Attending university in the UK could represent a brand new format of study to what you are used to.

A traditional academic year in the UK runs from September to May/June (exam dependent). Depending on exams at the end of the year, students will have approximately eight months of study whilst working through their course.

Over those eight months, students will have the opportunity to enjoy time away from the classroom during holiday periods throughout the year.

Typically the UK university academic year is broken into three terms, that span over two semesters.

UK University Terms

  • Term 1 starts in September and is completed in the middle of December, prior to the Winter/Christmas break.
  • Term 2 starts in January, after the Winter break, before ending in late March around Easter.
  • The third and final term starts in April and concludes in May/June for the Summer break.

These three terms span two semesters. The first semester begins the new academic year in September, ending before Christmas. The second semester begins in January and then runs until the start of the summer break, which is normally in May/June.

Below we break down a typical year at a UK university by each semester and month.

Term 1

Semester 1


Your timetable and course starts to take shape, with some of your first assignments being set from your modules. The university experience really gets going, friendships continue to form and develop.

BUCS sport season gets underway in mid-October!


As you work your way through your studies and assignments, often part way through a term you’ll get what’s called a “Reading Week”. Reading Weeks are short breaks that give you time to catch up on your course reading and complete any assignments you still have. These weeks will often be on different weeks depending on the course you are studying. In the Sporting Calendar, a variety of events in niche sports are held over the month and league seasons prepare for the winter break – returning in mid-late January.


Once you hit the month of December, you have almost completed your first term and semester.

The final assignments of your modules for the semester are due to be handed in before the Christmas or Winter break, once you have completed all of them your roughly two-three week holiday begins. However, you must be aware that, depending on your course, you may have assignments to complete over the Christmas / Winter break.

Term 2

Semester 2


In late August, students will arrive in the UK and/or on the university campus (depending on the location of student housing).

An “Induction Week” for your course will start in the first week of September, allowing you to meet all your fellow coursemates and lecturers who you’ll be seeing quite a bit of in your year of study. During your induction week, there will be something known as ‘Freshers’. Every university Freshers Week is different and involves club fairs in a sporting and society context, day events, and night activities. The rest of September starts to form a routine for you and your studies.


In the new year, your second semester begins. Universities in the UK tend to go back on the first Tuesday of the year after any Bank Holiday outstanding is taken. The new year represents the start of new modules and a return to studies.

The season of sport gets back underway in late January.


Assignments start to come through thick and fast as you move into February. As the year continues, the pressure will start to slightly grow on your schedule.

The sport season returns in full swing with League and Cup fixtures played. BUCS Nationals is held, the second biggest sports event on the calendar.


This is the month where your studies hot up with lectures, seminars, workshops, or tutorials filling your workweek schedule. Time management is vital as you work your way towards the end of the second term. The second and final reading week tends to occur this month (course dependent).

In late March/early April, Easter is around the corner and term two comes to an end.

BUCS Big Wednesday is held, the biggest sports event on the calendar! Varsity matches between various universities commence.

Term 3

Semester 2


After spring break, you return to your studies for the final push towards your degree. Pressure is at its highest in the final free months of study, focus and time management are key as term three begins. If your course requires an exam to be completed, you will be prepping and/or taking some of your exams this month.


Your year at university comes to a close, final assignments are given in and final marks are confirmed in May. If your course requires exams to be completed, exams will be spread out across the months of May and June. Exam season is hugely important with grades counting towards final gradings.


You have successfully made it through a typical year at university and have the summer to relax before doing it all over again – depending on whether you are studying for a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Learn more about studying at a UK university

We help students to evaluate what universities they are eligible for, where they have the best chance for scholarships, and which university offers them the best opportunity to play their sport at a high level.

Learn more about studying at a university in the UK via the link below.

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