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University of Leicester

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University of Leicester

University of Leicester
Motto Ut Vitam Habeant
So that they may have life
Established 1957 - gained University Status by Royal Charter
1921 - Leicestershire and Rutland University College
Type Public
Endowment £11.8 million (2013)[1]
Chancellor Lord Grocott
Vice-Chancellor Paul Boyle[2]
Visitor The Lord President of the Council ex officio
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 17,055[4]
Undergraduates 11,095[4]
Postgraduates 5,960[4]
Location Leicester, England, UK
Campus Urban parkland
Affiliations AMBA

The University of Leicester (Listen ) is a public research university based in Leicester, England. The main campus is south of the city centre, adjacent to Victoria Park.

The university has established itself as a leading research-led university and has been named University of the Year of 2008 by the Times Higher Education.[5] The University of Leicester is also the only university ever to have won a Times Higher Education award in seven consecutive years. In 2016, the university ranked 24th in the The Complete University Guide and 32nd in the The Guardian. Recent REF 2014, the University of Leicester ranked 49th among 126 universities.[6] The 2012 QS World University Rankings also placed Leicester eighth in the UK for research citations.[7]

The university is most famous for the invention of genetic fingerprinting and for the discovery of the remains of King Richard III.


  • History 1
  • Campus 2
    • Notable architecture 2.1
    • Development 2.2
  • Organisation 3
  • Academic profile 4
    • Teaching 4.1
    • Science 4.2
      • Physics and Astronomy 4.2.1
      • Engineering 4.2.2
    • Arts, humanities and social sciences 4.3
      • College of Arts, Humanities & Law 4.3.1
      • Mass Communication Research 4.3.2
      • Management 4.3.3
    • Learning Innovation and Technology-Enhanced Learning 4.4
    • Leicester Medical School 4.5
    • Rankings and reputation 4.6
  • Library special collections 5
  • Student life 6
    • Student media 6.1
      • Annual events 6.1.1
      • LUST 6.1.2
  • Notable people 7
    • Chancellors 7.1
    • Notable academics 7.2
    • Notable alumni 7.3
    • The Attenboroughs 7.4
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


University of Leicester seen from Victoria Park - Left to right: the Engineering Building, the Attenborough tower, the Charles Wilson building.
The Fielding Johnson Building (built 1837)

The university was founded as Leicestershire and Rutland University College in 1921. The site for the university was donated by a local textile manufacturer, Thomas Fielding Johnson, in order to create a living memorial for those who lost their lives in First World War. This is reflected in the University's motto Ut Vitam Habeant –"so that they may have life".

Students were first admitted to the college in 1921. In 1927, after it became University College, Leicester, students sat the examinations for external degrees of the University of London. In 1957 the college was granted its Royal Charter, and has since then had the status of a university with the right to award its own degrees. Leicester University won the first ever series of University Challenge, in 1963.


The David Wilson Library
The Percy Gee building, home of the Students' Union

The main campus is a mile south of the city centre, adjacent to Victoria Park and Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College.

The central building, now known as the Fielding Johnson Building and housing the University's administration offices and Faculty of Law, dates from 1837 and was formerly the Leicestershire and Rutland Lunatic Asylum. Opposite the Fielding Johnson Building are the Astley Clarke Building, home to the School of Economics, and the University Sports Centre.

The Ken Edwards building, built in 1995, lies adjacent to the Fielding Johnson Building and is home to the School of Management.

Built in 1957, the Percy Gee building is home to Leicester University's Students' Union.

The David Wilson Library was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 4 December 2008, following an extensive refurbishment with a budget of £32 million.[8]

The university campus is home to several notable examples of Brutalist architecture, including the Grade II listed Engineering Building and the Charles Wilson Building. Another prominent building on campus is the 18-storey Attenborough Tower, home to the College of Social Sciences.

The Bennett building, Physics and Astronomy building, the Chemistry building and the Adrian Building lie beyond the Charles Wilson Building. Across University Road lies the Maurice Shock and Hodgkin buildings, home to Leicester's Medical School.

Further along University Road and on Salisbury Road and Regents Road are the Department of Education and the Fraser Noble building.

Notable architecture

The skyline of Leicester University is punctuated by three distinctive, towering, buildings from the 1960s: the Department of Engineering, the Attenborough tower and the Charles Wilson building.

The University's Engineering Building was the first major building by British architect James Stirling. It comprises workshops and laboratories at ground level, and a tower containing offices and lecture theatres. It was completed in 1963 and is notable for the way in which its external form reflects its internal functions. The very compact campus contains a wide range of twentieth century architecture, though the oldest building is the Fielding Johnson building. The Attenborough Tower is undergoing extensive renovation.

Leicester's halls of residence are noteworthy: many of the halls (nearly all located in Oadby) date from the early 1900s and were the homes of Leicester’s wealthy industrialists.


In recent years the University has disposed of some of its poorer quality property in order to invest in new facilities, and is currently undergoing a £300+ million redevelopment. The new John Foster Hall of Residence opened in October 2006. The David Wilson Library, twice the size of the previous University Library, opened on 1 April 2008 and a new biomedical research building (the Henry Wellcome Building) has already been constructed. A complete revamp of the Percy Gee Student Union building (originally opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 9 May 1958[9]) was completed in September 2010. Nixon Court was extended and refurbished in 2011.


The University's academic schools and departments are organised into four colleges[10] which are, in turn, supported by the Corporate Services.

  • College of Arts, Humanities & Law
  • College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology
  • College of Science & Engineering
  • College of Social Science

The four colleges replaced the former five faculties in 2009.

Academic profile


The University is held in high regard for the quality of its teaching.[11] 19 subject areas have been graded as "Excellent" by the Quality Assurance Agency – including 14 successive scores of 22 points or above stretching back to 1998, six of which were maximum scores.

Leicester was ranked joint first in the 2005, 2006 and 2007 National Student Survey for overall student satisfaction among mainstream universities in England. It was second only to Cambridge in 2008 and again joint first in 2009.[12]


The University has research groups in the areas of astrophysics, biochemistry and genetics. The techniques used in genetic fingerprinting were invented and developed at Leicester in 1984 by Sir Alec Jeffreys. It also houses Europe's biggest academic centre for space research , in which space probes have been built, most notably the Mars Lander Beagle 2, which was built in collaboration with the Open University.

Leicester Physicists (led by Ken Pounds) were critical in demonstrating a fundamental prediction of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity - that black holes exist and are common in the universe. It is a founding partner of the £52 million National Space Centre.

Leicester University is one of a small number of universities to have won the prestigious Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher Education on more than one occasion: in 1994 for physics & astronomy and again in 2002 for genetics.

Physics and Astronomy

The Department is host to around 350 undergraduate students, following either BSc (three-year) or MPhys (four-year) degree courses, and over 70 postgraduate students registered for a higher degree.[13]

The main Physics building accommodates several research groups—Radio and Space Plasma Physics (RSPP), X-ray and Observational Astronomy (XROA), Condensed Matter Physics (CMP) and Theoretical Astrophysics (TA)—as well as centres for supercomputing, microscopy, Gamma and X-ray astronomy, and radar sounding, and the Swift UK Data Centre. A purpose built Space Research Centre houses the Space Science and Instrumentation (SSI) group and provides laboratories, clean rooms and other facilities for instrumentation research, Earth Observation Science (EOS) and the Bio-imaging Unit. The department also runs the University of Leicester Observatory in Manor Road, Oadby, with a 20-inch telescope it is one of the UK's largest and most advanced astronomical teaching facilities.[14] The department has close involvement with the National Space Centre also located in Leicester.

The department is home to the University's ALICE 3400+ core supercomputer[15] and is a member of the UK's DiRAC (DiStributed Research utilising Advanced Computing) consortium. DiRAC is the integrated supercomputing facility for theoretical modelling and HPC-based research in particle physics, astronomy and cosmology, areas in which the UK is world-leading. It was funded as a result of investment of £12.32 million, from the Government's Large Facilities Capital Fund, together with investment from the Science and Technology Facilities Council and from universities.[16]

The department is a member of the Pi-CETL collaboration of three university physics departments with a track record in teaching and learning innovation. The Physics Innovations CETL is one of 74 Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, over all academic disciplines, and the only one in physics. It was funded for five years (2005-10) by the Higher Education Funding Council for England's (HEFCE). Pi-CETL involved collaboration between the Open University and the Universities of Leicester and Reading.

In 1994 the University of Leicester celebrated winning the Queen's Anniversary Prize for its work in Physics & Astronomy. The prize citation reads: "World-class teaching, research and consultancy programme in astronomy and space and planetary science fields. Practical results from advanced thinking".[17]


The Grade II* listed Engineering Building

The department offers MEng and BEng degrees in Aerospace Engineering, Embedded Systems Engineering, Communications and Electronic Engineering, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and General Engineering. Each course is accredited by the relevant professional institutions. The department also offers MSc courses in Embedded Systems and Control, Information and Communication Engineering, Advanced Mechanical Engineering, and Advanced Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

The department has an extensive range of industrial partners including: ARM Holdings, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, Siemens, Corus, Mercedes-Benz. Many undergraduate and postgraduate projects are carried out in collaboration with industry.

Arts, humanities and social sciences

The Attenborough Tower, home of many of the university's arts departments

More recently, novelist Adele Parks graduated from the university in the 1990s, and the university library now holds the writings of both Joe Orton and Sue Townsend.

College of Arts, Humanities & Law

The School of Archaeology and Ancient History was formed in 1990 from the then Departments of Archaeology and Classics, under the headship of Graeme Barker, FBA. It was headed from 2006 to 2012 by Colin Haselgrove, and the current head is Lin Foxhall, Hon. MBE. The academic staff currently (as of July 2012) includes 21 archaeologists and 6 ancient historians, though several staff teach and research in both disciplines; seven staff hold the rank of Professor.

In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, 65% of its research was placed in the top two classes of excellence (4* and 3*),[18] making it second equal among UK archaeology departments and first equal among departments teaching both archaeology and ancient history.

The School has particular strengths in Mediterranean archaeology, ancient Greek and Roman history, and the archaeology of recent periods; and is also home to the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS).[19] In April 2008, the Centre for Historical Archaeology was opened. The Leverhulme-funded "Tracing Networks" project is based in the School.[20]

In September 2012, the University of Leicester exhumed the body of King Richard III, discovering it in the former Greyfriars Friary Church in the city of Leicester, England. The university announced on 4 February 2013 that the body had correctly been identified, and was Richard's body "beyond all reasonable doubt".[21]

The School of English teaches English at degree level. The School is committed to offering the whole spectrum of English Studies from Contemporary Writing to Old English and language studies. It contains the distinguished Victorian Studies Centre, the first of its kind in the UK.

Malcolm Bradbury is one of the Department's most famous alumni: he graduated with a First in English in 1953.

The School of Historical Studies is, with 35 full-time members of staff, including 11 Professors as of 2009, one of the largest of any university in the country. It has made considerable scholarly achievements in many areas of history, notably Urban History, English Local History, American Studies and Holocaust Studies.[22] The School houses both the East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA)[23] and the Media Archive for Central England (MACE).[24]

The School of Law is one of the biggest departments in the University. The Faculty maintains links with many top law firms, including the Magic Circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, who offer a one-year scholarship to a Leicester student studying for the dual Law and French degree. According to the Times Online Good University Guide 2009, the Faculty of Law was ranked 8th, out of 87 institutions, making it one of the top law schools in the country.

The School of Museum Studies has the highest proportion of world-leading rated research in any subject in any UK university (RAE 2008).[25] In its 40-year history the school has played an influential role in the reinvention of museum theory and practice.

The School of Geography and Geology, housed in the Bennett building, is notable for its collection of maps dating back almost a century, and equally for the Geology department's fossil collection. Both departments feature highly in rankings for the UK.

Also within the College of Arts, Humanities, and Law are the Department for the History of Art and Film and the School of Modern Languages.

Mass Communication Research

Within the College of Social Sciences, the Centre for Mass Communication Research, now part of the Department of Media and Communications, is one of the longest established academic centres at Leicester, engaging in pioneering research in the 1970s and 1980s and now specializing in Masters courses, as does the Department of Museum Studies, in terms of both campus-based and distance-learning Masters.


The Ken Edwards Building, in which the School of Management is based

Within the College of Social Science, the School of Management is dedicated to the advanced study and teaching of the subject matter of Management. In 2010 the School of Management was ranked 2nd after Oxford University by the Guardian.[26]

The School of Management encourages the development of innovation and creativity through dialog, criticism and integrative learning. Professor Gibson Burrell's attempt to develop a critical management school at the University of Leicester, has been recognized in the academic literature.[27]

The School of Management provides postgraduate and undergraduate programmes in Management. The School of Management, is one of the only 168 Schools/Universities in the world accredited by the Association of MBAs.[28]

Learning Innovation and Technology-Enhanced Learning

The Institute of Learning Innovation within the University of Leicester is a research and postgraduate teaching group, directed by Grainne Conole. The Institute has and continues to research on UK- and European-funded projects (over 30 as of August 2013),[29] focusing on topics such as educational use of podcasting,[30] e-readers in distance education,[31] virtual worlds, open educational resources and open education,[32] and learning design.[33]

Leicester Medical School

The university is home to a large medical school, Leicester Medical School, which opened in 1971. The school was formerly in partnership with the University of Warwick, and the Leicester-Warwick medical school proved to be a success in helping Leicester expand, and Warwick establish. The partnership ran the end of its course towards the end of 2006 and the medical schools became autonomous institutions within their respective universities.

Rankings and reputation

(2015, national)
(2015, world)
(2015/16, national)
(2015/16, world)
(2015/16, national)
(2015/16, world)
(2016, national)
The Guardian[40]
(2016, national)
Times/Sunday Times[41]
(2015, national)

The university has established itself as a leading research-led university and has been named University of the Year of 2008 by the Times Higher Education.[5] The university has consistently ranked among the top 15 universities in the United Kingdom by the Times Good University Guide and The Guardian; it has a vision of becoming an established top ten UK university by 2015.[42]

Library special collections

Local history collections (for the Centre for English Local History), known as the Marc Fitch Library, including:

  • Thomas Hatton (1876–1943), a local businessman whose collection of nearly 2,000 books on English local history was donated to the Library of Leicester College in 1920. This was one of the first major donations to the Library.[43]

The library also holds a number of collections containing items written by several famous writers, these include:

  • The Joe Orton Collection. Joe Orton (1933–1967) was a Leicester-born playwright, the collection contains his manuscripts and correspondence.
  • The Laura Riding Letters. The collected correspondence of the American poet and critic Laura Riding (1901–1991).
  • The Sue Townsend Collection. The personal papers of Sue Townsend (1946-2014). The collection contains Townsend's literary correspondence and notebooks detailing her works.
  • Archives of the Institute for the Study of Terrorism.

Student life

The university has a number of different societies within its students' union. The Union has around 200 different societies.[44]

Student media

Founded in 1957, The Ripple is the university's student magazine.

Founded in 1996, LUSH Radio is the radio station of the University of Leicester Students' Union. It is run and presented exclusively by students and broadcasts a mixture of music, chat and news.[45] Some notable personalities from the early days of LUSH Radio (or LUSH FM as it was known at the time) who have gone on to work in the media are Lucy O'Doherty (BBC 6 Music) and Adam Mitchenall (ETV).

Annual events

The station holds an annual 24-hour charity broadcast. In 2011, £300 was raised for Comic Relief. In 2013 the station held its first '69 Hour Broadcast', which raised over £450 for Comic Relief.[46]

The station holds an award ceremony every year, the "LUSH Awards". This aims to recognise the achievements and successes of the station's broadcasters and producers.

LUSH have broadcast live the annual Varsity match against De Montfort University for both Football from the King Power Stadium and Rugby Union from Welford Road Stadium.


LUST (Leicester University Student Television) was re-founded in 2002 after a period of dormancy. The station is affiliated to the National Student Television Association (NaSTA) and hosted the association's annual awards ceremony in 2008.

Notable people


Notable academics

Notable alumni

See also Alumni of the University of Leicester.

Numerous public figures in many diverse fields have been students at the University, including:

The Attenboroughs

College House, childhood home of David and Richard Attenborough

The University of Leicester is commonly associated with the Attenborough family. Richard and David Attenborough (with their younger brother John) spent their childhood in College House, which is now home to part of the Maths department (and is now near to the Attenborough tower, the tallest building on the campus and home to many of the arts and humanities departments). Their father Frederick Attenborough was Principal of the University College from 1932 until 1951. The brothers were educated at the adjacent grammar school before attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the University of Cambridge respectively.

Both have maintained links with the university—David Attenborough was made an honorary Doctor of Letters in 1970 and opened the Attenborough Arboretum in Knighton in 1997. In the same year, the Richard Attenborough Centre for Disability and the Arts was opened by Diana, Princess of Wales. Both brothers were made Distinguished Honorary Fellows of the University at the degree ceremony in the afternoon of 13 July 2006.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ a b c
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ BBC: How Royal visits have changed
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ [1], Frequently asked questions. Retrieved 22 March 2015
  14. ^ [2], The University's new observatory is opened. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  15. ^ [3], ALICE Architecture. Retrieved 22 March 2015
  16. ^ [4], Multi-million pound new national supercomputer to perform astronomical feats. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ Guardian University guide 2010: Business and Management studies. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
  27. ^ Don Antunes, Howard Thomas (2007). "The Competitive (Dis)Advantages of European Business Schools", Long Range Planning, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp. 382-404.
  28. ^ Association of MBAs. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
  29. ^
  30. ^ Edirisingha, P., Hawkridge, D., and Fothergill, J. (2010). A Renaissance of Audio: Podcasting approaches for learning on campus and beyond, European Journal of Open Distance and E-Learning.
  31. ^ Rogerson-Revell, P., M. Nie & A. Armellini (2012), "An evaluation of the use of voice boards, e-book readers and virtual worlds in a postgraduate distance learning Applied Linguistics and TESOL programme". Open Learning, 27(2), 103-119.
  32. ^ Nikoi, S., T. Rowlett, A. Armellini & G. Witthaus (2011). "CORRE: A framework for evaluating and transforming teaching materials into Open Educational Resources". Open Learning, 26(3), 191-207.
  33. ^ Conole, G. (2013), Designing for Learning in an Open World, New York: Springer.
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^ a b
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^ Ferraro, Carmela. "Force of nature". Inside Story. 17 April 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  49. ^ "Finnish PM’s politics formed at the University of Leicester", University of Leicester, 1 May 2013.

External links

  • University of Leicester website
  • Aerial photograph of University College (later Leicester University) in April 1926

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