Good University Guide 2023

Royal Holloway, University of London

National rank

Firsts / 2:1s
Completion rate

Key stats

Teaching quality
Student experience
Research quality
Graduate prospects

Improving research quality has helped Royal Holloway to retain its top-30 position in our overall rankings. In an excellent performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), 88 per cent of the university’s research was assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent, the top two categories.

Royal Holloway moves up four places in our analysis of research quality (26=) led by success in music, communication and media studies, and geography. 

The university has been named by the government as one of eight academic centres of excellence in cybersecurity research. It hosts 52 research centres in total, across wide-ranging academic fields from the Centre for Algorithms and Applications to the Centre for Workplace Research in Asian Societies.

Royal Holloway is in increasing demand, with applications exceeding 20,000 for the first time in the 2021 admissions cycle. A growing curriculum offers more options to applicants. After the introduction of 22 new degrees in the 2022-23 academic year, another five will welcome their first students in 2023-24 including geography, culture and identity; and geography, geopolitics and global affairs. 

Degrees in health studies, and health studies and social care are also on the way at the new Department of Health Studies, where the focus is on advancing teaching and research allied to communities, the wellbeing of people and the environment and the challenges of living sustainably. 

When rating Royal Holloway silver in the Teaching Excellence Framework, assessors praised the level of investment in e-learning facilities and said students were engaged with developments from the forefront of research, scholarship and professional practice. 

Undergraduates on all Royal Holloway's courses may take an additional year to complete their degree. The Optional Placement Year scheme allows them to spend their third year gaining work experience related to their course or in an area that interests them. Alternatively, they can opt to spend it volunteering, studying abroad — or a combination of all three. The university has also expanded partnerships with overseas institutions, to allow students to gain access to more global opportunities. 

A new employability framework, CVstac, has been introduced to support students in identifying and building the 12 key meta skills (the permanent talents that enable people to achieve things) required by employers. Embedded into teaching and the student experience, CVstac is intended to get students thinking about graduate employability skills from their first year and ultimately to give them an edge in securing employment. 

Responses to the latest national Graduate Outcomes survey place the university in the upper half (61st) for the proportion of graduates in professional-level jobs or further study 15 months after finishing their degrees. 

Royal Holloway stays steady in 52nd place for student satisfaction with the wider undergraduate experience, according to our analysis of the latest National Student Survey. However, it drops eight places to rank 82= for their evaluation of teaching quality.  

The palatial redbrick Founder’s Building, modelled on a French château and opened by Queen Victoria, is often likened to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts. The latest developments on campus include the SuperFab world-class “cleanroom” in the physics department, which has advanced electronic nanofabrication equipment for research and development of the technology needed for medical imaging and quantum computers.

The Beatrice Shilling Building, named after the pioneering British aeronautical engineer and amateur motor racing driver, houses the Department of Electronic Engineering. One of its aims is to attract more female engineering students — fittingly for an institution formed from the merger of two colleges (Royal Holloway and Bedford) that were among the first British institutions to educate women. Bedford’s early students included Sarah Parker Remond, the first African-American woman to carry out a lecture tour around Britain (about slavery), and the novelist George Eliot.

Royal Holloway has improved its course completion ranking to 27th with a dropout rate lower than the expected level in light of the university’s course profile and the background of its students.  

More than a quarter of 2021’s intake qualified for some sort of financial award. These include bursaries for students from low participation areas, low-income households or those who have attended a local partner school. Scholarships are awarded competitively to recognise various academic, sport and music achievements. 

Some awards credit broader abilities than A-level grades alone, such as the Reed Innovation scholarship, worth £15,000 over three years, awarded to undergraduates studying any degree who have proven innovative and creative problem-solving skills and who are expected to achieve AAA at A-level or equivalent. 

Royal Holloway is one of the University of London’s top sporting colleges, with more than 80 teams and good facilities. There is a fitness studio and multi-use sports hall and outdoor facilities such as a 3G pitch. The university also has the use of a boathouse on the Thames.

New entrants are guaranteed a room in halls (of which almost three in ten are catered), as long as they make Royal Holloway their firm choice and apply in time. Commuting students are welcomed with dedicated events at freshers week. The self-contained campus, close to Heathrow airport and Windsor, is 40 minutes from central London.

show more


Category Score Rank
Ranking - 29 (26)
Teaching quality 74.1 82nd=
Student experience 72.7 52nd
Research quality 53.6 26th=
Ucas entry points 129 55th=
Graduate prospects 73.8 61st
Firsts and 2:1s 84.2 29th
Completion rate 92.7 27th
Student-staff ratio 16.2 65th=
World ranking - 402= (334=)

Vital statistics











Applications/places 20,070/3,495
Applications/places ratio 5.7:1
Overall offer rate 84.9%


Places in accommodation 3,349
Accommodation costs £139 - £194
Catered costs £122 - £185
Accommodation contact


UK/EU fees £9,250
Fees (placement year) £1,850 (20% of tuition)
Fees (overseas year) £1,385
Fees (international) £18,100 - £23,200
Finance website
Graduate salaries £24,000


Social inclusion and student mix

Social Inclusion Ranking 82
State schools (non-grammar) admissions 80.3%
Grammar school admissions 9.1%
Independent school admissions 10.6%
Ethnic minority students (all) 52.9%
Black achievement gap -16.8%
White working class males 3.4%
First generation students 40.3%
Low participation areas 4.6%
Working class dropout gap 1.2%
Mature 4.7%
EU students 7.1%
Other overseas students 11.7%

Student satisfaction with teaching quality

Classics and ancient history 93.9%
French 87%
Electrical and electronic engineering 85.7%
Geography and environmental science 83.5%
History 80.9%
Creative writing 79.3%
Accounting and finance 78.6%
Geology 77.8%
Economics 77.4%
Mathematics 77%
Animal science 76.2%
Iberian languages 76.1%
Music 75.2%
Communication and media studies 74.9%
Drama, dance and cinematics 74.8%
English 74.5%
Politics 74.5%
Biological sciences 72.8%
Business, management and marketing 71.4%
Criminology 70.8%
Physics and astronomy 70.8%
Sociology 70.8%
Psychology 70.7%
Philosophy 69.4%
Law 69.1%
Liberal arts 67.8%
Computer science 66.2%