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University of Wales, Aberystwyth

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University of Wales, Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth University
Prifysgol Aberystwyth
File:Uwa crest colour-new.png
Motto Nid Byd, Byd Heb Wybodaeth
Motto in English A world without knowledge is no world at all
Established 1872 (as University College Wales)
Type Public
President Emyr Jones Parry
Vice-Chancellor Professor April McMahon
Students 14,955[1]
Undergraduates 9,340[1]
Postgraduates 1,800[1]
Other students 3,815 FE[1]
Location Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom
Affiliations University of Wales
Universities UK

Aberystwyth University (Welsh: Prifysgol Aberystwyth) is a public research university located in Aberystwyth, Wales. Aberystwyth was a founding Member Institution of the former federal University of Wales. In 2006 the university had over 12,000 students in seventeen academic departments.

Founded in 1872 as University College Wales, Aberystwyth became a founder member of the University of Wales in 1894 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 independent again.[2] However, students enrolled from the 2009/2010 academic year onwards, or whose first year of study was in the 2008/2009 academic year, can choose to receive their degree from the University of Wales or Aberystwyth University.

The National Student Survey named Aberystwyth fifth in the UK in 2006 and tenth in 2007 for overall student satisfaction.[3][4] In The Times Good University Guide 2008, it shared with five other UK universities the highest score for "student satisfaction" and ranked 39th out of 113 overall.[5] The Guardian University Guide 2013 ranks Aberystwyth equal 81st overall out of 120 UK universities,[6] and the Complete University Guide ranks it 58th out of 116.[7]


The University was founded in 1872 as University College Wales. The first Principal was Thomas Charles Edwards and initially there were 26 students. Before 1894, when the college joined the University of Wales as a founder member, students were submitted for examinations to the University of London.[8]

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.[9] The motto is "Nid Byd, Byd Heb Wybodaeth": "A World Without Knowledge, is No World at All".

The Department for International Politics was founded in 1919 and Aberystwyth says it is the oldest such department in the world.[10]

The Department of Sports and Exercise Science was established in 2000, joint honours Psychology degrees were introduced in September 2007, and single honours Psychology in 2009.

The university appointed a new vice chancellor in 2011[11] who has now initiated a complete restructure of academic departments into larger subject themed institutes.

Organisation and administration

Departments and Institutes

  • Art[12]
  • Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences[13]
  • Computer Science[14]
  • School of Education and Lifelong Learning[15]
  • English and Creative Writing[16]
  • European Languages[17]
  • Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences[18]
  • History and Welsh History[19]
  • Information Studies[20]
  • International Politics[21]
  • Law and Criminology[22]
  • School of Management and Business[23]
  • Institute of Mathematics and Physics[24]
  • Psychology[25]
  • Sport and Exercise Science[26]
  • Theatre, Film and Television Studies[27]
  • Welsh[28]
Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences

The Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) is a research and teaching centre at Aberystwyth University for the study of biological, environmental and rural sciences.

IBERS brings together staff from the Institutes of Rural Sciences and Biological Sciences at Aberystwyth University and the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER). Around 300 research, teaching and support staff conduct basic, strategic and applied research in biology from the level of genes and other molecules to the impact of climate change and bio-energy on sustainable agriculture and land use. They also provide skills training. There is formal collaboration with the College of Natural Sciences in Bangor University.[29]

Aberystwyth says IBERS has a long history of substantial investment in facilities, and its geographic location allows easy access to natural habitats and managed landscapes. The library (including the nearby National Library of Wales) and IT network are available to the University as a whole, and there is a new building.[30]

Department of Computer Science

The Department of Computer Science, founded in 1970, is known for its research in Computational Biology and Robotics[31]

The RAE 2008 ranked the department 17th in the United Kingdom for Computer Science and Informatics.[32]

The RAE 2008 rated 70% of the Department of Computer Science's research activity as "world leading" or "internationally excellent" and the remaining 30% as "internationally recognised".[33] The department was the only such department in Wales to have had all its research classed as "international quality".

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

The department also has an Open Source computing course.[34]

Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences

The Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences (IGES), formed in 1989 from the former Departments of Geography (established in 1917) and Geology. houses the E. G. Bowen map library, containing 80,000 maps and 500 atlases. Aberystwyth says it was the first department to offer students single honours degrees in human geography and physical geography.[35] In the RAE 2008, the Institute ranked in the top 12 departments in Britain for Geography,[32] with 20% of its research classed as "world leading" and 45% classed as either "world leading " or "internationally excellent".

Glacial research, the Institute's most notable topic, is conducted by the Glaciology Centre, which has strong international links. This research has expanded to include the study and mapping glacial landforms on Mars.

Department of Information Studies

The College of Librarianship Wales (CLW) was established at Llanbadarn Fawr in 1964 in response to a recommendation for the training of bilingual librarians that was made in the Bourdillon Report on Standards of public library service in England (H.M.S.O., 1962). The College grew rapidly and claims to be Europe's largest institution for training librarians.[36] The independent College merged with the University in August 1989. The new department has since introduced courses by open, part-time and distance learning to supplement full-time student numbers.

Since 1956 the university has also offered professional training in archive administration and records management, first as a Diploma course and since 1995 as a modular Master's course run in partnership with the National Library of Wales and the Ceredigion Record Office, who contribute to the taught courses, support the practical work of the students and assist with research projects.

Department of International Politics

The Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth was founded in 1919, and claims to be the first such department in the world.[37] It was founded shortly after World War I with the stated purpose of furthering political understanding of the world in the hope of avoiding future such conflicts. This goal led to the creation of the Woodrow Wilson chair of International Politics.[38]

The department has 500 undergraduate students and 120 postgraduates studying at Masters Degree and PhD levels[39] Of all Aberystwyth's submissions to the RAE 2008, it had the highest proportion of research that was classed as world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour.[40]

The department has had various notable academic staff in the field including Luke Wilmot, 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 including "Intelligence & National Security", "International Relations" and "Critical Studies on Terrorism".

Department of Law and Criminology

The Department of Law and Criminology is housed in the Hugh Owen Building on the main campus. Founded in 1901, it includes the Centre for Welsh Legal Affairs, a specialist research centre. All lecturers in the Department are engaged in research and the International Journal of Biosciences and the Law, and the Cambrian Law Review are edited in the Department. Recently the Department has worked closely with the progression rate from first year to second year of about 93.5% on the LLB courses.

In 2006 the Department of Law & Criminology started a Legal Practice Course (the LPC is a requirement for practice as a solicitor in England and Wales). The Guardian University Guide 2013 ranks Aberystwyth's School of Law 89th out of 97 in the UK.[41]

In 2013 the Department joined the Department of Information Studies and the School of Management and Business at a new campus at Llanbadarn Fawr, as part of a newly created Institute of Management Law and Information Studies.

Department of Psychology

In 2007, Aberystwyth added Psychology to its portfolio of module schemes by establishing a Centre for Applied Psychology within the Department of International Politics. The department became independent of International Politics in 2008 and currently offers a single honours degree in Psychology and a joint honours degree with Criminology. The department has the stated aim of full British Psychological accreditation by 2013. Despite not having accreditation, the department came joint 1st for student satisfaction in the UK, but also achieved 100% for overall satisfaction.

Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies

The Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies, formerly the Department of Drama, was established in 1973 and incorporates a BBC studio built in 2001. The Department offers five main degree schemes in Drama and Theatre Studies, Performance Studies, Scenography and Theatre Design, Film and Television Studies and Media and Communication Studies. The university says this department is one of the largest of its kind in the UK.[42]

Institute of Rural Sciences

The Institute of Rural Sciences, formerly located 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 programme at Aberystwyth was established in 1985 and is accredited by the AMBA. The school's postgraduate programmes in Management and International Business Management are both MBM (Masters in Business Management) accredited by the Association of MBAs.[43] In 2006 the school was ranked 16th in Europe for accounting research by the Journal Accounting and Business Research[44] and 22nd in Europe for Finance and Financial Economics by the Journal of Business Finance & Accounting.[45] Aberystwyth says that in the most recent (2007) subject-specific teaching quality reviews, Aberystwyth's Accounting and Finance degrees schemes and Economics degree schemes were both classed as "excellent", the highest category awarded.[46] Aberystwyth also says that the research training Masters are also ESRC 1+3 recognised.[47]

School of Art

Art has been taught at Aberystwyth since 1917, when it was one of only a few British universities concerned with the Art and Crafts Movement. Today, the School has a portfolio of undergraduate and postgraduate degree schemes, allowing either specialised or interdisciplinary studies of Fine Art, Art History, and Museum and Gallery Studies. The School is located in the listed Edward Davies building (originally a chemistry laboratory) and houses studios for painting and photography, darkrooms, print workshops; also a Mac suite, lecture theatres, seminar rooms, a museum, two modern galleries, and extensive art archives as resources for students.[48] The Guardian University Guide 2013 ranks Aberystwyth's School of Art 28th out of 81 in the UK.[49]

Department of Sport and Exercise Science

Established under Prof. Jo DoustIn in 2001, the Department of Sport and Exercise Science was taken over by Prof. David Lavallee in 2007. It delivers undergraduate programmes in sport and exercise science, performs research in the sport and exercise sciences, and provides consultancy services to individuals and organisations in Wales and the rest of the UK.

The department is active in research, with members of staff involved in various projects including collaborative work with other Universities and organisations. In the RAE 2008, the Department of Sport and Exercise Science had 65% of it submitted research classed as "recognised internationally" and 15% as "international excellence".


The main campus of the university is situated on Penglais Hill, overlooking the town of Aberystwyth and Cardigan Bay. 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 Wales, one of Britain's five legal deposit libraries. 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 Department of Law and Criminology, the Department of Information Studies, and the School of Management and Business, as part of a newly created Institute of Management Law and 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

The various student residences owned, leased or managed by the university offer over 3,500 bed-spaces in total.[50] All have wired access to the University's computer network and a support network of residential tutors.

Penglais Campus:

  • Cwrt Mawr (self-catered flats, capacity 485)
  • Pantycelyn (traditional catered predominantly Welsh speaking hall, capacity 260)
  • Penbryn (traditional catered hall, capacity 525)
    • Rendel (Blocks 1 & 3) (2 is now emergency accommodation and office space)
    • Davies Bryan (Block 4)
    • Alban Davies (Block 5) (Now remodelled into academic space for the Psychology Department)
    • Ifor Evans (Block 7)
    • Thomas Charles Edwards (Blocks 8 & 9) (Now remodelled as Cwrt Mawr Blocks M & N)
  • Rosser (self-catered en-suite flats, capacity 332), expanded in 2011 to include postgraduate flats (capacity 60)
  • 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 and since demolished)

Pentre Jane Morgan (the Student Village):

  • 178 self-contained houses typically accommodate 5 or 6 students each, with greater capacity in rooms that have bunkbeds, allowing for 9 students each in some cases.
  • A second student village is planned, to be built by 2014, to provide more ensuite accommodation following the closure of Llanbadarn in 2007 and Pantycelyn in 2013. Sited opposite the existing student village, it will accommodate an estimated 900 students. With the closures of Llanbadarn and Pantycelyn, the expansion will provide a total of 500 additional rooms.


  • 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 and Clarendon House Postgraduate residence). The original Seafront residences (Plyn' and Caerleon) were

The University also own a small number of houses such as Penglais Farmhouse (Adjacent to Pentre Jane Morgan) and flats in Waun Fawr, which are let on an Assured Shorthold Tenure to students with families. Provision of disabled access rooms is catered for within the existing student village.

Reputation and academic profile

(2013/14, national)
(2013/14, world)
(2013/14, national)
(2013/14, world)
(2014, national)
The Guardian[55]
(2014, national)
Times/Sunday Times[56]
(2014, national)

The Guardian University Guide 2013 ranked Aberystwyth equal 81st out of 120 UK universities,[6] down from 50th for 2012[57] and 49th out of 118 for 2011.[58]

Aberystwyth was given 6th place in the 2008 Times Higher Education Supplement's Student Experience Rankings, a survey of student satisfaction in their university ranging from teaching standards to social life.[59]

In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) the computer science department was ranked 17th in the United Kingdom and first in Wales,[60] with a 100% research quality profile. The Guardian University Guide 2013 ranks the department 68th out of 103 in the UK.[61]

As of June 2012 Aberystwyth is one of 190 schools worldwide with MBAs accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA),[43] a self-described "membership association for MBA students and graduates, accredited business schools and MBA employers".[62] The university's MBA was also accredited by AMBA in 2007.[63]

Aberystwyth says that its Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences was the first British university department to offer single honours degrees in human geography and physical geography.[64] It was ranked 11th out of 60 UK universities for Geography and Environmental Studies in The Guardian's 2009 University Guide,[65] and the 2009 Times Good University Guide ranked it 12th out of 76 geography and environmental science-related departments.

In 2007 the university came under criticism for its record on sustainability, ranking 97th out of 106 UK higher education institutions in that year's Green League table.[66] It ranked equal 76th out of 126 in 2009, and was listed in the "Lower Second Class" award section.[67] In 2012 the university was listed in the table's "Failed, no award" section, ranking equal 132nd out of 145.[68] In 2013 it ranked equal 135th out of 143, and was listed again as "Failed, no award".[69]

IIn 2013, the University and College Union alleged bullying behaviour by Aberystwyth University managers, and said staff were fearful for their jobs. University president Sir Emyr Jones Parry said in a BBC radio interview, "I don't believe the views set out are representative and I don't recognise the picture." He also said, "Due process is rigorously applied in Aberystwyth." Economist John Cable resigned his emeritus professorship, describing the university's management as "disproportionate, aggressive and confrontational". Singer Peter Karrie announced his intention to resign his fellowship at the university, citing "ingratitude and cruelty". [70]

Notable people

List of Presidents

List of Principals and Vice-Chancellors

Notable staff

Notable alumni




  • Brigadier-General Lewis Pugh Evans VC CB CMG DSO & Bar JP DL.
  • Colonel Bob Stewart DSO, British United Nations commander in Bosnia, broadcaster and author.


Civil servants


Business people

Sports people

  • Cath Bishop, former professional British rower, turned civil servant
  • 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, International footballer
  • Berwyn Price, International 110m hurdles athlete, Commonwealth Games & World Student Games gold medallist
  • Angela Tooby, Silver medal World Cross-country Championships, Auckland

Artists, entertainers and authors

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 978-0-7083-1930-7 (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)


External links

  • Aberystwyth University – Official website
  • Aberystwyth University Profile
  • Aberystwyth Guild of Students – Students' Union

Coordinates: 52°25′05″N 4°03′57″W / 52.41806°N 4.06576°W / 52.41806; -4.06576

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