University of Birmingham

University of Birmingham

Infobox University
name = University of Birmingham

image_size = 234px
motto = " _la. Per Ardua Ad Alta"
mottoeng = Through hard work, great heights are achieved
established = 1825, with Royal Charter granted in 1900
city = Birmingham
state = West Midlands
country = England
coor = coord|52|27|2|N|1|55|50|W|display=title,inline
campus = Urban / Suburban
staff =
chancellor = Sir Dominic Cadbury
vice_chancellor = Professor Michael Sterling
head_label = Visitor
head = The Lord President of the Council "ex officio"
type = Public
endowment = £77 million cite web |url= |title=Financial Statements 2006-2007 |work=University of Birmingham |accessdate=2008-02-02]
students = 30,415cite web|url=|title= Table 0a - All students by institution, mode of study, level of study, gender and domicile 2006/07|accessdate= 2008-04-05|format= Microsoft Excel spreadsheet|publisher= Higher Education Statistics Agency]
undergrad = 18,480
postgrad = 11,935
doctoral =
affiliations = Russell Group
Universitas 21
free_label =
free =
colours=Blue, Gold, Red

website = []
The University of Birmingham (informally Birmingham University) is a British red brick university located in the city of Birmingham, England. Founded in Edgbaston in 1900 as a successor to Mason Science College, and with origins dating back to the 1825 Birmingham Medical School, [ University of Birmingham: The Medical School] ] it was the first of the so-called 'red brick' universities to receive a Royal Charter (and thus official university status). [ [,,478414,00.html University of Birmingham] , "The Guardian", 1 May 2007, accessed 19 May 2007]

The university is a member of the Russell Group of research universities and a founding member of Universitas 21. It currently has over 18,000 undergraduate and 11,000 postgraduate students, making it larger than the other two universities in the city; Aston University and Birmingham City University. In 2006-07, it was the fourth most popular English university by number of applications.cite web|url=|title=Campus tour booklet|publisher=University of Birmingham|accessdate=2008-08-09] In the same year the annual income of the university was £389m, with an expenditure of £372m.

"The Times Higher Education Supplement" placed the University 65th in the 2007 world university rankings table. It is ranked 11th in the UK and 30th in Europe [ [ Top 100 European Universities ] ] in the Academic Ranking of World Universities compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University. It is rated fifth in the UK for research quality in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (2001), with 32 departments holding a 5 or 5* rating. "The Guardian University Guide" describes it as "Large, prestigious, and rather grand". [ [,,478414,00.html University of Birmingham | Education | Education Guardian ] ]


Main campus

The main campus of the university occupies a site some convert|3|mi|km south-west of Birmingham city centre, in Edgbaston. It is arranged around Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower (affectionately known as 'Old Joe'), a grand campanile which commemorates the university's first chancellor, Joseph Chamberlain. The university's Great Hall is located in the domed Aston Webb Building, which is named after one of the architects - the other was Ingress Bell. The initial 25 acre site was given to the university in 1900 by Lord Calthorpe. The grand buildings were an outcome of the £50,000 given by steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to establish a "first class modern scientific college" [cite book|author=Edmund Burke|title=The Annual Register|year=1900|publisher=Rivingtons|pages=27] on the model of Cornell University in the United States. [ [ The Carnegie Committee] , "Cornell Alumni News", II(10), 29 November 1899, p. 6] Funding was also provided by Sir Charles Holcroft. [Ray Smallman, [ A hundred years of distinction] , BUMS centenary lecture, p. 5]

The original domed buildings, built in Accrington red brick, semi-circle to form Chancellor's Court. This sits on a convert|30|ft|m drop, so the architects placed their buildings on two tiers with a convert|16|ft|m drop between them. The clock tower stands in the centre of the Court.

The campanile itself draws its inspiration from the Torre del Mangia, a medieval clock tower that forms part of the Town Hall in Siena, Italy [Citation
first = W.B.
last = Stephens
author-link =
first2 =
last2 =
author2-link =
editor-last =
editor-first =
editor2-last =
editor2-first =
contribution = Secular architecture
contribution-url =
title = A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 7
year = 1964
pages = 43-57
place = London
publisher = Oxford University Press
url =
doi =
id =
] . When it was built, it was described as 'the intellectual beacon of the Midlands' by the "Birmingham Post". The clock tower was Birmingham's tallest building from the date of its construction in 1908 until 1969; it is now the third highest in the city. It is one of the top 50 tallest buildings in the UK,cite web |url= |title=Britain's tallest 100 buildings by height|publisher=Skyscraper News |accessdate=2008-08-09] and the tallest free-standing clock tower in the world,cite web|url=|title=25 tallest clock towers/government structures/palaces|publisher=Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat|date=January 2008|accessdate=2008-08-09] although there is some confusion about its actual height, with the university listing it as convert|110|m|ft|0 tall, and other sources stating that it is convert|100|m|ft|0 tall.

There is a long held superstition that if an undergraduate walks under the tower while it is chiming, they will fail their degree.

The campus has a wide diversity in architectural types and architects. "What makes Birmingham so exceptional among the Red Brick universities is the deployment of so many other major Modernist practices: only Oxford and Cambridge boast greater selections". [Foster, 2005, p.242-3. ] The Guild of Students original section facing King Edward School was designed by Birmingham inter-war architect Holland Hobbiss who also designed the King Edward school opposite. It was described as "Redbrick Tudorish" by Nikolaus Pevsner. [Braithwaite, 1987, p.20. ]

The statue on horseback fronting the entrance to the university and Barber Institute of Fine Arts is a 1722 statue of George I rescued from Dublin in 1937. This was saved by Bodkin, a director of the National Gallery of Ireland and first director of the Barber Institute. The statue was commissioned by the Dublin Corporation from the Flemish sculptor John van Nost. [Ives, 2000, p.230; Rupert Gunnis, "Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851" (1968 revised edition), p.281 identifies it as a 1717 work for Essex Bridge, Dublin.]

Final negotiations for part of what is now the Vale were only completed in March 1947. By then, properties which would have their names used for halls of residences such as Wyddrington and Maple Bank were under discussion and more land was obtained from the Calthorpe estate in 1948 and 1949 providing the setting for the Vale. [ Ives, 2000, p.304 ] Construction on the Vale started in 1962 with the creation of a three acre artificial lake and the building of Ridge, High, Wyddrington and Lake Halls. The first, Ridge Hall, opened for 139 women in January 1964, with its counterpart High Hall (now Chamberlain Hall) admitting its first male residents the following October. [ Ives, 2000, p.338 ]

1960s and modern expansion

The university underwent a major expansion in the 1960s due to the production of a masterplan by Casson, Conder and Partners. The first of the major building to be constructed to a design by the firm was the Refectory and Staff House which was built in 1961 and 1962. The two buildings are connected by a bridge. The next major buildings to be constructed were the Wyddrington and Lake Halls and the Faculty of Commerce and Social Science, all completed in 1965. The Wyddrington and Lake Halls, on Edgbaston Park Road, were designed by H. T. Cadbury-Brown and contain three floors of student dwellings above a single floor of communal facilities.

The Faculty of Commerce and Social Science was designed by Howell, Killick, Partridge and Amis and is a long, curving two storey block linked to a five storey whorl. The two storey block follows the curve of the road and has load bearing brick cross walls. It is faced in specially-made concrete blocks. The spiral is faced with faceted pre-cast concrete cladding panels. It was statutorily listed in 1993.

Chamberlain, Powell and Bon were commissioned to design the Physical Education Centre which was built in 1966. The main characteristic of the building is the roof of the changing rooms and small gymnasium which has hyperbolic paraboloid roof light shells and is completely paved in quarry tiles. The roof of the sports hall consists of eight conoidal 2½-inch think sprayed concrete shells springing from convert|80|ft|m|sing=on long pre-stressed valley beams. On the south elevation, the roof is supported on raking pre-cast columns and reversed shells form a cantilevered canopy. Also completed in 1966 was the Mining and Minerals Engineering and Physical Metallurgy Departments, which was designed by Philip Dowson of Arup Associates. This complex consisted of four similar three-storey blocks linked at the corners. The frame is of pre-cast reinforced concrete with columns in groups of four and the whole is planned as a tartan grid, allowing services to be carried vertically and horizontally so that at no point in a room are services more than ten feet away. The building received the 1966 RIBA Architecture Award for the West Midlands. It was statutorily listed in 1993. [ Signalling the Sixties: 1960s Architecture in Birmingham] ] Taking the full five years from 1962 to 1967, Birmingham erected twelve buildings which each cost in excess of a quarter of a million pounds. [ Ives, 2000, p.336 ]

In 1967 Lucas House, a new hall of residence designed by The John Madin Design Group, was completed, providing 150 study bedrooms. It was constructed in the garden of a large house. The Medical School was extended in 1967 to a design by Leonard J. Multon and Partners. The two storey building was part of a complex which covers the southside of Metchley Fort, a Roman fort. In 1968, the Institute for Education in the Department for Education was opened. This was another Casson, Conder and Partners-designed building. The complex consisted of a group of buildings centred around an eight storey block, containing study offices, laboratories and teaching rooms. The building has a reinforced concrete frame which is exposed internally and the external walls are of silver-grey rustic bricks. The roofs of the lecture halls, penthouse and Child Study wing are covered in copper.

Arup Associates returned in the 1960s to design the Arts and Commerce Building, better known as Muirhead Tower. This was completed in 1969. The 16 storey tower is currently undergoing a £42.3 million refurbishment, designed by Associated Architects. It is estimated to be completed by August 2008. [ [ Estates Office: Muirhead Tower] ] The name, Muirhead Tower, came from that of the first philosophy professor of the University. [ [ Muirhead Tower of the University of Birmingham] ] Upon completion, it will become the Schools of Social Sciencesand Humanities as well as containing office space for Information Services. The podium will be remodelled around the existing Allardyce Nicol studio theatre providing additional rehearsal spaces and changing and technical facilities. [ [ Associated Architects: Muirhead Tower] ]

Other features

Located within the Edgbaston site of the university is the Winterbourne Botanic Garden, a 24,000 square metre (258,000 square foot) Edwardian Arts and crafts style garden. There has been much recent development on the western part of the campus. There are new academic buildings, including a learning resource centre and Computer Science department. The massive statue in the foreground was a gift to the University by its sculptor Sir Edward Paolozzi - the sculpture is named 'Faraday', and has an excerpt from the poem 'The Dry Salvages' by T. S. Eliot around its base.

Since November 2007, the university has been holding a farmers' market on the campus. [cite web |url= |title=University Farmers' Market |publisher=University of Birmingham |date=2008-01-23 |accessdate=2008-04-18] Birmingham is the first university in the country to have an accredited farmers' market. [cite news |url= |title=Walnuts, Wine and Winterbourne Honey at First University Farmers' Market |publisher=University of Birmingham |date=2007-10-24 |accessdate=2008-04-18]

The University of Birmingham operates the Lapworth Museum of Geology in the Aston Webb Building in Edgbaston. It is named after Charles Lapworth, a geologist who worked at Mason Science College.

The considerable extent of the estate meant that by the end of the 1990s it was valued at £536 million.Ives, E. (2000). The First Civic University: Birmingham, 1880–1980 – An Introductory History. Birmingham: University of Birmingham Press]

elly Oak campus

The university's Selly Oak campus is a short distance to the south of the main campus. It was the home of a federation of nine higher education colleges, mainly focused on theology and education, which were integrated into the university for teaching in 1999. Among these was Westhill College (later the University of Birmingham, Westhill), which merged with the University's School of Education in 2001. The UK daytime television show "Doctors" is filmed on this campus. [cite web |url= |title=BBC Birmingham Television Drama Village |publisher=BBC Birmingham |accessdate=2008-04-24] The University also has buildings at several other sites in the city.


Birmingham Medical School and Mason Science College

The earliest beginnings of the university can be traced back to the Birmingham Medical School which began life through the work of William Sands Cox in his aim of a medical school along strictly Christian lines, unlike the London medical schools. The medical school was founded in 1828 but Cox began teaching in December 1825. Queen Victoria granted her patronage to the Clinical Hospital in Birmingham and allowed it to be styled "The Queen's Hospital". It was the first provincial teaching hospital in England. In 1843, the medical college became known as Queen's College.

On February 23, 1875, Sir Josiah Mason, the Birmingham industrialist and philanthropist, who made his fortune in making key rings, pens, pen nibs and electroplating, founded Mason Science College. It was this institution that would eventually form the nucleus of the University of Birmingham.

In 1882, the Departments of Chemistry, Botany and Physiology were transferred to Mason Science College, soon followed by the Departments of Physics and Comparative Anatomy. The transfer of the Medical School to Mason Science College gave considerable impetus to the growing importance of that college and in 1896 a move to incorporate it as a university college was made. As the result of the Mason University College Act 1897 it became incorporated as Mason University College on January 1, 1898, with the Right Honourable Joseph Chamberlain MP becoming the President of its Court of Governors.

Royal Charter

It was largely due to Chamberlain's tireless enthusiasm that the university was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Victoria on March 24, 1900. The Calthorpe family offered twenty-five acres (10 hectares) of land on the Bournbrook side of their estate in July. The Court of Governors received the Birmingham University Act 1900, which put the Royal Charter into effect, on May 31. Birmingham was therefore arguably the first so-called red brick university, although several other universities claim this title, including the University of Manchester, since Manchester Victoria made significant developments towards the formation of a civic university proper in 1851, despite not gaining official status until 1903.

The transfer of Mason University College to the new University of Birmingham, with Chamberlain as its first Chancellor and Sir Oliver Lodge as the first Principal, was complete. All that remained of Josiah Mason's legacy was his Mermaid in the sinister chief of the university shield and of his college, the double-headed lion in the dexter. It became the first civic and campus university in England. The University Charter of 1900 also included provision for a Faculty of Commerce, as was appropriate for a university itself founded by industrialists and based in a city with enormous business wealth. Consequently, the faculty, the first of its kind in Britain, was founded by Sir William Ashley in 1901, who from 1902 until 1923 served as first Professor of Commerce and Dean of the Faculty. From 1905 to 1908, Edward Elgar held the position of Peyton Professor of Music at the university. He was succeeded by his friend Granville BantockKeith Anderton, slevenotes, "Bantock: Hebridean Symphony", Naxos 8.555473, 1989] .


In 1939, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, designed by Robert Atkinson, was opened. In 1956, the first MSc programme in Geotechnical Engineering commenced under the title of "Foundation Engineering", and has been run annually at the University of Birmingham since. It was the first geotechnical post-graduate school in England. In 1957, Sir Hugh Casson and Neville Conder were asked by the university to prepare a masterplan on the site of the original 1900 buildings which were incomplete. The university drafted in other architects to amend the masterplan produced by the group. During the 1960s, the university constructed numerous large buildings, expanding the campus.cite book|author=Douglas Hickman|title=Birmingham|year=1970|publisher=Studio Vista Limited] In 1963, the University of Birmingham helped in the establishment of the faculty of medicine at the University of Rhodesia, now the University of Zimbabwe (UZ). UZ is now independent; however, student exchange programs persist. In 1973, University (Birmingham) railway station, on the Cross-City Line, was opened to serve the university. The university is the only university in Britain with its own railway station.

Birmingham also supported the creation of Keele (formerly University College of North Staffordshire) and Warwick Universities under the Vice-Chancellorship of Sir Robert Aitken who acted as 'Godfather to the University of Warwick'. [Ives, 2000, p.342. ] The initial plan was for a university college in Coventry attached to Birmingham but Aitken advised an independent initiative to the University Grants Committee. [Ives, 2000, p.343. ]


The university has been involved in many important inventions and developments in science. The cavity magnetron was developed at the university by John Randall and Harry Boot. This was vital to the Allied victory in World War II. In 1940, the Frisch-Peierls memorandum, a document which demonstrated that the atomic bomb was more than simply theoretically possible, was written. The university also hosted early work on Gaseous diffusion in the Chemistry department when it was located in the Hills building. Many windows in the Aston Webb building overlooking the former fume cupboards were opaque from being attacked by hydrofluoric acid well into recent years.

In 1943, Mark Oliphant made an early proposal for the construction of a photo-synchrotron, however he made no assurance that the machine would work. When phase stability was discovered in 1945, the proposal was resurrected and construction of a machine at the university that could surpass 1GeV. The university was aiming to construct the first machine to do this, however, funds were short and the machine did not start until 1953. They were beaten by the University of California Radiation Laboratory, who managed to start their Cosmotron in 1952, and get it fully working in 1953, before the University of Birmingham. [cite book |first=Laurie M. |last=Brown |coauthors=Max Dresden, Lillian Hoddeson |title=Pions to Quarks: Particle Physics in the 1950s: Based on a Fermilab Symposium |pages=167-9 |year=1989 |publisher=Cambridge University Press |isbn=0521309840]


Academic departments

Being a large university Birmingham has departments covering a wide range of subjects, which are arranged into eight subject areas, which are Arts, Languages, Literature and History; Business; Education; Engineering (comprising Schools of Mechanical, Chemical, Civil, Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Metallurgy & Materials); Law; Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences; Science; and Social Sciences, Government and Politics.

On August 1, 2008, the university will be restructured and will be composed of five 'colleges':
*Medical and Dental Sciences
*Life and Environmental Sciences (Biosciences, Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Psychology, Sport and Exercise Sciences)
*Engineering and Physical Sciences (Physical Sciences includes Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy)
*Arts and Law (Historical Studies, Humanities, Law)
*Social Sciences (Business, Education, Public Policy, Economics)

The university is home to a number of well-known research centres and schools, including the Birmingham Business School, the oldest business school in England, the University of Birmingham Medical School, which produces more medical doctors than any other university in Britain, the Institute of Local Government Studies, the Centre of West African Studies, the European Research Institute and the Shakespeare Institute.

Between 1964 and 2002, the University of Birmingham was also home to the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, a leading research centre whose members' work came to be known as the Birmingham School of Cultural Studies. Despite being established by one of the key figures in the founding of Cultural Studies, Richard Hoggart, and being later directed by the renowned theorist Stuart Hall, the department was controversially closed down.

Libraries and collections

The university's Library Services department operates 10 libraries across the Edgbaston campus, Selly Oak campus, Birmingham City Centre and Stratford-upon-Avon. The University of Birmingham also contains a number of collections of rare books and manuscripts. The library has a large number of pre-1850 books dating from 1471 with approximately 3 million manuscripts. [ [ University of Birmingham: Special Collections] ] The library also contains the Chamberlain collection of papers from Neville Chamberlain, Joseph Chamberlain and Austen Chamberlain, the Avon Papers belonging to Antony Eden with material on the Suez Crisis, the Cadbury Papers relating to the Cadbury firm from 1900 to 1960, the Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern Manuscripts, the Noel Coward Collection, the papers of Edward Elgar, [ [ A collection-level description for the papers of Edward Elgar] , Archives Hub, accessed 6 January 2008] the records of the English YMCA and the records of the Church Missionary Society.

NHS hospitals


The University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust is the main teaching hospital in the West Midlands. It is very successful and has been given three stars for the past four consecutive years. [cite web|url=|publisher=University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation|title=Trust profile|accessdate=2008-03-06] The trust also hosts the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, based at Selly Oak Hospital, which provides medical support to military personnel such as military returned from fighting in the Iraq War. [cite web|url=|publisher=University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation|title=The Royal Centre for Defence Medicine|accessdate=2008-03-06]

Off-campus establishments

A number of the university's centres, schools and institutes are located away from its two campuses in Edgbaston and Selly Oak:
* The School of Dentistry, in Birmingham City Centre
* The Shakespeare Institute, in Stratford-upon-Avon
* The Ironbridge Institute, in Telford, which offers postgraduate and professional development courses in heritage
* The Raymond Priestley Centre, near Coniston in the Lake District, which is used for outdoor pursuits and field work
* The University of Birmingham Foundation, USA [; [ The University of Birmingham Foundation] , accessed 28 May 2007]


Birmingham has had six Chancellors since gaining its royal charter in 1900. The current Vice-Chancellor and Principal is Professor Michael Sterling. The first Chancellor of Birmingham was Joseph Chamberlain, he was the first commoner in 240 years to hold the post of Chancellor of a British university, and the first such chancellor ever not to have been a member of the Established Church.

Student life

Guild of Students

The University of Birmingham Guild of Students is the University's student union. Originally the Guild of Undergraduates, it is unclear when the Guild was formally established.Fact|date=December 2007 It is also not certain why it is called the Guild of Students and not the Union of Students; it is widely thought among Guild officers and staff that the University imposed this name at the Guild's genesis in order to avoid socialist and working class connotations in favour of more professional ones.Fact|date=December 2007 Indeed, the Guild shares its name with Liverpool Guild of Students. Both organisations subsequently founded the National Union of Students. The Union Building, the Guild's bricks and mortar presence, was designed by the architect Holland W. Hobbiss.

The Guild's official purposes are to represent its members and provide a means of socialising, though societies and general amenities. The University provides the Guild with the Union Building effectively rent free, and provide a block grant. In 2005/6, this grant amounted to approximately £1.2 million, roughly equivalent to £50 per student.Fact|date=December 2007

The Guild undertakes its representative function though its executive officers, seven of whom are full time, on sabbatical from their studies. Elections are held annually, conventionally every February, for the following academic year. These officers have regular contact with the University's officer-holders and managers. In theory, the Guild's officers are directed and kept to account over their year in office by Guild Council, a 500 seat pseudo-legislature. The Guild also supports the University "Student Reps" scheme, which aims to provide an effective channel of feedback from students on more of a departmental level. [cite web |url= |title=Student Reps |publisher=University of Birmingham Guild of Students |accessdate=2008-03-08]

The Guild supports a variety of student societies, roughly around 180 at any one time. The Guild was the UK's first student union with a film studio,Fact|date=December 2007 one of the first to broadcast its radio station online, and one of the few to still publish its campus newspaper, "Redbrick", on a weekly basis. [cite web |url= |title=Guild of Students Membership Handbook 2007-08 |publisher=University of Birmingham Guild of Students |format=pdf |accessdate=2008-07-06]

Another two of the Guild's long-standing societies are Student Advice and Niteline, which both provide peer-to-peer welfare support. The Guild complements these societies with professional staffed services, including its walk-in Advice and Representation Centre (ARC), JobZone, Student Mentors in halls, and Community Wardens around Bournbrook. [ [ BUGS: Community Wardens] ]

The Guild also runs several bars, eateries, social spaces and social events.


The university provides housing for most first year students, running a guarantee scheme for all those UK applicants who choose Birmingham as their firm UCAS choice. 90% of university-provided housing is inhabited by first year students.cite book|author=Johnny Rich|title=The Push Guide to Which University 2006|year=2005|publisher=Nelson Thornes|isbn=0748794891]

The university has spent the last few years re-organising their accommodation offering.Fact|date=December 2007 The university still maintained gender-segregated halls until 1999 when Lake and Wyddrington "halls" (treated as two different halls, despite being physically one building) was reborn as Shackleton. University House was decommissioned as accommodation in order to house the expanding Business School, while Mason Hall has been demolished and rebuilt, opening in 2008. Shackleton is now the only hall providing catering, although other students are welcome to join its meal plan. In the summer of 2006 the university sold three of its most distant halls (Hunter Court, the Beeches and Queens Hospital Close) to private operators, while later in the year and during term time, the university was forced to urgently decommission both Chamberlain Tower and Manor House over fire safety inspection failures.Fact|date=December 2007 The University has rebranded its halls offerings into three villages.

Vale Village

The Vale Village includes Chamberlain Hall, Shackleton, Maple Bank, Tennis Court, Elgar Court, Aitken and Chelwood residences. A sixth hall of residence, Mason Hall, opened in September 2008. Approximately 1,900 students live in the village. [cite web|url=|title=Student accommodation: Vale Village|publisher=University of Birmingham|accessdate=2008-02-10] Shackleton Hall underwent an £11 million refurbishment and was re-opened in Autumn 2004. There are 72 flats housing a total of 350 students. The majority of the units consist of six to eight bedrooms, together with a small number of one, two or three bedroom studio/apartments. [cite web|url=|title=Student accommodation: Shackleton|publisher=University of Birmingham|accessdate=2008-02-10] The redevelopment was designed by Birmingham-based archtitect Patrick Nicholls while employed at Aedas now a director of Glancy Nicholls Architects. [cite web |url= |title=Glancy Nicholls Architects |publisher=Glancy Nicholls Architects |accessdate=2008-05-05] Maple Bank was refurbished and opened in summer 2005. It consists of 87 five bedroom flats, housing 435 undergraduates. [cite web|url=|title=Student accommodation: Maple Bank|publisher=University of Birmingham|accessdate=2008-02-10] The Elgar Court residence consists of 40 six bedroom flats, housing a total of 236 students. [cite web|url=|title=Student accommodation: Elgar Court|publisher=University of Birmingham|accessdate=2008-02-10] It is the newest residence to be built, opening in September 2003. Tennis Court consists of 138 three, four and five bedroom flats and houses 697 students. [cite web|url=|title=Student accommodation: Tennis Court|publisher=University of Birmingham|accessdate=2008-02-10] The Aitken wing is a small complex consisting of 24 six and eight bedroom flats. It houses 147 students. [cite web|url=|title=Student accommodation: Aitken|publisher=University of Birmingham|accessdate=2008-02-10] Chelwood is situated at the top of the Vale village overlooking the lake, and comprises 50 en-suite bedrooms. [cite web|url=|title=Student accommodation: Chelwood|publisher=University of Birmingham|accessdate=2008-02-10]

Construction of Mason Hall commenced in June 2006. It has been designed by Aedas Architects who submitted the design in August 2005. Norwest Holst Ltd are the contractors, and Couch Perry Wilkes are the services engineers, DTA are the structural engineers, Faithful & Gould are the quantity surveyors and CDM are the planning supervisors. The entire project is expected to cost £36.75 million. [cite web |url= |title=Mason Hall Redevelopment |publisher=The Estates Office (University of Birmingham) |author=Liz Robinson |accessdate=2008-03-08]

The largest student-run event at the University, and indeed possibly in the UK, is also held on the Vale. The Vale Festival is a large annual music festival, attracting crowds of over 5,000 and boasting over forty bands across five stages and a multitude of other activities and events. It raises over £30,000 a year for charities.

Pritchatts Park Village

The Pritchatts Park Village houses over 700 students both undergraduate and postgraduate students. Halls include 'Ashcroft', 'The Spinney' and 'Oakley Court', as well as 'Pritchatts House' and the 'Pritchatts Road Houses' [cite web|url=|title=Student accommodation: Pritchatts Park|publisher=University of Birmingham|accessdate=2008-08-08] The Spinney is a small complex of six houses and twelve smaller flats, housing 104 students in total. [cite web|url=|title=Student accommodation: The Spinney|publisher=University of Birmingham|accessdate=2008-02-10] Ashcroft consists of four purpose built blocks of flats and houses 198 students. [cite web|url=|title=Student accommodation: Ashcroft|publisher=University of Birmingham|accessdate=2008-02-10] The four storey Pritchatts House consists of 24 duplex units and houses 159 students. [cite web|url=|title=Student accommodation: Pritchatts House|publisher=University of Birmingham|accessdate=2008-02-10] Oakley Court consists of 21 individual purpose-built flats, ranging in size from five to thirteen bedrooms. Also included are 36 duplex units. A total of 213 students are housed in Oakley Court, made up of postgraduates and undergraduates. [cite web|url=|title=Student accommodation: Oakley Court|publisher=University of Birmingham|accessdate=2008-02-10] Oakley Court was completed in 1993 at a cost of £2.9 million. It was designed by Birmingham-based Associated Architects. [cite web |url= |title=Oakley Court, Pritchatts Road |publisher=Associated Architects |accessdate=2008-05-05 |format=pdf] Pritchatts Road is a group of four private houses that were converted into student residences. There is a maximum of 16 bedrooms per house. [cite web|url=|title=Student accommodation: Pritchatts Road|publisher=University of Birmingham|accessdate=2008-02-10]

Accommodation at Five Ways

Other Self-catering student accommodation [cite web |url= |title=Choosing accommodation at Birmingham |publisher=University of Birmingham |accessdate=2008-03-08] include The Beeches, which is small with 48 flats housing 240 undergraduate students on the outskirts of the village. [cite web |url= |title=The Beeches, Birmingham |publisher=Liberty Living |accessdate=2008-03-08] Hunter Court, also located on the outskirts of the village, consists of 64 flats with five and some seven study bedrooms and houses 332 undergraduate students. [cite web |url= |title=Hunter Court, Birmingham |publisher=Liberty Living |accessdate=2008-03-08] Queens Hospital Close, located on the outskirts of the village near Broad Street, consists of 52 units of mainly six study bedrooms and some eight and ten bedroom flats. It houses 330 students. [cite web |url= |title=QHC, Birmingham |publisher=Liberty Living |accessdate=2008-03-08]

Selly Oak Village

Selly Oak Village consists of three residences; Jarratt Hall, Douper Hall and Victoria Hall. The term ‘Selly Oak Village’ is rather misleading here, for despite its name the halls themselves are actually located in Bournbrook rather than in Selly Oak. The village has 637 bed spaces for students. [cite web|url=|title=Student accommodation: Selly Oak Village|publisher=University of Birmingham|accessdate=2008-02-10] Douper Hall consists of 28 flats accommodating from two to six persons for 117 undergraduate and postgraduate students.fact|date= February 2008 Jarratt Hall is a large complex designed around a central courtyard and three landscaped areas. It houses a mixture of 620 undergraduate and postgraduate students. [cite web|url=|title=Student accommodation: Jarratt Hall|publisher=University of Birmingham|accessdate=2008-02-10]

Non-University accommodation

Until recently, the university had not been served by many private halls; a sole Victoria Halls was built in 2001. However, alongside the former university halls of Hunter Court, the Beeches and Queens Hospital Close, a number of other private halls aimed at the University of Birmingham market opened for business in 2007, such as Opal 1 on Bristol Road and IQFive on Bath Row near Five Ways.

A large number of students cohabit in rented houses, mainly in the Bournbrook area. However an increasingly large number of students are thought to be local, continuing to live in the family home.Fact|date=December 2007

University Sport

The university has many successful sports teams and has been consistently ranked in the top three of the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) league table. [ The BUSA Championship Results 2005/2006] , BUSA, 6 July 2006] The university's reputation for sport is a long-standing one; in 1954 it became the first UK university to offer a sports degree, and until 1968 excercise was compulsory for all students. In 2004 six graduates and one current student competed in the Athens olympic games.

The recently re-branded University Sport Birmingham (USB) offers a wide range of competitive and participation sports, which is utilised by the student and local population of Birmingham. Alongside fitness classes such as yoga and aerobics, USB offers over 40 different sport teams, including rowing, football, rugby union, field hockey, American football (Birmingham Lions), ice hockey (Birmingham Eagles), triathlon and many more. The wide selection has ensured the university has remained one of the country's most active and colourful campuses with over 2000 students participating in sport.

USB offers over 40 scholarships and bursaries to national and international students of exceptional athletic ability.

The university sports centre was originally designed to have the swimming pool on stilts. The design had to be revised once it was realised that the structure would be unable to support the weight of water. The model of the university in the Great Hall shows the original design.

In popular culture

David Lodge's novel "Changing Places" tells the story of exchange of professors between the universities of Rummidge and Euphoric State, Plotinus, thinly disguised fictional versions of Birmingham and UC Berkeley, which in the book both have replicas of the Leaning Tower of Pisa on campus. [cite book
last = Showalter
first = Elaine
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Faculty Towers: The Academic Novel and Its Discontents
publisher = Oxford University Press
date = 2005
location = Oxford
pages = 77
url =,M1
doi =
id =
isbn =

The university campus has been used as a filming location for a number of film and television productions, particularly those of the BBC which has a presence at the university's Selly Oak campus, the BBC Drama Village. Scenes from the John Cleese film "Clockwise" were filmed at the campus' east entrance, while several episodes of the BBC detective series "Dalziel and Pascoe", [cite web|url=|title=Buzz Issue 34 vol.3 November 2003|publisher=University of Birmingham|accessdate=2007-02-24] daytime soap "Doctors" [cite web|url=|title=Buzz Issue 35 vol.3 November 2003 Mid-month edition|publisher=University of Birmingham|accessdate=2007-02-24] and CBBC series "Brum" have been filmed in and around campus. Interior and exterior scenes for a BBC adaptation of Birmingham alumnus David Lodge's novel "Nice Work" and BBC comedy drama "A Very Peculiar Practice" were also shot in and around the University campus and halls of residence with a number of students appearing as extras. [cite web|url=|title=A Very Peculiar Practice|publisher=BBC|accessdate=2007-02-15] A trailer for the BBC's Red Nose Day 2007, featuring Lou and Andy from "Little Britain", was filmed near the School of Biosciences. [ [ Red Nose Day: Video] ]

Post punk band Joy Division played their final gig at the University High Hall on May 2, 1980 (now known as Chamberlain Hall), 16 days before the suicide of singer/songwriter, Ian Curtis. [cite news|author=Paul Morley and Adrian Thrills|title=Don't walk away in silence|publisher=NME|date=1980-06-14] A recording of the performance accompanies the 'Still' compilation album. It includes one of only two available recordings of the song 'Ceremony' (the other being a demo rehearsal), which would later become a single for New Order.


In 2005 the university began rebranding itself as a less traditional institution, changing the logo from the simplified shield introduced in the 1980s to a more detailed design based on the shield as it appears on the university's original Royal Charter. Variations on this coat of arms also feature in much of the original architecture on campus, including the ceiling of the Great Hall. After a research project into the image of the university, it was decided that an updated image was required to redefine the university as being modern and up-to-date. The marketing brand makes use of the letters U and B to bracket key words and achievements associated with the University. A new "word marque", using the Baskerville font in honour of the Birmingham printer John Baskerville, is used as the primary logo when trying to attract both prospective investors and students. It also features on all university vehicles. The coat of arms, revised to more closely resemble that on the original university charter, appears on degree certificates and academic documents. The seating in the Great Hall has also been replaced with chairs embroidered with the new shield. The introduction of new signage throughout the campus (featuring the revised shield rather than the "U and B" logo) was completed at the end of 2006.

Notable alumni

Birmingham's alumni include the politicians Neville Chamberlain, Baroness Amos and Chen Liangyu, General Sir Mike Jackson, formerly the most senior officer in the British Army, TV personality Chris Tarrant, Emmy Award-winning director Fielder Cook, actors Tamsin Greig, Norman Painting, Victoria Wood and Jane Wymark, the actor and musician Tim Curry, musician Simon Le Bon, sailor Lisa Clayton, athlete Allison Curbishley, triathlete Chrissie Wellington, zoologist Desmond Morris, theologian Robert Beckford, Chief Medical officer for England Sir Liam Donaldson, UN weapons inspector David Kelly, Manchester United Chief Executive David Gill and Williams Formula One team co-founder Patrick Head.

Several Nobel Prize Laureates are Birmingham alumni, including Francis Aston, Maurice Wilkins, Sir John Vane and Sir Paul Nurse.



*cite book|last=Foster|first=A.|title=Birmingham (Pevsner Architectural Guides)|publisher=Yale University Press|date=2005|location=London|isbn=0-300-10731-5
*cite book|last=Ives|first=E.|title=The First Civic University: Birmingham, 1880–1980 – An Introductory History|publisher=University of Birmingham Press|date=2000|location=Birmingham|isbn=1-902459-07-5
*cite book|title=The University of Birmingham Yearbook 2002–2003
*cite book|last=Cheesewright|first=M.|title=Mirror to Mermaid |publisher=The University of Birmingham Press|date=1975|location=Birmingham|isbn=0-7044-0130-4
*cite book|last=Braithwaite|first=L.|title=University of Birmingham Architectural Trail|publisher=The University of Birmingham Press|date=1987|location=Birmingham|isbn=0-7044-0890-2
*cite book|last=Hughes|first=A.|title=The University of Birmingham : A Short History|publisher=The University of Birmingham Press|date=1950|location=Birmingham|

External links

* [ University of Birmingham]
* [,+United+kingdom&ll=52.449066,-1.930139&spn=0.001367,0.003659&t=h Aerial photograph of the University from Google Maps]
* [ University of Birmingham photographs]

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