10 of the best UK universities by the sea | Top Universities

10 of the best UK universities by the sea

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Sabrina Collier

Updated Nov 03, 2022



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If you do like to be beside the seaside and have dreams of lying on a sunny (or not-so sunny – after all, this is the UK we’re talking about) beach while studying, then a coastal university is the obvious study destination. Here are 10 of our favourite UK universities by the sea (find out more about studying in the UK by downloading our free guide).

1. University of Aberdeen


Founded in 1495, the University of Aberdeen in north-east Scotland has a large international community of around 14,500 students from 130 different countries. The university has an excellent reputation for teaching quality and research, and has been associated with five Nobel Prize winners over the years. The university’s Marischal College building is one of the most iconic in the city, which also boasts a long sandy beach and a popular coastal trail for walkers.

2. Bournemouth University


Located on the south coast of the UK, Bournemouth University is particularly renowned for its media courses and programs dedicated to niche subjects such as food marketing and forensic archaeology. Students at Bournemouth University get to enjoy a blend of a traditional British seaside resort with a busy and thriving town. The town is close to several areas of natural beauty and interest, including the New Forest and the Jurassic Coast, making it easy to take a peaceful break when you want to get away from it all.

3. Aberystwyth University


Founded in 1872, Aberystwyth University is known for having established the world’s first official department for international politics in 1919, following World War I. Nestled on the west coast of Wales, looking straight out at the Irish Sea, the town is small but lively, thanks to its student population and good social and music scenes. It’s beautifully presented, with a Victorian promenade and a shingle beach. Magnificent views from the top of Constitution Hill can be enjoyed either on foot or by taking the Victorian funicular railway, one of the longest of its kind in the British Isles. 

4. Ulster University


Large, diverse and modern, Ulster University has four campuses across Northern Ireland, as well as two new ones in England. Coleraine, the university's administrative headquarters, has an excellent selection of local beaches, coastline and hills, providing great opportunities to get outside and explore. Jordanstown also features a beach and seafront park area known as Loughshore Park, which hosts various events throughout the year. 

5. University of St Andrews

St Andrews

The University of St Andrews is Scotland’s oldest university, founded in 1413, and also the third oldest in the UK. It is also one of the most prestigious and historic UK universities, and can also make a strong claim to be one of the most attractive. Its elegant, ivy-clad buildings and delightful courtyards have seen a procession of famous alumni, including Prince William, and students here can also enjoy two fantastic beaches, East Sands and West Sands. The latter is particularly notable, offering almost two miles of uninterrupted sand, backed with dunes and the town’s world-famous golf course.

6. University of Essex


The University of Essex in south-east England consists of three campuses (Colchester, Loughton and Southend-on-Sea) making up a supportive and diverse community, with a strong and innovative global outlook. If you study at Southend, you’ll enjoy an attractive seaside resort town with a growing campus which is the location for the university’s business school, acting school and departments of health and human sciences and psychoanalytic studies. The town also lays claim to having the longest pleasure pier in the world, stretching 1.33 miles (2.14 km) from the shore.

7. University of Edinburgh


Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is a historic, cosmopolitan and culture-packed city that offers a unique living and learning experience. The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1582, has famous alumni including Charles Darwin, Alexander Graham Bell and three UK prime ministers. There are several long sandy beaches here, while the city’s skyline is dominated by a striking medieval castle dating back to the 12th century. Edinburgh is well known for its annual Fringe Festival, the world's largest arts festival, while you may also fancy visiting the extinct volcano Arthur’s Seat.

8. University of Southampton


The University of Southampton is a research-intensive university on the south coast. It offers a thriving and diverse international community, welcoming around 6,500 international students every year. Bournemouth, with its extensive beach, is just a short journey away, while the Ocean Village Marina provides plenty of things to see and do, including many restaurants and bars, two cinemas, great sailing facilities and lovely views.

9. Cardiff University


Cardiff University offers easy access to nearby beaches such as Penarth, and there are plenty of things to do, with many attractions at Cardiff Bay. Sports fans will feel right at home in Cardiff, with extensive sports facilities at the university and major sporting venues such as the Millennium Stadium.

10. University of Sussex


Located on the south coast of England, Brighton is the most popular UK seaside destination for overseas tourists. The University of Sussex is located nearby, with many students living in the centre of Brighton. The city is known for its diverse community and culture, including a large LGBT population and a large music and arts scene. The Brighton Marina is also bursting with things to do, so you’ll never be bored outside of studying hours.

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