Edinburgh is an ancient university located in Scotland's capital city; Edinburgh. It is the 6th oldest in the UK and also one of the most reputable both in the UK and internationally. Gaining an offer to study at Edinburgh can be difficult thanks to the stringent selection processes in place. Much of the University is situated in and around the city centre of Edinburgh in a large number of buildings - ranging from the grandeur of Old College to the modernity of the Informatics Building. Over all Edinburgh has a lot to offer students, both academically and socially.
The Main Library is perhaps an anti-climax when students arrive looking for an ornate ancient building. However looks can be deceiving as it is an incredible and functional building. It has large windows with sweeping views over the Meadows to the south and across George Square garden to the north. It holds the primary collections in Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Medicine and Informatics, together with the Library's general collections, older books and periodicals in all subjects.
Books are available to students on short (1 week) or extended loans (1 month). Usually, when there are a number of copies of the same book, some will be available on each type of loan. The more popular books, set texts for first and second year courses especially, are collected together for special 3 hour loans in the Reserve section.
Students use their university cards to swipe into the library, but access is available for those who forget their card through special permission and the signing of forms by the security desk. Guests, for example from other Edinburgh based universities or members of the general public who display a credible reason for want to access the library collections, can get permission to use the library from the security desk.
Students have access to the library catalogue online, one can order books online through MyEd (the student portal), which is extremely handy as it lets you beat the rush. Other online facilities include book renewal, accessing e-journals and help and information about library services.
The library itself is a fantastic venue for study; it has wireless internet access in "laptop zones" for those with laptops and numerous desktops, both PCs and Macs for private study and a library cafe which offers cheap but nice food(and has computer access inside).
As well as the Main Library, there is the Darwin (Biological Sciences and Chemistry), James Clark Maxwell (Mathematics, Meteorology, Physics and Statistics) and Robertson (Engineering) libraries at Kings Buildings site; the Law and Europa library in Old College; Moray House (Education etc.) towards Holyrood; New College (Theology and Divinity) library on Mound Place; the Royal Infirmary Library in Little France; and the Veterinary library in Summerhall.
Most departments have their own smaller subject specific libraries containing books relevant to that subject, some of these are open to all students whilst others are only for honours students or postgraduate and teaching use. These libraries, for some subjects, can be in close proximity to where the main teaching of the course takes place which is handy if you need to pop in before a lecture. It is possible for students to use some of these departmental libraries as quiet areas of study - this is particularly the case for libraries such as the highly dated Gibson Library in David Hume Tower (9th floor) and the similar Portuguese library in D.H.T. (11th floor).
There is large cafe on the newly refurbished ground floor, offering webcafe-style PC/internet access for emails and general browsing, alongside a comfortable seating area. The cafe serves a wide range of drinks, snacks and light meals.
IT and Computing
All of the university residences have data points in the bedrooms, allowing students to access Keycom, which is the university network offering high speed Internet access. Instructions on how to register for the service will be made available when you move into your room. The Keycom support service is contacted by phone. If using your in-room phone dial 1590 - lines are open 8am-10pm every day (not Christmas day or New Year's day). Keycom is new to Edinburgh as of academic year 2009/10, and there have been some complaints about bandwidth availability. It is possible to upgrade to "20mb" package which costs £70, paid directly to Keycom. Part of the Keycom service is Keytalk, which is a landline phone service. You will be able to accept incoming calls for nothing and your room will have a direct dial number. University computer support is offered in the Library.
The library has several computer labs. The majority of computers are Windows, but a Mac lab is available on the 4th floor. All computers in the library are available to all students with suitable login details. Print facilities are available and the cost is 5p/sheet. It is also possible to print wirelessly if you are using your laptop in the main library. There are 24 hour computer labs in Appleton Tower, High School Yards, and the Hugh Robson Building (and several others too) that can be accessed out of hours using your University card and a PIN. Computing facilities can also be found in subject department buildings and at Pollock Halls. An empty computer in the library can generally be found quickly with the aid of a helpful plasma screen by the main entrance showing which floor has available computers.
Laptops can be used in the library using the wireless internet service, and also in other areas of the university such as lecture theatres and the union buildings. It is necessary to register in advance for the wireless service from another computer which is no on the wireless network. This will then allow you to login to the wireless network whenever necessary.
There is a laptop loan system in place which allows student to borrow a laptop from the main library for up to three days. Be warned however; the laptops are slow and inefficient! There are also very limited numbers which means at peak times you may have to join a waiting list to be given one.
The university has an extensive Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) including the most commonly used function; Web CT. This can be accessed over the Internet from any computer through the MyEd portal. Here you can download lecture notes, extra reading materials, tutorial worksheets and send e-mails to your tutor/lecturer/fellow students if you need extra help. Functions vary by subject, with some having extensive discussion forums and the chance to talk 'live' to others who are online and specialised wikis. The content also varies by subject with some being very efficient and resourceful and others providing almost nothing. Overall the service is generally good and while there are glitches the entire VLE is currently in the process of developing the next generation VLE which should hopefully iron out many previous issues.
When you're out of Edinburgh and needing to use web resources that are normally only accessible from the university network, you can set up a VPN with the university from wherever you are (provided you have an internet connection) which allows you to access university-only content from elsewhere.
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
The University of Edinburgh,
0131 650 1000
Applicants per place:
The sports union is the best in Scotland and consistently amongst the top ten in the UK for sporting achievement. In 2010, the Edinburgh University Swimming Team (part of EUSWPC) won gold at the BUCS (British University and College Sports) Team Championships. The mens football XI have reached the 3rd round of the Scottish cup for a historic two years in a row. There are all sort of sports clubs that you can sign up to from the begining of any semester. There are plenty of opportunities to try something new or keep up old hobbies, whatever level you play at. There is an excellent gym with all the usual mod cons, squash courts and rooms big and small for any sport. Also, a climbing wall is being built to open in March 2008. There is even a swimming pool, though it can be hard to find a slot that's not booked by one or other club. Peffermill (30 mins walk from centre of town) is where most outdoor sport such as rugby and football takes place and is a superb venue.
Edinburgh (and Scotland in general) is also a fantastic place for outdoor activities, and the uni owns a great outdoor sports centre in the Highlands for walking climbing, cross-country skiiing, waterports etc. The Sport Union's mountaineering, canoeing, mountain biking and hillwalking clubs are all amongst the best in the UK for their respective sports, with access to superb terrain and stunning countryside right on the doorstep.
The university provides students with various support systems.
For academic related issues each student is allocated a DOS (Director of Studies) who is a lecturer or proffessor in their main subject area. If you are a joint honours student, your DOS will be from the subject which is listed first in your degree title. Your DOS is intended to be available via email and by appointment to help with issues such as degree transfers, extenuating circumstances for exams, and generally to be your main point of contact in the university. In theory students have the same DOS from first year until they graduate but this never seems to happen. It is not uncommon for students to be allocated a new DOS every single semester they are a student at Edinburgh, as many members of staff take research leave during the year.
For non academic issues and support, there are different services available to students.
The student counselling service is free for all students. An initial appointment is usually arranged within 2 weeks of contacting the service, with the possibility of arranging further weekly appointments of one hour if this is needed. The service is completley confidential and DOS' and other members of staff within the university are not informed about use of the service by students. Alternatively, there is an email counselling service available for students who for some reason or another are unable to attend weekly sessions. The student counselling service also offers other information about other services within Edinburgh. [ http://www.student-counselling.ed.ac.uk/index.htm website]
Nightline is a student run, annoymous and confidential listening service and is open every night of term. Nightline has both a telephone and an online service. The telephone service is open from 8pm until 8am and the online "msn style" elistening also opperates from 8pm until 8am. The service is a listening one, meaning the Nightliner will listen to anything the caller wishes to talk about, for however long the caller wishes or needs to stay on the phone/the internet. Nightline is also an information service, meaning students can phone for details about anything within Edinburgh or the university, from lecture times and room changes to taxi numbers and cinema listings. Students can also attend training and volunteer as a Nightliner. Nightline website - E listening link
The Advice Place at Potterrow is a drop in service for students to get information about a variety of issues. Help is available for accommodation, finance, health and academic issues, as well as a variety of others. The Advice Place is a C-Card point meaning free condoms are available to everyone. Students can also volunteer as an advisor.Advice Place
A wonderful website...
If you are staying in Edinburgh for more than 3 months, you will need to register with a doctor. Otherwise you can be seen as a temporary patient if you ever need medical attention.
Most people choose the University Health Service, located in Bristo Square. It provides NHS healthcare as long as you live in the practice area. The HS website is http://www.health-service.ed.ac.uk/
During Freshers' week and the first week of term there are special arrangements for registration, and everyone will tell you to get it out of the way then! All it takes is to fill out a couple of forms. Make sure you know details like your new address, phone numbers, previous doctor's name and practice address, previous medical problems, NHS number, and whether you have had vaccinations like meningitis C and MMR.
I believe if you have never registered with a doctor in the UK before, you have to have a short medical assessment with a nurse or doctor.
If you want to register with a different doctors surgery, perhaps closer to where you live, then try http://www.lothianhealth.scot.nhs.uk or a telephone directory.
There is no dentist in the University Health Service.
A list of local NHS dentists can be found at http://www.lothianhealth.scot.nhs.uk
If you require emergency dental care then you can attend Chalmers Dental Centre, on Chalmers Street, Monday to Friday between 9am - 4.45pm. For out of hours advice you can call 0131 536 4800.
If you wish to donate blood, you can do so at the Lauriston Buildings, Lauriston Place. You must however meet certain criteria, like being at low risk from HIV, and over the age of 17. The blood donor centre is open Monday to Friday and providing it's been 16 weeks since your last donation and you are perfectly healthy, you can drop in at any time.
Princes' Street is highly acclaimed, full of all the high street brands you could ever want (except WHSmith!). For the excessive, there is George Street, designer and beyond. For the more indie and rebelious, the Old town has plenty of nooks and cranies filled with alternative clothing and knick knack shops, especially Cockburn Street. Plenty of buses to a variety of nearby shopping complexes.
Food shopping in the city centre includes Tesco, Sainsbury's, M&S, Lidl, Farmfoods and Scotmid. For the more adventurous or those desiring a little more quality the residential areas provide their own communities centred around a wide variety of specialised shops. You'll often find them in areas such as Morningside, Marchmont , Stockbridge and Comely Bank. Waitrose have two branches in Edinburgh which are found in Morningside and Stockbridge. Maps are here. Sainsbury's have three branches (all 'Locals') in central Edinburgh; on Meadow Walk (just to the west of George Square), on St. Andrew's Square (just to the north of Princes Street) and one just off Lothian Road. For larger stores, the closest is found at Cameron Toll (close the university's sports centre, Peffermill). Other supermarkets in the Edinburgh suburbs and outskirts include Asda, Iceland, Tesco, Lidl, Aldi and Morrison's. The majority will home deliver and all are accessible by bus.
Edinburgh is well furnished with bookshops in which you can spend your student loan. The best known is Blackwell's - formerly known as Thin's - which is Edinburgh's leading academic book store and can be found on South Bridge. They also have a smaller outlet at Kings Buildings. They carry almost all necessary course books and are always able to track down rare and unusual editions. Beware however, as university staff almost always direct you to purchase books there, but many course books are available elsewhere for less (e.g. Amazon where you can also make use of a 5% NUS discount). Always check your course noticeboard as older students may be selling their old textbooks. There are also three large Waterstone's' in Edinburgh, along with many excellent second hand book shops such as Till's on Buccleuch Street. Second hand stores can be great for tracking down bargains both for academic uses and pleasure. There are many 'books only' charity shops in Edinburgh - with the best to be found in Stockbridge and Morningside.
Expect to find in Edinburgh as you'd find in any city, plenty of the big name chains. For high class food, head to George Street, Charlotte Street (and the general New Town area), that's where to take the Old Folk when they come visiting. On the other hand there are plenty of smaller, friendly restaurants across the city, you really can eat anything you desire at a fairly reasonable price. If you have a dietary requirement the restaurants of Edinburgh can, likely as not, provide for you. There are a large number of vegetarian restaurants including 'Henderson's', 'Suzie's Diner', 'The Forest' (known for its activists), 'The Engine Shed' and 'Kalpna' (for Indian). The central mosque opposite the university in central area provides arguably the best curry in Edinburgh. If one wants to eat everything and anything deepfried, then 'Franco's' on Causewayside is where you should head to.
Edinburgh is known as the Paris of the north, and for good reason as the city is teeming with coffee shops. All the chains are present in Edinburgh, although some more than others. Starbucks has a strong presence and has several locations very close to George Square. Costa Coffee has only a handful of outlets, but its coffee is served not only EUSA coffee shops but in several other independent cafes throughout the city. Caffe Nero is also thin on the ground although one is to be found in Blackwell's - making academic shopping just a little less stressful. Scottish coffee scene Beanscene is a heavy presence in Edinburgh, serving good coffee from early until 11pm every day. You shouldn't write off EUSA, who serve Costa Coffee in most of their cafes at far lower prices than the real thing - but at just as high a quality. If coffee isn't quite your thing then why not try Chocolate Soup, a chain has several branches in Edinburgh serving the "best" hot chocolates in Scotland.
Banks and Building Societies
There are two banks in the Potterrow Student Union building; Natwest and Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBoS). There are also over 30 branches of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in Edinburgh. The most popular banks are invariably RBS and HBoS which are to be found almost on every street corner. Natwest is also fairly popular, as is Clydesdale. It is often recommended that you hold a main account with one of these, as it is always useful to have an actual branch near by to pop into when you've lost your bank card or need to beg to increase your overdraft. Customers of other banks may have to go slightly further to find a branch in Edinburgh, but most banks have at least two branches in the city and if in doubt then Princes Street will often be the place to go. There are a number of building societies in Edinburgh including Nationwide, Dunfermline B.S., Skipton B.S. and Newcastle B.S. For a full list of banks in Edinburgh click here. For a full list of Building Societies in Edinburgh click here.
There are free cash points both inside and outside of Potter Row, inside Teviot, by the Pleasance, Pollock Halls and Kings Buildings. ATMs can also be found throughout Edinburgh, although the ATMs on Princes Street usually charge for withdrawals.
One of the real pleasures of life in Edinburgh is how close everyone is to each other. Unlike in larger cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow etc, you could easily go for four years without ever stepping foot on a bus. Walking, therefore, is the main form of transport for students in Edinburgh. It is amazing how by the end of freshers week a 30 minute walk to visit a friend is classed as a walk in the park (quite literally if you have to walk across the Meadows) to most students. Everywhere - Princes Street, university, Waverley train station, clubs, shops etc is within half an hours walk from all of the university accommodation, so there is no need for buses or taxis.
However, if you need a bus, Edinburgh does have a very good bus network and there are buses every few minutes to most destinations. The main provider is Lothian Buses; a single costs £1.20 and an Edinburgh day pass is £3.00. Similarly, many students choose to cycle, and Edinburgh has an extensive cycle network. All of the university residences have secure cycle storage areas. A key to the cycle storage area costs £10 and can be obtained from your accommodation manager. Cycle storage can be found in many locations in Central Area and at Kings Buildings. Students in Kings Buildings who live near George Square will come to know and love the free shuttle bus that whisks you between the two campuses in no time. Many students also own bikes which makes getting around a real doddle.
Getting to Edinburgh
Edinburgh is easy to get to by air, train, bus or car.
There are flights from Edinburgh airport to most major airports in the UK and Ireland, as well as a number of European destinations and a limited number to North America. For a map of destinations served by Edinburgh airport click here. The airport can be reached easily from the city centre by direct shuttle bus for £5 return departing every ten minutes from Waverley Bridge.
Edinburgh is very well linked to the UK by rail. It is generally between 4 & 5 hours by train from London (operated by East Coast Trains, the replacement for the National Express East Coast franchise), and much of Scotland and northern England can be reached within a few hours. Direct trains to Edinburgh also operate from the south west of England, from Penzance and Plymouth via Bristol and Sheffield operated by Arriva Cross Country. For those students who travel from Manchester, First Transpennine Express offer a 50% student discount for those with a 16-21 railcard. A daily sleeper service (not Saturdays) operates between London and Edinburgh. If tickets are booked well in advance, fares to Edinburgh can be very cheap on most services. Several trains connect with ferries - in particular for those travelling onward to Kirkwall and Lerwick.
Megabus also operate out of Edinburgh, meaning travel around Scotland (e.g. to Glasgow shopping) is often as cheap as £3 return. There are also services to certain destinations in England including Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield and London. Edinburgh is well provided for by coach networks and there are regular services to Edinburgh from around the UK provided by National Express and within Scotland by Citylink.
Edinburgh is well linked to the UK road networks and is accessed by the M1/A1 from eastern England and by the M6 (through Lancashire) and trunk road from the west. The city is also well connected by motorway and trunk roads in Scotland. Bear in mind that in the city centre there is a rigorous one way system.
Bringing a car
Student car parking permits can be bought from the accommodation services. In the 2007/08 academic year they cost £93.60 for the academic year (regardless of length of tenancy). Further details can be seen here. However, most students will find that a car is entirely unnecessary in Edinburgh. There are strict parking restrictions across the city which are enforced by unusually active parking wardens and parking in around the university is extremely limited. The majority of students will find it far easier to walk, cycle or take the bus while in Edinburgh. Further details about taking a car to Edinburgh can be found here.
Edinburgh provides a careers service for all students who have a MyEd username and password. The service is accessed online through the SAGE Portal. However, the service also has an office on Buccleuch Place and at Kings Buildings. They can help with a number of things, including finding part time jobs during term and vacation time, writing a CV and finding graduate employment. Their website is generally helpful.
There is plenty of scope for getting part time or temporary work in Edinburgh. The city is full of young people from across the world travelling and earning, so make the most of the fluid job market in retail and service sectors and find the perfect job. There are also lots of opportunities to find work during the summer months with the arrival of the festival.
The SAGE careers service is also offered as part of the university, which has an online database accessible through University "MyEd" accounts. The website database is updated daily and details lots of part-time job opportunities in all fields of work, which include summer work, graduate jobs, part-time term time jobs and one off jobs.
Religious support for all major religions is provided for through student societies. There is a chaplaincy at Potterrow and a Catholic Chapel on George Square.
The Chaplaincy is a provision of the university for staff and students of all faiths (and none), they promote holistic well-being offering personal support and by providing a social community and encouraging students in the exploration of spirituality. They recognise that human beings have spiritual as well as intellectual, physical and emotional needs and aim to take care "of all that makes us human can have a positive effect on our general health and ability to function well". To gain further insight, take a moment to look at their website. The Chaplaincy can also help students find a place of worship, whatever your religion.
The Catholic Chapel holds Midday Mass and Morning Prayers daily.
There is also the Edinburgh Central Mosque (also known as the King Fahd Mosque) which is located on Potterrow.
Bars, Pubs and clubs
The Union venues provide a good place to start a night out. Teviot includes Teviot Underground (a small nightclub), the Sportsman's Bar with a massive TV screen (makes for 'interesting' England vs Scotland rugby/football matches!), two pool rooms, The Library Bar (recently refurbished and rather nice), as well as a few other small bars open only on specific nights, and also the 'Debating Hall' - big hall that's great for ceilidhs and the like. Oh, and loads of little rooms for society uses.
Potterrow holds two cafes, the Union shop, a Bank of Scotland branch, chaplaincy, and a nightclub that is open every night. The most famous night at Potterrow is 'Big Cheese' on Saturdays which always brings a crowd to dance away to plenty of cheesy pop and dance tunes. The Pleasance consists of a 'cabaret bar', great for the stand up comics that regularly perform there, a regular bar, and loads of rooms that are used for societies.
Outside of the Union, Edinburgh is full of interesting bars and pubs that make for many interesting nights out. The Pear Tree in summer/September is a student favourite, as is The Brass Monkey (a kookie pub with a matress covered back-room).
Regular Union nights include: Tuesday - Comedy Network, Wednesday - Flirt, Saturday - The Big Cheese, Going Underground, Sunday, last of each month - Dynamite Boogaloo,
Clubs and societies
The University of Edinburgh has a massive selection of societies to choose from. There are two societies' fairs held a year one in Freshers' week and the second during the first few weeks of the second semester to give new students (or those who just want to meet new people) the chance to see what's on offer and to talk to current members about the range of activities and oppertunities. Most societies also offer taster events during Freshers' week to encourage more people to join.
The Societies' Centre is in Pleasance, next to the Centre for Sport and Exercise. It is very large and easy to get lost in at first. Some societies hold meetings here whilst others pick bars and pubs across the city to be regular meeting places. One of the benefits of joining societies is that they offer discounts at their frequented pub or bar.
If there is not currently a society that caters to your needs, students are welcome to start their own up by contacting the Societies' Admin Office with enough supporters.
Here's a taste of the societies currently on offer:
- Amnesty International
- Bisexual Lesbian or Gay Society 'BLOGS'
- Cheerleading Society 'The Vixens'
- Dirty Weekenders (Conservationists)
- Edinburgh University Trading & Investment Club
- Fifty Things to Do Before You Leave Edinburgh
- Fresh Air (Student Radio)
- Juggling Society
- Photographic Society
- Student Newspaper
A lot of subjects also have their own societies, if you just can't get enough of your subject, or want help and support in your accademic work. For a comprehensive list, look at the official list on the EUSA website.
- The newspaper Student is produced and published weekly by the students of the University of Edinburgh. It was founded in 1887 by Robert Louis Stevenson. It has been independent since 1992, but is reliant on funding from EUSA. It has a physical circulation of around 8,000 but is thought to be read by up to 20,000 people. Click here for more information.
- Newspaper "The Journal" is also an independent newspaper founded in November 2007 produced by students from all five of Edinburgh's universities funded solely through advertising and subscriptions. Published fortnightly, it has a circulation of around 14,000 across Edinburgh. It is unusual in being one of the very few newspapers in the UK printed in the Berliner format (much like "The Guardian"). Click here for more information.
- "Fresh Air" is an independent award winning alternative Edinburgh-based radio station which is run largely by University of Edinburgh students who are members of society "Fresh Air". The station broadcasts throughout termtime across the internet and can listened to live both on their website and through iTunes. For more information see their official site here.
For full details on both official university accommodation as well as private accommodation for entry in September 2010, head to our official sticky thread here.
If you are an undergraduate student in your first year, you are guaranteed accommodation as long as you:
- Make sure they have your application by August 16th (n.b. this may vary);
- Have an unconditional firm offer from UCAS by 30th August;
- Normally live outside of Edinburgh;
- Are studying at the University of Edinburgh for the full academic year, starting in September 2011.;
The catered accommodation offered by the university is at Pollock Halls, on Holyrood Park Road. It's about a 20 minute walk from George Square, and 30 minutes from Kings Buildings. It's also right next to Arthur's Seat (extinct volcano), a nice view, and a way to navigate your way back!
If you are assigned to catered accommodation, you'll be put in one of the following houses:
- Chancellor's Court (see photographs on the right)
Breakfast and dinner are provided Monday through Friday, and at the weekend you get brunch and dinner. The times, I think, are: Breakfast 7:45 til 10, Dinner 5 til 7:30, Weekend brunch, 11:30 til 2. The food's pretty good for mass catered stuff.
Example of breakfast items available are bacon, egg, beans, sausage, hashbrowns, brown and white toast, butter and jams, pancakes and syrup, bagels, loads of cereals, croissants, porridge, basic fruits (apple, orange, banana), juice, yoghurt and prunes.
For dinner obviously it changes all the time, but there's always something vegetarian on offer, and a pizza/pasta place if everything else looks inedible. There's a salad bar with some nice pasta and dressings aswell as the usual veggies.
For making snacks and lunch during the week there are pantries with microwaves, fridges, and kettles. You get a cupboard to keep things in.
Chancellors, Masson and Holland have ensuite facilities with your own private toilet, sink, and shower (no bath though). All the other houses have a larger bathroom which you share with other people from your corridor. (Not sure how many people.)
Self Catered accommodation
The university owns S/C residences around Edinburgh, and they are all within 20 minutes walk of George Square and the main shopping/going out areas. The "best" S/C accommodation is supposedly Darroch Court, and apparently most people apply to live there as it is the Chancellors Court of the self catered world. However, having been to Darroch loads of times, I'd say its nothing special other than the fact you get a washing machine in your kitchen. This will save you between £1.60 and £3.20 a week, so the money saved is not equivalent to the difference in rent. Sciennes residence seems to be the least generous in terms of communal space, but the bedrooms are of a comparable size to other accommodations. S/C allows you to be flexible with your meal times and gives you the 'real world' experience which Pollock halls doesn't, such as having to buy your own toilet roll and washing up liquid!
In the S/C sector, the accommodation is either in halls or flats. The halls are the more 'typical' university style accommodation, with bedrooms along a corridor with a kitchen shared between 10-12 people. The flats are arranged in blocks, and there are usually 5 or 6 people per flat. The flats are, in the majority of cases, single sex, but are arranged so that there are several guys and girls flats per block. Factors involved in allocating ‘flat mates’ involve degree subject, A level/higher subjects, where you are moving from, and whether you're a smoker. It seems to work really well and the girls I live with are amazing and we are really close friends.
In a flat you have individual bedrooms, an open plan living space/room with a kitchen area, table and chairs, and then sofas or lounge chairs. There are broom cupboards (read: room the size of a bedroom in the case of WPR) in each flat where you can store suitcases, loo roll, boxes etc. 5 person flats get bathroom containing a bath and shower, then another toilet room. 6 person flats get 2 bathrooms and a toilet room. All flats have an airing cupboard. The university provides communal equipment such as saucepans, frying pans and oven dishes, but I’d recommend purchasing your own as these vary in quality and quantity. There is nothing provided by way of cooking utensils, although buying a whole kitchen set before arriving is not always the best choice, as it's unlikely a flat will ever make use of five tin-openers at once. There is a laundry room in each residence, and it costs £1.60 per wash. Don't bother using the dryers as they don't actually dry your clothes, so invest in a clotheshorse to let them dry naturally. Dryers are 20p, but you need at least 4 cycles to get clothes remotely dry. A cleaner comes twice a week to clean the communal areas, but you are responsible for the upkeep of your bedroom. They are cleaners though, and so will not tidy up after you. Each flat comes equipped with a vacuum cleaner and dustpan and brush.
The residences are all very similar, so one's choice should be made by location. For George Square the best ones are the Warrender residences, Darroch, New Arthurs Place and Hermits Croft (7-10 mins walk) and Kincade and College Wynd (5 mins). The Kings Buildings are accessible by a regular free shuttle bus from George Square. If you want a good nights sleep avoid Kincade Court, College Wynd and Robertsons Close as these are on the Cowgate, which is the main student club/pub area of Edinburgh and gets very noisy on Friday/Saturday night, which can be very annoying if one is trying to sleep or study. The information provided by the university on the various residences is really minimal. If possible, do try to come and see them for yourself. As a rule, the more modern buildings will be better designed and equipped. Edinburgh is an expensive city, and whilst its prices don't compare to London, you shouldn't expect marvellous flats.
Standard prices for rent are £85 to £90 pounds per week, though they range between £49 for a shared twin room, to £111 for the single person flats that top Darroch Court. Expect to spend around £20 per week on food. Communal cooking will bring down the costs of food and workload from cooking, and as such is usually desirable. Communal flat purchases such as toilet roll, soap, washing up liquid etc amounts to around £2-4 each per month.
Students live across the city although the majority probably reside in and around the Marchmont area (just to the south of George Square, the 'hub' of the University). New Town is where the more well-to-do students live due to its Georgian architecture and more up-market ambience, as well as its proximity to George Street.
Prices can range from £250-500 a month, depending on where you look. Expect to pay around £300 for anything decent in the Marchmont area and closer to £400 for New Town. Having said that, Edinburgh flats tend to be fantastic: high ceilings, huge bedrooms all situated in beautiful old buildings... for the most part.
The university has four student union sites (all run by the same Edinburgh University Students' Association): Potter Row, Teviot, The Pleasance and the union at King's Buildings. Potter Row and Teviot are in George Square and are areas of relaxation by day with open plan sofas and tables where one can eat some reasonably priced, good food and chat to friends and coursemates.
Potter Row has one big open space downstairs under a transparent canopy tables fountains and trees scatter it's forecourts and around the outside are: a coffee bar, a bar (open evenings), the chaplaincy, a EUSA shop, a Natwest branch and Bank of Scotland/Halifax bank and the "Advice Place". The pharmacy and the NHS doctors' surgery is located next door. The nightclub venue in Potterow is upstairs and suprisingly well hidden the first time one attends.
Teviot, the oldest purpose-built student union in the world, is an old stone building comprised of lots of small meetings and eating rooms, 5 bars, and lots of spiralling staircases (which are hazardous when you're drunk!). The newly refurbished Library Bar serves good food on good deals (£8 for 4 courses) throughout the day and early evening; it has a large range of spirits and a cosy atmosphere. The mezzanine has a coffee shop serving Costa coffee, drunk on sofas looking up at the cavernous ceiling and large windows.
Pleasance, near Darroch Court, Hermits Croft and New Arthurs Place, has a pub split in two, one side a traditional pub, the other a cabaret bar hosting comedy nights weekly amongst other events. There are a large scattering of meeting rooms for societies and other socials along with a large theatre spread across the courtyard. The Pleasance is famous for its role in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where it is one of the largest venues hosting hundreds of events.
There are loads of events organised at the unions, either by the SU or by societies. Every Saturday Potterrow holds the Big Cheese which, as the name says, plays lots of cheesy music, 90s classics (think Spice Girls, S club 7 and Steps) as well as the usual party tracks.
Entry is usually free to all the union events before 11.30pm, unless you are a guest (non Edinburgh university student) in which case you will be looking at £4 entry or thereabouts. After 11.30pm all Edinburgh students pay an entry fee of £3.
Drinks are not especially cheap - usually around £1.50 for a spirit and mixer and £1.60 for beer/lager. The Sportsman's Bar at Teviot offers £1.60 pints, sometimes two for £2.50 during all advertised sporting events. This may seem cheap for a drink, but some unis do drinks for £1 all the time. Centro offers £1 for house spirt and mixer on Tuesday nights, as well as assorted cider and lager promotions at other times during the week (eg, 4 pints cider for £5). Due to the new legal requirement in Scotland that drinks prices remain the same for 48 hours, happy hours no longer exist, and drinks prices have generally increased.
The Edinburgh University Student's Association has four sabbatical positions which make up the executive. The holders of these positions are elected by union members annually. The current President is Liz Rawlings, with the President Elect being Matt McPherson. Details of the executive can be seen here.
There are a number of EUSA run shops which sell amongst other things newspapers and magazines, food and drink, clothing, stationery, tickets for events and other miscellaneous items. The shop at Pollock Halls also sells alcohol. Shops can be found in Potterrow, the basement of David Hume Tower, Pollock Hall, Kings Buildings House and also online. Newspapers are heavily discounted and most nationals can be bought for around 30p. The union aims to provide high quality goods at low prices, this is true for some items but to get the best deals on others it is best to shop around. One of EUSA's big policies is to be socially responsible, the shop helps them achieve this by being environmentally friendly (not giving out plastic bags), ethical (only stocking products deemed ethical by the student population, as voted at AGMs, including a large range of Fairtrade products), the union also aims to be equally accessible to people with different dietry requirements, including a range of vegetarian, vegan, halal and kosher foods.
Abundance of 19th Century architecture around town, including university areas of George Square and Buccleuch Place. King's Buildings is modern and arguably less architecturally appealing, as are some of the buildings at George Square, most notably Appleton Tower. The University Library won an architectural award when it was constructed, but is probably not so inspiring today. There is a new Informatics building, the Informatics Forum, where a car park used to be, off George Square between Appleton Tower and Teviot. New College (Divinity), Old College (Law) and the High School Yards (Geography) are some of the most attractive buildings belonging to the university.
George Square is in the centre of Edinburgh. King's Buildings are found some 2.5 km out of the city to the south.
Colleges and Schools
The University of Edinburgh is split into 3 colleges, then each college is divided into more specific schools.
- The College of Humanities and Social Science http://www.hss.ed.ac.uk/
- Arts, Culture and Environment
- Health in Social Science
- History and Classics
- Literature, Languages and Cultures
- Management and Economics
- Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
- Social and Political Studies
- The College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine http://www.mvm.ed.ac.uk/
- Biomedical Sciences
- Clinical Sciences and Community Health
- Molecular and Clinical Medicine
- Royal (Dick) Veterinary
- The College of Science and Engineering http://www.scieng.ed.ac.uk/
- Biological Sciences
- Engineering and Electronics
The University of Edinburgh's reputation and ranking vary from list to list, but it has been ranked as high as 20th in the world. The domestic rankings have seen Edinburgh as high as 4th in the UK, whilst nowadays it is often more common to see Edinburgh in a lower position. Outwardly a cause for concern, in reality part of the slide in position is due to the Widening Access policy and the standard BBB offer, so take the lower position with a large pinch of salt. By any and all accounts, Edinburgh is a top 5 university, and you couldn't realistically see Edinburgh as anything less than that given its impressive global stature. To see a more complete summary of rankings, click here.
The typical entry requirements for Edinburgh at A Level are BBB. However, as the admissions website notes, being at BBB or even if you far surpass the requirements on an AAA level it does not guarantee entry - merely entry to the applications process. While many students will come to Edinburgh on BBB offers most will have in reality achieved far higher grades. Edinburgh make all offers in terms of grades, not UCAS points. For more information on the academic requirements for entry to Edinburgh click here.
The University of Edinburgh has over the years produced numerous notable alumni. Below are named just a few:
- Gordon Brown
- Douglas Alexander
- Michael Ancram
- Alexander Graham Bell
- Charles Darwin
- Adam Smith
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- Robert Louis Stevenson
- Ian Rankin
- Stella Rimmington
- Chris Hoy
To read a full list of notable Edinburgh graduates click here.
Applying to Edinburgh
Applying to Edinburgh, for Undergraduate study, is no different to applying to any other establishment. After one has decided which degree course is of interest, applications are dealt with through UCAS. Remember when applying to Edinburgh that you are applying to a University teaching within the Scottish degree structure, different from the rest of the UK but more similar to those found in many other parts of the world. Due to this there are occasions when well qualified students, those having taken appropriate A levels or Advanced Highers, may opt for second year entry. This is not usually advisable as the four year degree is often what encourages students to Scotland, as well as the social aspect of missing out on first year.
Are you thinking of applying to University of Edinburgh? Why not read some Personal Statements which were used for applying here?
Other Edinburgh Articles
Why not read these other University of Edinburgh Articles?
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