Good University Guide 2023

University of Birmingham

National rank

Firsts / 2:1s
Completion rate

Key stats

Teaching quality
Student experience
Research quality
Graduate prospects

Outstanding research has sent the University of Birmingham shooting up our rankings and it was shortlisted for our University of the Year award. In our analysis of the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) the institution has risen to tenth — up 16 places — with brilliance in a broad range of subjects. The best performers included American, Celtic studies, East and South Asian, and Middle Eastern and African studies. Hospitality, leisure, recreation and tourism, education and sports science also did well, plus a broad range off sciences and social sciences.

Britain’s first “civic” university, founded at the turn of the 20th century, is halfway through a ten-year, £600 million transformation of its original redbrick buildings, completed in 1909. Its landmark tower Old Joe — said to be the world’s tallest freestanding clocktower at 100 metres — stands among new developments on the 260-acre campus in leafy Edgbaston.

Pioneering projects include the Collaborative Teaching Laboratory — designed to change the way Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) are taught — featuring wet, dry and e-labs with learning space for 1,000 students. The Green Heart is a 12-acre space in the middle of Birmingham’s campus where students can study and socialise or watch performances.

In 2021 the new School of Engineering opened, bringing together the university’s engineering disciplines in 12,000 sq m over five floors, where flexible design and research spaces encourage innovation and partnership projects. The department has a strong record in rail research and the £46.5 million centre has a full-size set of railway points and a test track for the university’s scaled hydrogen-powered train. Next door is a research centre of excellence in digital systems, opened in 2020, which focuses on railway control and cybersecurity. 

In 2023 a Life Sciences Park will open at the Selly Oak campus, two miles from Edgbaston. Drama courses are also based in Selly Oak, where the BBC Drama Village on campus offers opportunities for student placements. In 2024 the School of Chemistry will open a new Molecular Sciences building on the former Munrow Sports Centre site on the main campus. 

Expanding its reach, Birmingham is the first Russell Group university to open an outpost in Dubai. It offers courses in business, economics, computer science, mechanical engineering and teacher training on a new campus, which opened in 2021.

Students in the UK are offered a wide — and growing — range of curriculum options. Seven new degree courses will be introduced in 2023: social anthropology; digital media and communications; film and creative writing; psychology and religion; environmental and engineering geoscience; human sciences; and global environmental change and sustainability.   

The full campus-based, in-person teaching experience has returned at Birmingham, where rates of student satisfaction took a big hit in the pandemic-affected National Student Survey of 2021.  It has clawed back to 79= for satisfaction with the overall experience in our analysis of the latest results.

Outshining several Russell Group rivals to be rated gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) in 2016, Birmingham won praise for a strategic focus on research-informed teaching which his highly valued by employers. “All student outcomes are excellent,” the TEF panel acknowledged.

Birmingham’s enduring popularity with undergraduates hit new heights in the 2020 admissions round, in which almost 56,000 students applied — a 5 per cent increase on 2019 and 30 per cent up in a decade. Enrolments are also on the rise, up 13 per cent from 2019-2020  and up 40 per cent in a decade.

Birmingham topped the 2021 High Fliers report, tracking which graduates are targeted the most by top employers, and is consistently in the top five. Work experience opportunities, such as research assistant posts and summer internships, enhance undergraduates’ chances on the jobs market. In our analysis of the latest Graduate Outcomes survey recording the numbers in highly skilled work or further study after 15 months, Birmingham has climbed eight  places to enter the top ten (18th).

A degree apprenticeship in computer science with digital technology — run in partnership with PwC — has taken the earn-as-you-learn route to the next level. The company pays apprentices’ tuition fees as well as salaries throughout the four-year course. Apprentices study and live full-time as students for the first two years, undertaking work experience outside term-time. The entire third year is spent in the workplace, then trainees return to university for the fourth year. A graduate job awaits at the end, subject to performance.

Birmingham is in joint 100th place overall in our social inclusion index and continues its efforts to improve the diversity of its intake. The university makes contextual offers, normally one grade lower than the standard requirement, to applicants who have spent time in care or come from an area with low rates of progression to higher education. The Pathways to Birmingham programme for year 12-13 pupils encourages applications from those from underrepresented backgrounds and provides bursaries that do not need to be repaid.

Bursaries are available to help fund internships, and scholarships may be provided for travel projects even if they are not linked to the student’s main degree.

An official partner of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, the university hosted hockey and squash events and its halls of residence at the Vale became the largest of the athlete villages. World-class sports facilities include six glass-backed squash courts, a 50m swimming pool, climbing wall and multipurpose arena with bleacher seating for more than 800 people. There are acres of sports pitches and courts at Bournbrook and Metchley, less than a mile away. The Gillett Centre at Selly Oak has two gymnastics training rooms with sprung floors and the Tiverton gym in the student village has skiing and resistance machines.

One of the UK’s most vibrant cities, Birmingham has earned a reputation as a leading student destination. Rooms in halls are guaranteed for first-years who meet the criteria and 12 per cent of places are catered.

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Category Score Rank
Ranking - 20= (25)
Teaching quality 71.3 112th
Student experience 70.4 79th=
Research quality 61.9 10th
Ucas entry points 154 25th
Graduate prospects 84.2 18th
Firsts and 2:1s 88.3 13th=
Completion rate 95.4 10th
Student-staff ratio 14.9 36th=
World ranking - 91 (90)

Vital statistics











Applications/places 56,850/7,865
Applications/places ratio 7.2:1
Overall offer rate 64.6%


Places in accommodation 6,240
Accommodation costs £91 - £287
Catered costs £135 - £230
Accommodation contact


UK/EU fees £9,250
Fees (placement year) £1,850 (20% of academic fee)
Fees (overseas year) £1,385 (15% of academic fee)
Fees (international) £19,980 - £27,180
Fees (international, medical) £44,100
Finance website
Graduate salaries £26,000


Sport points/rank 3300.3, 6th
Sport website

Social inclusion and student mix

Social Inclusion Ranking 100=
State schools (non-grammar) admissions 70.6%
Grammar school admissions 13.6%
Independent school admissions 15.9%
Ethnic minority students (all) 34.1%
Black achievement gap -14.5%
White working class males 2.5%
First generation students 32.6%
Low participation areas 8.4%
Working class dropout gap -1.6%
Mature 4.5%
EU students 3.1%
Other overseas students 16.3%

Student satisfaction with teaching quality

History of art, architecture and design 82.6%
Dentistry 82.4%
Theology and religious studies 82.4%
Education 82.3%
Chemistry 78.9%
Archaeology and forensic science 78.2%
Geology 78.2%
Accounting and finance 78.1%
Chemical engineering 78.1%
Criminology 76.1%
Sociology 76.1%
Classics and ancient history 76%
Creative writing 76%
Music 75.8%
Bioengineering and biomedical engineering 75.7%
Philosophy 75.6%
Pharmacology and pharmacy 75.4%
Electrical and electronic engineering 75.2%
Biological sciences 74.2%
History 74%
Subjects allied to medicine 74%
Town and country planning and landscape 74%
Economics 73.8%
Hospitality, leisure, recreation and tourism 73.4%
Drama, dance and cinematics 73.1%
Physics and astronomy 72.2%
Social policy 71.7%
English 71.6%
Mechanical engineering 71.3%
Medicine 71.3%
Geography and environmental science 70.6%
Liberal arts 70.4%
Civil engineering 69.9%
German 69.8%
Business, management and marketing 69.7%
American studies 69.5%
Anthropology 69.5%
Psychology 69.3%
French 69.1%
Iberian languages 69.1%
Italian 69.1%
Materials technology 69.1%
Russian and eastern European languages 69.1%
Sports science 69%
Politics 68.7%
Mathematics 68.6%
Physiotherapy 67.3%
Computer science 67.2%
Law 66.1%
Nursing 45.6%