Plymouth University is a public university based predominantly in Plymouth, England where the main campus is located, but the university has campuses and affiliated colleges all over South West England. With 25,895 students, it is the 22nd largest in the United Kingdom by total number of students (including the Open University). It has 2,820 staff.
Whilst the university has been known as Plymouth University since June 2011 as a result of a rebrand, the formal name and legal title of the university remains "University of Plymouth”.
The university was originally a Polytechnic Institute, with its constituent bodies being Plymouth Polytechnic, Rolle College, the Exeter College of Art and Design (which were, before April 1989, run by Devon County Council) and Seale-Hayne College (which before April 1989 was an independent charity). It was renamed Polytechnic South West in 1989 and remained as this until gaining university status in 1992 along with the other polytechnics. The new university absorbed the Plymouth School of Maritime Studies.
The university was selected by the Royal Statistical Society in October 2008 to be the home of its Centre for Statistical Education. It also runs courses in maritime business, marine engineering, marine biology, and Earth, ocean & environmental sciences.
When university status was gained in 1992, the university was based in various locations. Under Vice-Chancellor Levinsky the university began a policy of centralising its campus activities in Plymouth.
The Exmouth campus – Rolle College – housed the Faculty of Education and relocated to the new Rolle Building in August 2008. The decision was unpopular with students and the town of Exmouth itself, there were several protest marches and a campaign to keep the campus open.
Recently completed developments include Portland Square, a library extension, refurbished and new laboratory and teaching facilities in many of the campus buildings, halls of residence near the Business School and a new £16 million Peninsula Medical School headquarters at Derriford, in the north of the city. A new maritime centre has been constructed behind the Babbage Building to house civil engineering, coastal engineering and marine sciences.
An exception to the trend of centralising activities are the university's extensive activities in education for the health professions. In addition many of its students are taught at Further Education Colleges throughout Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, such as South Devon College. A new building which opened in 2008 is shared between the Peninsula Medical School and the Faculty of Health, Education and Society.
The Roland Levinsky Building
The Roland Levinsky Building, designed by architects Henning Larsen with Building Design Partnership, is clad with copper sheets in a seamed-cladding technique, is nine storeys high and has 13,000 square metres (140,000 sq ft) of floor space. The Faculty of Arts, previously based in Exmouth and Exeter moved here in August 2007. The building contains two large lecture theatres, the Jill Craigie Cinema, used by the film students to display their films and for showing of films to the public; three performance rehearsal studios; digital media suites; and a public art gallery which displays work by local artists groups, students and famous artists.
University-managed accommodation in the first year of study is guaranteed for all applicants who choose Plymouth as their first choice institution. The university provides an approved accommodation database, which is available to all continuing students. Special accommodation arrangements can be made for students with disabilities or medical conditions.
Organisation and administration
Plymouth is a modern university that has undergone a great deal of development, including several new buildings.
The Portland Square Building
A wide variety of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes are taught at the main city campus in Plymouth. The university scores well in law, psychology, geographical sciences, computing (including digital media) and computer science, fine art and art history. Key developments include: the creation of a new Business School; bringing together complementary subjects in a new combined faculty of Science and Technology; and creating the largest Marine Science and Engineering School in Europe.
Faculty of Arts and Humanities
This faculty is host to the School of Architecture, Design and Environment, School of Art & Media, the School of Humanities and Performing Arts, and the Plymouth Institute of Education. Arts subjects are usually taught in the Roland Levinsky building and the Scott building, a 19th-century building located next to Roland Levinsky which was modernised externally in 2008 to keep to the university's current design. The faculty offers degrees in Architecture, English, History, Art History, 3D Design, Fine Art, Music, Photography, Media Arts, Theatre & Performance and Dance Theatre. Advanced research is available across the disciplines in all three Schools, including via the innovative international Planetary Collegium in new media art.
Faculty of Health and Human Sciences
Home to the Schools of Psychology, Social Science and Social Work, Health Professions, and Nursing and Midwifery. As well as PGCE programmes, the Faculty offers degrees Adult Nursing, Child Health Nursing, Dietetics, Optometry, Paramedicine and Health and Social Care Studies.
Faculty of Science and Engineering
This faculty is home to the School of Biological Sciences, the School of Computing and Mathematics, the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Studies, and the School of Marine Science and Engineering.
The university provides professional diving qualifications on a number of its courses, the only university in the country to do so. The university's diving centre is located within its Marine Station teaching and research facility based next to Queen Anne's Battery Marina, and has a full-time team of instructors and dedicated boats and equipment.
In October 2005, The Sun newspaper voted the university as having the most bizarre degree course in the country, the BSc (Hons) in Surf Science & Technology. Commonly known as "surfing", this course is actually centred on coastal/ocean sciences, surfing equipment/clothing design and surfing-related business, which has its popularity increased by the geographical location of the university.
Faculty of Business
The faculty is home to the Plymouth Business School, the School of Government, the School of Law, the Plymouth Graduate School of Management and the School of Tourism and Hospitality. Plymouth's Business School has most notably been very successful in national rankings by subject, where subjects like economics reach the top 15, according to The Guardian. Plymouth Graduate School of Management also offers Maritime Studies through the B.Sc. (Hons) Maritime Business and Maritime Law and the M.Sc. in International Shipping.
The university has strong links with the cruising industry, offering courses in the Maritime and Cruising sector. The school offers BSc (Hons) in Cruise Management, where students can opt to take a year out to work with P&O or Princess Cruises for a period of two, four-month periods.
Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry
Medicine and Dentistry were first established as part of the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry in 2000, which operated as a partnership between Plymouth University and the University of Exeter. In January 2012 the two founding members of the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry (PCMD) the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, outlined their plans to expand independently and grow the success of the now nationally recognised professional health education provider. These changes came into effect from the start of the 2013 academic year. PUPSMD consists of the School of Medicine, the School of Dentistry, and the School of Biomedical and Healthcare Sciences.
The Academic Partnerships network is a collaboration between the university and local colleges across the South West and South of the country, from Penzance to Jersey. There are hundreds of higher education courses available providing opportunities for progression to other qualifications. For example, someone who has spent two years studying for a foundation degree at their local college – and who has successfully passed their exams – can move on to the final year of a full honours degree at the university.
City of Bristol College
City College Plymouth
Greenwich School of Management (GSoM), London
Plymouth College of Art and Design (until 2006)
Truro and Penwith College
South Devon College
AP Associates include:
Tor Bridge High
Highlands College, Jersey
Plymouth is the main sponsor of Marine Academy Plymouth. It is also the main sponsor of UTC Plymouth, which opened in September 2013.
Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
In 2005 the university was awarded four HEFCE funded Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETLs). In addition, Plymouth was a partner in a fifth successful bid, led by Liverpool Hope University. The university's CETLs are:
Centre for Excellence in Professional Placement Learning (CEPPL)
Experiential Learning in the Environmental and Natural Sciences
Higher Education Learning Partnerships CETL
Centre for Sustainable Futures (Education for Sustainable Development)
In The Times and Sunday Times University League Tables 2015, Plymouth University's world ranking was listed as 701st and 651-700 in QS World University Rankings 2015/16. Times Higher Education ranked Plymouth between 301st and 350th in its World University Rankings 2015–16, and ranked it as equal 37th in a list of the world 100 best universities under 50 years old, in April 2015.
The results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework showed that, overall, Plymouth was ranked joint 66 of 128 UK institutions, rising 9 places from the previous Research Assessment Exercise in 2008. Across all assessed subject areas Plymouth showed substantial evidence of 3* (internationally excellent) and 4* (world leading) research, and this was particularly evident in Clinical Medicine, Computer Sciences & Informatics, Psychology, Psychiatry & Neuroscience, and Earth Systems & Environmental Sciences, where 79-85% of research was ranked as 3* or 4*.