Good University Guide 2023

University of Edinburgh

National rank

Firsts / 2:1s
Completion rate

Key stats

Teaching quality
Student experience
Research quality
Graduate prospects
University of Edinburgh

Contact details


Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh , EH8 9YL,

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Established in 1583, the University of Edinburgh has enduring appeal for undergraduates.  In 2021 applications (up 13 per cent) and enrolments (up 16 per cent) reached record levels. Another top-20 finish in the QS World University rankings in 2022 adds clout.

One of the UK’s research giants, Edinburgh is 11th in our research quality index, falling one place year-on-year. Fifty-five per cent of its submission to the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) was assessed as world-leading, the highest category, and a further 41 per cent was internationally excellent, the second category. Results were excellent in psychology, biological sciences, English, politics, pharmacology and pharmacy, anatomy, and computing. 

In common with many leading research-led institutions, student satisfaction is a persistent bugbear for the university, however. Our analysis of the latest outcomes in the National Student Survey (NSS) puts Edinburgh in the bottom ten for satisfaction with teaching quality. Edinburgh’s new student support model is intended to improve things. Following an intensive review, student advisers are being introduced as the first point of contact for study-related queries across the university, replacing the personal tutor system of old. Students will continue to be able to get support for their studies from academic staff and senior tutors but will also be able to turn to wellbeing advisers for help with their health and personal life. 

The university buildings span the historic Old Town and newer territory. An £8 million Health and Wellbeing Centre opened in 2020 on Bristo Square, near the grand McEwan Hall, offering counselling and disability services and the chance to grab a calm moment in the wellbeing lounge. A couple of miles out of the city centre at the 115-acre King’s Buildings campus, the Nucleus Building is due to open in late 2022, adding teaching and learning facilities such as a laboratory, shops and restaurants plus social and study spaces.

The university hosts the £79 million national supercomputer, Archer2, and its expertise in data science is behind its establishment of six data-driven innovation hubs under the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Deal. Two — the £45 million Bayes Centre and the Edinburgh International Data Facility — are already open, while the National Robotarium, Edinburgh Futures Institute, Agritech Hub and Usher Institute are under development. 

Helping to meet its commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, Edinburgh has completed is divestment from fossil fuel investments — a substantial undertaking for the university with the third-largest endowment fund of any UK institution, behind Oxbridge. It has also built a large solar farm at the Easter Bush campus, home of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and the Roslin Institute. 

Undergraduate provision is broad, extending across 58 subjects and almost 400 degrees. New courses are offered in sport management and in Arabic with Islamic and Middle Eastern studies in 2022. Fine art will be introduced in 2023. Lecture capture has been commonplace at Edinburgh since pre-pandemic times and the university is keen to continue using digital learning where it enhances the experience, with an appropriate balance of in-person learning. 

An early convert to contextual offers, Edinburgh has worked hard to lose its exclusive tag and prioritise widening participation. In partnership with the University of Glasgow, Edinburgh has launched three learning centres that provide extra support to young people aged seven to 18 in some of Scotland’s most deprived areas. The university met a government target for admissions from the most deprived areas early, but does not shine in national measures for social inclusion, coming last in Scotland in our analysis. 

The Access Edinburgh Scholarship provides up to £5,000 per year of study to full-time undergraduates. The exact sum depends on circumstances and household income, with awards assessed automatically when students apply for funding. The financial assistance is especially valuable to those from England, Wales and Northern Ireland facing four years of full tuition fees in Scotland. The university prospectus notes that Edinburgh awarded £10 million in undergraduate financial support in 2020-21.  

Edinburgh’s sports programmes are among the best in the UK, producing past Olympic champions such as the cyclist Sir Chris Hoy and the rower Dame Katherine Grainger. The university has an outdoor centre 80 miles from Edinburgh in a beautiful setting in the southern Highlands. There is a network of student gyms in and around the city with membership packages starting at just £15 a year. Students have a choice of 65 sports clubs and can take part in the full range of fixtures from informal games to competitive tournaments.

There are 6,448 residential places reserved for undergraduates, more than a third of which come with breakfast and evening meals included. All first-years who come from outside Edinburgh’s city limits are guaranteed a room.

Students here have enviable access to the cultural hangouts of one of the world’s most exciting cities. Edinburgh is ranked the tenth best student city in Europe according to QS Best Student Cities 2023.

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Category Score Rank
Ranking - 10 (13)
Teaching quality 68.6 124th
Student experience 67 112th=
Research quality 61.5 11th
Ucas entry points 188 7th
Graduate prospects 84.6 14th
Firsts and 2:1s 91.5 7th
Completion rate 94.3 14th
Student-staff ratio 11.5 3rd
World ranking - 15 (16)

Vital statistics











Applications/places 72,365/8,455
Applications/places ratio 8.6:1
Overall offer rate 39.3%


Places in accommodation 9,464
Accommodation costs £92 - £193
Catered costs £216 - £294
Accommodation contact


Scots/EU fees £0 - £1,820
Fees (placement year) £910 (RUK 1,385)
Fees (overseas year) £910 (RUK 1,385)
Fees (international) £23,100 - £30,400
Fees (international, medical) £32,100 - £49,900
Finance website
Graduate salaries £27,450


Sport points/rank 3992.5, 4th
Sport website

Social inclusion and student mix

Social Inclusion Ranking 15
State schools (non-grammar) admissions 57.8%
Grammar school admissions 6.7%
Independent school admissions 35.5%
Ethnic minority students (all) 12.8%
Black achievement gap -11.4%
First generation students 19.5%
Deprived areas 9.1%
Mature students 8.1%
EU students 9.4%
Other overseas students 23.5%

Student satisfaction with teaching quality

Nursing 85%
Veterinary medicine 83.7%
Archaeology and forensic science 80%
Theology and religious studies 79.5%
Social work 79.3%
Geology 79.1%
Town and country planning and landscape 78.7%
Architecture 78.2%
Geography and environmental science 78.1%
Education 75.7%
German 73.3%
Art and design 73.2%
Sports science 72.7%
Italian 72.5%
Anatomy and physiology 72%
Chemistry 71.6%
Biological sciences 71.4%
Mathematics 71%
History 70.8%
East and South Asian studies 70.4%
Medicine 70.2%
Philosophy 69.2%
Anthropology 69.1%
Hospitality, leisure, recreation and tourism 69%
Accounting and finance 68.8%
Classics and ancient history 68.7%
English 68.6%
Social policy 67.7%
Electrical and electronic engineering 67.4%
Psychology 67.2%
Physics and astronomy 67.1%
Business, management and marketing 66.1%
History of art, architecture and design 66.1%
Linguistics 66.1%
Middle Eastern and African studies 66%
Sociology 65.8%
Civil engineering 65.3%
Music 64.8%
Politics 63.3%
Law 62.8%
Drama, dance and cinematics 61.9%
Computer science 61.8%
Economics 61.8%
French 58.2%
Iberian languages 57.6%
Mechanical engineering 57.1%
Chemical engineering 56.8%
Russian and eastern European languages 52%