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Lancaster University
Motto Patet omnibus veritas ("Truth lies open to all")
Established 1964
Type Public
Chancellor Sir Chris Bonington
Vice-Chancellor Prof. Paul Wellings
Visitor Her Majesty The Queen
Staff 2,250
Students 17,410[1]
Undergraduates 13,855[1]
Postgraduates 3,555[1]
Location Lancaster, England, UK
Colours "Quaker Grey" and red

Affiliations 1994 Group
N8 Group
Universities UK
Lancaster University Arms.png

Lancaster University, officially The University of Lancaster[2], is a British university in Lancaster, Lancashire, England. Lancaster is the 16th highest ranking research institution in the United Kingdom according to the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise[3]. The University has an annual income of £149 million,[4] 2,250 staff and 17,415 students. Along with the universities of Durham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York, Lancaster forms the N8 Group of research universities. Lancaster was ranked 10th of 113 British universities in the 2008 Good University Guide.[5]

Lancaster is a collegiate university, with its main functions divided between three central faculties and nine colleges. In general, the faculties perform research and provide centralised lectures to students, while the colleges are responsible for the domestic arrangements and welfare of undergraduate students, graduate students, post-doctoral researchers and some University staff.




Following the Second World War the future of higher education became an important concern of the government as it tried to cope with the demands of an expanding population and the advent of a new technological age. Between 1958 and 1961, this balance was readdressed as 7 new plate glass universities were announced; one of these was the University of Lancaster.


University chaplaincy centre.

The University was established by Royal Charter in 1964. The Charter stipulated that HRH Princess Alexandra of Kent be the first Chancellor. She was inaugurated in 1964. The ceremony also saw the granting of various honorary degrees to dignitaries including Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Princess Alexandra served the University as Chancellor until retiring in 2004: she was the longest serving Chancellor of any British university.

The University accepted its first students in October 1964 and there were initially 13 professors, 32 additional members of teaching and research staff, 8 library staff and 14 administrators on academic grades. The motto, "patet omnibus veritas", which means "truth lies open to all", was adopted by the new university. The first Science students were admitted in 1965.

The University was temporarily based in the city after its establishment. A lecture theatre and the University's first JCR were based in Centenary Church, a former congregational church, opposite the old factory premises of Waring & Gillow, which were used to accommodate the new students. Many new students were housed in Morecambe. The Grand Theatre was leased as a main lecture room and 112 and 114 within the St Leonard's area became teaching and recreational rooms. The library occupied the old workshops of Shrigley and Hunt on Castle Hill.

List of Chancellors

List of Vice-Chancellors

  • Professor Sir Charles Carter (1964–1980)
  • Professor Philip Reynolds CBE (1980–1985)
  • Professor Harry Hanham (1985–1995)
  • Professor William Ritchie OBE (1995–2002)
  • Professor Paul Wellings PhD (since 2002)


Pendle College forecourt with Infolab21 in the background
Lonsdale College quadrangle (Looking towards the back of Lonsdale House)

All members of the University are members of a college.[6] Most colleges have about eight or nine hundred members and all on-campus accommodation is linked to a college.[6] The colleges are governed by a "syndicate". The syndicate structures vary, but all include a Principal, a Dean and assistant deans.

The University has eight undergraduate colleges,[6] seven of which are named after regions of the traditional county of Lancashire, with County College named after the Lancashire County Council which provided the funds. The University also has one post-graduate college:[6] established in 1992 it is simply named Graduate College. The original colleges are Bowland and Lonsdale.

The college buildings accommodate a number of academic departments, but are primarily social and accommodation facilities, each with its own bar and Junior Common Room. A selling-point of the University is that the colleges are more than mere halls of residence, offering a sense of community[6]. Lancaster's organisation differs from that of Oxford, Cambridge and Durham: while Lancaster's students are allocated a college after stating a preference, the latter three universities employ an application system by which a prospective undergraduate must apply directly to a specific college.

Chancellors Wharf

Chancellors Wharf (Looking towards Lune House)

Chancellors Wharf is the name of Lancaster University's off-campus accommodation for students. It consists of three buildings by the Lancaster canal on Aldcliffe Road. The location is near "The Water Witch" pub, B&Q, central bus routes, Lancaster Royal infirmary and the city centre. It is open to members of all of the University's colleges. Residents remain members of their various colleges, with Chancellors Wharf itself being only a hall of residence.[8]


The University is divided into three faculties:

  • The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences consisting of the School of Law (Lancaster University Law School) and the departments of Applied Social Science; Educational research; English and Creative Writing; European Languages and Cultures; History; Linguistics and English Language; Philosophy; Politics and International Relations; Religious Studies and Sociology, the Institutes for Cultural Research; for Health Research; for the Contemporary Arts (Art, Design, Music & Theatre Studies) and the Ruskin centre.
  • The Faculty of Science and Technology consisting of the departments of Biological Sciences; Communications Systems; Computing; Engineering; Lancaster Environment Centre (including Environmental Sciences; Geography; and Biology); Mathematics and Statistics; Natural Sciences; Physics; Psychology and the School of Health and Medicine.
  • The Faculty of Management is a single school faculty (Lancaster University Management School) consisting of the departments of Accounting and Finance; Economics; Management Learning and Leadership; Management Science; Marketing and Organisation, Work and Technology; the Institute for Entrepreneurship & Enterprise Development and the centres for e-Science; for Excellence in Leadership (CEL); for the Study of Technology & Organisation (CSTO); International Centre for Research in Accounting (ICRA); Lancaster Centre for Forecasting (LCF); Lancaster Centre for Strategic Management; Lancaster China Management Centre (LCMC); Lancaster Leadership Centre (LLC), Health Leadership Centre (HLC) and Centre for Performance-Led HR (CPHR).



Bowland Tower

The purpose-built campus occupies Bailrigg, a 200-acre (0.312 sq mi; 0.809 km2) site donated by Lancaster City Council in 1963.[9] The campus buildings are located on a hilltop, the lower slopes of which are landscaped parkland which includes the "Carter Lake" duckpond and the university playing fields. The site is located three miles (5 km) south of the city centre. The campus buildings are arranged around a central walkway known as "The Spine".[10] The walkway runs from north to south and is covered for most of its length. The main architect was Gabriel Epstein of Shepeard and Epstein.[9] In contrast to some of the other campus universities, Bailrigg was designed to integrate social, residential and teaching areas. Another major feature of the design was that there would not be a large central Students' Union building, but that the individual colleges would be the centre of social and recreational facilities.[11] Vehicular and pedestrian traffic is separated: this is achieved by restricting motor vehicles to a peripheral road with a linking underpass running east-west beneath Alexandra Square. The underpass accommodates the Bailrigg bus station. Car parking is arranged in cul-de-sacs running off the peripheral road.

Construction of the Bailrigg campus began in November 1965, with the first building being completed a year later. The first on-campus student residences opened in 1968.[9] Alexandra Square is the University's main plaza. Named after the first chancellor, HRH Princess Alexandra, it is situated at the centre of the original campus and contains the library in the southwest corner, designed in 1964 by Tom Mellor and Partners, the first phase opening in September 1966, the second in July 1968 and the third in January 1971.[12] The library was extended in 1997 and in 1998 the Ruskin Library designed by Sir Richard MacCormac was opened. On the west side of the square is University House as well as various banks and shops. To the southeast of the square is the tallest building on campus: the fourteen storey Bowland Tower, which contains accommodation and disguises the boiler room chimney. One of the most distinctive of the Bailrigg buildings is the free-standing University Chaplaincy Centre. Opened on 2 May 1969, the architects were the Preston-based firm Cassidy & Ashton. The building has a trefoil plan with a central spire where the three circles meet. The University's logo is based on the spire. A plan existed to have a twin campus with another eight colleges to the east of the M6 motorway at Hazelrigg. this would have been linked to Bailrigg by a flyover. The plan was abandoned during the 1970s and the land sold during a period of financial difficulties.

Major projects

New accommodation blocks for Furness and Fylde colleges, on the east side of campus, were completed in September 2006, while the near complete rebuilding of Grizedale College and construction of further accommodation for The County College at the northern edge of campus was completed in Summer 2008. Phase 5 of the residence plan began with the refurbishment of the County Main building in early 2008. The aim of Phase 5 is to regenerate older accommodation in the University and will continue into 2009 with the refurbishment of much of Bowland College. The Lancaster University Masterplan 2007–2017[13] envisions improved access across the University with enhanced greenery and the construction of 27 new buildings, which will be largely for academic use. It will cost an estimated £450 million and construction has already started on the Information System Services building. In the academic year 2008–2009 work will begin on a new Management School building, new social space for Grizedale College and a £21 million sports centre.

Southwest Campus

The University began expansion onto the lower slopes of Bailrigg with the development of new buildings for Graduate College in 1998. The is now part of "Southwest Campus". Development continued with the construction of "InfoLab 21" and "Alexandra Park" which now houses Lonsdale College, Cartmel College and the en-suite rooms of Pendle College.

The decision to expand onto what is now known as Southwest Campus was met with some protest for various reasons. Some of the complaints against the expansion were that it would drive up accommodation prices, both on and off campus.[citation needed] The site was a greenfield site, with residents of nearby Galgate being worried about "the impact of the new buildings",[citation needed] flooding of the local area due to increased run-off from the site and increased traffic flow on the A6 and other local roads. The development of InfoLab 21 also met objections with the proposed building being described as a "Dalek factory".[14] Another concern related to the limited amount of new social space.[citation needed] The older accommodation sometimes consisted of approximately 15 students sharing communal bathrooms and kitchens. The communal kitchens were often a source of social interaction, while the new en-suite areas have fewer students per kitchen, and private bathrooms.


The Bailrigg campus hosts a range of shops and services. Services on campus include Bailrigg post office, Barclays Bank, NatWest Bank, UNI TRAVEL (a travel agent which sells rail and bus tickets), a health centre, a pharmacy and a dental practice. Shops on campus include a SPAR supermarket, LUSU Shop, LUSU Central (a small supermarket), a charity shop, the proceeds of which go to Cancer Care and St. Johns Hospice, Waterstone's bookshop, a newsagent, and a florist.

Cultural venues

Outside the Jack Hylton music rooms.

The Peter Scott Gallery is open to the public free of charge. The Gallery is located on the Bailrigg campus and houses the University's international art collection, which includes Japanese and Chinese art, antiquities, works by twentieth century British artists including works by artists from the St Ives School, Sir Terry Frost, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Barbara Hepworth and William Scott. Among other British artists whose work is represented are Norman Adams, Patrick Caulfield, Elizabeth Frink, Kenneth Martin and Winifred Nicholson. Within the last fifteen years works by Andy Goldsworthy, Peter Howson and Albert Irvin have been acquired. The university collection also includes prints by significant European artists such as Dürer, Miró, Ernst and Vasarely.

The Nuffield Theatre is a black-box theatre located at the north end of the campus.

The Ruskin Library

The Ruskin Library houses archive material related to the poet, author and artist John Ruskin. It is open to the public, although only a small part of the collection is on public display at once. The building was constructed in 1997 by architect Richard MacCormac. The Whitehouse Collection housed in the Ruskin Library is the largest holding of books, manuscripts, photographs, drawings and watercolours by and related to John Ruskin in the world.

The University's Great Hall is situated at the far north end of the campus.

Clubs and societies

There are many different clubs and societies operating within the University of Lancaster. Common areas include sports, hobbies, politics and religion. There are several fairs during the freshers period in which various clubs and societies promote themselves.

Bailrigg FM is the student radio station and Lancaster University Cinema is the student union's on-campus cinema, based in Bowland College Lecture Theatre.


Every summer term the students take part in the Roses Tournament against the University of York. The venue of the event alternates annually between Lancaster and York. As of 2009, York has won the tournament 23 times to Lancaster's 21, with one tie. Other sporting activities are focused on inter-college competition rather than on national leagues. The colleges compete for the Carter Shield and the George Wyatt Cup. In 2004 the Founder's Trophy was played for the first time between the University's two founding colleges, Bowland and Lonsdale. The University also has a representitve club , Furness Rovers, in division 2 of the North Lancashire and District Football League.

Religious Groups

There are also a range of religious based societies within the University. Lancaster University Chaplaincy Centre is located at the north end of campus and the mosque and Islamic Prayer Room, also open to non-Muslims, is located near InfoLab21. There are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Bahá'í and Pagan societies which hold regular events and meetings.

Lancaster University Students' Union

Lancaster University Students' Union ("LUSU") is the representative body of students at the University of Lancaster. Unusually, there is no main Union building - instead the Union is organised through the eight college JCRs, each of which has its own social venues and meeting spaces. The Union is, however, allocated an administration building by the University. Scan is the Students' Union newspaper. LUSU owns a nightclub in Lancaster called The Sugarhouse, operates two shops on the campus on LUSU Shop and LUSU Central and also an off campus housing agency LUSU Housing

School of Health and Medicine

The Centre for Medical Education was established as the co-ordinating unit for all medical and health-related activity across the University. It has since been developed into the School of Health and Medicine and is home to a collaborative venture with The University of Liverpool, the University of Central Lancashire and the University of Cumbria to establish undergraduate medical education in North Lancashire and Cumbria.

The University admits approximately fifty undergraduate medical students per academic year, on study for a MBChB degree which is accredited by the University of Liverpool, though students receive all of their education in Cumbria and North Lancashire.[15]

Notable academics

Notable alumni

College is shown in parentheses, where known.

Reputation and rankings

In April 2008, Lancaster was ranked 10th in the UK in The Independent Good University Guide 2009.[22] In 2007, The Sunday Times named Lancaster the top university in the north-west of England.[23] Lancaster is also currently top in the North-West of England in The Independent, The Guardian and The Times university guides. Lancaster University Management School is, along with London Business School one of only two 6* Management Schools in the UK.


UK University Rankings
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993
Times Good University Guide 23rd[24] 19th 27th[25] 21st[26] 30th 24th[27] 21st[28] 21st 23rd[29] 19th 19th 14th 16th 12th 17th= 21st 28th= 37th=
Guardian University Guide 16th[30] 12th[31] 23rd[32] 34th 34th[33] 58th 51st [34] 18th[35] 19th[28][36] 8th[29]
Sunday Times University Guide 19th 18th[37] 18th[37] 21st[38] 28th[38] 24th 27th[39] 15th[39] 17th[39] 14th[39] 19th[39] 15th[39]
The Independent / Complete 12th[40] 10th[41] 19th[41]
The Daily Telegraph 19th 10th[42] 12th=[36]
FT 25th 26th[43] 27th[44] 28rd[45]



The Visitor of the University of Lancaster is Her Majesty The Queen. The Visitor is the final arbiter of any dispute within the University, except in those areas where legislation has removed this to the law courts or other ombudsmen. Student complaints and appeals were heard by the Visitor until the Higher Education Act 2004 came into force.[46] All student complaints are now heard by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education.


The Council is the governing body of the University, constituting of mainly lay members along with representatives of staff and students. It is responsible for the proper management and financial solvency of the University, with major policy decisions and corporate strategy being subject to its approval.


The Senate is the principal academic authority of the University. It oversees academic management and sets strategy and priorities, including the curriculum and maintenance of standards.

George Fox Six controversy

The "George Fox Six" were six members of the local community, including University students, who were prosecuted for aggravated trespass during a corporate venturing meeting at the University in September 2004. Speakers at the conference were drawn from one of the largest companies in the North West. The protesters criticised these companies for involvement in the arms trade and the abuse of human rights and the environment. The six protesters entered a lecture theatre in the University's George Fox building and their supporters say this was to hand out leaflets and engage delegates of the conference. The University says their aim was to aggressively disrupt the conference. On 30 September 2005, the six were found guilty of Aggravated Trespass: specifically of intending to disrupt the conference and were ordered to each pay £300 costs and were given a 2 year conditional discharge.

In The Media

The History Man

In 1980, the BBC's four part mini-series adaption of Malcolm Bradbury's novel, The History Man, was filmed at the university, masquerading as the fictional University of Watermouth. It had long been rumoured that the events of the book were based in part on activities at the University of Lancaster, although the University of Sussex has also been cited as a possible basis.


  1. ^ a b c "Table 0a - All students by institution, mode of study, level of study, gender and domicile 2006/07" (Microsoft Excel spreadsheet). Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 2008-04-10. 
  2. ^ "Charter, Statutes and Ordinances of the University of Lancaster" (Microsoft Word document). Retrieved 2009-07-28. 
  3. ^ LSE beats Oxford and Cambridge to become best research centre
  4. ^ Anon. "University of Lancaster Annual Report" (PDF). University of Lancaster. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  5. ^ "League table of UK universities - The Complete University Guide". The Complete University Guide. 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-14. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Anon. "University of Lancaster - Colleges". University of Lancaster. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  7. ^ History of County College
  8. ^ Chancellors Wharf
  9. ^ a b c page 115, Building the New Universities, Tony Birks 1972
  10. ^ "The Spine". History of Lancaster University. Lancaster University. May 2002. Retrieved 2008-06-14. 
  11. ^ page 120, Building the New Universities, Tony Birks 1972
  12. ^ The Library Building: University of Lancaster 1972
  13. ^ "Lancaster University Infrastructure Masterplan" ((PDF)). Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  14. ^ Booth, Steve (2002-09-27). "Greenfield Development Planned From Lancaster to the University". Virtual Lancaster. Retrieved 2008-06-14. 
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ a b c d "Some recent publications by past and present students of Creative Writing at Lancaster University". Dept of English and Creative Writing, Lancaster University. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  20. ^ "Sarah Myerscough (Artist) - Timeline". Retrieved 2009-08-12. 
  21. ^ University page of notable alumni
  22. ^ "". 
  23. ^ Anon. "University Rankings". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  24. ^ "The Times Good University Guide 2010". The Times. Retrieved 17 March 2010. 
  25. ^ "The Times Good University Guide 2008". The Times. 
  26. ^ "The Times Good University Guide 2007 - Top Universities 2007 League Table". The Times.,,102571,00.html. 
  27. ^ "The Times Top Universities". The Times.,,32607,00.html. 
  28. ^ a b "University league table". The Daily Telegraph. 
  29. ^ a b "Lancaster 8th in Guardian league table". Lancaster University Press Office. 2001-05-31. Retrieved 2008-06-14. 
  30. ^ "University guide 2010: University league table". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 March 2010. 
  31. ^ "University ranking by institution". The Guardian. 
  32. ^ "University ranking by institution". The Guardian. 
  33. ^ "University ranking by institution". The Guardian. 
  34. ^ "University ranking by institution". The Guardian.,,1222167,00.html?start=50&index=2&index=2. 
  35. ^ "University ranking by institution". The Guardian 2003 (University Guide 2004).,,-4668575,00.html. 
  36. ^ a b "The 2002 ranking - From Warwick". Warwick Uni 2002. 
  37. ^ a b "The Sunday Times Good University Guide League Tables". The Sunday Times. 
  38. ^ a b "The Sunday Times University League Table" (PDF). The Sunday Times. 
  39. ^ a b c d e f "University ranking based on performance over 10 years" (PDF). Times Online. 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-28. 
  40. ^ "The Independent University League Table". The Independent. 
  41. ^ a b "The Independent University League Table". The Independent. 
  42. ^ "The FT 2003 University ranking". Financial Times 2003. 
  43. ^ "FT league table 2001". FT league tables 2001. 
  44. ^ "FT league table 1999-2000". FT league tables 1999-2000. 
  45. ^ "FT league table 2000". FT league tables 2000. 
  46. ^ Section 20 of the Higher Education Act 2004


External links

Coordinates: 54°00′37″N 2°47′08″W / 54.01028°N 2.78556°W / 54.01028; -2.78556

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