University of Bristol


The University of Bristol (abbreviated as Bris. in post-nominal letters, sometimes referred to as Bristol University) is a red brick research 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 largely situated in the Tyndalls Park area of the city.

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 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, including Princeton University, Cornell and Penn.

Bristol is a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive British universities, the European-wide Coimbra Group and the Worldwide 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.

The earliest antecedent of the university was the engineering department of the Merchant Venturers’ Technical College (founded as a school as early as 1595) which became the engineering faculty of Bristol University. The university was also preceded by Bristol Medical School (1833) and University College, Bristol, founded in 1876, where its first lecture was attended by only 99 students.  The royal charter was gained in May 1909, with 288 undergraduates and 400 other students entering the university in October 1909.

Since the founding of the university itself in 1909, it has grown considerably and is now one of the largest employers in the local area, although it is smaller by student numbers than the nearby University of the West of England. Bristol does not have a campus but is spread over a considerable geographic area. Most of its activities, however, are concentrated in the area of the city centre, referred to as the “University Precinct”. It is a member of the Russell Group of research-led UK universities, the Coimbra Group of leading European universities and the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN).

Sir Winston Churchill became the university’s third chancellor in 1929, serving the university in that capacity until 1965. He succeeded Richard Haldane who had held the office from 1912 following the death of Henry Wills.

In 1946, the university established the first drama department in the country. In the same year, Bristol began offering special entrance exams and grants to aid the resettlement of servicemen returning home.

In January 2005, the School of Chemistry was awarded £4.5m by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to create Bristol ChemLabS: a Centre for Excellence in Teaching & Learning (CETL), with an additional £350k announced for the capital part of the project in February 2006. Bristol ChemLabS stands for Bristol Chemical Laboratory Sciences; it is the only chemistry CETL in the UK.

September 2009 saw the opening of the university’s Centre for Nanoscience and Quantum Information. This £11 million state of the art building is dubbed as the quietest building in the world and has other technologically sophisticated features such as self-cleaning glass. Advanced research into quantum computing, nanotechnology, materials and other disciplines are being undertaken in the building.


The university is made up of a number of schools and departments organised into six faculties:

Faculty of Arts:

  • School of Arts
    • Archaeology and Anthropology
    • Film and Television
    • Music
    • Philosophy
    • Theatre
  • School of Humanities
    • Classics & Ancient History
    • English
    • History (Historical Studies)
    • History of Art (Historical Studies)
    • Religion and Theology
  • School of Modern Languages
    • French
    • German
    • Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American Studies
    • Italian
    • Russian
  • Bristol Institute for Research in the Humanities and Arts
  • Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies
  • Graduate School of Arts and Humanities

Faculty of Engineering:

  • Graduate School of Engineering
  • Merchant Venturers’ School of Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Electrical & Electronic Engineering
    • Engineering Mathematics
  • Queen’s School of Engineering
    • Aerospace Engineering
    • Civil Engineering
    • Mechanical Engineering

Faculty of Biomedical Sciences:

  • School of Biochemistry
  • School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
  • School of Physiology,Pharmacology and Neuroscience
  • Transfusion and Transplantation Science

Faculty of Science:

  • School of Biological Sciences
  • School of Chemistry
  • School of Earth Sciences
  • School of Experimental Psychology
  • School of Geographical Sciences
  • School of Mathematics
  • School of Physics
  • Interface Analysis Centre
  • The Bristol Centre for Nanoscience and Quantum Information

Faculty of Health Sciences

  • Centre for Health Sciences Education
    • Centre for Comparative and Clinical Anatomy
    • Teaching and Learning for Health Professionals
  • School of Clinical Sciences
  • School of Oral & Dental Sciences
  • School of Social and Community Medicine
  • School of Veterinary Sciences

Faculty of Social Sciences and Law:

  • Graduate School of Education
  • School for Policy Studies
    • Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences
    • Norah Fry Research Centre
  • School of Economics, Finance and Management
    • Accounting and Finance
    • Centre for Market and Public Organisation
    • Economics
    • Management
  • School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
  • University of Bristol Law School


Entry requirements vary from course to course.

The university will accept the new A level and GCSE qualifications, and will formulate offers on an equivalent basis to the current qualifications. They do not plan to make major changes to programme entry requirements.

They will continue to expect applicants to take three A levels and eight GCSEs (or equivalent qualifications), and additional qualifications will not confer any advantage.

Specific programme requirements for GCSE achievement will be adjusted to fit the new grading format, using guidance from Ofqual on grade equivalences.

The university will not generally require the new core maths qualification, unless programmes specify this in entry requirements.

If a science A level is taken, the university will generally require applicants to pass the practical element.


Awarded two national Centres of Excellence in Learning and Teaching: Bristol Chemical Laboratory Sciences and Applied and Integrated Medical Sciences.

Research-led teaching with students being encouraged to think independently and often undertaking substantial projects/dissertations in their final year.

Students have access across a range of subjects to academic staff with international reputations in their areas of expertise.


Excellent teaching and academic standards recognised by external audits and reviews, including those undertaken by professional bodies.

Completion rates and graduate employment rates are high.

Staff are encouraged to access development opportunities including the appropriate use of e-learning.

Several of their courses are accredited by professional bodies.

The university is ranked among the top five institutions in the UK for its research according to the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF) study. This underpins Bristol’s position as a high-quality academic institution whose teaching is informed by world-leading research.

The university is a member of the Worldwide Universities Network, a grouping of 18 research-led institutions of international standing, and of the Russell Group of universities, an association of 24 major research-intensive UK universities, which means superb learning opportunities for students.


The Careers Service is committed to making sure that students have every opportunity to get ready for life after graduation, offering a range of support through from first-year undergraduates to final-year research postgraduates.

Careers Service staff are available to discuss careers-related topics, such as advice on CVs, applications or interviews, career ideas and options after graduation.

Workshops offer practical advice on job hunting, CVs, applications and interview techniques.

Bristol came fourth in a list of the universities that are most targeted by top graduate employers, such as Google, Dyson and the BBC.

The Careers Service handles thousands of vacancies for undergraduates and postgraduates, including internships, graduate and term-time opportunities.

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