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 23,155 students, it is the 30th largest in the United Kingdom by total number of students (including the Open University). It has 2,915 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.
In 2006 part of the remains of the World War II Portland Square air-raid shelter were rediscovered on the Plymouth campus. On the night of 22 April 1941, during the Blitz, a bomb fell here killing over 70 civilians, including a mother and her six children. The bomb blast was so violent that human remains were found in the tops of trees. Only three people escaped alive, all children.
The university’s first Vice-Chancellor was John Bull. He was succeeded by Roland Levinsky until his death on 1 January 2007, when he walked into live electrical cables brought down during a storm. He was temporarily replaced by Mark Cleary (now VC of the University of Bradford), and then by Steve Newstead. Wendy Purcell became VC on 1 December 2007. She was placed on leave on 2 July 2014 by the University’s governors while an internal review is conducted. A month later the Higher Education Funding Council for England requested an independent external review of the university’s governance. In August 2014, the university was instructed by HEFCE to undertake an external review of its governance after vice-chancellor, Wendy Purcell was placed on leave.
Judith Petts, CBE, was appointed the University of Plymouth’s Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive in February 2016. She joined Plymouth from the University of Southampton where she had been Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise and previously the inaugural Dean of the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences (2010-13).
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.
Advancing knowledge, transforming lives.
The University of Plymouth is renowned for high quality, internationally-leading education, research and innovation. We make a positive difference to people’s lives. With a truly global outlook, we are an inclusive and inspiring university community. Our students are our partners on their journey of discovery.
We deliver high quality research-led and professionally-relevant teaching. A stimulating student experience ensures challenge, personal development, and employment success.
Our research embraces real-world challenges to advance and translate knowledge and to drive innovation and enterprise. We prioritise collaboration and interdisciplinary excellence.
Our services, estate and infrastructure are an enabling force that supports and enriches our vision and community. They are highly effective and efficient.
Our graduates are highly capable, confident and adaptable global citizens. Succeeding in their ambitions, and leaders of the future, they make a difference in society.
Our staff are creative, empowered, and take responsibility. We work with our students as partners and strive for exceptional performance in everything we do.
We are financially sustainable, enabling long-term investment in our University. We are higher education leaders for sustainability; economic, environmental, and social.
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 Engineering; and creating the largest Marine Science and Engineering School in Europe.
Faculty of Arts and Humanities
This faculty is host to the School of Art, Design and Architecture, 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, Mental Health Nursing, Midwidery, Dietetics, Optometry, Social Work, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and Paramedicine.
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 Law, Criminology and Government, 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.
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