Good University Guide 2023

University of Bolton

National rank

Firsts / 2:1s
Completion rate

Key stats

Teaching quality
Student experience
Research quality
Graduate prospects
University of Bolton

Contact details


Deane Road, Bolton , BL3 5AB,

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Expansion of the curriculum at Bolton is contributing to a surge in applications — up 19 per cent year-on-year according to a snapshot of the latest admissions cycle at the end of March 2022. 

Six new degree programmes were scheduled to begin in September 2022 with 14 more listed for 2023. The degree apprenticeship offering is set to double by September 2023 from 15 subject areas to 30. New degree courses for 2022 include digital content creation, fashion photography, and photojournalism and documentary photography. In 2023, students will be able to study subject combinations featuring immersive arts, artificial intelligence, virtual, augmented and mixed realities and aerospace technology. 

Foundation years and/or industrial placements are offered on all of the new courses and getting students ready for the world of work has been a longstanding focus at Bolton. Its degree programmes in special effects are connected with some of the biggest SFX houses in the world, associated with Harry Potter, Disney, Marvel and James Bond films. 

The spike in applications follows a record set in 2021, up 22 per cent compared with the previous year. Enrolments also reached their highest level, increasing by 18 per cent.

Bolton is consistently popular with students, according to the National Student Survey (NSS). Our analysis of the latest NSS results ranks the university 12th for satisfaction with teaching quality, down from fifth place in 2021.   

Rated silver in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), Bolton was commended for an institutional culture that “facilitates, recognises and rewards excellent teaching”, as well as providing excellent support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Bolton ranks seventh in our social inclusion index (slipping just two places year-on-year), with the biggest proportion of students from non-selective state schools of any university (99 per cent) and 57.5 per cent who are the first in their family to experience higher education (12th).

The TEF panel blamed “the student demographic and the challenging local employment context” for the university’s above-benchmark dropout rate and relatively poor graduate employment record, and praised Bolton’s initiatives to address these challenges. The latest data on course completion shows that Bolton has reduced its dropout rate below the expected benchmark, given the background of its students and the subject mix — a marked improvement from Bolton’s low point when almost one in three students abandoned their course.

Bolton has bolstered its careers service with an employer engagement team, which works with local, regional and national employers to source work placements, live project briefs and internships for students, and advertises graduate job vacancies. In our analysis of graduate prospects, Bolton has gained two places but remains in the bottom 20 for the proportion in highly skilled work or further study within 15 months. 

Founded as the Bolton Mechanics Institute in 1824, the university merged with the local further education provider Bolton College in 2018 and wholly owns Alliance Learning, one of the northwest’s largest independent apprenticeship training providers. The university has branched out to establish an outpost in Salford through a training partnership.

In the past decade, Bolton has opened the city centre Institute of Management and the £31 million Bolton One health, leisure and research centre on the main Deane campus. Here, students have access to a multi-sports hall, climbing wall and a sports and spinal injuries clinic, as well as a 25m competition swimming pool and a therapeutic hydrotherapy pool, fitness suite and community gym. 

Near Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, the university has a campus at Ras al-Khaimah with space for 700 students on undergraduate and postgraduate courses identical to those taught in Bolton.

Research facilities at the university include the Centre for Islamic Finance and the National Centre for Motorsport Engineering, opened in 2017, which incorporates the renowned Centre for Advanced Performance Engineering (Cape) training base. The university helps to run a professional motor racing team in conjunction with a motorsports company and students work and learn alongside its engineers and mechanics as they study for degrees in automotive performance engineering or motorsport technology.  

In the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), Bolton submitted a broader body of work from a third more academics compared with the previous national assessment in 2014. Art and design, allied health professions, and business and management studies were new additions, while English and engineering produced the best results. However, as results improved across the sector, Bolton fell 16 places in our research quality ranking to the foot of our table. 

Bolton has developed the Life Lounge on the main campus, made up of a team of experienced mental health and wellbeing professionals. Trainees in cognitive behavioural therapy offer free sessions to students with mild to moderate depression or anxiety.

The 381 rooms available in Bolton’s Orlando Village are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Many students live locally and commute to university. 

Bolton has a reputation as one of the UK’s friendliest towns and students are a 20-minute train ride from the big-city attractions of Manchester.

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Category Score Rank
Ranking - 124 (89=)
Teaching quality 80.8 12th
Student experience 76.8 15th
Research quality 10.6 130th
Ucas entry points 117 93rd=
Graduate prospects 64.9 117th=
Firsts and 2:1s 66.1 128th
Completion rate 76.3 121st=
Student-staff ratio 16.4 70th

Vital statistics











Applications/places 7,380/1,575
Applications/places ratio 4.7:1
Overall offer rate 59.3%


Places in accommodation 381
Accommodation costs £99 - £130
Accommodation contact


UK/EU fees £9,250
Fees (placement year) £1,850
Fees (overseas year) £1,385
Fees (international) £12,950
Finance website
Graduate salaries £22,000

Social inclusion and student mix

Social Inclusion Ranking 7
State schools (non-grammar) admissions 99%
Grammar school admissions 0.3%
Independent school admissions 0.6%
Ethnic minority students (all) 29.4%
Black achievement gap -23.2%
White working class males 4.2%
First generation students 57.5%
Low participation areas 17.5%
Working class dropout gap 1%
Mature 74.8%
EU students 2.5%
Other overseas students 5.1%

Student satisfaction with teaching quality

Subjects allied to medicine 94.4%
Aeronautical and manufacturing engineering 84.9%
Computer science 83.6%
Psychology 83.3%
Business, management and marketing 78.4%
Education 77.2%
Nursing 74.8%
Bioengineering and biomedical engineering 74.6%
Sports science 70.8%
Drama, dance and cinematics 68.1%
Art and design 67.3%
Civil engineering 55%