Good University Guide 2023

University of Plymouth

National rank

Firsts / 2:1s
Completion rate

Key stats

Teaching quality
Student experience
Research quality
Graduate prospects
University of Plymouth

Contact details


Drake Circus, Plymouth, PL4 8AA,

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The biggest rise in admissions for more than a decade last year — over 12 per cent — has greeted expansion of Plymouth’s curriculum. Ten new courses began in 2021 and the range continues to grow with 24 beginning this year, from musical theatre to artificial intelligence. Five more are planned for 2023 including esports, and dental surgery with a foundation year. 

Plymouth’s priority is to recruit more UK undergraduates and degree apprentices before carrying out plans for substantial increases in both postgraduate and international students by 2030. The university expects to have 1,000 students taking higher or degree apprenticeships by 2023, with new programmes in engineering, nursing, computing, planning and psychology. Across all the qualifications offered at Plymouth, about 12,000 students undertake work-based learning or placements each year.

Plymouth’s 16-place slide overall in our academic rankings can be attributed in part to the loss of nine places in our research quality index. More than three quarters of Plymouth’s submission to the national Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) was rated world-leading or internationally excellent, the top two categories. However, the scale of improvement elsewhere left Plymouth adrift in our new measure calculating grades as a proportion of the maximum possible score. 

Environmental research is the university’s best-known feature. It won a Queen’s Anniversary Award in 2019 for its research on microplastics and marine litter, and Times Higher Education magazine ranks it among the top five universities in the world for the impact of its marine research in relation to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Plymouth has formed an international partnership with University College Cork in Ireland to work on the critical climate and sustainability challenges facing coastal areas.

More than 7,000 people, in addition to the university’s 18,000 students, are taught in partner colleges, mainly in the southwest and the Channel Islands. Plymouth is one of the partners in the South West Institute for Technology, established by the government to train students in technical subjects. International partners include Peninsula College in Penang, Malaysia. 

Undergraduates in 2022-23 will be taught face-to-face most of the time, with support available for a small remaining proportion of online learning. 

Before the pandemic, Plymouth’s scores for student satisfaction with teaching quality lay just outside the top 20 — but the university has fallen 25 places to 66= in the bottom half of our table in our analysis of the latest National Student Survey. 

Plymouth has a growing reputation in medicine and other health subjects. It is still the only post-1992 university with a medical and dental school. With a school of nursing in Exeter as well as courses in Plymouth and Truro, it is the largest provider of nursing, midwifery and health professional education and training in the southwest of England. A new brain research and imaging centre opened last year on Plymouth Science Park and a centre for nursing and health education is under construction at the 11-storey Intercity House, at the rail station, which is being converted and refurbished as a teaching and clinical skills space.  

A new engineering and design building is also on the way on the western edge of the city-centre campus, providing a new home for the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics and additional space for the School of Art, Design and Architecture. It will include specialist equipment aligned to staff research and expertise, easing collaboration with regional industrial partners. 

Plymouth has one of the country’s leading business incubation facilities, focusing on small and medium-size enterprises in the southwest. The Cube business service works with more than 1,000 students a year, giving them the opportunity to discuss business ideas, attend workshops, work with peers, access specialist business advice and build up the skills they need to work in a small business or start up their own.

Plymouth is 22nd for its recruitment of white working-class males, the most underrepresented group in higher education, and in the top 40 for the proportion drawn from deprived areas. It has risen 11 places to 49th in our social inclusion index, well within the upper half of universities in England and Wales, though far behind its neighbour Plymouth Marjon. The university won a gold award this year from Stonewall for its work promoting LBTQ+ equality and inclusion.

There are 1,754 residential places in Plymouth, with 235 in Truro. Applicants holding Plymouth as their firm choice are guaranteed a place in one of the managed halls or in an accredited private hall if they apply by early June. On campus there is a sports hall, fitness centre, dance studio and squash courts, while upgraded facilities for watersports are a ten-minute ferry ride away. Plymouth city centre has plenty of student-orientated nightlife.

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Category Score Rank
Ranking - 74 (58=)
Teaching quality 75.3 66th=
Student experience 72 62nd=
Research quality 38.6 65th
Ucas entry points 127 60th=
Graduate prospects 77.7 43rd=
Firsts and 2:1s 76.5 75th=
Completion rate 85.3 66th
Student-staff ratio 17.3 83rd=
World ranking - 651= (601=)

Vital statistics











Applications/places 21,325/4,625
Applications/places ratio 4.6:1
Overall offer rate 71.9%


Places in accommodation 1,989
Accommodation costs £104 - £192
Accommodation contact


UK/EU fees £9,250
Fees (placement year) £900
Fees (overseas year) £1,350
Fees (international) £14,600
Fees (international, medical) £21,100 - £41,100
Finance website
Graduate salaries £24,000


Sport points/rank 618.5, 56th
Sport website

Social inclusion and student mix

Social Inclusion Ranking 49
State schools (non-grammar) admissions 86.4%
Grammar school admissions 7.4%
Independent school admissions 6.2%
Ethnic minority students (all) 15%
Black achievement gap -17.3%
White working class males 7.5%
First generation students 45.1%
Low participation areas 15.2%
Working class dropout gap -3.1%
Mature 32.5%
EU students 3%
Other overseas students 7.1%

Student satisfaction with teaching quality

Dentistry 94.7%
History 87.5%
Art and design 84.6%
Mathematics 84.5%
Chemistry 84.1%
Physiotherapy 84%
Social work 83.5%
Politics 82.5%
Architecture 79.4%
Geology 79.2%
Biological sciences 78.7%
Accounting and finance 78.1%
Medicine 78%
Radiography 78%
Animal science 77.9%
Computer science 77.4%
Criminology 77.4%
Sociology 77.4%
Economics 77.2%
Drama, dance and cinematics 77.1%
English 76.1%
Business, management and marketing 75.6%
Anatomy and physiology 74.5%
Civil engineering 74.5%
Anthropology 74.4%
Communication and media studies 73.9%
Law 73.7%
Geography and environmental science 73.2%
Social policy 73.2%
Food science 72.7%
Psychology 72.7%
Subjects allied to medicine 70.8%
Education 69.9%
Music 69.2%
Creative writing 67.8%
Nursing 67.6%
Electrical and electronic engineering 66.6%
Building 65.2%
Hospitality, leisure, recreation and tourism 64.8%
Mechanical engineering 61.4%