The University of Birmingham (informally Birmingham University) is a public research university located in Edgbaston, Birmingham, United Kingdom. It received its royal charter in 1900 as a successor to Queen’s College, Birmingham (founded in 1828 as the Birmingham School of Medicine and Surgery) and Mason Science College (established in 1875 by Sir Josiah Mason), making it the first English civic or ‘red brick’ university to receive its own royal charter. It is a founding member of both the Russell Group of British research universities and the international network of research universities, Universitas 21.
The University of Birmingham was ranked 15th in the UK and 76th in the world in the QS World University Rankings for 2015-16. In 2013, Birmingham was named ‘University of the Year 2014’ in the Times Higher Education awards. The 2015 Global Employability University Ranking places Birmingham at 80th world-wide and 12th in the UK. Birmingham is also ranked 4th in the UK for Graduate Prospects in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2015.
The student population includes 20,100 undergraduate and 14,060 postgraduate students, which is the fourth largest in the UK (out of 165). The annual income of the institution for 2014–15 was £577.1 million of which £126.4 million was from research grants and contracts, with an expenditure of £531.8 million.
The University of Birmingham is home to the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, housing works by Van Gogh, Picasso and Monet, the Lapworth Museum of Geology, the Cadbury Research Library home to the Mingana Collections of Middle Eastern manuscripts and the Chamberlain Collection, and the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower, which is a prominent landmark visible from many parts of the city. Academics and alumni of the university include former British Prime Ministers Neville Chamberlain, and Stanley Baldwin, and eight Nobel laureates.
Organisation and administration of University of Birmingham
University of Birmingham has departments covering a wide range of subjects. On 1 August 2008, the university’s system was restructured into five ‘colleges’, which are composed of numerous ‘schools’:
– Arts and Law (English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies; History and Cultures; Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music; Birmingham Law School; Philosophy, Theology and Religion);
– Engineering and Physical Sciences (Chemistry; Chemical Engineering; Civil Engineering; Computer Science; Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Mathematics; Mechanical Engineering; Metallurgy and Materials; Physics and Astronomy);
– Life and Environmental Sciences (Biosciences; Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences; Psychology; Sport and Exercise Sciences);
Medical and Dental Sciences (Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences; Institute of – Clinical Sciences; Institute of Inflammation and Ageing; Institute of Applied Health Research; Institute of Cardiovascular Science; Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy; Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research; Institute of Microbiology and Infection);
– Social Sciences (Birmingham BusinessSchool; Education; Government and Society; Social Policy)
– Liberal Arts and Sciences
The University of Birmingham is home to a number of research centres and schools, including the Birmingham Business School, the oldest business school in England, the University of Birmingham Medical School, the International Development Department, the Institute of Local Government Studies, the Centre of West African Studies, the Centre for Russian and East European Studies, the Centre of Excellence for Research in Computational Intelligence and Applications and the Shakespeare Institute.
An Institute for Research into Superdiversity was established in 2013. Apart from traditional research and PhDs, under the department of Engineering and Physical Sciences, university offers split-site PhD in Computer Science.
International Development Department of University of Birmingham
The International Development Department (IDD) is a multi-disciplinary academic department focused on poverty reduction through developing effective governance systems. The department is one of the leading UK centres for the postgraduate study of international development. The department has been described as being a “highly regarded, long-established specialist unit” with a “global reputation” by The Independent.
The Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon
A number of the university’s centres, schools and institutes are located away from its two campuses in Edgbaston and Selly Oak:
The Shakespeare Institute, in Stratford-upon-Avon, which is a centre for postgraduate study dedicated to the study of William Shakespeare and the literature of the English Renaissance. The Ironbridge Institute, in Ironbridge, which offers postgraduate and professional development courses in heritage.
The School of Dentistry (the UK’s oldest dental school), in Birmingham City Centre.
The Raymond Priestley Centre, near Coniston in the Lake District, which is used for outdoor pursuits and field work. There is also a Masonic Lodge that has been associated with the University since 1938.
University of Birmingham Observatory
The University of Birmingham Astronomical Observatory
In the early 1980s, the University of Birmingham constructed an observatory next to the university playing fields, approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) south of the Edgbaston campus. The site was chosen because the night sky was ~100 times darker than the skies above campus. First light was on 8 December 1982, and the Observatory was officially opened by the Astronomer Royal, Francis Graham-Smith, on 13 June 1984. The observatory was upgraded in 2013.
The Observatory is used primarily for undergraduate teaching. It has two main instruments, a 16″ Cassegrain (working at f/19) and a 14″ Meade LX200R (working at f/6.35). A third telescope is also present and is used exclusively for visual observations.
Members of the public are given chance to visit the Observatory at regular Astronomy in the City events during the winter months. These events include a talk on the night sky from a member of the University’s student Astronomical Society; a talk on current astrophysics research, such as exoplanets, galaxy clusters or gravitational-wave astronomy, a question-and-answer session, and the chance to observing using telescopes both on campus and at the Observatory.
The original coat of arms was designed in 1900. It features a double headed lion (on the left) and a mermaid holding a mirror and comb (to the right). These symbols owe to the coat of arms of the institution’s predecessor, Mason College.
In 2005 the university began rebranding itself. A simplified edition of the shield which had been introduced in the 1980s reverted to a detailed version based on how it appears on the university’s original Royal Charter.