Good University Guide 2023

Queen's University, Belfast

National rank

Firsts / 2:1s
Completion rate

Key stats

Teaching quality
Student experience
Research quality
Graduate prospects
Queen's University, Belfast

Contact details


University Road, Belfast , BT7 1NN,

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Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) attracted 10 per cent more applications in 2021 compared with the year before and they edged up almost 4 per cent in a snapshot of the current admissions cycle in March 2022. But the university has warned that cuts in government funding may mean hundreds fewer places for students from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland over the next three years. 

At the upper end of the cuts Queen’s was asked to model — a reduction of 15 per cent — 1,575 of the 11,600 places for Irish students would have to go. At the lower end(5 per cent), 525 local places could be lost.

The threat of budget cuts comes as QUB has been stepping up its efforts to recruit disadvantaged students from the province and redoubling its research links with universities in the Republic of Ireland. Queen’s and University College Dublin have signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance co-operation in research and innovation in areas of mutual strength, and Queen’s is involved in 43 of the 62 projects to be funded by the Irish government’s €37.3 million Shared Island North-South Research Programme, announced in 2022.

Queen’s had already been increasing its recruitment of international students and plans to double their numbers. The appointment of Hillary Clinton as chancellor has raised the university’s global profile.

The university has been rising steadily up our league table in recent years, but falls in student satisfaction and research quality scores have halted its progress. QUB remains in our top 30 overall, however, despite sliding four places.

In our analysis of the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), QUB has tumbled 21 places to 35th place, having failed to keep pace with improvements among its immediate rivals. 

The results of the latest National Student Survey show that students have somewhat lost faith in teaching quality, leading to a fall of 20 places to 94=. In terms of the wider undergraduate experience, QUB has slipped even further: 39 places, to 74=. 

Student facilities will improve dramatically with the opening of a new students’ union and guidance centre in 2022. The university expects it to transform the provision of student services and support, bringing them together for the first time. It is the latest in a string of developments over the past ten years worth £350 million, including new buildings for law, biological sciences and computer sciences.

Most undergraduates come from Northern Ireland — two thirds from grammar schools, which educate a much larger proportion of the population in the province than elsewhere in the UK. Because of that feature of the Northern Irish school system, the university does not appear in our social inclusion ranking, where it would be disadvantaged by the focus only on non-selective state school recruitment. 

QUB has stepped up its efforts to broaden its intake, and about 30 per cent of undergraduates received some financial support in 2021-22. The Pathways Opportunity Programme guarantees Northern Irish students living in disadvantaged areas a conditional offer that may be two grades lower than the norm for their chosen course.

Civic responsibility and economic prosperity are among the main pillars of the university’s strategy for the rest of the decade. Queen’s plays a leading role in the Belfast City Region Deal, a 15-year programme to boost growth. It has been awarded £170.8 million towards an Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Strand, £52.4 million towards a Global Innovation Institute and £39.7 million towards an Institute for Research Excellence in Advanced Clinical Healthcare.

A member of the Russell Group, the university won a seventh Queen’s Anniversary prize for higher education in 2020 for its pioneering work to facilitate collaboration between schools of different faiths. For more than a century the university’s own charter has guaranteed non-denominational teaching as well as student representation and equal rights for women.

The campus, on the south side of the city, has a cinema, an art gallery and theatre, all of which are open to the wider community as well as students. Belfast city centre has plenty of nightlife but the social scene is mainly concentrated on the students’ union and the surrounding area. 

Most of the 4,400 residential places are at the Elms student village, close to the university, but a recent development of 1,200 rooms with its own services, including pastoral care, security and social activities, has added the option of living in the city centre. First-years, including those taking foundation degrees, are guaranteed a place, as are those with disabilities, care leavers and students who are estranged from their family. 

The university’s sports facilities, which include a cottage for climbers in the Mourne Mountains, also boast an international-standard hockey pitch, an arena pitch that can host football, rugby or Gaelic sport, and a recreational trail. The Physical Education Centre has two swimming pools and there is a boathouse on the River Lagan.

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Category Score Rank
Ranking - 28 (24)
Teaching quality 73 94th=
Student experience 71.3 74th=
Research quality 52 35th
Ucas entry points 148 32nd=
Graduate prospects 84.5 15th
Firsts and 2:1s 85.5 22nd
Completion rate 92.3 30th=
Student-staff ratio 15.9 57th=
World ranking - 233= (216=)

Vital statistics











Applications/places 28,355/5,065
Applications/places ratio 5.6:1
Overall offer rate 67.9%


Places in accommodation 4,428
Accommodation costs £85 - £175
Catered costs £90 - £189
Accommodation contact


UK/EU fees £4,530 (Northern Ireland)
Fees (placement year) £890
Fees (overseas year) £0
Fees (international) £17,900 - £22,000
Fees (international, medical) £32,800
Finance website
Graduate salaries £24,000


Sport points/rank 80, 101st
Sport website

Social inclusion and student mix

State schools (non-grammar) admissions 34.2%
Grammar school admissions 64.1%
Independent school admissions 1.7%
Ethnic minority students (all) 4.3%
First generation students 35.3%
Low participation areas 8.7%
Mature 14.5%
EU students 3.2%
Other overseas students 9.6%

Student satisfaction with teaching quality

Social work 88.5%
Dentistry 88%
Medicine 85.3%
Food science 84.3%
Archaeology and forensic science 82.8%
Town and country planning and landscape 80.7%
Pharmacology and pharmacy 80.4%
Electrical and electronic engineering 79.9%
French 79.7%
Iberian languages 79.1%
Geography and environmental science 78.2%
English 77.4%
Agriculture and forestry 76%
Nursing 75.7%
History 75.2%
Accounting and finance 75%
Architecture 73.5%
Psychology 73.1%
Music 72.5%
Anthropology 72.2%
Celtic studies 72.2%
Social policy 71.9%
Criminology 71.8%
Sociology 71.8%
Business, management and marketing 70.6%
Mathematics 70.6%
Civil engineering 69.6%
Physics and astronomy 69.6%
Biological sciences 68%
Economics 67.9%
Philosophy 67.8%
Computer science 67.2%
Drama, dance and cinematics 67.2%
Anatomy and physiology 66.4%
Mechanical engineering 65.4%
Aeronautical and manufacturing engineering 64.7%
Chemical engineering 63.3%
Law 63.1%
Animal science 61.5%
Chemistry 59.8%
Politics 56.4%