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Goldsmiths College

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Goldsmiths College

"Goldsmiths" redirects here. For other uses, see Goldsmith (disambiguation).

Goldsmiths, University of London
File:Goldsmiths Crest.png
Established 1904, Constituent College of University of London
1891 – Goldsmiths' Technical and Recreative Institute
Type Public
Endowment £60m[1]
Chancellor HRH The Princess Royal (University of London)
Warden Pat Loughrey
Students 10,147[2]
Undergraduates 5,449[2]
Postgraduates 4,698[2]
Location London, United Kingdom
Campus Campus
Affiliations University of London
Association of Commonwealth Universities
1994 Group

Goldsmiths, University of London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom, which specialises in the arts, designs, humanities, and social sciences, and a constituent college of the federal University of London. It was founded in 1891 as Goldsmiths' Technical and Recreative Institute by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in New Cross, London. It was acquired by the University of London in 1904 and was renamed Goldsmiths' College. The word College was dropped from its branding in 2006, but "Goldsmiths' College", with the apostrophe, remains the institution's formal legal name.[3]

The university has a distinguished history of contributing to arts and sciences. Its Department of Art is widely recognised as one of Britain's most prestigious, producing the YBA's art collective and over 20 Turner Prize nominees. Goldsmiths is also famous for design, psychology, drama, sociology, music, media and cultural studies, languages and literature, visual cultures, anthropology and educational studies.

Nearly 20% of students come from countries outside the UK, and 52% of all undergraduates are mature students (aged 21 or over at the start of their studies). Around a third of students at Goldsmiths are postgraduate students.

A member of the 1994 Group of smaller, research oriented universities, in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise Goldsmiths came 9th in the UK for world-leading research (shown by the top 4* grade). The Department of Sociology performed particularly strongly, and was placed joint first with three other institutions. And in the Department of Media and Communications 80% of activity was in the highest two bands.


In 1891, the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, one of the City of London Livery Companies, founded Goldsmiths' Technical and Recreative Institute (more commonly referred to simply as the "Goldsmiths' Institute"[4]). The Goldsmiths' Company was established in the 12th-century as a medieval guild for goldsmiths, silversmiths and jewellers; as such, the university is proud to remain connected with its original educational roots. The Livery Company dedicated the foundation of its new Institute to "the promotion of technical skill, knowledge, health and general well-being among men and women of the industrial, working and artisan classes". The original Institute was based in New Cross at the former Royal Naval School building. (This building, which was designed by the architect John Shaw Jr, is now known as the Richard Hoggart Building and remains the main building of the campus today.)

In 1904, the Institute was merged with the University of London and was re-established as Goldsmiths' College. (The apostrophe was removed in a rebranding in 2006). At this point Goldsmiths' was the largest teacher training institution in the country. Training functions were later expanded to include refresher courses for teachers, the University Postgraduate Certificate in Education and an Art teacher's Certificate course. The College also ran its own Nursery School. Shortly after the merger, in 1907, Goldsmiths added a new Arts building, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield, at the back of the main building. During the Second World War it was decided to evacuate the faculty and students of the College to University College, Nottingham, a decision which proved wise both at the time and in hindsight, since the main building was struck by an incendiary bomb and gutted in 1940 (and not finally repaired until 1947).

During the 1960s Goldsmiths attracted a rapid expansion in its number of students. It is during this period that Goldsmiths began to establish its reputation in the arts and social science fields, as well as offering a number of new teacher training qualifications. The original main building was expanded, and the Lockwood Building, Whitehead Building, Education Building, Warmington Tower and St James's Hall were all built during this period in order to accommodate the influx of new students. The university also acquired a number of historic buildings in the surrounding area, including the splendid former Deptford Town Hall and Laurie Grove Baths buildings. The Richard Hoggart Building, Deptford Town Hall and the Laurie Grove Baths all retain Grade II listed building status.

In 1988, Goldsmiths became a full College of the University of London and in 1990 received its Royal Charter. Among its wardens have been Richard Hoggart, Professor Andrew Rutherford and Ben Pimlott. The current Warden is Pat Loughrey.[5]

Between October and December 2010, Goldsmiths was "occupied" three times, by students protesting proposed increased in tuition fees and government cuts to higher education budgets.

The first occupation, of the Deptford Town Hall building, helped initiate a series of occupations across other UK universities. In the aftermath of the twenty-four-hour occupation, the Goldsmiths' Senior Management Team (SMT) informed the Student Union that due to the immense damages caused, further occupational protest action would result in the retroactive imposition of a £15,000 charge taken from the following year's budget, in order to pay for the damage that the students had caused. The SU has suggested that this constitutes blackmail.[6]

Since the Deptford Town Hall incident, two further occupational protest actions have taken place in Goldsmiths. Both occurred in the library and have sought from the SMT a public condemnation of fees and cuts in Higher Education.[7] The SMT are yet to present a position either on increased tuition fees or on the proposed 100% cut to the Humanities and Social Sciences teaching grant.[8]

Campus and location

Goldsmiths is situated in New Cross, a highly populated area of south-east London with a considerable art and music scene. The area is not well served by London Underground, but is serviced by London Overground trains at New Cross and New Cross Gate. These former East London Line stations were integrated into the London Overground network in May 2010 with services northbound to Highbury and Islington; and southbound to Crystal Palace and West Croydon from New Cross Gate only. National Rail services still run from both New Cross and New Cross Gate stations to central London termini (i.e. London Bridge, Cannon Street and Charing Cross).

The main building, the Richard Hoggart Building, was originally designed as a school (opened in 1844) by the architect John Shaw, Jr (1803–1870). In addition to this Goldsmiths has built several more modern buildings to develop the campus, including the RIBA award-winning Rutherford Building completed in 1997, the Ben Pimlott Building designed by Will Alsop and completed in 2005, and the New Academic Building which was completed in 2010.

The library, or the Rutherford Building, has three floors and gives students access to an extensive range of printed and electronic resources. The third-floor library is believed to house the largest collection of audio-visual material in the UK. Goldsmiths' students, like all other students in the University of London, have full access to the collections at Senate House Library at Bloomsbury in central London.

The £10.2m, seven-storey Ben Pimlott Building on New Cross Road, complete with its distinctive "scribble in the sky" (made from 229 separate pieces of metal) has become a signature of modern Goldsmiths. It contains studio and teaching space for the Department of Art, as well as housing the Goldsmiths Digital Studios[9] and the Centre for Cognition, Computation and Culture.[10]

The New Academic Building, situated next to the green, is now home to the Media and Communications department and the Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship (ICCE).[11] Facilities include a new 250-seat lecture theatre, seminar and teaching rooms, as well as a cafe with outdoor seating.

Research and teaching

Faculties and departments

Goldsmiths is best known for courses and research relating to creativity and culture, and has a reputation for producing visual artists, particularly those collectively known as YBA. Its Art Department is widely recognised as one of Britain's most prestigious and culturally important, producing the YBA's art collective, 29 Turner Prize nominees, and 6 winners. This reputation was largely established by the influence of Michael Craig-Martin, Richard Wentworth, Jon Thompson, Anton Ehrenzweig and Nick De Ville as teaching staff. Alumni of the Department of Art include Mark Wallinger, Damien Hirst, Antony Gormley, Sam Taylor-Wood, Lucian Freud, Mary Quant, Bridget Riley, Sarah Lucas, Gary Hume, Steve McQueen, and Gillian Wearing.

Goldsmiths Visual Cultures Department continues to be innovative in dramatically expanding what might constitute the field of the visual and how we might engage with it. Key figures in the team include Irit Rogoff, Gavin Butt, Eyal Weizman and Kodwo Eshun.

Goldsmiths' Sociology Department has been extremely important in the recent development of the discipline in the UK and internationally, with leading sociologists such as Paul Gilroy, Bev Skeggs, Nikolas Rose, Celia Lury, Les Back, Kate Nash and Jeffrey Alexander, working in the department in recent years.

The Department of Design's unique and comprehensive approach to design practice grew from a concern for ethical and environmentalist design. This developed alongside research by John Wood, and others, which informs their research into metadesign. TERU, the Technology Education Research Unit, has been instrumental in understanding how design & technology works in schools, how to encourage learners towards creative interventions that improve the made world, and how to help teachers to support that process. The Writing Purposefully in Art and Design Network (Writing-PAD) has its main Centre at Goldsmiths. The Network now spans some 70 institutions across the art and design sector with 6 national and 2 International Writing PAD Centres.

Goldsmiths is well known for cultural studies. The Media and Communications Department, as well as the Centre for Cultural Studies, iincludes some of the leading scholars in this field including James Curran, Scott Lash, Angela McRobbie, Sara Ahmed, Nick Couldry, Aeron Davis, John Hutnyk, Sanjay Seth, and David Morley. Goldsmiths is consistently highly-ranked by The Good University Guide as the top London education institute for the study of media, communications, music and visual arts.

The Department of Anthropology at Goldsmiths is considered to be one of the best in Europe. On the teaching staff are figures such as Stephen Nugent, Sophie Day, Catherine Alexander, Keith Hart and David Graeber, whose contract at Yale was not renewed in 2005 because of his political commitments. The Goldsmiths Anthropology Department is also well known for its focus on visual anthropology. The realm of continental philosophy is represented with academics such as Saul Newman, Alexander Düttmann and Jean Paul Martinon as well as Visiting Professors Andrew Benjamin and Bernard Stiegler. In the area of Psychology there is Chris French a vocal sceptic of the paranormal.

The English & Comparative Literature Department is one of the university's largest, and it covers English, comparative literature, American literature, creative writing and linguistics. Current academics include Bart Moore-Gilbert, Blake Morrison, Chris Baldick, Uttara Natarajan and Peter Dunwoodie. Its work in comparative literature developed after a welcome merger with the Department of European Languages, later joined by its highly successful Creative Writing section.

The Department of Music has a number of distinguished alumni, including Malcolm McLaren, Katy B, James Blake and John Cale. The Research Centre for Russian Music, director Alexander Ivashkin, is internationally renowned for its archives devoted to Prokofiev and Schnittke, and unique collections including of music by Stravinsky, and Russian Piano Music first editions.

The Department of Educational Studies is well known for research and teaching around themes of cultural diversity, language and learning, and art and learning. Its leading researchers include Dennis Atkinson, Eve Gregory, Rosalyn George, Ken Jones and Carrie Paechter. It teaches undergraduate, masters and doctoral courses, and is home to a large programme of initial teacher education (primary and secondary), based on partnership arrangements with over 1500 schools and colleges.


(2013/14, national)
(2014, national)
The Guardian[14]
(2014, national)
Times/Sunday Times[15]
(2014, national)

League tables based on the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise all place Goldsmiths within the top 35 research-intensive universities in the UK: 33rd in the Times Higher Education, 34th in The Guardian and 24th in The Independent. The 2008 RAE placed Goldsmiths 9th in the UK overall for the world-leading quality of its research.

In the University guide 2011 by The Guardian, the Anthropology Department of Goldsmiths was ranked as 3rd in UK, following Oxford and Cambridge.[16]

Student life

Students' Union

The university provides, among other things, catering facilities, a chaplaincy, a medical clinic, an advice service on academic and welfare issues, and a state of the art gym for students' use.[17] Its Students' Union has taken an increasingly activist stance in recent years, campaigning on issues such as government cuts to university arts and humanities budgets, tuition fee rises, and advocacy around the occupation of Palestine. In 2010/11 the Union ran a successful "Save the Nursery" campaign, after the Warden announced plans to close the Goldsmiths nursery services.

The Students' Union "Stretch" Bar, which links across Dixon Road from the Richard Hoggart Building, hosts numerous entertainment events including Quidz pub quiz on Mondays, Open Mic Night, Film Club Night where a themed film serial is aired in the huge pull down screen in the SU, and the 'Club Sandwich' club night open between 10 pm and 3 am on Wednesdays. The SU also provides a walk-home and special night bus service for students who live in the borough. The Stretch has several 40 inch High Definition LCD screens, and shows the latest music videos and news, football is also shown on some nights. In 2011, for Election night, the SU was fitted with an extra LCD screen downstairs on the bottom floor of the SU Building and brand new red lights across the SU. Goldsmiths also rents out the Stretch on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for shows by local and international groups. Famously, alternative rock band Blur formed at Goldsmiths, (guitarist Graham Coxon studied Art whilst bassist Alex James studied French), and played their first ever gig at the Goldsmiths Student Union bar in 1989. The band returned for a "homecoming" gig as part of their reunion shows in summer 2009.[18]

The second floor bar in the Union building was closed in 2008, renovated, and reopened as a cafe (under the management of local independent coffee shop 'Cafe Crema'), complete with large exhibition space displaying students' work and that of various university societies. The Union is also proud to provide student representation[19] and runs both a student magazine (Smiths[20]), The Leopard newspaper,[21] and a radio station broadcast online and locally by FM (Wired[22]). All Goldsmiths students automatically become members of the National Union of Students on enrolling, thus can make use of the facilities of the University of London Union too.

Sports, clubs and traditions

Sports teams and societies are organised by the Goldsmiths Students' Union. The Union runs 18 sports clubs, 11 of which compete in either University of London Union or BUCS leagues. In May 2011 Goldsmiths won the Arts Varsity Challenge Cup against University of the Arts London (UAL), for the third year running.

The Students' Union runs 35 societies, ranging from political societies and identity-based societies (for example the Jewish society and the LGBT society) to interest-based societies (the Film Society and the on-campus radio station Wired are the two largest Societies) and more. An amateur opera company based in the university, Opera Gold, draws its cast from Goldsmiths members past and present.

Goldsmiths regularly features in lists compiled by the Brand Council of the UK as one of the world's "Coolest Brands",[23] something which the Warden and Fellows like to play down.

Student housing

The university owns 7 halls of residence which offer accommodation for students:

  • Batavia Mews
  • Chesterman House
  • Dean House
  • Loring Hall
  • Surrey House
  • Surrey House Annexe
  • Raymont Hall

Several of the halls include electricity bills and gas bills as part of rent. Free internet is also offered in some of the halls. Visiting international students are generally assigned accommodation in Loring Hall, Dean House or Chesterman House. Loring Hall currently holds around 400 students.

Notable alumni

Main article: List of Goldsmiths alumni

Goldsmiths' alumni have been influential in the fields of art, design, visual arts, film, journalism, literature, theatre, music, politics, history, and sport.

See also


External links

  • The official Goldsmiths website
  • The official Goldsmiths Students' Union website
  • 'Smiths' magazine website
  • 'The Leopard' newspaper website
  • Goldsmiths, University of London lists of students
  • Goldsmiths, University of London military personnel,1914–1918
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