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Queen's University of Belfast

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Queen's University of Belfast

Queen's University Belfast
Seal of Queen's University Belfast
Established 1908 – gained University Status by Royal Charter
1849 – Queen's College, Belfast
Chancellor Kamalesh Sharma
Vice-Chancellor Professor James McElnay (Acting)
Professor Patrick Johnston (from 1st March 2014)
Visitor HM The Queen
Academic staff 2,414[1]
Admin. staff 1,489[1]
Students 24,955[2]
Undergraduates 17,210[2]
Postgraduates 5,495[2]
Other students 2,250[2] (University Colleges)

Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, UK
54°35′3″N 5°56′5″W / 54.58417°N 5.93472°W / 54.58417; -5.93472Coordinates: 54°35′3″N 5°56′5″W / 54.58417°N 5.93472°W / 54.58417; -5.93472

Campus Urban
Affiliations Russell Group, The Association of Commonwealth Universities, European University Association

Queen's University Belfast corporate logo

Queen's University Belfast is a public research university in Belfast, Northern Ireland. 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 Royal Belfast Academical Institution.[3]

Queen's is a member of the Russell Group of 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.[4] Professor Patrick Johnston will be the University’s 12th President and Vice-Chancellor from 1 March 2014, 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 seven cultural districts.


Queen's University Belfast has its roots in the Belfast Academical Institution, which was founded in 1810, one of the United Kingdom's 10 oldest universities, and remains as the Royal Belfast Academical Institution.[3] The present university was first chartered as "Queen's College, Belfast" in 1845, when it was associated with the simultaneously founded Queen's College, Cork, and Queen's College, Galway, as part of the Queen's University of Ireland – founded to encourage higher education for Catholics and Presbyterians, as a counterpart to Trinity College, Dublin, then an Anglican institution.[3] Queen's College, Belfast, opened in 1849.[3] 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.. Some early students at Queen's University Belfast took University of London examinations.[5]

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.[3]

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, Sir George Bain and Professor Sir Peter Gregson.[3]

The university's Chancellors have included Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 9th Earl of Shaftesbury, Field Marshal Alan Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke, Sir Tyrone Guthrie, Eric Ashby, Baron Ashby,[6] and George J. Mitchell.[7] The incumbent is Kamalesh Sharma.[8]

Parliamentary representation

The university was one of only eight United Kingdom universities to hold a parliamentary seat in the Parliament of the United Kingdom 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's 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,[9] 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 20 June 2006 the university announced a £259 million investment programme focusing on facilities, recruitment and research.[10] One of the outcomes of this investment has been a new university library, opened in July 2009.[11]

In June 2010, the university announced that they would be launching a £7.5m Ansin international research hub with Seagate Technologies.[12]

Queen's is one of the largest employers in Northern Ireland, with a total workforce of 3,903, of whom 2,414 were members of academic, academic-related and research staff and 1,489 were administrative employees.[1]

Faculties and schools

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.[13]


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's (Catholic), Union Theological College (Presbyterian), Belfast Bible College (non-denominational), 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.

Rankings and reputation

Queen's University Belfast was admitted to the Russell Group of UK research-intensive universities in November 2006.[14][15]

(2013, national)
(2013, world)
(2013/14, national)
(2013/14, world)
(2013/14, national)
(2013/14, world)
(2014, national)
The Guardian[20]
(2014, national)
Times/Sunday Times[21]
(2014, national)

  • The Sunday Times University Guide 2013 has named the Queen’s School of Pharmacy as the No. 1 Pharmacy school and the best place to study pharmacy in the UK.
  • The independent complete league table in 2013 has placed the Queen’s School of Pharmacy at second place.
  • In the 2013 QS World University Rankings, Queen's University Belfast was ranked 166th in the world.[22] This places the University on a trajectory well short of reaching the target set by Vice-Chancellor Peter Gregson of being a "Global Top 100" by 2016.
  • 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 2011 league tables The Guardian newspaper placed the university at number 56 out of 117 institutes of higher education within the United Kingdom, a drop of 29 places compared to 2006, when Sir George Bain retired as Vice-Chancellor .[23][24]
  • In its independent 2009 league tables The Times placed the university at equal 31st out of 113 ranked universities in its Good University Guide.[25]
  • 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.[26]
  • In 2012-13 the Times Higher-QS World University rankings (known from 2010 onwards as the QS World University Rankings) placed Queen's at number 276-300 out of the top 400 universities in Europe[27] and commented that Queen's 'is a leader in innovation and education with an international academic reputation'.[28] It has become number 53 in this year's (2012) Guardian University Guide.

Admissions and students

Entrants to Queen's have, on average, 359 A/AS-level points and there are currently 5.3 applications per place.[29] The Sunday Times has described the Queen's admissions policy as "among the most socially inclusive in Britain and Northern Ireland".[29] 99.5 per cent of first degree entrants are from state schools,[30] although this is mainly due to the lack of private schools in Northern Ireland.

In the 2009–10 academic year, the total student population was 22,705, of whom 17,210 were undergraduates and 5,495 postgraduates. Of the undergraduate population, 16,575 were from the UK, 340 from elsewhere in the European Union and 295 were from outside the EU. The figures for postgraduates were 3,995 from the UK, 840 from elsewhere in the EU, and 665 from the rest of the world, mainly from China, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. There was also a total student population of 2,250 at the University's St Mary's and Stranmillis University Colleges.[2]

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.[31] 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.[32] 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 Britain rather than Northern Ireland.[31]

In 2009, Queen's signed a joint venture partnership with INTO University Partnerships, creating INTO Queen's University Belfast. The INTO centre is based on campus and provides a foundation year for international students who want to study at the University.[33]

Student life

Students' Union

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 bars within the building, the biggest of which, the Mandela Hall, hosts numerous concerts each year as well as the majority the Students' Union's club nights.

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.[34] 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 Lagan 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 Everest summiteers including Ireland's first, Dawson Stelfox.[35] 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[36] for their role in rescuing a young Nepalese climber left for dead near the summit.[37] QUB is one of only 20 Universities in the United Kingdom to have the privilege of an AIESEC Local Chapter, developing leadership, business and soft skills in highly motivated students, as well as providing international opportunities through their work abroad program


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.[38]

The university provides accommodation on a purpose-built 'student village' called Elms Village, which has its own bar and shop, located on the Malone Road, 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.[39]

Cultural life

The university hosts the annual Belfast Festival at Queen's and the Belfast Film Festival, and in 2007 held the Irish Student Drama Association Festival. It runs Northern Ireland's only arthouse cinema, Queen's Film Theatre, the Brian Friel Theatre and an art gallery, the Naughton Gallery at Queen's, which is a registered museum. In 2008 the Naughton Gallery was awarded the Times Higher Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts. Housed in the Lanyon building since 2001 is a marble statue by Pio Fedi of the great physicist Galileo, portrayed deep in thought.[40]


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.[41] It is one of the largest sports centres in the British Isles. 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 2 miles (3.2 km) 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. The area and its surrounding forest of Barnetts Demesne are mapped for orienteering.

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 have won the British intervarsity title on a record nine occasions and are the current champions.[42]

Queen's Boat Club are one of the most successful clubs in the University. They are reigning Irish Champions in men's Intermediate and Senior 8's and are the current holders of the British Universities and Colleges Sport Men's Championship 8, Men's Intermediate 8, Men's Intermediate coxed four, Men's Championship Quad, Women's Beginner 8 and Women's beginner coxed four titles[43] making them one of the most successful university rowing clubs in the UK at present. They are also reigning Irish University Champions in Men's Senior 8's, Women's Novice 8's and Women's Novice 4's. They are the only rowing club in Ireland to have a full-time rowing coach.[44]

Visual identity

The graphic identity, which includes the logotype, was created in 2000 by Lloyd Northover, the British design consultancy founded by John Lloyd (graphic designer) and Jim Northover.

Notable alumni and academics

Queen's has a large number of now-famous alumni, including former 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, Justice of The Supreme Court of United Kingdom (the only Justice who is not graduated from Oxbridge); 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 Féin member Eoin MacNeill. Former Provisional IRA member and hunger striker Laurence McKeown attended the university and obtained a PhD following his release from prison.

Other alumni include poet Paul Muldoon; actors Liam Neeson, Cillian Cousins, Simon Callow 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, Poet and Critic Professor Philip Hobsbaum, Professors Adrian Long and Muhammed Basheer and Professor John H. Whyte.,Writer Philip Larkin 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 Austria, Finland, Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, France, Italy, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, the Czech Republic, Greece, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Poland and Switzerland.[45] 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 Newcastle and the University of Tasmania in Australia, and two universities in Canada: Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, and the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta.[46] Ching Yun University in Jhongli City, Taiwan, lists Queen's as a 'sister institution'.[47] The university is also a member of the Top Industrial Managers for Europe (T.I.M.E.) 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 States.[48][49]

See also


External links

  • Queen's University Belfast
  • Queen's University Belfast Students' Union
  • Queen's University Belfast Research Portal
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