The University

Our strengths

  • Committed to research excellence: Ranked 19th in REF 2014 for research quality by The Times, nine departments are ranked in the top 25: Politics ranked 1st, Economics 5th, Art History 10th, Sociology 12th, Sport 13th, Philosophy 14th, Law 17th, History 21st, Essex Business School 24th.
  • World leader in the social sciences: The REF 2014 results ranked the University in the top four of universities for social sciences in the UK. The University has ESRC-funded centres based in our Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER): the Research Centre on Micro-Social Change and the UK Longitudinal Studies Centre. ISER hosts Understanding Society, the UK longitudinal study of 40,000 households, which is the largest household panel survey in the world. The ESRC Business and Local Government Data Research Centre is based in Essex Business School. In addition the UK Data Archive is funded by the ESRC and is the UK's largest collection of digital research data in the social sciences and humanities, providing a unified point of access to data from ESDS, the Census Programme and Secure Data Service. The University also co-hosts the National Administrative Data Research Network. In addition the University hosts the ESRC-funded ‘Human Rights, Big Data and Technology’ £5 million project. The University is ranked first for receipt of funding from the ESRC. Reflecting our strengths in social science, Essex is the lead for the SeNSS ESRC Doctoral Training Centre and a partner in the Soc-B Social Biological Centre for Doctoral Training with UCL and Manchester. In addition the University is a Q-Step Affiliate supported by the Nuffield Foundation, the ESRC and HEFCE. The programme is designed to promote a step-change in quantitative undergraduate social science in the UK. In 2013 Her Majesty the Queen awarded the University of Essex a Regius Professorship in Political Science - one of only two universities to hold a Regius Professorship in the Social Sciences and one of the youngest universities to receive this honour. Through our Institute of Analytics and Data Science the University of Essex is at the cutting edge of advances in big data and holds the only UNESCO Chair in Analytics and Data Science in the World and has recently secured £22 million in research funding in this area.
  • Students at the centre of our thinking: In our 2015 QAA Higher Education Review (HER) we met all standards and were commended for our student focus, confirming our commitment to excellence in providing our students with high-quality learning, supported by strong extra-curricular opportunities. The 2016 National Student Survey (NSS) results placed Essex joint 8th out of all English mainstream universities and in the top 10 for the fourth year in a row. Alongside a prestigious Investors in People Gold Award in 2011, the University of Essex Students' Union was in an elite group of only ten students' unions to win an NUS Students' Union Evaluation Initiative Award for the quality of its services and in December 2011 it won the NUS/UK Council for International Students award for Democracy and Representation.
  • International outlook: Essex is one of the world’s most internationally diverse campus universities, with 40% of our students from outside the UK, representing 130 countries. We take pride in being globally recognised, being ranked 18th in the world for international outlook in the Times Higher Education's world rankings and the QS world rankings ranked Essex 25th for the most international student community, and 60th for the most international academic community in the world. Essex ranks 5th among UK universities for its international academic community.
  • Strong financial performance: with a turnover of £215m we are generating strong surpluses with a cash surplus of 5.5% each year.
  • Purpose and vision

    The purpose of the University is to contribute to society through excellence in education and research. Achieving excellence in both education and research and ensuring that all of our activities support these two equal priorities, lies at the heart of all that we do.

    Our commitment is to offer our students a transformational educational experience, encompassing both academic and the extra-curricular, which provides them with the opportunity to fulfil their potential as individuals. We are pioneering in that we believe our students are joint members of our living and learning community, with a responsibility for their own development as learners and globally engaged citizens. In tandem, University staff are committed to achieving excellence in education by providing intellectually stimulating programmes of study, that are research-led and which are based on creative approaches to learning and teaching that reflect our commitment to innovation in curriculum design and delivery.

    Our commitment to research that has global impact, informs all that we do. We have a broad spread of subjects covering humanities, science and health and social sciences. We have particular peaks of excellence in the social sciences and humanities and especially in interdisciplinary research, notably in human rights and quantitative social and economic research.

    We are proud of our track record of business engagement. Our commitment to this area has been consolidated by a £13m investment in our science and research park, the Knowledge Gateway (KG), 43 acres of parkland which is an integral part of our Colchester Campus. The Knowledge Gateway is being developed around three foci. Building on our world leading expertise in quantitative data, we are making significant investments in business focused data analytics having created an Institute of Analytics and Data Science which is based on KG. We have also opened a new £23m Business School on the Knowledge Gateway in the summer of 2015, with a remit to engage with small and medium sized businesses who can benefit from close links with our academic community, our research facilities and business development activities. We are also developing a centre of excellence in digital and the creative arts and have an award winning Games Hub which has helped establish five companies and supported 50 people to develop their game design and industry knowledge. The latest phase of our 20,000 square feet office village Parkside opened in the autumn of 2016. We are delighted to have 100% occupancy, with all tenants working with the University academic and students. Work has now started on our £10m 21,000 square foot Innovation Centre building at the heart of the Knowledge Gateway. This will support 50 student start-ups and small businesses establish themselves and it has a world class media and digital lab at its heart. Confident about demand two further phases of building office 50,000 square feet of office space are being planned. KG is routinely highlighted as a model for university-business interaction in the UK.

    In addition we have 1,000 students registered on University of Essex online degrees and have a wide range of courses offered through Kaplan in Singapore. We also have a strategic education and research partnership with Northwest University, Xi’an, China.

  • An Essex Education

    An Essex education is based on research-led teaching that is collaborative in nature and takes place in a supportive and well-resourced academic environment. We take our commitment to research-led teaching very seriously indeed and faculty are expected to be great researchers and great teachers; our curricula is regularly updated by the latest research; and our students not only learn from great researchers but undertake research themselves developing skills of critical enquiry, independent learning and intellectual creativity. Because our University is on a human scale, there is also a very strong sense of community and faculty and students join in a common search for answers to global challenges. We are constantly working to improve the quality of our teaching and learning.

    Our Education Strategy is an important vehicle for leading further enhancements to the type of research-led education that we offer. It focuses on how we will develop and support the four pillars of an Essex Education: a research mind-set and skills; a culture of membership; a global community and outlook; and the Essex spirit.

    Over recent years we have invested £6m in the flagship Ivor Crewe Lecture Hall, built a new media centre, specially equipped dance and drama studios and in 2012 opened the £5m Tony Rich Teaching Centre. In 2013 a new student village known as the Meadows opened at our Colchester Campus, with 650 new study bedrooms and additional student facilities. A £21m new student centre and library extension and a £23m Essex Business School building opened in the summer of 2015 alongside a new North Teaching Centre opened in 2016. We have ambitious plans for the further enhancement of our facilities with work underway on a £13.7m STEM teaching centre which will opening in 2018, a new 600 bed student village opening in 2018 and on-going refurbishment of our historic estate.

    The sports facilities at the Colchester campus are being enhanced with a £11m investment in four new tennis courts in an all-weather ‘bubble’, a new sports arena with capacity for 1,800 spectators, along with sports therapy facilities, classrooms and a rehabilitation area, a social space and bar. The University has three performance sports: volleyball, basketball and rugby sevens. In 2017 the women’s volleyball team won the BUCS National Trophy, in 2017 the Blades women’s basketball team won the Basketball England National Cup final and in 2018 the men’s basketball team won the BUCS National Trophy. The University has its own art gallery, three outstanding theatres and a Latin American art collection (ESCALA) unique to the northern hemisphere. These facilities help to make the Essex experience special for our staff and students.

    Essex also has a great reputation for the campus-based experience that we offer our students, providing opportunities for participation in a wide range of extra-curricular activities, engagement in an amazing range of student clubs and societies, and an extensive programme of student volunteering and sport. At Essex we are especially proud of our close working relationship with our award-winning Students’ Union, which plays a key role in enhancing the quality of our students’ experience.

  • Research

    In the most recent UK review of research quality (Research Excellence Framework, 2014) Essex was ranked 19th in the UK for the quality of our research by The Times, with 82.5% of eligible staff submitted and 78% of our research ranked as either 4* (world leading) or 3* (internationally excellent) in terms of originality, impact and rigour and 98% internationally recognised. Our concentration of world-class social science research has established Essex as a leading university for the social sciences.

    Our long-standing commitment to internationally excellent research is combined with a strategy that seeks to recruit the highest-calibre researchers, support our emerging research stars and build high quality collaborative partnerships with targeted institutions around the world. Our peaks of research excellence include:

    • analytics and data science
    • Molecular Biophysics Group and Molecular Medicine Group (Biological Sciences)
    • Centre for Brain Science (Psychology)
    • Human Rights (Law)
    • Autonomy (Philosophy)
    • Game Theory Group, Labour Economics Group and Econometrics Group (Economics)
    • International Relations and Conflict Resolution Group, Comparative Political Economy Group and Political Theory Group (Government)
    • Centre for Criminology, Centre for Economic Sociology and Innovation, and Migration Group (Sociology)

    The University leads the SeNSS ESRC doctoral training centre in the social sciences, is partner with UCL and Manchester in the Soc-B Social Biological Centre for Doctoral Training, is part of an AHRC doctoral training centre consortium of leading arts and humanities universities in the south east of England (CHASE). The University has two science doctoral training partnerships EnvEast DTP offers funding to doctoral students working on climate, marine and atmospheric systems; biodiversity, ecosystem services and sustainable development; and natural hazards; and the EPSRC funded Centre for Doctoral Training in Intelligent Games and Games Intelligence (IGGI) offers studentships in digital game research, design and development and artificial intelligence.

  • Alumni

    We want Essex graduates to stand up to be counted, challenge the status quo and go out into the world and make a difference. We now have 77,000 alumni and our graduates include former President of Costa Rica and Nobel Prize winner Óscar Arias, Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, the current speaker of the Bangladeshi Parliament and Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow. In the arts and media our alums include April de Angelis, Stephen Daldry, Mike Leigh, Daniel Libeskind, Ben Okri; Alison Steadman, Blake Harrison, Jenny Platt; and in academia Nobel Economics Prize winner Christopher Pissarides.