UK study visits
KE study visits generally start with a visit to a university and are then followed by an opportunity to see something of the local area, including some of the main sights.
Most study visits are full-day trips from your study centre; but some are part of a transfer between centres. If you’d like to see how they work in practice, please look at the timetable for your chosen programme.
London (two visits!)
London (population: about 8.5 million)
London is one of the world’s greatest and most exciting capital cities, and really needs no introduction! Because it’s so popular with students, we arrange two full-day study visits from Cambridge. One of our London trips concentrates on the City of Westminster, the other on the City of London and Greenwich.
A note on universities in London
With around 400,000 students attending universities or colleges in London, the position is complicated! London has 22 universities offering a wide range of subjects, plus more than 60 universities or institutes of higher education offering a more limited range of subjects.
Some, but not all, of the universities and similar institutions are part of the University of London. This is a federal university, the largest in the UK, with 170,000 students. It’s divided into 19 colleges, located mainly in central London. The colleges are largely independent, and in fact are generally regarded as separate universities (though students will eventually receive a degree from the University of London). These colleges include UCL, King’s College and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), some of which may be visited in the course of KE’s trips to London.
Other universities in London are completely independent of the University of London. Some, such as Imperial College, have an outstanding reputation, and are regarded as among the very best in the UK. (Imperial used to be part of the University of London, but became totally independent in 2007.) Other universities never have been part of the University of London. Do just be careful: not every university which has the name ‘London’ in it is among the best! One or two are among the lowest ranking in the UK.
If you want to study certain specialised subjects (maybe art, music, drama or tropical medicine or veterinary medicine), one of the other institutions in London may well be suitable for you – and could well be the best in the country for that particular subject.
If you’re interested in studying in London, the advantages of life there are obvious: the convenience and the excitement of being in one of the world’s greatest cities. The big disadvantage is the cost of living! London is the most expensive place in the UK, and you need to think carefully about where you would live and how much it would cost.
London 1 – the City of Westminster (included on all programmes based at Cambridge)
The City of Westminster is to the west of the City of London on the River Thames. Many centuries ago, the kings of England left the City for the cleaner and healthier city of Westminster about 4km away. In the UK, the word ‘Westminster’ is still synonymous with government. Here you’ll find the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, with the majestic Westminster Abbey almost next door. The Queen’s London residence, Buckingham Palace, is just a short walk away. Other famous sights in Westminster include Trafalgar Square with the National Gallery, and Piccadilly Circus, heart of the West End and its celebrated theatres.
Also on the west side of London are some of its famous shopping areas, including the great department stores, such as Harrods. This area also has some large parks and a whole series of great museums.
- University visits: King’s College or LSE (you’ll visit one of these, depending on your subject interests)
King’s College – 25,000 students. Another of the UK’s top universities, King’s covers a broad range of courses, but is particularly famous for medicine and related subjects.
London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) – 9,000 students. Famous not just for its economics, but also for its social science, LSE has long been a training ground for politicians and economists. But it’s the most selective university in the country, so you have to be pretty good to get in!
London 2 – The City of London and Greenwich (included on all UK programmes based at Cambridge)
The City of London (or just ‘the City’) is the oldest part of London, but it’s quite small, covering just one square mile (about 3 square kilometres) on the northern bank of the River Thames. The City is the financial and business centre of London; the main law courts are also in the City. Among the really impressive tourist sights are the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, but some of the modern buildings are really striking, including the Shard, the tallest building in the European Union. You’ll also have great views of the magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Our trips to the City of London also include Greenwich, situated on the River Thames, not far from central London. Here you will see a fascinating contrast between Canary Wharf, one of the most modern parts of London, and the elegant buildings of Greenwich; most of these date from around 1700, and some of them, including the great Painted Hall and the Chapel, can be visited; others now house the University of Greenwich, which, with 27,000 students, is the largest in London. Greenwich was once the residence of the kings of England, and it has also long been associated with astronomy: here you can stand on the Greenwich Meridian, with one foot in the western hemisphere, the other in the eastern hemisphere.
- University visit: UCL or Imperial College
UCL – 25,000 students. Housed in grand buildings near the British Museum, UCL is one of the world’s leading universities, with a strong record across the subject range.
Imperial College – 13,000 students. Outstanding in science and technology, Imperial stands at the very top of national and international league tables.
In London, we don’t have far to travel to see the sights, so we organise four afternoon visits for you to visit a choice of universities, and of course to see the sights.
These half-day visits are:
Westminster is the centre of government in the UK.
First of all, you start with a presentation on our host university, King’s College.
After this, you just walk for great photos of the famous sights! These include the Houses of Parliament with Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly Circus.
City of London
‘The City’, as it’s called, is the oldest part of London, but now it’s the modern centre of banking and finance.
For today’s visit, you start with a visit either to Imperial College or to the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). After that, you have the chance to see (from the outside) St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London. You’ll also walk across the famous Tower Bridge!
UCL and the British Museum
First of all, you visit University College London (UCL), one of the UK’s oldest and most distinguished universities.
After that, you go to the nearby British Museum. Housed in a magnificent, neo-classical building, the Museum has around 8 million works, and is devoted to the history and culture of the human race from every part of the world. In the course of your visit, you’ll see the highlights of the collection. These include the Rosetta Stone, the Assyrian lion hunts, the Parthenon sculptures and an outstanding collection of treasures from Ancient Egypt.
For this trip, there is no university visit. Instead you have a full afternoon to explore this fascinating location, situated on the River Thames, not far from central London. Here you will see a wide range of elegant buildings. Most of them date from around 1700, and some of them, including the great Painted Hall and the Chapel, can be visited; others now house the University of Greenwich, which, with 27,000 students, is the largest in London. Greenwich was once the residence of the kings of England, and it has also long been associated with astronomy: here you can stand on the Greenwich Meridian, with one foot in the western hemisphere, the other in the eastern hemisphere.
From London, we arrange a full-day trip to Cambridge.
The day begins with a photo tour, in which you see – and take photos of – the famous colleges of the University of Cambridge. There is no shortage of great shots: this is one of the most beautiful cities in Britain.
Later on, you go punting. A punt is a long, narrow boat, rather like a gondola in Venice. This is a very relaxing activity, and a great way to see the colleges from a different perspective.
Your trip to Cambridge will enable you to find out a great deal about this prestigious university. There may also be an opportunity to visit the great Fitzwilliam Museum.
Leeds and York (full-day visit)
Leeds (population: 750,000)
Leeds is one of Britain’s most important cities, and the largest in the region known as Yorkshire. It used to be a centre for manufacturing woollen garments, but this sector is not so important now. Today, it’s a centre for a wide range of manufacturing industries, and also for financial and legal services, also call centres.
The city centre has quite a modern look, with a lot of high-rise buildings. Many of these are to be found along the banks of the River Aire, which is a popular area for a walk on a nice day. The grandest building in Leeds is probably the Town Hall, built as a symbol of pride in what was perhaps once the greatest centre for woollen manufacturing in the world. The city is also great for shopping, and has the largest covered market in Europe.
With five universities, Leeds is a major educational centre, and is generally seen as a vibrant place for young people to live in.
- University visit: the University of Leeds
The University of Leeds dates from 1904, and is a member of the Russell Group of leading universities. It is one of the biggest universities in the UK, and the campus is located in the heart of a vibrant, affordable and multicultural city. Campus facilities and student support services at Leeds are excellent. With a student population of over 30,000 students, Leeds offers a very wide range of subjects as degree courses across nine faculties, including Medicine, Engineering, Business, Social Sciences and Arts. Leeds has a very strong international reputation for the high quality of its academic teaching and research output. Leeds graduates are highly sought after by employers across the globe. The buildings on the campus are very diverse, but the ones most photographed are the Great Hall, used for University graduation ceremonies and large events, and the art deco Parkinson Building, with its tall, white tower. Leeds is a very popular university, and the entry requirements are on the website: www.leeds.ac.uk.
York (population: 150,000)
York is one of the most ancient of English cities, and it’s probably the number one destination in the North of England for foreign visitors. York was one of the great cities of Roman Britain, when it was known as Eboracum. It was later the capital of the kingdoms of Northumbria and, under the Viking invaders from Scandinavia, of Jorvik. By far the most famous building in York is its magnificent cathedral, York Minster, one of the largest and most impressive buildings in the Gothic style. However, it also has many ancient and beautiful buildings dating from many different periods, and some of the houses are hundreds of years old. There is still a city wall around the central part of York, and it’s possible to walk along this in many places. You can also see another side of York from the wide River Ouse, which flows through the city.
York has been important in more modern times as a railway centre – it has a splendid railway station – and as a place where confectionery (sweets and chocolates) is made. In recent years, tourism has become more important for York. York has two famous museums, one about the railways, another about the Vikings.
- University visit: the University of York
The University of York is a modern campus university on the edge of the city. It is one of the UK’s most respected universities, and a member of the Russell Group of leading universities; it has around 15,000 students. In the university rankings, it frequently features in the top 10, and is often ranked among the top 100 in the world. It’s often regarded as the best of the British universities founded in the last 50 years. York owes its reputation to the quality of its research, teaching and facilities, and it’s seen as particularly strong in sciences, law, management and public administration.
Durham (local study visit)
- University visit: University of Durham
The University is introduced under ‘Study Centres – UK’.
Presentations are not offered by the University, but we do arrange our own tour.
Newcastle-upon-Tyne (half-day study visit)
Newcastle-upon-Tyne (population: about 1 million – urban area)
Newcastle is one of the great English cities, and has a very impressive location on the River Tyne, crossed in just a short distance by a series of bridges in different styles. Newcastle used to be a great centre for shipbuilding, but today it has more modern, lighter industries. The lively city centre has a lot of elegant buildings dating from the early 19th century, and it also contains a large shopping area; the University is just on the edge of this.
- University visit: Newcastle University
Newcastle is a well-established university, and a member of the Russell Group of leading British universities. It’s quite large, with around 20,000 students, and is a very prominent research university. It occupies an impressive campus close to the city centre, although it also has a branch in Singapore. Particular strengths at Newcastle include medicine and sciences.
Edinburgh (full-day visit)
Edinburgh (population: 480,000)
When you’re in Edinburgh, we’re sure you’ll agree that it feels very much like a major capital city.
Situated a few miles inland, the city centre is in two main parts, the Old Town and the New Town. The Old Town sits on a ridge which connects the Castle at the top and Holyrood House, the Edinburgh residence of Queen Elizabeth, at the bottom. The road joining the Castle and Holyrood is called the Royal Mile, and it’s full of places of interest.
If you start at the Castle, you’re in the most ancient part of Edinburgh. As you walk down the Royal Mile, you go past a lot of interesting shops selling traditional Scottish products. You come to the Cathedral, and you also see some buildings and streets which are hundreds of years old. Holyrood House is one of the most famous buildings in Scotland, and was for many years the palace of the kings and queens of Scotland, most famously, Mary Queen of Scots. In complete contrast, just opposite, is the very modern building housing the Scottish Parliament. Then, behind these places, a surprise: there is a little mountain in the city centre – Arthur’s Seat, which, if climbed, gives wonderful views across the city.
The New Town is actually not very new at all, but it’s completely different from the Old Town – it was largely built in the 18th century, in what is called the neo-classical style. In the New Town, you will find street upon street of grand, stone-built houses, together with squares containing lawns and gardens. The New Town dates from a period known as the Enlightenment, when Edinburgh was one of the great European centres of thought and debate.
Between the New Town and the Old Town lies Princes Street, the main shopping street in Edinburgh, and from there you have great views across the gardens to the buildings of the Old Town on the hill.
- University visit: the University of Edinburgh
Just 10 minutes’ walk from the Royal Mile is the University of Edinburgh. Occupying grand stone buildings, the University has the same impressive feel as the city itself. With around 30,000 students, Edinburgh is a large university, and it’s also one of the richest universities in the UK. It’s one of only two Scottish universities to be members of the prestigious Russell Group, and it enjoys very high rankings in a number of subjects (it’s currently ranked in first position in the UK for medicine, and also scores very well for veterinary medicine, linguistics, chemistry, mathematics and art).
NB. We are expecting to have a presentation at Edinburgh University for students attending our programmes for 16-18 year-olds. Students attending our programmes for 14-16 year-olds will have a shorter visit, and possibly an additional visit to another high-ranking university in Edinburgh.
Aberdeen and the Highlands (full-day visit)
Aberdeen (population: 220,000)
Aberdeen is one of Scotland’s oldest cities. It’s often called the ‘Granite City’, because so many of its buildings were constructed out of granite, a light grey stone which can look rather dull in bad weather, but very attractive when it appears to shine in sunlight. Aberdeen has a lively city centre, and a very interesting old fishing village by the sea. It’s generally regarded as Britain’s oil and gas capital, and as a result it’s now one of the wealthier cities in Scotland.
From Aberdeen, you travel inland along what is called Royal Deeside, a beautiful green valley. You then go through the classic scenery of the Scottish Highlands, stopping at various places of interest.
- University visit: the University of Aberdeen
Founded in 1495, the University of Aberdeen is the fifth oldest university in the UK, and one of its most distinguished internationally. It has a student population of around 14,500, including a large international community drawn from 120 different countries.
St. Andrews (local study visit)
- University visit: University of St. Andrews
The University is introduced under ‘Study Centres – UK’.
Glasgow (full-day visit)
Glasgow (population: 1,100,000 – ‘Greater Glasgow’)
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland. At one time, it was a great port and a centre of heavy industry, focused on shipbuilding on the River Clyde. The economy today is much more diversified, with a wide range of companies providing employment and opportunity. The city has a rich cultural heritage, linked as it is with a number of famous artists and scholars. It’s now a popular tourist destination.
- University visit: the University of Glasgow
Founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world. Given its long and distinguished history, it’s not surprising that it’s a member of the prestigious Russell Group of leading British universities; it’s also a founder member of the worldwide Universitas 21, dedicated to promoting high standards at universities. With 25,000 students, the University offers courses in a very broad range of disciplines.
The main campus consists of imposing stone buildings in a green and attractive part of the city, but within easy reach of the centre. The University is a major cultural centre for Glasgow, and has its own museum and art gallery.
All our transfers between centres in the UK include a visit to a high-ranking university. The university visited depends on the programme. Please check your timetable for details.
Nottingham (population: 300,000)
The city of Nottingham is quite a large and lively place, with plenty of opportunities for shopping and entertainment. It’s famous as the home of the legendary Robin Hood, who has his own rather impressive statue!
- University visit: the University of Nottingham
The University of Nottingham, with around 35,000 students, occupies a large and beautiful campus known as University Park, which includes parks and gardens as well as a range of attractive buildings. Some distance away is the strikingly modern Jubilee Campus. Nottingham is the UK’s most international university, with campuses in Malaysia and China. Within the UK, it’s regarded as one of the top two targeted by employers for potential talent. Nottingham is ranked in first position in the UK for biosciences, and it offers courses in many fields of particular relevance to the future, such as energy. It also has the distinction of being the world’s most sustainable university campus.
Sheffield (population: 550,000)
Sheffield was once known as a great industrial city, famous for its steel-making and in particular its cutlery industry (knives, forks and spoons). There is much less industry now, and Sheffield is in fact regarded as a very clean and green city (it apparently has the highest ratio of trees to people of any city in Europe!). The western part of the city, where the University is located, is an area of elegant stone houses, many with fast-flowing streams in their gardens. The city centre is very lively, and great for shopping.
- University visit: the University of Sheffield
Sheffield has around 26,000 students, and is a member of the Russell Group of leading British universities. In most rankings, it appears in the top 100 universities worldwide. In 2014, it was ranked the best university in the UK for its overall student experience.
The University is divided into five faculties, with many different departments offering a very wide range of courses. Its science faculty can boast 5 Nobel Prize winners. It has a strong international focus, with partnerships in China, in particular.
The University doesn’t exactly have a campus, but most of its main buildings are located in one area on the attractive west side of the city.