University of Bristol

Bristol, United Kingdom
Website: Founded: 1876 year Type of University:Public 91 place StudyQA ranking: 9128 pts. No. Students: 21555 No. Staff: 6138 Languages: English Phone: +441179289000 Fax: +441179251424
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About University of Bristol

The University of Bristol (abbreviated as Bris. in post-nominal letters, sometimes referred to as Bristol University) is a red brickresearch university located in Bristol, United Kingdom. It received its royal charter in 1909, and its predecessor institution,University College, Bristol, had been in existence since 1876.

Bristol is organised into six academic faculties composed of multiple schools and departments running over 200 undergraduate courses situated in the Clifton area along with three of its nine halls of residence. The other six halls are located in Stoke Bishop, an outer city suburb located 1.8 miles away. The university had a total income of £530.9 million in 2014/15, of which £148.4 million was from research grants and contracts. It is the largest independent employer in Bristol.

The University of Bristol is ranked 11th in the UK for its research, according to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 by GPA. The University of Bristol is ranked 37th by the QS World University Rankings 2015-16, and is ranked amongst the top ten of UK universities by QS, THE, and ARWU. A highly selective institution, it has an average of 6.4 (Sciences faculty) to 13.1 (Medicine & Dentistry Faculty) applicants for each undergraduate place. The University of Bristol is the youngest British university to be ranked among the top 40 institutions in the world according to the QS World University Rankings, and has also been ranked at 15th in the world in terms of reputation with employers, placing higher than several American Ivy League universities, includingPrinceton University, Cornell and UPenn.

Current academics include 21 fellows of the Academy of Medical Sciences, 13 fellows of the British Academy, 13 fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering and 44 fellows of the Royal Society. The university has been associated with 12 Nobel laureates throughout its history, including Paul Dirac, Sir William Ramsay, Cecil Frank Powell, Sir Winston Churchill, Dorothy Hodgkin, Hans Albrecht Bethe, Max Delbrück, Gerhard Herzberg, Sir Nevill Francis Mott, Harold Pinter, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio and most recently, 2015 Economics Nobel Prize winner Angus Deaton.

Bristol is a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive British universities, the European-wide Coimbra Group and theWorldwide Universities Network, of which the university's previous vice-chancellor, Eric Thomas, was chairman from 2005 to 2007.In addition, the university holds an Erasmus Charter, sending more than 500 students per year to partner institutions in Europe.

History of Bris

Before the University of Bristol, there was University College, Bristol

University College, Bristol existed from 1876 to 1909 and was the precursor to the University of Bristol.

Its history can be traced back to the efforts of John Percival, headmaster of Clifton College, to press for the establishment of such an institution. In 1872, Percival wrote to the Oxford colleges observing that the provinces lacked a university culture. The following year he produced a pamphlet called 'The Connection of the Universities and the Great Towns', which was well received by Benjamin Jowett, Master of Balliol College, Oxford. Jowett was to become a significant figure, both philosophically and financially, in the establishment of University College, Bristol.

In June 1874, a meeting took place at Bristol's Victoria Rooms 'to promote a School of Science and Literature for the West of England'. Percival and Jowett spoke at the meeting, and won the support of Albert Fry and Lewis Fry, members of an influential and affluent local family.

University College, Bristol finally opened its doors at 9 am on Tuesday 10 October 1876 in rented premises at 32 Park Row. Initially there were two professors and five lecturers offering courses in 15 subjects. The College was open to men and women on the same basis (except in medicine). During the first session, 99 day students registered (30 men and 69 women) and 238 evening ones (143 men and 95 women).

Alfred Marshall, a groundbreaking economist, served as Principal of the College until 1881. He taught evening classes while his wife, Mary Paley, the first woman lecturer, taught during the day. Her fee was deducted from her husband's salary. The second Principal was William Ramsay, discoverer of the so-called noble gases. He left in 1887 (and received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1904), but remained influential in the College's efforts to become a university with its own Royal Charter. His successor was Conwy Lloyd Morgan, a geologist and zoologist who also became a pioneering experimental psychologist. He, too, was closely involved in the campaign for full university status, and would eventually become the University of Bristol's first Vice-Chancellor.

For University College, Bristol, life was a financial struggle, although in 1890 it received a £2,000 boost from the local Technical Instruction Committee. There was more good news in 1893 when the Bristol Medical School, which had been created in 1833, was formally incorporated into the College. Further encouragement came in 1896, when Commissioners from the Treasury reported that 'there is evidently vigorous life in the place, and the work done is of the University type'. The foundation of the University College Colston Society in 1899 was another highly significant development, drawing a broad spectrum of influential figures into supporting the College.

The campaign for a Charter gained momentum in 1904 with the appointment of Morris Travers as Professor of Chemistry. Travers, who had been recommended for the job by former Principal, William Ramsay, was an energetic and decisive man who set about gaining financial and political support for Bristol's plans. He was backed by some powerful individuals, including Lewis Fry, Chairman of the College Council, R B (later Lord) Haldane and members of the Wills family.

By 1906, Lewis Fry felt ready to put the plan to promote a university for Bristol on a formal footing, and an executive committee was formed. However, problems continued - Travers left to direct a research institute in India that year, and it proved very difficult to lift the College's endowment above the total of £30,000 that had been donated by members of the Wills and Fry families.

Everything changed on 14 January 1908, when H O Wills promised to donate £100,000 - a massive sum - provided that a Charter was granted within two years. The Wills gift set off a chain reaction, and more money was raised within 24 hours than had been attracted during the previous three decades.

Now things really started to move. After years of discussion, it was agreed that the Merchant Venturers' College and elements of the University College - formerly rivals - would merge to form a new Faculty of Engineering. Furthermore, the City Council offered the proceeds of a penny rate (some £7,000 a year), subject to a Charter being obtained. Best of all, when a petition for a Charter was submitted to the Privy Council, it met with royal favour.

On 24 May 1909, 33 years after University College opened, the Charter, approved by King Edward VII, came into effect. It was a day of celebration across Bristol and the beginning of the story told in our University timeline.

Undergraduate applicants may use UCAS system or Common App (for all courses except medicine, dentistry and veterinary sciences). International students may find country-specific admission criteria on the website. For instant, student from Russia with a Certificate of secondary education may be admitted to the Univeristy of Bristol only after foundation/bridging program, while those with International Baccalaureate/A-level degree may apply directly to undergraduate programs.

Graduate students have to use university's website for application. All documents should be uploaded on this website and the admission decision will also be provided on the website.

International students should provide English test results in order to apply to both undergraduate and graduate programs. University of Bristol accept various tests, including IELTS, TOEFL, CAE/CPE and some others. Language requirements may depend on the type of program: they are typically higher for Art&Humanities and lower for Science programs. For instance, the highest IELTS score required (profile A) for undergraduate and graduate programs is 7.5 (7.0 in each section).


Institutional Accreditation or Recognition - Privy Council

Year of first Accreditation 1909


  • Edition of 21 July 2011 of Times Higher Education reported that Bristol was fifth in a UK league table for the highest proportion of students with A-level grades AAB or better.
  • Bristol was ranked 10th overall in the The Sunday Times 10-year (1998–2007) average ranking of British universities based on consistent league table performance
  • A member of the 'Sutton 13' of top ranked Universities in the UK.
  • Internationally, the 2012/2013 QS World University Rankings placed Bristol at 28th overall in the world.
  • The rankings also placed Bristol at 15th in the world in terms of reputation with employers, placing higher than several American Ivy Leagueuniversities, including Princeton University, Cornell and UPenn.
  • Bristol was chosen as the ninth best university in the UK for the quality of graduates according to recruiters from the UK's major companies.
  • Another international ranking, the Shanghai Jiao Tong UniversityAcademic Ranking of World Universities, placed Bristol 64th globally in 2013
  • The Times Higher Education World University Ranking placed Bristol at 66th in 2011.
  • Competition for places is high with an average 7.7 applications per place according to the 2014 Sunday Times League Tables, making it the joint 11th most competitive university in the UK.
  • According to data published in The Sunday Times, Bristol has the sixth-highest percentage of "good honours" of any UK university.
  • In the 2010 Centre for Higher Education's Development's Excellence Rankings, Bristol is one of only four UK universities (Oxford, UCL and Manchester) to be rated Excellent in all seven departments.
  • The following courses offered by the University of Bristol managed to reach top 5 in The 'Times ranking (2008): Computer Science (3rd); Electrical and Electronic Engineering(3rd); Civil Engineering(5th); Biological Sciences(3rd); Mathematics (3rd); and Psychology (4th). Furthermore, the QS World University Rankings place Bristol in the world's top 100 universities for all subject areas in 2011: Arts and Humanities (57th), Natural Sciences (40th), Engineering & IT (83rd), Social Sciences (65th) and Life Sciences (70th).A further breakdown of the QS World University Natural Sciences Ranking shows the following: Earth Sciences (25th), Mathematics (35th), Environmental Sciences (39th), Physics (41st), and Chemistry (48th).
  • In addition, Bristol is particularly strong in the field of social sciences, particularly in economics, finance and management, and was rated fourth in the 2008 Guardian University Guide for Business and Management Studies.
  • In 2011, The Guardian also ranked Bristol as third in the UK for geography, just behind second place Oxford and ranked Bristol as 1st in the UK for Music.
  • In The Complete University Guide 2013, Bristol ranked fifth for German, fourth for Russian, third for mechanical and civil engineering, third for music and second for drama.

Student life @Bristol

Students' union

The University of Bristol Union (Bristol SU or BSU) located on Queen's Road is a founding member of the National Union of Students and is amongst the oldest students' unions in England. The union oversees the two media outlets of the university, the Bristol University Radio Station (BURST) and the student newspaper Epigram. In terms of student life, the union is responsible for the organisation of the annual freshers' fair, the co-ordination of Bristol Student Community Action, which organises volunteering projects in the local community, and the organisation of entertainment events and very large number of student societies. Previous presidents have included Sue Lawley and former Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Öpik. There is a separate union for postgraduate students, as well as an athletic union, which is a member of the British Universities & Colleges Sport. In distinction to the "blues" awarded for sporting excellence at Oxford and Cambridge, Bristol's most successful athletes are awarded "reds".

Culture and the Arts

Art galleries

From the Royal West of England Academy (RWA), Spike Island and Arnolfini to numerous smaller galleries, Bristol has a thriving art scene. A major feature is the element of surprise: Banksy’s unannounced exhibition at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery made world headlines, and temporary galleries have a habit of springing up overnight in disused shop spaces, thanks to an initiative by Bristol City Council.


Bristol is a major centre of media production, so naturally it has a large screen or two. The city is well served by several multiplexes, plus a few smaller first-run cinemas like the Orpheus. The Watershed began as a place to see arthouse films, and has now evolved into a cultural and media venue; Arnolfini, just across the river, regularly screens foreign and independent films; and the Cube in Kingsdown presents obscure, not-so-obscure, and cult movies.    


The Bristol Old Vic is the oldest and best-known of the local theatres, but it has some serious competition in the form of the Tobacco Factory, which has mounted a series of critically acclaimed Shakespeare productions and brings high-quality, independent touring companies to Bristol with new and often unusual shows. Open-air productions have become a feature of the summers – plenty of Shakespeare, but also street theatre and productions drawing on local history.


Bristol has several major museums, from traditional Victorian (Bristol Museum and Art Gallery) to 21st-century interactive (M Shed, the At-Bristol science centre, and the award-winning SS Great Britain). On a smaller scale are Blaise Castle House Museum, the Red Lodge, and the Georgian House – three historic houses where the past comes to life.

Music venues

Bristol’s live music venues host every genre of music imaginable. Colston Hall has everything from symphony orchestras to solo singer-songwriters; the Fleece, the Thekla and the O2 Academy specialise in indie and alt rock acts; the Folk House and St Bonaventure focus on traditional folk and roots music; and St George’s offers an eclectic mix of classical, jazz, pop, folk, world music and everything in between


The Harbour festival

The Bristol Harbour Festival, which marked its 40th anniversary in 2011, began as a celebration of the city’s maritime heritage – and now encompasses much more. Besides the hundreds of sailing boats, tall ships and old-time craft that gather in the Floating Harbour, there are music stages, a dance stage, street theatre, water displays, food stalls, and sundry other attractions – all on, or near, the Harbourside.

Film festivals

The moving image gets its own spotlight at several annual events in Bristol. The Watershed holds a number of festivals and special seasons every year, including Bristol Encounters and Afrika Eye, and is one of the partners in the Slapstick Festival of silent comedy.

Food festivals

Bristolian palates are well served by a number of annual events that celebrate good food. The Soil Association holds its Organic Food Festival on the Harbourside every autumn; the Love Food Festival invites people of all ages into the countryside to learn about locally sourced produce and how to grow and cook their own food; and Vegfest Bristol, one of Europe’s largest vegetarian and vegan festivals. 

Literary and arts festivals

Need some mental stimulation? The Bristol Festival of Ideas runs throughout the year, presenting a dizzying range of artists, writers and public figures. Jonathan Miller, Jon Ronson, Germaine Greer, Richard Dawkins, Kristin Hersh... the list is virtually endless, and everyone has their own favourite. Then there’s the Bristol Poetry Festival, the Bristol Festival of Literature, and the University’s own InsideArts festival.


Caffeine – the student’s friend – is in plentiful supply all over Bristol, with hotspots clustered around the University precinct. You’ve got your tried-and-trusted international chains, of course, and regional outlets like the Boston Tea Party, but there are also smaller-scale, more local affairs that fly the flag of independence: Café Sazz in Bedminster, Café Kino in Stokes Croft, and dozens of others.  


To say that clubbers are spoiled for choice in Bristol would be putting it mildly. Close to the University precinct is the Bunker, open six nights a week and almost always packed to the rafters. Closer to the city centre is Motion, something of a legend on the underground scene and responsible for an autumn-long season of live music and DJ sets.

Pubs and bars

Bristol’s nightlife has been going strong since at least the early 17th century, when pubs such as the Llandoger Trow and The Hatchet Inn first opened. Younger establishments have sprung up in every quarter, from the classy hangouts on Park Street and the Harbourside to the older, wood-panelled pubs on St Michael’s Hill, Gloucester Road and elsewhere.


Bristol’s eateries are as diverse and international as its inhabitants: the city’s neighbourhoods often spring surprises on you in the form of funky little outposts of world cuisine. Fancy trying Greek, Polish, Nepalese, West African, Lebanese...? Close to the University are a gamut of restaurants, including famous names such as Jamie Oliver’s Italian, Wagamama, Ask, and Pizza Express.

Live music

Whatever your musical bag, Bristol has a venue for it. Some, like the Bristol Folk House or the Old Duke jazz pub, specialise in particular genres; others cover the whole spectrum. Foremost among the latter is Colston Hall, which since 1867 has hosted the likes of Sergei Rachmaninov, Paul Robeson, Duke Ellington, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, and Portishead.

Why choose Bristol?

  • One of the top 40 universities in the world (QS World University rankings 2015)
  • The 4th most targeted university by top UK employers
  • City life in Bristol voted the best in Britain by 20,000 students across the country
  • 86% of students awarded a First or 2:1 (who completed their first degree in 2013/14)
  • A distinguished heritage - In 1929 Sir Winston Churchill was appointed the University's third Chancellor
  • 'Beating heart' surgery technique was pioneered at Bristol and is now used in 15-20% of operations worldwide
  • £56.5 million Life Sciences building opened in September 2014
  • Over 450 parks and open spaces
  • 200+ international work placements undertaken in 2013/14
  • 12 Nobel Prizes awarded to Bristol graduates and members of staff
  • 500+ employer visits to campus each year
  • 83% of research rated as "world leading" and "internationally excellent"(2014 REF)
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