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The Danish learning environment may not be as formal as you are used to.

As an international student, you might find that things are done differently than what you’re used to from your home country.

It might be new for you that the Danish educational system often has a very informal relationship between student and teacher. The environment in class and the amount of group work may differ from what you expect or are used to.

This page will help you figure out the wide range of activities related to studying in Denmark, getting to know the academic field and to create the appropriate framework for your studies.

Academic and social behaviour

Active participation

"Active participation in classrooms is expected and encouraged - it is even, in some cases, the core of the teaching itself,” says Sarah Croix, an international PhD student at Arts.

The objective of active participation is to get you to reflect upon the topics and the material presented during the course. When teachers asks questions in class it is often not to test you but to get an interesting discussion going and to get an idea of how well students understand the topic.

For active participation it is essential to be well prepered before a lecture or class and to engage in group work and feedback activities.


Informal relationship

From time to time you might be surprised by the very informal relationship between students and teachers in Denmark. For instance it is not uncommon that a student expresses clear disagreement with the teacher's ideas or methods in the classroom.


Do & Don't

To help you navigate in the academic and social behavior we have gathered a list of what to do and what not to do.



  • Call you teachers by their first name.

  • Present your point of view in class.

  • Feel free to disagree with the teacher or the textbook.

  • Ask the teacher questions about an assignment.

  • Talk to the teacher if you have any problems.

  • Call your teachers by their title and surname.

  • Expect to be left alone during the class.

  • Just repeat what the author says.

  • Suppose everybody else has better ideas than you do.

  • Panic if you don’t understand the reading.

Studying at Aarhus University

When everything is new it is easy to get a little bit confused but there are things you can do in order to find your footing and benefit as much as possible from your time here at the university. You might:

  • Take the online course Study@AU for international students - In the course you get all the information you need to get started at the university. You find the course in Brightspace under 'My courses'.
  • Find a study group – Many courses at the university include group work as a compulsory and important part of the structure of the course.
  • Use the library - Aarhus University provide several study facilities at the State and University Library. Sometimes it is possible to get your own place to study. Ask your own department about the availability of personal workplaces there.
  • Get help – it is often difficult to see the big picture right away and you always have the possibility to get help and guidance at AU.

What did other international students experience?

Watch this video where four international students tell what surprised them the most when they first came to Aarhus University.

Literature about academic skills