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International students are expected to follow either the International Course for Education or Liberal Arts.  See the handbooks below for further details.

In addition to formal studies, each group of incoming students since 1996 has reported a great 'esprit de corps' through various social, cultural and recreational activities.



International students walking on Divis Mountain in March 2017 with the spectacular backdrop to the city of Belfast


Incoming students who are training to be teachers will follow courses in academic disciplines, education and pedagogical studies. They will also undertake a teaching placement in a local school (either primary or post-primary). Students who are not studying Education will take courses in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and will undertake a period of work-based learning if required.

It is to be expected that most visiting Education students will wish to experience teaching practice in Northern Ireland. Therefore, the College encourages these students to come to Belfast in the second semester. In that semester we can offer:

  • A period of four/five weeks in a school;
  • Assessment of teaching;
  • The necessary courses in college to prepare for this teaching experience.

In Semester One, only one week of teaching practice is possible and it is non-assessable. This will be in a school in Belfast.

During the block teaching practice in Semester Two, St Mary's students spend four/five weeks in a classroom with the class teacher. They begin by observing and assisting the class teacher. After a few days they begin to take lessons with the children. A lesson will be of 30 to 40 minutes duration, and in the second week, a student may take two such lessons each day. By the end of the teaching practice, a student has increased this to three or more lessons per day. This placement is also in a school in Belfast.

The lessons taken cover the range of the primary school curriculum, with emphasis on English, Mathematics, Science and Religious Education. Other subjects include Art, Drama, Geography, History, Music, Physical Education and Technology.

When the student is not teaching his or her own lessons, he is expected to work with the class teacher, assisting small groups or individual children. The student is also expected to assist with the overall management of the class and to contribute to the life of the school. During the period of practice, he/she will receive a pastoral visit from a member of the teaching staff of the College, who, in conjunction with the class, teacher will award a grade. At the end of the period of School Experience, the student is required to submit to his/her coordinator a reflective journal based on activities carried out in the classroom. Successful completion of the period of practice, plus submission of the journal, will result in the award of six ECTS credits.

You can watch a short presentation of the ERASMUS experience at St Mary's created by an ex International Student from Belgium.