at £81 per week, these properties are significantly cheaper than private accommodation. Plus, they often come with additional benefits, such as security, designated parking and a close proximity to campus.


Sheffield Hallam University has a great reputation internationally, thanks to its success as one of Britain’s most progressive and innovative universities. Studying at a university with such a solid international reputation looks great on paper, and can even open the door to enriching connections, internships or jobs in the future!


All of the teaching staff at Sheffield Hallam University are experts in their academic subjects. This not only helps inspire student learning, but also allows you to make important real world connections.


Sheffield Hallam University’s international experience team rolls out the red carpet service before you even set foot in England. They offer a 24-hour turnover time for emails, advice on how to prepare for your semester abroad and – shocker – the team will even help you with your visa application. This great service doesn’t stop once you arrive, with the team operating an optional (and free!) airport pick-up service from Manchester Airport to Sheffield Hallam University. New international students are also welcome to join entertaining orientation events held by the international experience team to get to know their campus, settle in and meet other campus newbies.


The BA (Honours) of Journalism is taught by award-winning journalists and academics – all of whom are members of the Association of Journalism Educators. And as if that’s wasn’t incentive enough, the course is also ranked in the top ten journalism degrees in the UK in the Guardian University Guide, 2016!


All of Sheffield Hallam University’s courses are designed to maximise your job prospects – even during my semester as an international exchange student! Their BA (Honours) Journalism degree will help me get industry-ready with:

  • Practical experience, such as: creating a live online newspaper; writing articles for magazines; and producing TV and radio packages.
  • The option to undertake work experience at a media organisation for credit points – a great way to spice up my resume while overseas!
  • And, the option to specialise in areas such as sports journalism, feature writing and social media.

Settling in Sheffield, England

I opted to live in University Halls of Residence so I would have a guaranteed flat ready for me the day I arrived, so bills were inclusive and so I could easily meet fellow students. I would recommend this as a preferred option over private housing as not only are the halls usually located closer to the University (all are within 30 minutes walking distance) and other facilities such as supermarkets, public transport and pharmacies, but there are so many extra-circular activities you can get involved in which makes meeting people so much easier. Sheffield Hallam has a great website which lists all the student halls available (there are around 30) and what facilities and amenities they include. The application process was then simply completed through this website, and all international students are guaranteed a room.

The cost of living in England is also very similar to Australia (inter-city and travel to Europe is extremely cheap however), but I would advise potential students to consider the exchange rate whilst budgeting. Once the exchange rate is considered, a student can easily compare the cost of living in England to Brisbane, with the extra money due to it being slightly cheaper being put towards travelling! Llyods bank in England offer short term bank accounts which are ideal for international students. I used both this account as well as a multicurrency cash passport to transfer my finances. Another strength of Sheffield Hallam is that they offer support for setting up a bank account for all International students.

On the whole, studying in England is extremely similar to Australia and QUT. It is a great option for those who want to travel and experience living abroad, yet don’t feel comfortable in being immersed in a new culture and language. It is undoubtable that I gained valuable skills through completing the exchange such as confidence, self-reliance, cultural sensitivity, resilience, flexibility, enthusiasm, initiative, determination and the ability to take risks and work under pressure; as well as international travel experience. I also joined the Sheffield Hallam University Architecture Society independent of my study requirements where I conversed with likeminded Architecture students and professionals at corporate events, networking functions and guest lectures. Therefore, exchange not only gave me the opportunity to gain personal skills but professional and academic alike.

If I wasn’t in the last six months of my degree I would have done a yearlong exchange!

Sheffield Hallam University = Similar to QUT

Arriving to this at Sheffield Hallam University

Arriving to this at Sheffield Hallam University

I arrived in Sheffield two weeks prior to commencing university so I could explore my surrounds, do a few sightseeing trips (ie. to London, Leeds, Manchester etc) and attend my pre-enrolment sessions. It was great to have time to settle in and see a bit of England before university pressures surmounted, and the latter was simple yet informative and helpful in my transition to Sheffield Hallam. The International Staff at Sheffield Hallam are incredibly helpful, as are the general English student body I found. This was a first impression which carried through the entire semester.

During my semester abroad I studied four units, which only had one assessment piece (100%) each which was a much easier work load than the usual three assessments items per subject at QUT! Despite the smaller workload, the subjects I studied at Sheffield Hallam were extremely similar to those at QUT both in delivery and content. The majority of English universities use BlackBoard and other administrative processes and teaching methods, such as assignment hand in procedures, CRA sheets and lecture and tutorial sign on, were also similar to QUT. This aided immensely in the transition to university abroad, and the smaller workload gave me extra time to travel.

Sheffield Hallam consists of two campuses, both within 30 minutes’ walk of each other; however, all my classes were located at the city campus. The city campus is ideally located right in the middle of the city centre, surrounded by shops, eateries, the train and bus station and student accommodation. Additionally, both campuses have a range of facilities such as computer labs, libraries, printing and copying services, resource rooms, eateries, sports venues, gyms, etc.