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Aberystwyth University ( ; sometimes called "Aber" or "the College by the Sea") is a university located in Aberystwythmarker, Walesmarker. Aberystwyth was a founding Member Institution of the former federal University of Wales. As of late 2006, the University has over 12,000 students spread across seventeen academic departments.

The University was founded in 1872 as University College Wales. In 1894 the University became a founder member of the University of Wales and changed its name to the University College of Wales Aberystwyth. In the mid 1990s the University again changed its name to the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. On 1 September 2007 the University of Wales ceased to be a federal university and Aberystwyth became an independent university in its own right once again. However, students who now enroll with Aberystwyth from the academic year 2009/2010 onwards (or have studied their 1st year in the academic year 2008/2009) have the choice to receive a University of Wales degree or an Aberystwyth University degree.

The National Student Survey named Aberystwyth fifth in the UK in 2006 and tenth in 2007, for overall student satisfaction. The Times Good University Guide 2008 ranked Aberystwyth joint first in the UK for student satisfaction. In the League table Aberystwyth is ranked 2nd in Walesmarker after Cardiff University, and 39th out of 113 institutions in the United Kingdommarker overall. Aberystwyth was also short-listed for a best student experience award by the Times.


The main Entrance to Old College at Aberystwyth University.
The University was founded in 1872 as University College Wales. The first Principal was Thomas Charles Edwards and initially there were just 26 students. In 1894 the college joined the University of Wales as a founder member (prior to this students had been submitted for examinations to the University of London). One of the newest departments in the University is the Department of Sports and Exercise Science, which was established in 2000. Within the next few years the university has plans to establish a department of Psychology, which will be based upon the Centre for Applied Psychology currently found within the Department of International Politics. Indeed many joint honours Psychology degrees were launched in September 2007.

The University's coat of arms was awarded in the 1880s. The shield features two red dragons, the red dragon being a common symbol of Wales, and an open book, symbolising learning. The crest is an eagle or phoenix above a flaming tower: it possibly symbolises the rebirth of the College after the fire of 1885. The motto is "Nid Byd, Byd Heb Wybodaeth": "A World Without Knowledge, is No World At All".

Reputation and academic rankings

The Quadrangle (or 'Quad') in Old College.

The internationally recognized Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research which is part of the University leads the way in many areas of Environmental Research.The University has a number of notable alumni, including Frederick Soddy, a Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, and Prince Charles. Notable past academics include R. Geraint Gruffydd, Bobi Jones, E. H. Carr and Leopold Kohr.

According to the The Times Good University Guide within Walesmarker Aberystwyth University is ranked 2nd after Cardiff University.

The Times Good University Guide 2009 ranks Aberystwyth 43rd overall out of 113 institutions in the UK..

Aberystwyth is given 6th place in the Times Higher Education Supplement's "Student Experience Rankings", a large survey of student satisfaction in their University ranging from teaching standards to social life.

The Computer science department has been ranked 17th in the United Kingdom, and 1st in Wales according to the recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) with a 100% research quality profile.

The School of Management and Business is one of only 20 departments in the world to have its Masters degrees accredited by the AMBA. It is similar to the AACSB in the U.S. and EQUIS in Europe. Its MBA is also accrediated by the same organisation.

The Institute of Geography & Earth Sciences was the first British university department to offer single honours degrees in human geography and physical geography, a course which has since been adopted by many other universities in the UK. Aberystwyth was ranked 11th of 60 UK universities for Geography and Environmental Studies in the 2009 Guardian University Guide. and according to the 2009 Times Good University Guide ranked the department at number 12 from 76 university geography and environmental science related departments.

The Times Good University Guide 2009 ranks its School of Law 34th overall out of 87 Law Schools across the UK.

The Department for International Politics was founded in 1919 and is the oldest such department in the world and remains at the forefront of research.

The University has come under recent criticism for its record on sustainability, with a ranking of 97th out of 106 UK higher education institutions in the "Green League 2007". However the University has managed to climb up to 53rd in Ranking for the revised Green League Table for 2008.


The Old College South Tower at the University.
The Department of History and Welsh History, and the Institute of Mathematics and Physics can trace their beginnings back to the formation of the University in 1872. The Department of Law was established in 1901, and as such is one of the oldest law schools in the UK. The School of Art has a history stretching back to 1917 when it was part of the only British university concerned with the Art and Crafts Movement. In 1936 it became a sub-department within the Education Department where, in 1965 the Joint Honours Art scheme was established. Single Honours Art and Masters degree schemes were introduced in 1974, one year after the subject had once again been given autonomy as a university department. Modern languages has been taught at Aberystwyth since c. 1874, making the current Department of European Languages one of the oldest departments in the UK to teach the subject. The Department of Information & Library Studies was founded in 1989 following the merger of the University with the College of Librarianship Wales. The Institute of Biological Sciences was formed in 1993 from the Department of Biological Sciences, the Department of Biochemistry and the Genetics Group of the Department of Agricultural Botany. These former departments in turn can trace their beginnings to the foundation of the University. In 1993 budgetary considerations caused the University to permanently close its department of philosophy. The efforts of some student philosophy organizations have so far failed to restore any funding for a philosophy department at Aberystwyth although there are a number of political philosophy related modules covered by the Department of International Politics.

List of Departments & Institutes

The Old College's East Entrance at the University

Department of Computer Science

The Department of Computer Science at Aberystwyth was founded in 1970. The department is known for its excellent reputation in Computational Biology and Robotics research.

In the recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) the department came No. 17 in the United Kingdommarker for Computer Science and Informatics and No. 1 in Walesmarker ahead of both Cardiff University and Swansea University.

The RAE 2008 results highlighted the Department of Computer Science excelled in its field, with 70% of its research activity rated as world leading or internationally excellent, and the remaining 30% rated as internationally recognised. Thus, the Department is the only such department in Wales that has been awarded a quality profile with 100% of its research being of international quality. This profile means that the department is the best in Wales for Computer Science and one of the UK's premier university departments in this field.

AberMUD, the first popular internet-based MUD, was written in this department of the university by then-student Alan Cox.

Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences

The Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences was formed in 1989 from the former Departments of Geography (established in 1917) and Geology making it one of the oldest Geography departments in the UK. This department contains the E.G. Bowen map library, containing 80000 maps and 500 atlases.

Aberystwyth was the first department to offer students single honours degrees in human geography and physical geography and has always been at the cutting edge of innovations in teaching and research. In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in 2008, where the Institute was ranked in the top 12 departments in Britain for Geography, with 20% of research classed as "world leading" and 45% classed as either "world leading " or "internationally excellent".

Department of Information Studies

The College of Librarianship Wales was established at Llanbadarn Fawrmarker in 1964 in response to a recommendation for the training of bilingual librarians, in the Bourdillon report on Standards of public library service in England, (H.M.S.O., 1962). The college grew rapidly and became the largest institution for the training of librarians in Europe. The independent college merged with the University in August 1989. The College of Librarianship gained an international reputation for the training of librarians, particularly in the developing world. Since 1989 the new department has gained a reputation for introducing innovative teaching methods, and particularly offering courses by open and distance learning.

Department of International Politics

The International Politics Building.
In 1919 the world's first Department of International Politics was founded at Aberystwyth. The department, and the study of international relations itself was founded shortly after the first world war to further political understanding of the world in the hope of avoiding future conflicts. This led to the creation of the Woodrow Wilson chair of International Politics .

Today it is the largest department of its kind in Europe, and one of the largest in the world. It has an undergraduate student complement of 500 students and operates a postgraduate school of 120 studying at Masters Degree and PhD level. It also has an international reputation for excellence, scoring top marks for both research and teaching, placing the department on a par with related departments at Oxford Universitymarker, Cambridge Universitymarker,the London School of Economicsmarker and the POLSIS department of the University of Birminghammarker.

The department has attracted a large group of influential names in the field of international relations including E. H. Carr, Leopold Kohr, Andrew Linklater, Ken Booth, Steve Smith and Michael Cox. In 2006, a new building for the Department of International Politics was completed and opened on the main Penglais Campus.

The department is also home to a number of journals. These include Interstate the UK's first undergraduate run journal for world affairs.

In the 2008 RAE Research assessment exercise, the Department of International Politics was rated first in the UK for international politics and third for Political Science in general.

Department of Law and Criminology

The Department of Law and Criminology is housed in the Hugh Owen Building, which is centrally located on the main campus. This department was founded in 1901. The Department bases itself on a long, reputable and increasingly varied experience of legal education and academic work. Ranked within the top twenty institutions for Law in the United Kingdom, it is the oldest law school in Wales and one of the oldest in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, the Department is home to the specialist research centre, the Centre for Welsh Legal Affairs. All lecturers in the Department are actively engaged in research and the International Journal of Biosciences and the Law, and the Cambrian Law Review are edited in the Department. Over the years a large number of well-known legal academics, practitioners and politicians have taught in the Department have made their mark in a range of subsequent careers. Recently the Department has worked closely with the Quality Assurance Agency in testing new processes for teaching quality assessment. The Department is one of only a few universities in the United Kingdom which offers the two-year LL.B scheme to graduates in a discipline other than law. Information published in 2006 indicates a progression rate from first year to second year of about 93.5% on the LLB courses.

In 2006, the Department of Law started a Legal Practice Course, which is run in collaboration with Swansea Universitymarker. The LPC is a requirement for anyone who wishes to practice as a solicitor in England and Wales. A breakdown of the levels of award made in 2007/8 shows that one third of students enrolled on the LPC were awarded a distinction. The Times Good University Guide 2009 ranks its School of Law 34th overall out of 87 Law Schools across the UK.

Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies

The Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies is one of the largest departments in the University in terms of numbers of undergraduate students and was established in the late 1970s. The department is enhanced by the presence of a BBC studio housed within the department's headquarters built in 2001.

Institute of Rural Sciences

The Institute of Rural Sciences on Llanbadarn Campus was formed by the merger of the Welsh Agricultural College, which had hitherto been independent, and the University's Department of Agriculture in 1995.

School of Management and Business

In 1998 the Department of Economics (founded 1912), the Department of Accounting and Finance (founded 1979) and the Centre for Business Studies merged to create the School of Management and Business. The MBA at Aberystwyth was established in 1985 and the school is one of only around 100 business schools in the world to have its MBA program accredited by the AMBA; it was the first business school in Wales to achieve this honour, and for many years the only. However Swansea Universitymarker has also recently been accrediated. The schools postgraduate programmes in Management and International Business Management are both MBM (Masters in Business Management) accredited by the Association of MBAs. Only around 20 business schools throughout the world have achieved this prestigious programme accreditation and Aber is one of only 9 in the UK. Recently the school has been ranked 16th in Europe for accounting research by the Journal Accounting and Business Research and 22nd in Europe for Finance and Financial Economics by the Journal of Business Finance & Accounting. In the most recent subject specific teaching quality reviews the Accounting and Finance degrees schemes and the Economics degree schemes at Aberystwyth were both judged to be excellent, this is the highest category that can be awarded. The research training masters are also ESRC 1+3 recognised.

Department of Sport and Exercise Science

In 2003 the Department of Sport and Exercise Science was established under Prof. Jo Doust, the depeartment was then taken over by Prof. David Lavelle in 2008. The Depeartment has seen much success in its short history,as Students win 2007 and 2008 Undergraduate H.T.A. Whiting Prize.

Geography of the University campuses

Sunset as seen from Constitution Hill.
The main campus of the University is situated on Penglais Hill, overlooking the town of Aberystwythmarker and Cardigan Baymarker. The Penglais Campus is the site of 12 of the University's 17 departments, as well as most of the student halls of residence. Just below the Penglais Campus is the National Library of Walesmarker, one of Britain's five legal deposit libraries. A BBC article suggests the library is "considered to be one of the world's greatest libraries, and its international reputation is certainly something that all Welsh men and women are intensely ... proud of" . The original university building, next to the sea, known as "Old College", is the site of most of the University's administration as well as the Departments of Welsh and Education. The Llanbadarn Campus is located approximately one mile to the east of the Penglais Campus, and hosts the Institute of Rural Sciences and the Department of Information Studies. Additionally, the Llanbadarn Campus is the site of the Aberystwyth branch of Coleg Ceredigion, a further education college, and not part of the University. The School of Art is located between the Penglais Campus and the centre of Aberystwyth, in what was originally the Edward Davies Chemical Laboratory, site of the now-defunct Department of Chemistry.

Student residences

Aberystwyth is the UK's favourite university town according to the findings of a study published by published on 5 June 2007. The University came top with a score of 64 per cent, scoring particularly well on the metrics "community" and "going out".

The various student residences owned, leased or managed by the university offer almost 4,000 bed-spaces in total. There are plans, however, to expand this to 5,450 spaces, with new residences to be built on land purchased in neighbouring Bow Street and a 'manor house' style residence to be built on undeveloped land at the student village site. There is a mixture of halls and shared apartment-style accommodation. All feature wired access to the University's computer network and a support network of wardening staff.

Penglais Campus:
  • Cwrt Mawr (self-catered flats, capacity 485)
  • Pantycelyn (traditional catered Welsh speaking hall, capacity 260; to be closed at end of 2011 academic year)
  • Penbryn (traditional catered hall, capacity 525)
  • Rosser (self-catered flats with en-suite rooms, capacity 333)
  • Trefloyne (self-catered flats, capacity 146)

Llanbadarn Campus:
  • Aeron, Cletwr, Dyfi, Einion and Leri - 5 residences that housed a total of 298 catered students (closed in June 2007)

Pentre Jane Morgan (the Student Village):
  • 178 self-contained houses accommodating typically 5 or 6 students each
  • Bedrooms are of a decent size with a desk, bed, bedside table, wardrobe and large window
  • In general kitchens are large with a table, 5-6 chairs, 6+ cupboards, cooker, kettle, toaster, microwave and average sized fridge/freezer
  • Pentre Jane Morgan is due to be expanded over the next 5 years to accommodate for the closing of Llanbadarn (2007), Pantycelyn (2011) and some Sea Front (2011) halls. In total the site will expand to reach the boundary of Aberystwyth Golf Club and accommodate an estimated 900 students. However, due to the previously mentioned closing halls, the expansion will only see total of 300 additional rooms to the campus in total.

  • Brynderw (self-catered flats, capacity 146)
  • Seafront Residences (self-catered flats located on the seafront and Queen's Road, overall capacity 720-800 including the redeveloped Alexandra Hall)

Notable alumni and staff

List of Presidents of the University

List of Principals and Vice-Chancellors of the University

Academic alumni

Royal and Establishment alumni

Military alumni

  • Colonel Bob Stewart DSO, Former British United Nations commander in Bosnia, broadcaster and author.
  • Jonathan Moyle, Former RAF pilot and spy, who was later found murdered in Chilemarker in suspicious circumstances.
  • Brigadier-General Lewis Pugh Evans VC CB CMG DSO & Bar JP DL.
  • Lieutenant Nigel "Uncle Felix" Foster ETS

Legal alumni

Civil Service alumni

Political alumni

Business/finance alumni

Sports alumni

  • John Dawes, Rugby player, who captained Wales and the British Lions.
  • Carwyn James, Welsh and British and Irish Lions rugby coach (1949?-1951)
  • Leigh Richmond Roose, MM, International footballer
  • Berwyn Price, International 110m hurdles athlete, Commonwealth Games & World Student Games gold medallist.
  • Angela Tooby-Smith, Five Time Winner of Welsh Cross Cross Country Championships, English Cross-country champion 1985, UK Cross-country Champion 1988, silver medal World Cross-country Championships, Aukland.
  • Jonathan Spratt, professional Rugby Union player for Ospreys.
  • Dr Cath Bishop Ph.D, former professional British rower and turned civil servant

Arts alumni

Notable staff

See also

Further reading

  • Iwan Morgan (ed.), The College by the Sea (Aberystwyth, 1928)
  • E.L. Ellis, The University College of Wales, Aberystwyth: 1872-1972, University of Wales Press ISBN 978-0708319307 (2004)
  • Ben Bowen Thomas, "Aber" 1872-1972 (University of Wales Press, 1972)
  • J Roger Webster, Old College Aberystwyth: The Evolution of a High Victorian Building (University of Wales Press, 1995)
  • Emrys Wynn Jones, Fair may your future be: the story of the Aberystwyth Old Students’ Association 1892-1992 (Aberystwyth Old Students’ Association, 1992)


  3. Coleg LLyfrgellwyr Cymru/College of Librarianship Wales(2004), p. 9
  4. Home Page - Residential and Hospitality Services - UWA (2007)
  • Coleg LLyfrgellwyr Cymru/College of Librarianship Wales(2004), Dathlu 40/40 Anniversary (2004), University of Wales, Department of Information Studies
  • Home Page - Residential and Hospitality Services - UWA (2007)

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