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Queen's University Belfast is a university in Belfastmarker, Northern Irelandmarker. The university's official title, per its charter, is the Queen's University of Belfast. It is often referred to simply as Queen's, or by the abbreviation QUB. The university was chartered in 1845, and opened in 1849 as "Queen's College, Belfast", but has roots going back to 1810 and the Belfast Academical Institution.

Queen's is a member of the Russell Group of the UK's 20 leading research intensive universities, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the European University Association, Universities Ireland and Universities UK. The university offers academic degrees at various levels and across a broad subject range, with over 300 degree programmes available. The university's current President and Vice-Chancellor is Professor Peter Gregson, and its Chancellor is the current Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations, Kamalesh Sharma.

The University also forms the focal point of the Queen's Quarter area of the city, one of Belfast's four cultural districts.


Queen's University Belfast has its roots in the Belfast Academical Institution, which was founded in 1810 and remains as the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. The present university was first chartered as "Queen's College, Belfast" in 1845, when it was associated with the simultaneously founded Queen's College, Corkmarker and Queen's College, Galwaymarker as part of the Queen's University of Ireland - founded to encourage higher education for Catholics and Presbyterians, as a counterpart to Trinity College, Dublinmarker, then an Anglican institution. Queen's College, Belfast opened in 1849. Its main building, the Lanyon Building, was designed by the English architect, Sir Charles Lanyon.At its opening, it had 23 professors and 343 students.

The Irish Universities Act, 1908 dissolved the Royal University of Ireland, which had replaced the Queen's University of Ireland in 1879, and created two separate universities: the current National University of Ireland and Queen's University of Belfast.

Queen's has been led by a distinguished line of Vice-chancellors, including Sir David Keir, Lord Ashby of Brandon, Dr Michael Grant, Sir Arthur Vick, Sir Peter Froggatt, Sir Gordon Beveridge, and Sir George Bain.

The university's Chancellors have included Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 9th Earl of Shaftesbury, Field Marshall Alan Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke, Sir Tyrone Guthrie, Eric Ashby, Baron Ashby and George J. Mitchell. The incumbent is Kamalesh Sharma.

Parliamentary representation

The university was one of only eight United Kingdom universities to hold a parliamentary seat in the Parliament of the United Kingdommarker at Westminster until such representation was abolished in 1950. The university was also represented in the Parliament of Northern Ireland from 1920–1968, where its graduates elected four seats.

Academic life

In addition to the main campus not far from the centre of Belfast, the university has two associated university colleges, these being St Mary'smarker and Stranmillis both also located in Belfast. Although offering a range of degree courses, these colleges primarily provide training for those wishing to enter the teaching profession. The university has formal agreements with other colleges in Northern Ireland and operates several outreach schemes to rural areas.

While the university refers to its main site as a campus, the university's buildings are in fact spread over a number of public streets in South Belfast, centring around University Road, University Square and Stranmillis Road, with other departments located further afield.

On June 20, 2006 the university announced a £259 million investment programme focusing on facilities, recruitment and research. One of the outcomes of this investment has been a new university library, opened in July 2009.


Academics at Queen's are organised into twenty schools across three faculties. Each school operates as a primary management unit of the university and the schools are the focus for education and research for their respective subject areas.
  • School of Biological Sciences
  • School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
  • School of Education
  • School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • School of English
  • School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology
  • School of History and Anthropology
  • School of Languages, Literatures and Performing Arts
  • School of Law
  • Queen's University Management School
  • School of Mathematics and Physics
  • School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences
  • School of Music and Sonic Arts
  • School of Nursing and Midwifery
  • School of Pharmacy
  • School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering
  • School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy
  • School of Psychology
  • School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work


Several institutes are also associated with Queen's. Located close to the main campus is the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen's which offers training to law graduates to enable them to practise as solicitors or barristers in Northern Ireland, England & Wales and the Republic of Ireland.

The Institute of Theology consists of several colleges with a Christian emphasis, including St Mary'smarker (Catholic), Union Theological Collegemarker (Presbyterian) as well as Baptist and Methodist colleges in Belfast. In all five colleges teach any programmes with a theological emphasis on behalf of the university; the university may confer theology degrees but cannot teach the subject itself.

View of the university's David Keir Building from the Ashby Building, an 11-storey engineering tower block


Queen's University Belfast was admitted to the Russell Group of UK research-intensive universities in November 2006.

  • The UK wide research assessment exercise (RAE), announced in December 2008, showed Queen’s has 11 subject areas ranked within the top 10 in the UK and 24 in the top 20. With almost 800 staff submitted, every area had research assessed as world leading.
  • In its independent 2009 league tables The Guardian newspaper placed the university at number 46 out of 117 institutes of higher education within the United Kingdom, a drop of 17 places compared to 2008 .
  • In its independent 2009 league tables The Times placed the university at equal 31st out of 113 ranked universities in its Good University Guide.
  • In its independent 2008 league tables The Sunday Times placed Queen's at number 37 of 119 in its University Guide 2006 League Table, up two places from the previous year. The Sunday Times University Guide 2006; accessed September 29th 2006
  • In 2007 the Times Higher-QS World University rankings placed Queen's at number 88 out of the top 150 universities in Europe and commented that Queen's 'is a leader in innovation and education with an international academic reputation'.

UK University Rankings]]
2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993
Times Good University Guide 31st. 33rd 32nd 31st 33rd 32nd 23rd 26th 33rd 33rd 43rd 41st 39th= 48th= 52nd= 48th= 48th=
Guardian University Guide 46th 29th 28th 27th 33rd 46th 40th
Sunday Times University Guide 37th 36th 37th 39th 34th 33rd 34th 32nd 35th 35th 38th
Daily Telegraph 28th= 15th= 15th
FT 36th 37th 33rd 27th
Independent - Complete University Guide 34th 28th

Admissions and students

Entrants to Queen's have, on average, 359 A/AS-level points and there are currently 5.3 applications per place. The Sunday Times has described the Queen's admissions policy as "among the most socially inclusive in Britain and Northern Ireland". 99.5 per cent of first degree entrants are from state schools, although this is mainly due to the lack of private schools in Northern Ireland.

The total student population is 24,560, of whom 19,165 are undergraduates and 5,395 postgraduates. Of the undergraduate population, 18,145 are from the UK, 640 from elsewhere in the European Union and 380 are from outside the EU. The figures for postgraduates are 4,115 from the UK, 650 from elsewhere in the EU, and 630 from the rest of the world, mainly from China, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Queen's was established as a non-sectarian institution, with the aim of attracting both Protestant and Catholic students. While the university does not publish data on the religion affiliation of its students, Rupert Taylor, who conducted his PhD research on the university during The Troubles, argued in an article published in 1988 that "Whilst in the past, especially before the Second World War, Catholics were under-represented this is not currently the case". Taylor cites data showing that Catholic representation amongst undergraduates rose from 21.9 per cent in 1958/59 to 27.4 per cent in 1968/69 and 42.5 per cent in 1978/79. By the late 1990s, 54 per cent of Queen's students were Catholics, compared to a 48 per cent share of the Northern Ireland population aged 18–25. The growing share of Catholics in the student population is in part due to the tendency of middle-class Protestants to go to university in Great Britainmarker rather than Northern Ireland.

Student life

Students' Union

The Students' Union building
The Students' Union at Queen's (QUBSU) is located opposite the Lanyon Building on University Road, and is provided for under the University's Statutes. All students at the University are automatic members of the Union, making it one of the largest Unions on a single campus in Ireland and the UK. It is administered by the Students' Representative Council (SRC) (elected every October, on a Faculty basis) and an Executive (elected in March), who manage the operations of the Union in conjunction with several full time staff.

Union Services

A range of services are provided by the Students' Union following its reopening in March 2007 after a £9 million redevelopment, including an Advice Centre with full-time staff to help with issues such as money problems, accommodation and welfare. Commercial services are also provided for by the Union and include a shop, canteen and coffee franchise. There are also four pubs within the building, the biggest of which, the Mandela Hall, hosts concerts and the Shinemarker nightclub.
David Keir building, Stranmillis

Clubs and Societies

More than fifty sporting clubs and over 100 non-sporting societies are recognised by the Student's Union Council and therefore eligible to apply for an annual grant from the University. The QUB boathouse, home of Queen's University Belfast Boat Club (QUBBC) and Queen's University of Belfast Ladies Boat Club (QUBLBC), is located on the River Laganmarker near Stranmillis. The Dragonslayers Gaming Society hosts one of Ireland's largest games conventions, Q-Con, in June of each year, and cultural groups such as An Cumann Gaelach and the Ulster-Scots Society are also present. The Queen's University Mountaineering Club is notable for producing three Everestmarker summiteers including Ireland's first, Dawson Stelfox. Dr Roger McMorrow and Dr Nigel Hart also summited in May 2007, and were subsequently jointly announced Queen's University Graduates of the year for 2006/07 for their role in rescuing a young Nepalese climber left for dead near the summit.


Queen's provides housing for both undergraduates and postgraduates, although because of the compact size of Northern Ireland many students chose to live at home and commute to the university. In 2005/06, 36 per cent of Queen's students lived in private accommodation within Belfast, 29 per cent lived with parents or guardians, 20 per cent in private accommodation outside of Belfast, and 10 per cent lived in university maintained accommodation.

The university provides accommodation on a purpose-built 'student village' called Elms Village, which has its own bar and shop, located on the Malone Roadmarker, south of the main campus, as well as in a number of houses in the South Belfast area, including at College Gardens and on Mount Charles.

Cultural life

The university hosts the annual Belfast Festival at Queen's and the Belfast Film Festival, and in 2007 is holding the Irish Student Drama Association Festival. It runs Northern Ireland's only arthouse cinema, Queen's Film Theatremarker, and an art gallery, the Naughton Gallery at Queen'smarker, which is a registered museum. In 2008 the Naughton Gallery was awarded the prestigious Times Higher Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts. Housed in the Lanyon building is a marble statue of the great Physicist Galileo, portrayed sitting down, as he was also a Philosopher. It has been said that rubbing the statue's outstretched right foot brings the student good luck.


Queen's Physical Education Centre (abbreviated to and known widely as the PEC) recently went through an extension program was awarded 'Best Building 2007' by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Northern Ireland. It is one of the largest sports centres in the British Islesmarker. This building houses many squash courts, several climbing walls and is home to QUB's senior men's and women's basketball teams.

The University Playing Fields, also known as Malone Playing Fields, is located just over from the main campus, comprising 17 pitches for rugby, association football, Gaelic football, hockey, hurling, camogie and cricket. In addition, there are three netball courts, nine tennis courts and an athletics arena where the Mary Peters Track is situated.

Queen's Gaelic football team have won several Sigerson Cups, most recently in 2007. The university's association football team, Queen's University Belfast A.F.C., play in the Irish Second Division. Queen's snooker team has won the British intervarsity title on a record eight occasions.

Notable alumni and academics

Queen's University Belfast

Queen's has a large number of now-famous alumni, including the current President of Ireland Mary McAleese; Nobel Prize winners poet Seamus Heaney and politician Lord Trimble; former Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Lord Faulkner of Downpatrick; Lords Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, Lord Hutton and Lord Kerr of Tonaghmore; former Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly Lord Alderdice and former and current Northern Ireland ministers Sir Reg Empey, Mark Durkan, Nigel Dodds and Conor Murphy, and former Irish Free State minister and prominent Sinn Féiner Eoin MacNeill. Former Provisional IRA member and hunger striker Laurence McKeown attended the university and obtained a Ph.D following his release from prison.

Other ilumni include poet Paul Muldoon; actors Simon Callow, Liam Neeson and Stephen Rea; crime novelist Brian McGilloway; broadcaster Nick Ross; scientists John Stewart Bell, Frank Pantridge and Thomas Henry Flewett. Other alumni include John Bodkin Adams, Trevor Ringland and David Cullen (2007 winners of the Arthur Ashe for Courage Award), David Case (Air Commodore, the highest ranking Black officer in the British Armed forces) and Tim Collins (former Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment).

Notable academics who have worked at Queen's include Professor Paul Bew, Baron Bew, Professor Sir Bernard Crossland, Professor Tony Hoare, Professor Michael Mann and Professor John H. Whyte. Writer Philip Larkinmarker was a sub-librarian at the university.

Links with other universities

Queen's participates in the European Union's ERASMUS programme, allowing undergraduate students to study for a period at universities in Austriamarker, Finlandmarker, Icelandmarker, Portugalmarker, Belgiummarker, Francemarker, Italymarker, Slovakiamarker, Bulgariamarker, Germanymarker, the Netherlandsmarker, Spainmarker, the Czech Republicmarker, Greecemarker, Norwaymarker, Swedenmarker, Denmarkmarker, Hungarymarker, Polandmarker and Switzerlandmarker. Queen's is also part of the Utrecht Network which works towards the internationalisation of higher education. The university also has exchange programmes with the University of Newcastlemarker, New South Walesmarker, Australia, and two universities in Canadamarker: Queen's Universitymarker in Kingstonmarker, Ontariomarker and the University of Albertamarker in Edmontonmarker, Albertamarker. Ching Yun Universitymarker in Jhongli Citymarker, Taiwanmarker, lists Queen's as a 'sister institution'. The university is also a member of the Top Industrial Managers for Europe Association.

Queen's takes part in the British Council's Business Education Initiative study-abroad scheme sending a number of undergraduate students to study business and related subjects at participating higher-education institutions in the United Statesmarker.

See also


  1. See, for example.
  3. Sunday Times University Guide, Queen's University Belfast, 10 September 2006, accessed 16 January 2007
  4. Clubs and Societies, Queen's University website; accessed 15 July 2007
  5. Championship roll of honour

External links

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