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University of Southampton

Southampton, United Kingdom
Website: Founded: 1862 year Type of University:Public 127 place StudyQA ranking: 8290 pts. No. Students: 23795 No. Staff: 5000 Languages: English Phone: +442380595000 Fax: +442380593131
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About the University of Southampton

The University of Southampton (abbreviated as Soton in post-nominal letters) is a public research university located inSouthampton, England. The origins of the university date back to the founding of the Hartley Institution in 1862 following a legacy to the Corporation of Southampton by Henry Robinson Hartley. In 1902, the Institution developed into the Hartley University College awarding degrees from the University of London. On 29 April 1952, the institution was granted a Royal Charter to give the University of Southampton full university status, allowing it to award its own degrees.

The university has seven teaching campuses. The main campus is located in the Highfield area of Southampton and is supplemented by four other campuses within the city: Avenue Campus housing the Faculty of Humanities, the National Oceanography Centre housing courses in Ocean and Earth Sciences, Southampton General Hospital offering courses in Medicine and Health Sciences, and Boldrewood Campus an engineering and maritime technology campus housing also the university's strategic ally Lloyd's Register. In addition, the university operates a School of Art based in nearby Winchester and an international branch in Malaysia offering courses in Engineering. Each campus is equipped with its own library facilities.

The University of Southampton currently has 16,150 undergraduate and 7,645 postgraduate students, making it the largest university by higher education students in the South East region. The University of Southampton Students' Union, provides support, representation and social activities for the students ranging from involvement in the Union's four media outlets to any of the 200 affiliated societies and 80 sports. The university owns and operates a sports ground at nearby Wide Lane for use by students and also operates a sports centre on the main campus.

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework Southampton was ranked 8th for research intensity. Besides being recognised as one of the leading research universities in the UK, Southampton has also achieved consistently high scores for its teaching and learning activities. It additionally has one of the highest proportions of income derived from research activities in Britain,and is regularly ranked in the top 100 universities in the world. As of 2015, Southampton is one of the few universities to achieve a top 20 UK position in the most established national and international rankings (along Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial, UCL, LSE and Warwick). In the 2016 edition of U.S. News & World Report, Southampton is placed in the top 10 of British Universities. It is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities in Britain and a member of theEuropean University Association, the Association of Commonwealth Universities and is an accredited institution of theWorldwide Universities Network.

History of the University of Southampton

Hartley Institution

The University of Southampton has its origin as the Hartley Institution which was formed in 1862 from a benefaction by Henry Robinson Hartley (1777–1850). Hartley had inherited a fortune from two generations of successful wine merchants. At his death in 1850, he left a bequest of £103,000 to the Southampton Corporation for the study and advancement of the sciences in his property on Southampton's High Street, in the city centre.

Hartley was an eccentric straggler, who had little liking of the new age docks and railways in Southampton He did not desire to create a college for many (as formed at similar time in other English industrial towns and commercial ports) but a cultural centre for Southampton's intellectual elite. After lengthy legal challenges to the Bequest, and a public debate as to how best interpret the language of his Will, the Southampton Corporation choose to create the Institute (rather than a more widely accessible college, that some public figures had lobbied for).

On 15 October 1862, the Hartley Institute was opened by the Prime Minister Lord Palmerston in a major civic occasion which exceeded in splendor anything that anyone in the town could remember. After initial years of financial struggle, the Hartley Institute became the Hartley College in 1883. This move was followed by increasing numbers of students, teaching staff, an expansion of the facilities and registered lodgings for students.

University College

In 1902, the Hartley College became the Hartley University college, a degree awarding branch of the University of London. This was after inspection of the teaching and finances by the University College Grants Committee, and donations from Council members (including William Darwin the then Treasurer). An increase in student numbers in the following years motivated fund raising efforts to move the college to greenfield landaround Back Lane (now University Road) in the Highfield area of Southampton. On 20 June 1914, Viscount Haldane opened the new site of the renamed Southampton University College. However, the outbreak of the First World War six weeks later meant no lectures could take place there, as the buildings were handed over by the college authorities for use as a military hospital. To cope with the volume of casualties, wooden huts were erected at the rear of the building. These were donated to university by the War Office after the end of fighting, in time for the transfer from the high street premises in 1920. At this time, Highfield Hall, a former country house and overlookingSouthampton Common, for which a lease had earlier been secured, commenced use as a halls of residence for female students. South Hill, on what is now the Glen Eyre Halls Complex was also acquired, along with South Stoneham House to house male students.

Further expansions through the 1920s and 1930s was made possible through private donors, such as the two daughters of Edward Turner Sims for the construction of the university library, and from the people of Southampton, enabling new buildings on both sides of University Road. During World War II the university suffered damage in the Southampton Blitz with bombs landing on the campus and its halls of residence.The college decided against evacuation, instead expanding its Engineering Department, School of Navigation and developing a new School of Radio Telegraphy.Halls of residence were also used to house Polish, French and American troops. After the war, departments such as Electronics grew under the influence of Erich Zepler and the Institute of Sound and Vibration was established.


On 29 April 1952, Queen Elizabeth II granted the University of Southampton a Royal Charter, the first to be given to a university during her reign, which enabled it to award degrees. Six faculties were created: Arts, Science, Engineering, Economics, Education and Law. The first University of Southampton degrees were awarded on 4 July 1953, following the appointment of the Duke of Wellington as Chancellor of the university. Student and staff number grew throughout the next couple of decades as a response to the Robbins Report. The campus also grew significantly, when in July 1961 the university was given the approval to acquire some 200 houses on or near the campus by the Borough Council. In addition, more faculties and departments were founded, including Medicine and Oceanography (despite the discouragement of Sir John Wolfenden, the chairman of the University Grants Committee). Student accommodation was expanded throughout the 1960s and 1970s with the acquisition of Chilworth manor and new buildings at the Glen Eyre and Montefiore complexes.

In 1987, a crisis developed when the University Grants Committee announced, as part of nationwide cutbacks, a series of reductions in the funding of the university. To eliminate the expected losses, the budgets and deficits subcommittee proposed reducing staff numbers. This proposal was met with demonstrations on campus and was later reworked (to reduce the redundancies and reallocate the reductions in faculties funding) after being rejected by the university Senate.

By the mid-1980s through to the 1990s, the university looked to expand with new buildings on the Highfield campus, developing the Chilworth Manor site into a science park and conference venue, opening the National Oceanography Centre at a dockside location and purchasing new land from the City Council for the Arts Faculty and sports fields (at Avenue Campus and Wide Lane, respectively).

Research university

Under the leadership of then Vice-Chancellor, Sir Howard Newby the university became more focused in encouraging and investment in more and better quality research. In the mid-1990s, the university gained two new campuses, as the Winchester School of Art and La Sainte Union College became part of the university. A new school for Nursing and Midwifery was also created and went on to provide training for NHS professionals in central-southern England. This involved a huge increase in student numbers and the establishment of sub-campuses in Basingstoke, Winchester, Portsmouth and Newport, Isle of Wight.

In the autumn of 1997, the university experienced Britain's worst outbreak of meningitis, with the death of three students. The university responded to the crisis by organising a mass vaccination programme, and later took the ground-breaking decision to offer all new students vaccinations.

The university celebrated its Golden Jubilee on 22 January 2002. By this time, Southampton had research income that represented over half of the total income, which remains one of the highest proportions of income derived from research activities of British Universities. In recent years a number of new landmark buildings have been added as part of the estates development. New constructions on the main campus include the Jubilee Sports Hall in 2004, the EEE (ECS, Education and Entrance) building in 2007, the new Mountbatten building in 2008 housing the School of Electronics and Computer Science following a fire and the Life Sciences building in 2010. In addition, the Hartley Library and Student Services Centre were both extended and redesigned in 2005 and the Students' Union was also extended in 2002. Other constructions include the Archaeology building on Avenue Campus in 2006 and the Institute of Development Sciences building at Southampton General Hospital in 2007. The university is currently constructing a new research centre on a nearby campus which will be occupied by the University and part of Lloyd's Register.

The university joined The Science and Engineering South Consortium (SES-5) on 9 May 2013. the SES-5 was created to pool the collective insights and resources of theUniversity of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Imperial College London and University College London to innovate and explore new ideas through collaboration whilst providing efficiencies of scale and shared utilisation of facilities. This is the most powerful cluster of research intensive universities in the UK and the new consortium is to become one of the world's leading hubs for science and engineering research.


Institutional Accreditation or Recognition - Privy Council

Year of first Accreditation - 1952


  • The University of Southampton has been rated as one of the world's top 100 universities by the Times Higher Education Table, while the 2015/2016 QS World University Rankingsranked Southampton 81st overall in the world (and up to 2015 in the top 100 worldwide for nine consecutive years).
  • In 2014 the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities places Southampton 32nd worldwide and 5th in the UK.
  • The Center for World University Rankings ranks Southampton 11th in the UK.
  • Scimago institutions rankings puts Southampton 11th for research output and 13th for scientific talent pool.

Student life at the University of Southampton

Students' Union

The University of Southampton Students' Union (Us.), is sited in three buildings opposite the Hartley Library. One, the West Building, dates back to the 1940s in a red brick style, complementing the Hartley Library opposite; the main building was built in the 1960s in the Basil Spence masterplan. This was extended with new nightclub and cinema facilities in 2002. The newest building was built during the mid-1990s which includes the recently refurbished union shop, on the ground floor with a hairdressers and Unilink office on the first floor.

The student union is actually separate from the University of Southampton, and is its own business. It gets funds partially from the university to finance many of its activities. The multiple award winning student radio station, Surge, broadcasts from new studios in the main union building. The award winning website was created and run by students at the university. A brand new purpose built studio has been constructed for the TV station SUSUtv. The student newspaper is now published once every three weeks as Wessex Scene. The Edge, originally an insert of the Wessex Scene, is now an editorially independent entertainment magazine.

Events are held in The Cube, the union's nightclub. The Cube also doubles up as the on campus cinema run by Union Films. The Bridge, the union's cocktail bar, and in theStag's Head, the union pub. National touring bands play in the Garden Court in the West Building.

Halls of Residence

The university provides accommodation for all first year students who require it and places in residences are further available for international and MSc students. Accommodation may be catered, self catered, have ensuite facilities, a sink in the room, or access to communal bathroom facilities. Each hall has a Junior Common Room (JCR) committee that is responsible for the running of social events and representing the residents to the students union and the university via the Students union JCR officer. Glen Eyre and Montefiore also have bars which are separately run by the students union and are staffed by current and ex residents.

The university's accommodation exists around two large complexes of halls and some other small halls located around the city, three of which are usually grouped into another collective entity. These are:

  • Glen Eyre Complex – The complex lies less than half a mile to the north of Highfield Campus and houses approximately 2000 students. The complex consists of several building sets, designed over the years and arranged either around the central landscaped garden – the oldest buildings Richard Newitt Courts are separated into blocks A-G and are closest to the Glen Bar, students in these blocks have very small flats (between 4 and 6 to a kitchen with usually more than one bathroom), Old Terrace and New Terrace are close to the entrance, New Terrace s ensuite, Chancellors' courts, consisting of Selbourne, Jellicoe and Roll courts are the most modern of the accommodation with Brunei house, the most basic of accommodations, on the outskirts. Located across the road on the periphery of the site are Chamberlain Halls, which share most things with Glen Eyre halls – Hartley Grove, South Hill, Beechmount House. All Glen Eyre Halls are self-catered at present.
  • Wessex Lane Halls – Located in Swaythling approximately one mile east of the Highfield Campus. The complex provides accommodation for over 1,800 students and currently comprises two halls of residence: Montefiore Hall, abbreviated as Monte (sub-divided into the four stages of construction), and Connaught, one of the original halls of residence of the university and sub-divided into the Old and New quads. Connaught Halls are fully catered. The complex also features South Stoneham House, a period building constructed in 1708, currently undergoing renovation and changes as a planned conference facility. The adjoining 17-storey South Stoneham tower block constructed in 1964 is undergoing major repairs.
  • City Gateway Hall – Located in Swaythling one mile north east of the Highfield Campus at the intersection of two major roads. Opened in September 2015, the landmark building was included in the runners-up list of the 2015 Carbuncle Cup. Featuring a 15 story elliptical tower and two adjoining six story rectangular accommodation blocks the hall provides accommodation for up to 375 students.
  • Mayflower Halls – Located in the city centre within the city's 'Cultural Quarter', and two-minutes walk away from Southampton Central railway station. The hall opened at the start of the 2014/2015 academic year, and houses over 1100 students in a mix of ensuite, premium ensuite rooms, as well as some self-contained studio and one bedroom flats.
  • Archers Road – Lying two miles south of Highfield and housing 500 students, Archers Road compromises three halls on separate sites, grouped together for their close proximity alone. The three halls, Gateley, Romero and St. Margaret's, are all self-contained and self catered but share are reception and other community facilities.
  • Bencraft Hall – Located a mile and a half north of Highfield and housing approximately 200 students, Bencraft is one of the smaller and cheaper halls of the university.
  • Highfield Halls – Located adjacent to Avenue Campus and half a mile from Highfield campus. Highfield halls comprises Aubrey and Wolfe houses and both have on site catering. The site is also used as a University conference facility during the summer months when vacated.
  • Shaftesbury Avenue and Gower Building – These two sites are used by mature and postgraduate students. Shaftesbury Avenue is located near Portswood and is a mile from Highfield while the Gower building is located on Highfield campus. These two are a small number of self-contained apartments, in the case of the Gower building, located above other university amenities.
  • Orions Point – Located in Central Southampton, this accommodation is not owned by the university but does provide approximately 300 accommodation spaces in partnership with the university.
  • Erasmus Park – Located in Winchester, this hall houses around 400 students studying at the Winchester School of Art.

The university also has accommodation located in Balmoral House and Victoria Place, Portsmouth and in Basingstoke for the use of Nursing and Midwifery students studying on placement in these areas.

The university is in the process of replacing the former Chamberlain Hall.


The university has libraries located on each of the academic campuses and in total the collection holds over 1.5 million books and periodicals.

The university's primary library is the Hartley Library, located on Highfield campus and first built in 1935 and extended further in 1959 and 2005.The majority of the books and periodicals are held there as well as specialist collections of works such as Ford collection of Parliamentary papers and the European Documentation Centre. In addition, the main library houses the Special Collections and Archives centre, housing more than 6 million manuscripts and a large archive of rare books. Specific collections include the correspondence ofArthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, acquired by the university in 1983, as well as the Broadlands Archive, including the Palmerstonand Mountbatten papers. The library also contains 4,500 volumes of Claude Montefiore's library on Theology and Judaism, the Ford Parliamentary Papers, Frank Perkins' collection of books on agriculture, Sir Samual Gurney-Dixons's Dante collection and the James Parkes Library of Jewish/non-Jewish relations. The library also includes six rare editions of the Divina Commedia; the first of these, the Brescia edition of 1487, is the library's earliest book.

In addition to the main Hartley Library, there are other libraries based at the university's other campuses primarily focused on the subjects studied at that location. As one of the smaller libraries and given its proximity to the Highfield campus, the Avenue Library only houses a collection of key Humanities resources. It does however also hold an extensive film library, many of an international nature. On a larger scale, the libraries at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton General Hospital, Winchester School of Art are more complete and house the majority of the resources and specialist collections on oceanography and earth sciences, healthcare and art and design respectively. The Malaysia campus holds a small collection of reference books but the majority of the resources needed for courses at the campus are available online. Separate from the Hartley Library is the E. J. Richards Engineering Library, which contains further materials for more in-depth study and is freely accessible to Engineering students and staff.


The university's main Highfield campus is home to three main arts venues supported and funded by the university and Arts Council England. The Nuffield Theatre opened in 1963 with construction funded by a grant from the Nuffield Foundation of £130,000 (£2,450,000 in 2013). The building was designed by Sir Basil Spence as part of his campus masterplan with additional direction provided by Sir Richard Southern. The theatre consists of a 480-seat auditorium, that also served as the principle lecture theatre at the time of construction, as well as additional lecture theatres and adjacent Kitchen bar.

The Turner Sims Concert Hall was added to the art provision in October 1974 following a £30,000 (£460,000 in 2012) donation from Margaret Grassam Sims in 1967. It was made to provide a venue specifically for music following difficulties in gaining space in the Nuffield Theatre and due to acoustical differences with the spaces. The new space has a single auditorium, designed by the university's Institute of Sound and Vibration Research with musical performances in mind, with a flat space at the bottom so it could be used for exams.

The final of the three Art Council supported venues on campus is the John Hansard Gallery. The gallery was opened on 22 September 1980 but is housed in a building that previously housed a tidal model of Southampton Water between 1957 and 1978. It took over responsibility from a photographic gallery, a gallery in the Nuffield Theatre and one located on Boldrewood campus. It houses various exhibitions in contemporary art and is due to move to new premises in Guildhall Square in c.2015.

These three centres are supplemented by the Special Collections Gallery, located on Level 4 of the Hartley Library and showing exhibitions from the university's archives and special collections, as well as gallery spaces located at the Winchester School of Art campus. In addition, the western half of Highfield campus contain several 20th-century sculptures by Barbara Hepworth, Justin Knowles, Nick Pope and John Edwards.


There are two NHS practices on the campus: The University Health Service and Highfield Health. The larger of the two practices is University Health Service, with over 15,000 patients working from Building 48 between the Physics & Maths Buildings, whilst Highfield Health is the smaller practice serving around 3,000 patients from its location on 31 University Road.


The university's Sport and Wellbeing department runs the majority of the sports facilities on campus which are based predominately at two locations: the Jubilee Sports Centre and Wide Lane Sports Ground. The Jubilee Sports Centre, opened in 2004 at a cost of £8.5 million, is located on the Highfield Campus and contains a six-lane 25-metre swimming pool, 160 workstation gym and an eight-court sports hall. Wide Lane meanwhile is located nearby in Eastleigh and was refurbished at cost of £4.3 million in 2007. The 73-acre (30 ha) complex includes flood-lit synthetic turf and grass pitches, tennis courts, a pavilion and a 'Team Southampton' Gym. The university also runs facilities at the Avenue Campus, National Oceanography Centre, the Watersports Centre on the River Itchen and at Glen Eyre and Wessex Lane halls while there is another sports hall, squash courts, martial arts studio and bouldering wall located within the Students' Union.

The university competes in numerous sports in the BUCS South East Conference (after switching from the Western Conference in 2009).A number of elite athletes are supported by the SportsRec through sports bursaries and the UK Government's Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS).

The University Athletic Union was formally established on 29 November 1929, by the University College council. Versions of the union had existed previously to which many clubs such as Cricket, Association Football, Rugby, Boxing, Gymnastics, Tennis and Boat clubs (all formed before the turn of the 20th century) were members.

Mustangs Baseball Club

The Southampton Mustangs Baseball Club was founded in 1997. In the early years, the club participated in mainly friendly games against other British university baseball teams, as no formal university league was in existence. Starting in 1998, the Mustangs started to host a university baseball tournament – inviting other teams including Oxford, Cambridge, Portsmouth, Royal Holloway, and Norwich. In 2004 the Mustangs entered into the national adult baseball leagues run by the British Baseball Federation (BBF). The club entered in the lowest division, but after a few years of consolidation, the Mustangs have worked their way up from the lower leagues in the BBF to play in the top-tier league of the British baseball, the British National Baseball League (NBL), in the 2010 season.

Services of the University of Southampton

Multi-floor gym

Our University gym has over 160 fitness stations (one of the largest of any UK university). All members can use the gym for free.

Sports Performance Centre

To support members of our Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) and our Sports Bursary students, we offer an exclusive performance sports training centre as part of our funding. This fully equipped centre is based at our Wide Lane Sports Ground and provides:

  • strength and conditioning rooms
  • free weights
  • olympic lifting platforms
  • physiological and biomechanical analysis
  • individual training sessions with a UKSCA coach who has a minimum of three years' experience developing county, regional or national athletes

Early years childcare centre

Based at the Highfield campus at the University of Southampton, the Early Years Centre offers stimulating childcare with a focus on learning through play.Our highly qualified and experienced staff follow the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum, planning activities and opportunities that your child will enjoy and be stimulated by. We are also keen to communicate closely with our parents so that we can better understand and cater to your child’s individual interests.

Conference, Events & Hospitality

Holding a conference or event at the University of Southampton offers you uncompromised standards of customer service, safety and security. All your arrangements will be undertaken to the highest standard of care and every effort taken to ensure that your event runs smoothly and as easily as possible.

Our team is made up of professional staff with a wide range of expertise and skills who are committed to providing a quality service. We are here to offer you advice in all aspects of conference and event organisation, taking care of your every need.

A bespoke approach and unique facilities enable us to offer everything you may need to make your event a success.


Within University of Southampton Catering (USC), meal planning is a top priority and our first class chefs have selected a varied menu, including healthier options, fast food and international trends to hopefully suit every taste bud.

We cater for staff, students and visitors to the University and provide venues that appeal to everyone. From the Student based Piazza together with fine dining in the Blue Room, we really do have something for everyone.

Halls of residence have great restaurants providing the very best in catering. Gina and her team are on hand to help with your dietary needs and can advise you on using your 'Catered Student' cards.

Open Days through to Graduation and celebrations! We can look after your every need.

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