Good University Guide 2023

Cardiff University

National rank

Firsts / 2:1s
Completion rate

Key stats

Teaching quality
Student experience
Research quality
Graduate prospects
Cardiff University

Contact details


Cardiff , CF10 3AT,

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Cardiff is our Welsh University of the Year for the second year in a row and is the best-performing institution in Wales in our academic rankings, climbing ten places to 25th.

Students and staff had their say on the design of the Abacws Building — the new home for the schools of computer science and mathematics — to make sure there are plenty of interdisciplinary, flexible and creative workspaces to encourage the crossover of ideas. The six-storey building pioneers Cardiff’s collaborative emphasis for the future, allowing the schools to work more closely together while retaining their distinct identities.

The Abacws Building has opened as part of Cardiff’s £600 million campus upgrade — its biggest for a generation. The university’s Bute Building, housing the Welsh School of Architecture, has reopened after a £17 million refurbishment. Extra studios, offices, workshops and an exhibition hall have been added to the modernised facilities.

The wood and metal workshop has been enlarged and there is more space for the school’s robotic arm, and digital fabrication technology to produce laser-cut models, as well as 3D printing and computer numeric control (CNC) equipment. 

Post-pandemic, Cardiff’s students can now make the most of the £50 million Centre for Student Life, which opened in 2021 at the heart of the Cathays Park campus. As well as social study space and a lecture theatre, the one-stop hub has support services for health and wellbeing, preparing for the future, managing money and living in Cardiff. The new student resources are one attempt to lift rates of student satisfaction. Like most other research-led institutions, Cardiff has tended to struggle in the National Student Survey, although it has improved on last year’s performance by returning to the top 100 for satisfaction for teaching quality (94=) and the overall undergraduate experience (85=) in our latest analysis.

Most academic schools are based at Cathays Park, where the university’s elegant pale stone buildings stand on tree-lined avenues in the city’s civic centre. The healthcare schools share a 53-acre campus at Heath Park with the University Hospital of Wales, with teaching facilities in the £18 million Cochrane Building. The School of Dentistry is the only one in Wales and offers students some of the UK’s most modern training facilities, including a simulation suite. Cardiff is the only Russell Group university in Wales and counts two Nobel prizewinners and 13 Royal Society Fellows on staff. Its new Translational Research Hub, opening in September 2022, adds 129,000 sq ft of hi-tech laboratory space and will house the renowned Cardiff Catalysis Institute and the Institute for Compound Semiconductors.

In the latest Research Excellent Framework (REF 2021) 90 per cent of the university’s submissions was classified in the top two ratings (world-leading or internationally excellent). Philosophy led the way, along with communication and media studies, education and architecture. Overall, Cardiff rises 13 places to rank 21st in our research quality index this year. The demand for places at Cardiff is on the up, rising by 15 per cent in the 2021 admissions cycle to another new high. Enrolments also increased, by a more modest 6 per cent. A snapshot of the 2022 recruitment cycle at the end of March revealed that applications were up again by 7 per cent in a year.

New programmes introduced in 2021-22 are behind the rise, according to the university. Popular new courses include an environmental sustainability science degree and a BEng integrated engineering degree apprenticeship.  Cardiff remains in our top 20 for graduate prospects (17th, down one place from 16= in 2021) based on our analysis of the proportion in highly skilled work or further study 15 months after finishing their degree.

Strategic partnerships with industry and public or third sector organisations include collaborations with the Office for National Statistics, the Airbus Centre of Excellence for Cyber Security Analytics and the insurer Admiral — which offers internship opportunities.

Cardiff’s silver award in the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) was attributed in part to the support that personal tutors provide and the direct engagement of students with developments at the forefront of research, scholarship and professional practice.

The university’s outreach activities aim to dispel any negative myths about what it is like to study at an elite Russell Group university and encourage applications from diverse groups. Cardiff falls just outside the top 100 (102nd) in our analysis of social inclusion, and 12th out of the 21 Russell  Group universities. Cardiff is near the bottom of our table for England and Wales for its proportion of students from homes where neither parent went to university (31.6 per cent, 105th).

Contextual admissions up to one grade lower than the published requirements are available on most programmes except medicine and dentistry — for which applicants may be given extra points in the interview selection process. In the 2021-22 academic year almost 22 per cent of all offers made were contextual — more than 26 per cent of UK applicants. The university expects the proportion to be similar this year.

About 4,000 new students received some form of financial support in 2021-22. Students from households with incomes under £35,000 can apply for the Cardiff Bursary, while the Cardiff Scholarship is available to those with minimum grades AAA at A-level (or equivalent qualifications).

In collaboration with the Cowrie Scholarship Foundation (CSF), Cardiff has introduced a new award for financially disadvantaged black British students from September 2022. The university covers tuition fees while the CSF funds maintenance and living costs. Recipients are also offered mentorship and resilience programmes. The university has a three-floor fitness centre at Senghennydd Road and Studio 49 offers a range of fitness classes. At the Talybont campus, the Sports Training Village has floodlit outdoor courts and pitches and two sports halls. Further afield, students can use more than 33 acres at the Llanrumney sports fields. 

University accommodation is guaranteed to first-years and there are a small number of catered and part-catered places — rarely found at UK universities these days. Reasonable private rents, lively nightlife and sporting events within easy reach of beaches and countryside add up to a strong student city package for Cardiff.

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Category Score Rank
Ranking - 25 (35=)
Teaching quality 73 94th=
Student experience 70.1 85th=
Research quality 56.7 21st
Ucas entry points 146 35th=
Graduate prospects 84.3 17th
Firsts and 2:1s 83.2 34th
Completion rate 92.8 26th
Student-staff ratio 14.5 29th=
World ranking - 166 (151=)

Vital statistics











Applications/places 44,155/7,915
Applications/places ratio 5.6:1
Overall offer rate 70.3%


Places in accommodation 5,530
Accommodation costs £108 - £150
Catered costs £133 - £152
Accommodation contact


UK/EU fees £9,000
Fees (placement year) £1,800 (20% of academic fee)
Fees (overseas year) £1350 (15% of academic fee)
Fees (international) £18,700 - £23,450
Fees (international, medical) £36,700
Finance website
Graduate salaries £24,907


Sport points/rank 2279.5, 11th
Sport website

Social inclusion and student mix

Social Inclusion Ranking 102
State schools (non-grammar) admissions 77.3%
Grammar school admissions 8.6%
Independent school admissions 14.1%
Ethnic minority students (all) 19%
Black achievement gap -16.5%
White working class males 4%
First generation students 31.6%
Low participation areas 9.1%
Mature 11.7%
EU students 3.1%
Other overseas students 10.3%

Student satisfaction with teaching quality

Celtic studies 85.8%
Electrical and electronic engineering 84.8%
German 84.5%
Italian 82.7%
Iberian languages 82%
East and South Asian studies 81.1%
Architecture 81%
Linguistics 80.4%
French 80.3%
Geology 80.3%
Pharmacology and pharmacy 80.2%
Theology and religious studies 80.1%
Medicine 79.6%
Music 79.3%
General engineering 78.4%
Nursing 78.2%
History 78%
Classics and ancient history 77.8%
Physics and astronomy 77.7%
Archaeology and forensic science 76.5%
Philosophy 76.4%
Physiotherapy 74.8%
Criminology 74.5%
Dentistry 74.1%
English 73.5%
Geography and environmental science 73.4%
Sociology 73.3%
Subjects allied to medicine 71.7%
Animal science 70.9%
Biological sciences 70.9%
Communication and media studies 70.7%
Psychology 70.4%
Town and country planning and landscape 70.2%
Mathematics 69.9%
Politics 69.5%
Bioengineering and biomedical engineering 69.2%
Radiography 69.2%
Chemistry 68.8%
Civil engineering 67.7%
Law 67.6%
Computer science 66.8%
Mechanical engineering 64.7%
Accounting and finance 60.6%
Economics 58.3%