Thursday, January 18th, 2018

UK University Tour: University of Birmingham

Our consultant Edwin had the opportunity to join a select number of counsellors from across North America on an “Explore England” tour that will cover visits to Northumbria, Lancaster, The University of Manchester, Keele, and the University of Birmingham. We’ll post updates and photos from his trip so follow along to see where he’s headed!

Last stop: University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham was one of the founding research-led universities of the Russell Group (est. 1994), which represents “24 leading UK universities which are committed to maintain the very best research, an outstanding teaching and learning experience and unrivalled links with business and the public section” ( The group, which parallels the US Ivy League and includes Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial, UCL and LSE, accounts for 65% of research income, 56% of the PhDs, and 30% of international students in the UK (2015).

The University of Birmingham is England’s first ‘red brick’ university and has been consistently ranked among the top 20 universities in the UK. It was a founding member of the National Union of Students and the first university in the nation to:

  • Establish a faculty of Commerce (Birmingham Business School)
  • Incorporate a medical school
  • Offer degrees in dentistry
  • Create a women’s hall of residence
  • Have a purpose-built students’ union building

Notable accolades

  • Produced 11 Nobel Prize winners
  • 82nd globally, QS Ranking 2017
  • 119th globally, Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016
  • 101-150 globally, ARWU/Shanghai Jiao Tong Rankings 2016
  • 15th in UK, Guardian University Guide 2018
  • 16th in UK, Times & Sunday Times Newspaper 2017
  • Employability: top 6 school sought-after by employers. Eighty-six percent of graduates reach employment/graduate roles after finishing their undergraduate degree.


U of Birmingham has 5 main UK sites:

  • Edgbaston Campus
  • Selly Oak Campus
  • Shakespeare Institute, in Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Birmingham Dental Hospital and School of Dentistry
  • Birmingham City Broad Street Site

At 33,800, U of Birmingham has the 4th largest student population in the UK with 64% of those in Undergraduate studies and 36% in Postgraduate. Approximately 5,000 international students from 150 countries study at U of Birmingham, and 31% of the staff and faculty are from overseas. Reflecting on its teaching excellence, 95% of its students complete a degree program.

Top Programs

Eighty-one percent of all research rated as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in term of its originality, significance and rigour (REF 2014). Some of its top-ranked research programs are:

  • Chemical Engineering
  • Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology
  • Dentistry
  • Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
  • History
  • Philosophy
  • Theology and Religion
  • West African Studies

The 5 colleges, schools, institutes and departments are:

  • Arts and Law: including Birmingham Law school, English Literature (8th in UK), American Studies (1st in UK), Drama and Theatre Arts (2nd in UK), History and Culture, Music, Philosophy, Theology and Religion, and Linguistics
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences: including Chemical Engineering (4th in UK), Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics, Metallurgy and Materials, Physics and Astronomy (6th in UK)
  • Life and Environmental Sciences: including Biosciences (11th UK), Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Psychology (7th in UK), Sports Exercise and Rehabilitative Sciences (3rd in world)
  • Medical & Dental Sciences: including Biomedical Science, Clinical Sciences, Dentistry (7th in UK), Medicine (28 international places), Nursing, and Pharmacy (4 year MPharm); Physiotherapy (1st in the UK)
  • Social Sciences: Birmingham Business School, Education, Government and Society, Social Policy

What’s new?

  • Collaborative Teaching Laboratory for Life Sciences and Engineering. This campus development is due to be finished 2018/19. It will bring together practical teaching activities across a broad range of science and engineering subjects.
  • Green Heart: This is a unique space for performances, meeting and studying. The building will have views across the entire campus. It will be completed in 2019.
  • Your Student Union, called U of Birmingham Guild of Students. The Guild has over 250 societies, community volunteering groups and associations, collectively known as student groups.
  • Sports: The U of Birmingham Sports Centre 2017, a £55 million Sports and Fitness Club. It houses facilities and equipment for 40 different sports, including a fitness suite, swimming pool, squash courts, sports hall, athletics track, and soccer (football) pitches.

Feature: College of Arts and Law

The College of Arts and Law offers up to 60 degrees in Arts, Humanities and Law. It offers almost 30 joint Honours degrees, which allows the student to combine two subjects across different disciplines and subjects, such as History and Philosophy or Modern Languages and Music. The following are the College’s most well-known programs. English, History and Law are the most popular courses.

American and Canadian Studies

  • Subjects: Literature, Culture, History, Film, TV, Politics and International relations are some of the popular programs. It is ranked 1st in all three UK league tables: Complete, Guardian, and Times
  • It received 100% student satisfaction in the NSS 2016

Creative Writing

  • Ranked 2nd in the Complete Guide 2018
  • Lectured by 5 practising writers: best-sellers, award-winners, Man Booker Prize nominee
  • Guest lectures and readings from visiting writers, including Britain’s Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy


  • Ranked 2nd for Drama in the Complete University Guide 2018
  • Five year collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon: “The Other Space” is new stage for BBC Drama village
  • Graduates include: Tamsin Greig, Matthew Goode, Elizabeth Hensridge and Tim Curry


  • Ranked 41st in the QS World University Rankings 2017
  • 95% student satisfaction in NSS 2016
  • The Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon: Residential study trip to Stratford-upon-Avon in Year 2

Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology

  • Top 5 in Research Excellence Framework (Research Excellence Framework 2014)
  • Not just Greece and Rome, but ancient Egypt and Middle East
  • Two-week study tour
  • Offers study in Latin and Ancient Greek


  • 1st in the REF 2014, with 45% of the research judged to be world-leading
  • Areas include Ancient, Medieval, Modern over a vast geographical span
  • 200,000 rare printed books including various incunabula (book printed before 1500)
  • 4 million manuscript collections

History of Art

  • The Barber Institute of fine Arts houses works by Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Botticelli, Magritte, Turner and Toulouse-Lautrec
  • Curatorship in house: curatorial service is offered at the Barber Institute with cultural internship scheme
  • European study trip: Rome, Berlin, Paris, and Rome
  • 95% of students enter work or further studies in 6 months after graduation (DLHE 2015)


  • Teaching music for over a century
  • 16 million Bramall Music Building
  • 450-seat Elgar Concert Hall
  • Ranked 3rd in Complete University Guide
  • 200-strong University Choir, many performed at the BBC Proms


  • 2nd in REF 2014
  • Top 10 in all three UK league
  • Philosophical topics; scepticism, bioethics, free will


  • 2nd REF 2014, top 10 in UK league tables
  • Birmingham is one of the most religiously
  • Oldest versions of the Qur’an manuscript, dated 568- 655 during to the time of the Prophet Muhammad


  • Birmingham School of Law offers extensive career support through CEPLER, mooting competitions, pro bono, work placements and Street Law
  • 30 Canadian students; 40 US students enrolled
  • Top 100 Law school in the QS World Rankings 2017
  • Oldest Student Law Society in the UK – Holdsworth Club
  • Scholarship available worth £3,000 pounds per year
  • 95% of research has global impact

College of Life and Environmental Sciences: Some notable programs

  1. Environmental Science
  • Offers a scientific curriculum
  • Areas: Earth Science: oil and paleontological work
  • Urban design and architecture (not entirely a specialism)
  • Birmingham for Forestry Research: pumping CO2 into a forest system
  • Research: Oil Sands research
  • 96% employability
  1. School of Psychology:
  • Top 10 for teaching and research
  • Employable: top for graduate employability
  • 2,500 application for 300 spot
  • Cognitive, mental, neuropsychology, developmental, etc
  • Conduct empirical psychological research in 3-yr modules in sleep, clinical psychology, visual cognition in art
  • One-to-one feedback with professors on essays
  • Equipment: MRI, with radiographers accredited by the British Psychology Association
  • Small tutorial groups of 8; buddy system with a senior student Year 2; working in computer and practical labs together
  1. School of Sports Exercise and Rehabilitative Science: 1st in the UK
  • Coaching and psychology; joined by Physiotherapy (three years)
  • Modules are jointly taught in first year: i.e. Human Anatomy
  • Golf Management offered in association with the PGA
  • Last year is OPEN for exploration and specialization
  • Holistic approach interdisciplinary. Collaborate with Neurosciences, Biosciences and even Engineering
  • Research areas: Health, ageing in collaboration with Nottingham, i.e. locomotion and mobility, obesity and disability, sports performance, physiotherapy
  1. Physiotherapy: 1st in UK, 2017
  • 5 or 6 international students (one from Canada, 2016 cohort)
  • Programs offered: MSc Pre-registration program and BSc in Physiotherapy (pre-registration)
  • BSc in Physiotherapy curriculum:
    • 1yr: General physiology and human anatomy (practical) includes patients
    • 2yr: neuro, cardio-vascular, rehabilitation (academic)
    • 3y Research: 1,000 hours of placement
  • Employability: 98% got jobs before even finished exams.
  • A centre for Musculoskeletal Spinal research
  • Transferability to Canada: Acute to community

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