The Wills Memorial Building and a view over Bristol

The University
and the City

Bristol Skyline

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A view up Park Street

The University of Bristol is very much a part of the City of Bristol. The University's Wills Memorial Building, with its great Gothic tower, stands at the junction of Park Street and Queen's Road, two of the main shopping streets of Bristol, and the shops are only four or five minutes' walk from any point on the University precinct. The University shares in the busy and vigorous life of the largest city in the South-West of England. The Guardian newspaper recently summed up some aspects of Bristol and the University.

The City of Bristol and its surroundings

Bristol is a thriving modern city, effectively the capital of England's West Country, with a long history that can be traced back a thousand years or more. Indeed it was the most important city in England outside London until the early 19th century. Bristol has excellent road, rail and air connections with the rest of England and is only 90 minutes from Heathrow airport and London. Popular tourist attractions within easy reach include Bath, Wells, Glastonbury, the Cheddar Gorge and the beautiful countryside of Gloucestershire, Somerset, Dorset, Wales and Devon; Cornwall is only slightly further afield.

Balloons over the Bridge The Matthew sailing up the Avon

Within the city the arts flourish, with opera, film, ballet, galleries and music of every kind ranging from the classical to the modern. The Bristol Old Vic Theatre Company is based in the 18th-century Theatre Royal. Nearby, in the city centre, the Hippodrome offers regular sessions of opera and ballet. In addition to the Colston Hall, which has a wide range of entertainment including classical and rock concerts, there is a lively local music scene in a variety of club and pub venues.

The Victoria Rooms

The City currently has two football teams (Bristol City and Bristol Rovers) and rugby union at the highest levels (Bristol and Clifton), as well as being the home of Gloucestershire County Cricket Club.

In and around the city centre there are restaurants providing food associated with the cuisine of many nations. As well as the more usual French, Italian, Greek and Indian restaurants, there are some which specialise in Mexican, Malaysian, Indonesian, Thai and Japanese food, suiting all tastes and pockets. The Student's Union has a web page containing lots of information about the City, guides to shopping, restaurants, pubs, etc.

Things to See

Bristol has many famous and historic attractions. The following are just a list of the highlights, but to find out what else Bristol has to offer, please see the Bristol City Tourist Information web site.

Sights around Bristol

As well as being an attractive city in its own right, Bristol is ideally positioned as a starting point for tours of the City of Bath, the South West of England (West Country) and Wales. Also within easy travelling distance are the famous stone circles at Stonehenge and Avebury, the coves and villages of Cornwall, the famous cathedral city of Wells, the mystic delights of Glastonbury, the caves and cheese-making area around Cheddar Gorge, Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford - and, of course, London is only 2 hours away by train.

Useful Links for Tourists

Balloon Fiesta

University precinct

The University

University College, Bristol, founded in 1876, was the first institution in the United Kingdom to offer places to women to study in higher education on the same footing as men. The Bristol Medical School, founded in 1833, soon became associated with the College, and became part of it in 1893. In 1909 the College combined with the Merchant Venturers' Technical College to become the University of Bristol, and was granted a Royal Charter.

The Wills Memorial Building and a view over Bristol

The Wills Memorial Building,
as seen from a balloon!

Royal Fort House
and the Gardens

Royal Fort House and Gardens

For most Bristolians the University is the Wills Memorial Building which dominates the skyline. But the University has many other buildings. The Science, Engineering and Medical Departments are housed in purpose designed buildings, with most of the Arts Departments in large, skilfully adapted Victorian houses close to the Main Library and Computing Service.

Royal Fort House, a splendid 18th-century mansion, and the delightful Royal Fort Gardens lie between the Chemistry and Physics buildings, and offer a peaceful spot for reading and relaxation on a fine day. Only the gatehouse now remains of the Royal Fort itself, which stood on the site during the Civil War.

Along Queen's Road is the University Union, one of biggest in the country, with an enormous range of clubs and societies catering for all interests, and not far away are three of the Halls of Residence, including the 18th-century Goldney House and Clifton Hill House. A further five Halls are close to the parkland of the Downs, and to the University playing fields.

Studying at Bristol

The annual Balloon Fiesta!The academic departments of the University are grouped into six Faculties: Arts, Science, Medicine, Engineering, Law and Social Sciences. All the departments are active in research as well as teaching, and in a recent survey carried out by the Universities Funding Council many were rated world-class or were regarded as national centres of excellence for their research. For more details on student life and activities in Bristol, see the full Undergraduate Prospectus or Graduate Prospectus.

Bristol - An International University

Bristol is an International University with students from over 100 countries currently studying here and forming around 12% of the total student population. In order to provide adequate support and advice to students from overseas the University has established an International Centre which consists of the offices of the Director of International Affairs, the Overseas Students' Advisory Service, the European Office, the Overseas Liaison Office and the Study Abroad Office.

The CofE Cathedral

Overseas students will be sent a copy of the Overseas Students Handbook which provides a wealth of practical information about living in the UK.

Postal Address Further information may be obtained from:

The International Centre, 2nd Floor, University Union, Queen's Road, Bristol, BS8 1LN UK.

The University Union

Students The University Union is a virtually autonomous body which runs the largest Students' Union building in the country. All full-time students are automatically members of the University Union, which is affiliated to the National Union of Students. The Union provides facilities for over 150 clubs and societies which range alphabetically from Acton to Yoga. It also houses a shop, a travel bureau, a bank, two theatres, two bars, a restaurant, a snack bar, a disco, a launderette, a hairdresser, music practice rooms, a second-hand bookshop, a video and record library, quiet rooms for study and a wide range of meeting rooms for use by societies.

The Graduate Association

This Graduate Association represents and protects all graduate interests, at all levels of the University, and is renowned for its social activities. All graduates, including clinical medical and dental students, registered at the University are members.

All members of the G.A. are entitled to join the Joint Social Club, the Old Park Tavern, or more commonly known as the `Grad Club'. Located near the School of Chemistry it has a cheap bar, with hot and cold food at lunchtimes, a skittle alley and snooker and pool tables.

Annual events include day trips to Alton Towers, the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, Taunton Cider, a Mediaeval Banquet and a Paralytic Olympics event in the summer, with regular quiz nights and a quarterly newsletter.

Arts and Cultural Opportunities

The University has three theatres. The Glynne Wickham Studio Theatre is located in the Department of Drama and is used for Departmental productions and productions by small scale visiting companies. The 300-seat Winston Theatre in the Students' Union is used by companies such as the Dramatic Society, the University Players, Revunions, who organise Bristol's contributions to the Edinburgh Festival, and other ad hoc groups started by students. It also doubles as the Union's debating chamber. The Victoria Rooms offers a 700-seat theatre and is used for large scale productions such as those by the University Operatic Society.

The Victoria Rooms are also occasionally used for musical events but the main centres of the University's musical life are the Great Hall, where the organ is used for recitals, and the Reception Room. The Great Hall is the venue for lunchtime concerts by the four orchestras and choirs; smaller scale musical activities such as string quartets take place in the Reception Room.

Membership of University choirs, orchestras and ensembles is open to all students whether reading music or not. Auditions (where necessary) are held at the start of each session and full details of the concert programme are available from the Department of Music.

The Anson Rooms in the Union Building are an important venue for up and coming groups to play, with music ranging from reggae and disco to grunge and heavy metal.

The Clifton Suspension Bridge

Sport and Physical Education

The Department of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences organises a wide range of activities to cater for everyone, from the committed athlete to those wishing to know how to exercise, ease back pain, eat sensibly and to avoid stress. Exercise classes are held twice daily and there are advisory fitness sessions in the trim-gym every lunch-time and evening.

The University's Woodland House Centre> comprises a sports hall for a wide range of indoor sporting activities, squash courts and the superbly equipped trim-gym. Many intra-mural activities take place at the Centre, such as five-a-side soccer and mixed hockey leagues, which are always over-subscribed.

Outdoor sports are played at the Coombe Dingle playing fields where there are pitches for all the major sports. There is a superb floodlit artificial grass pitch, used by the men's and women's hockey clubs and for training by many others.

The University swimming pool is located in the University Union. This fine pool is used for competitive and recreational swimming and aquatic activities, including water-polo, subaqua and canoe practise. The highly successful Boat Club trains on the River Avon at Saltford. The Sailing Club, whose members in recent years have included a World Champion, uses facilities at Axbridge.

Athletic Union

The Athletic Union is responsible for the organisation of the 45 sports clubs in the Union. These range from traditional team sports to gliding and surfing. Many clubs take part in the Universities Athletic Union championships, in which Bristol has a long standing record of success.

The university in recent years has enjoyed a particularly good reputation in volleyball, fencing, riding and seven-a-side rugby and the teams have each won their respective championships.

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School of Chemistry   This page was last modified Tuesday, 12-Nov-2002 16:14:37 GMT. Chemistry Webmaster.