University of Edinburgh: What it's really like
Discover the University of Edinburgh
Want to go to a historic university with a buzzing social scene? Edinburgh could be perfect for you!
Edinburgh at a glance:
|Locations||Edinburgh, Scotland, UK|
|Undergraduate course length||Four years|
|Courses||Edinburgh is divided into three Colleges: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Medicine and Veterinary Medicine; and Science and Engineering.|
|Great for||Students who want to live in a small, historic city, on a campus with a community feel, but who also want to make the best of a range of social opportunities.|
|Not for||Students who prefer modern cities, or those who want to specialise in one subject only.|
Cat Henderson, Student Recruitment Officer and alumna from the University of Edinburgh, explains what it’s like to be a student at the university.
What is the University of Edinburgh?
Despite being established in 1583, Edinburgh is the youngest of the ‘ancient’ institutions in Scotland! Others in this category include Glasgow, Aberdeen and St Andrews.
Since its small beginnings, Edinburgh has expanded massively to become the biggest university in the country. That looks like around 45,000 students, with about 25,000 being undergraduates.
The university is based in and around the city, meaning students can take advantage of facilities both on campus and elsewhere in Edinburgh.
Why apply to Edinburgh?
It’s well worth applying to Edinburgh to gain a breadth of knowledge from the variety of subjects you can engage with, from humanities to sciences, and languages to business. Being able to enjoy flexibility in your degree structure by studying multiple subjects is a benefit too. This means you may have the chance to change your degree focus (but this depends on which subjects you have previously taken, and the number of places available on your chosen subject).
International students will have a great adventure coming to Edinburgh too. The location in the heart of the city offers the perfect platform for exploring the rest of the country, with a bus station, train station and domestic and international airport on your doorstep.
Who isn’t the right fit for Edinburgh?
If you are a prospective student with one particular degree in mind, and have no interest in studying other subjects, Edinburgh may not be for you. Most degree programmes encourage you to study another subject at the same time as your original focus, so if you are set on sticking with only one subject for the duration of your course, it would perhaps be best to apply elsewhere.
Any application tips?
Edinburgh does get a lot of applicants, so it’s important to make your application stand out. The admissions team will want to know about the character beyond the profile. Show that you’ve taken the time to understand the subject, and make sure your passion comes across.
Grades here are quite competitive, but this is because there are so many applicants! See the Degree Finder on the University’s website to see the grade profile needs for your course. If you’re looking to apply for multiple degrees, contact the university first. Because of how competitive places are here, you are likely to only be offered one degree if you get in. It’s good to let the university know which one you would prefer an offer for.
A lot of students worry about who they’re competing against. It’s worth remembering that you’ll only compete against people in the same fee category as you (so that’s Scotland; the rest of the UK; or international applicants).
What’s the location like?
Edinburgh is a charming city, with lots of old architecture you’ll walk past on the way to your lectures.
It’s large enough to always have lots going on, but small enough that it’s easy to find your way around. Students at Edinburgh might describe it as ‘cosy’ and’ intimate’.
For most of your degree, you’ll be living in the heart of the city, which is bursting with theatre, musicals and plays; quaint pubs with live music and quizzes; and attractive green spaces. For sports fans, renowned rugby venue Murrayfield Stadium is also close by.
What facilities does Edinburgh have to offer?
For social time, Edinburgh boasts four student union buildings, including the world’s oldest purpose-built SU building, the castle-like Teviot.
Here, there’s a student union theatre, debating hall, underground bar, space for ceilidhs - in fact, you can find about nine bars in this building alone!
Another of the student union buildings, Potterrow, has a slightly more modern feel, resembling holiday park Center Parcs with its wooden benches and greenery. Here you can find a doctor’s surgery, optician, and restaurants and bars.
Teaching facilities at Edinburgh include lecture rooms which hold 10-20 students, with others holding up to 300 students. Subject-specific facilities include separate libraries and research labs for different schools.
The Central Area library has lots of different floors to meet different needs, including group booths for teamwork and quiet spaces for independent laptop work.
What is the accommodation like?
Edinburgh offers a hybrid of ‘campus’ and ‘city’ feel. There are several different campuses around the city differentiated by subject, so in this way, students can enjoy a ‘community’ feel, with opportunities to enjoy the city on their doorstep.
The accommodation for students is not based at your subject campus however - it’s spread out across the city centre, so you can choose where you might like to live.
Generally in the first year, undergraduates choose university managed accommodation. But if you would rather choose privately rented accommodation, that’s okay too.
University managed accommodation includes charming historic properties, as well as modern properties that have been less lived-in by students over the years. You can choose from catered or self-catered accommodation, and from single rooms or shared rooms.
Finally, there are flats you can share with other students, or you can choose to live dorm-style, in a row of single rooms based along one corridor.
Want to explore more UK universities? Remember, Unifrog’s Shortlisting tool can help you put together a list of great potential courses.
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