The Ultimate Guide To Studying In Bristol

The Ultimate Guide To Studying In Bristol
 Image by Kristoffer Trolle is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Okay, so you know that Bristol is birthplace of Wallace and Gromit, Banksy and Nelson Mandela House from Only Fools and Horses. But trivia aside, what has the city that The Sunday Times voted as “best UK city to live in 2014” got to offer for students? Join us as we take a look at everything you need to know about studying and living in one of the UK’s hippest, trendiest, and most environmentally friendly cities.

Universities In Bristol

Bristol is home to two universities:

The University of BristolThe University of the West of England

The University of Bristol

The University of Bristol is one of the UK’s top universities, and currently sits at 38th in the latest Guardian league table rankings for 2016. It boasts fantastic graduate prospects and super-high degree completion (96%).

Founded in 1876, it is located right in the city centre, which means that everything will be on your doorstep if you choose to study here. Entry requirements depend on the course you apply for, but generally 3 A-levels and 8 GSCE’s (or equivalent) are acceptable. The new core maths qualification is not currently a requirement.

The University of the West of England

The University of the West of England can trace its roots as far back as 1595, which pretty much makes it one of the oldest universities in the UK. It currently sits in 68th place on the latest league table rankings for 2016 and has an overall score of 632. It scores well for facilities spend and graduate prospects, while degree completion remains low.

The University of the West of England has 3 campuses dotted around Bristol, with another located in Gloucester. There are 600 courses to choose from, teaching assessments continue to praise its “excellent” teaching standards, while user-led research that can be applied to real world problems is famously outstanding.

Fees, Living Aspects & Student Finance

Ah, fees these days are so confusing. Why can’t Uni just be 100% free?!

The max amount you will be paying for any course you choose to study in Bristol is £9,000 each year. The precise amount you will pay is determined by the course you are taking, but most full-time courses are in this ball park. If you can’t pay your tuition fees yourself, Student Finance is a government-funded initiative that offers to pay them for you.

Read our guide to student loans for more information.

When you head to university for the first time, it’s highly likely that you will be managing your personal finances and budget for the first time. Each week and month you will need to work out how much money you need to pay your rent and bills, as well as how much will be needed for food, travel, study materials, socialising and so on. Some students find that they can live on just their maintenance loans alone, while others need part-time work in order to help with their living costs.

The average first-year student living and studying in Bristol spends in the region of £7,000 – £11,000 on their cost of living. This is broken down to between £3,700 – £7,500 on accommodation, £615 on food, £180 in utilities such as water and Internet, £300 on books and printing, £1,500 on entertainment and sports. Other things students typically spend their money on include phone calls, drinking and travel expenses. Despite these figures looking pretty scary, Bristol is actually the 18th most cost effective student city in the UK.

If you want to study in one of the most cost effective cities in the UK check them out here.

Most first-year students choose to live in their university’s halls of residence, but you can also choose to live in a private house-share. Halls of residence, particularly those which are catered/private, provide 24/7 security and a chance to meet new like-minded people, but they are also typically more expensive than living in a shared house. For students wishing to study at the University of Bristol, you have a range of 27 student halls to choose. The biggest halls of residence, accommodating 443 students every year is Badock Hall. Students that choose to live here can expect to be sharing bathrooms and kitchens, however, benefit from being catered for (how fancy!).

As the UWE Bristol has multiple campuses, you will need to check where you will be based before you consider your accommodation. If you are based on the Frenchay Campus then you’re more than likely going to want to be living at the Student Village with 1,800 other students. Although you’ll get to meet a lot of new people and get a true freshers experience, the accommodation will be making a huge dent in your student finances at £145.15 per week for a standard room. If you’ve got the finances you can upgrade to a superior room for an extra £3 per week.

Aside from living in the traditional halls of accommodation, students can also opt for the private residence in the city centre. Some of these are:

  • iQ Bristol – from £164 per week
  • Liberty Park – from £144 per week
  • Print Hall – from £149 per week

General Info About Bristol

As mentioned earlier, Bristol is one of the most environmentally-conscious cities in the UK. It’s also the biggest in south west England, and has for a long time been hugely popular with students. Thanks to National Lottery funding, it has seen some spectacular regeneration projects in recent years and is now a throbbing hive of activity, culture and entertainment. The local economy is doing well, and students and local residents will attest to what a great city it is to live in.

Getting around by car is not particularly easy because the city centre is quite expensive to park in. With that in mind, many students prefer to either walk or cycle through the city. Cycling networks have recently been improved and will be improved further in the coming months. The bus network covers a large area, is reasonably priced and offers travel cards. London is reachable in 1 hour and 45 minutes, while the main trains station offers direct lines to a number of the UK’s biggest cities.

Events, Venues And Points Of Interest

There is literally so much going on in Bristol that it’s impossible for you as a student to get bored. There is a reason why more students head to this city than anywhere else, and that’s because it’s an action-packed metropolis that just gets better and better.

The River Avon runs right through the heart of Bristol, and you can get on a ferry boat anytime you want to take in the lively atmosphere. You can even use the boat service to travel from one part of the city to another in style. Don’t bother with it if you’re already late for class, though!

If dry land is more your thing, many students bring their bike to Bristol because, although it’s probably got more inclines than your average ski resort, its twists and turns make cycling fun and entertaining. The wooded trails of the nearby Ashton Court offer a scenic countryside cycle too, and there are 13 miles to cover.

And, yes, you can hop on the train back if you want. Lazy bones.

Perhaps one of the most endearing things about Bristol is that it certainly isn’t flat. It’s supposed to comprise seven hills, but as most hungover students will attest, it certainly feels more like twenty+ hills. Although hills can make walking tiresome, they lend a lot of charm to Bristol and give you a chance to get up high and do some serious people watching. You can take in the vast panoramas, do a spot of homework from a mound, or just general feel inspired and relaxed.

Activities in Bristol include swimming at Clifton Lido, drinking on the Suspension Bridge, taking in one of the many summer festivals, getting scared to death on the Haunted & Hidden ghost tour, or playing frisbee (or getting lost) on The Downs.

Bristol also does culture really well too, and is home to a large number of theatres, including Old Vic, Hippodrome, Wardrobe (which is literally no bigger than a wardrobe), Little Blackbox and Factory.

There are also plenty of gig venues here too, including The Fleece if you like your indie music, The Tunnels and the massive O2 Academy.


Like everything else in Bristol, the nightlife is tip top. In fact, it’s so good that even the toughest of freshers can find it a bit too much!

Whether you like dancing to cheese or get your kicks to some classic motown, Bristol has something for everyone.

Bunker is one of those students clubs that everyone loves during first year but looks back on with embarrassment during third year. “Let’s go to Bunker” someone sarcastically suggests as graduation approaches. Everyone offers a chortle loaded with scorn, even though you all know that two years earlier you practically lived in the place. Oh, if only someone would get rid of those photos …

Lizard Lounge is another one of those Bristol student clubs that everyone knows is actually pretty rubbish but can’t stay away from. It’s a nightmare when you’re sober but oodles of fun when you’ve had a few. Music-wise it’s pure cheese, from Bon Jovi to Bee Gees.

Syndicate is the Friday night “super-club” that lots of students find themselves drawn to if they’re wanting to get down to some chart music. MBargo is another popular club with students that offers free entry most of the time, while Blue Mountain is located in the area of St Paul’s and pumps out House music to the masses. A word of warning: St Paul’s is not what you’d call safe, so always stick together with your mates and always get a cab home if poss.

Bristol is also awash with pubs that serve cocktails, real ales, and show football. Our favourites include The Highbury Vaults, Air Balloon – Flaming Grill, Drawbridge, and The Cross Hands.

So There It Is …

Bristol truly is a head-spinning mistress of a city that offers so much fun for students. If you think you can keep up with your studies while living in the hippest part of Britain, why not start your search for a course in Bristol today.