Sussex university

University of Sussex
Latin: Vacate et scire
Motto Be still and know
Established 1961
Type Public
Endowment £4.58m[1]
Chancellor Sanjeev Bhaskar
Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Farthing
Visitor The Lord President of the Council ex officio
Academic staff 830[2]
Admin. staff 2120[2]
Students 12,445 (as of 2008)[dated info][3]
Undergraduates 9,275[dated info][3]
Postgraduates 3,175[dated info][3]
Location Falmer, East Sussex, England, United Kingdom
Colours White and Teal            
Nickname Sussex Uni
Affiliations 1994 Group

The University of Sussex is a public research university situated on a large and open green field site amid the Sussex Weald in East Sussex. It is located on the edge of the city of Brighton and Hove, itself an historic seaside resort town on the English Channel.[4] Taking its name from the historic county of Sussex, the university received its Royal Charter in August 1961.[5] The university was shortlisted for 'University of the Year' in the 2011 Times Higher Education Awards.[6] Sussex is a founding member of the 1994 Group of research-intensive universities promoting excellence in research and teaching.

Sussex is a research-intensive university. It counts three Nobel Prize winners, 14 Fellows of the Royal Society, six Fellows of the British Academy and a winner of the prestigious Crafoord Prize among its faculty. In the UK's most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), 18 departments were ranked in the UK's top 20, with over 90% of research activity rated as 'world-leading', 'internationally excellent' or 'internationally recognised'. The quality of research is reflected in the funding Sussex receives from industry, research agencies, and government, which represents around 20% of the income. Sussex also has important academic partnerships with, for example, American Express and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The university is highly placed in UK, European, and global rankings.[7][8][9] The university is currently ranked 11th in the UK, 31st in Europe, and 99th in the world by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.[10][11] The Guardian university guide 2013 placed Sussex joint 27th,[12] and the Times Good University Guide 2012 ranks Sussex 14th. The 2012/13 Academic Ranking of World Universities placed The University within the top 14 in the United Kingdom and in the top 150 internationally.[13]

Since the university was founded it has maintained a strong commitment to engage with the world and have a diverse student body. Sussex receives students from 120 countries and maintains links with research universities including Harvard University, Yale University, Georgetown University, University of California at Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania, Paris-Sorbonne University, and University of Toronto.


20th century

In an effort to establish a university to serve Brighton, a public meeting was held in December 1911 at the Royal Pavilion in order to discover ways to fund the construction of a university; the project was halted by World War I, and the money raised was used instead for books for the Municipal Technical College.

The idea was revived in the 1950s and, in June 1958, the government approved the corporation's scheme for a university at Brighton, to be the first of a new generation of what came to be known as plate glass universities.[5] The University was established as a company in 1959, with a Royal Charter being granted on 16 August 1961.[5] The University's organisation broke new ground in seeing the campus divided into Schools of Study, with students able to benefit from a multidisciplinary teaching environment. Sussex would emphasise cross-disciplinary activity, so that students would emerge from the university with a range of background or 'contextual' knowledge to complement their specialist 'core' skills in a particular subject area.[14]

Sussex came to be identified with postwar social change, and developed a reputation for radicalism. In 1973, 500 students physically prevented United States government adviser Samuel P. Huntington from giving a speech on campus due to his involvement in the Vietnam War.[15]

21st century

In an attempt to appeal to a modern audience, the university chose in 2004 to simplify its logo from the original coat of arms[16] to the current "us" logo. The Vice-Chancellor of the University described the new visual identity as "the starting point for what will be a fresh look and feel for Sussex. It is based on the university's vision and values, themselves a statement of what it aspires to be: pioneering, creative, international, excellent, engaging and challenging."[17]


Sussex has been noted to have an attractive location. The university is situated in undulating parkland on the edge of Brighton, and the campus architecture itself has been praised. The campus is surrounded by the South Downs National Park, but relatively close to Brighton and Hove via the A27.

The campus, designed by Sir Basil Spence, is in the village of Falmer, next to its railway station, and accessed by car from the A27 road. It is situated next to the Sussex Downs, which influenced Spence's design of the campus. The campus is self-contained with facilities and shops.[18]

Spence's designs were appreciated in the architecture community, with many of the buildings on the University's campus winning awards. The gatehouse-inspired Falmer House won a bronze medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects.[5] Another campus building, The Meeting House, won the Civic Trust award in 1969.[19] In 1993, the buildings which made up the core of Spence's designs were given listed building status, with Falmer House being one of only two buildings to be given a Grade 1 status of "exceptional interest".[19]

Sussex laid claim to being the "only English university located entirely within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty".[20] It is now entirely surrounded by the newly founded South Downs National Park.

The Gardner Arts Centre, another of Basil Spence's designs, was opened in 1969 as the first university campus arts centre.[21] It had a 480 seat purpose built theatre, a visual art gallery and studio space and was regularly used for theatre and dance as well as showing a range of films on a modern cinema screen. The Centre closed in the summer of 2007:[22] withdrawal of funding and the cost of renovating the building were given as the key reasons. Following an extensive refurbishment, the centre will reopen as the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA).

The campus boasts cutting-edge facilities such as the Genome Damage and Stability Centre; the state-of-the-art medical imaging equipment at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS); and the University's Library, home to the Mass Observation Archive.

Organisation and administration

Schools of Studies

The university was founded with the unusual structure of "Schools of Study" (ubiquitously abbreviated to "schools") rather than traditional university departments within arts and science faculties. The Schools were intended[by whom?] to promote high-quality teaching and research.

The 12 schools of studies form the academic heart of the University, driving forward academic development in research and teaching and fostering an interdisciplinary approach to study. Each school provides a stimulating and supportive environment in which students can flourish while taught by staff at the forefront of their fields. Additionally, many schools of studies bring together related departments, capitalising on the connections between subjects to deliver new and exciting opportunities for students and faculty. Student representatives ensure a strong connection between student opinion and the administration of each department.[23]

In the early 1990s the University promoted the system by claiming "[c]lusters of faculty [come] together within schools to pursue new areas of intellectual enquiry. The schools also foster broader intellectual links. Physics with Management Studies, Science and Engineering with European Studies, Economics with Mathematics all reach beyond conventional Arts/Science divisions."[24] By this time the original schools had been developed somewhat and were:

  • African and Asian Studies (abbreviated to AFRAS)
  • Biological Sciences (BIOLS)
  • Chemistry and Molecular Sciences (MOLS)
  • Cognitive and Computing Sciences (COGS)
  • Cultural and Community Studies (CCS)
  • Engineering and Applied Sciences (ENGG, formerly EAPS)
  • English and American Studies (ENGAM or EAM)
  • European Studies (EURO)
  • Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MAPS)
  • Social Sciences (SOC)

There was also the Institute of Development Studies(IDS).

In 2001, as the university celebrated its 40th anniversary, the then Vice-Chancellor Alasdair Smith proposed[25] major changes to the curriculum across the "Arts schools", and the senate agreed to structural changes which would create two Arts schools and a "Sussex Institute" in place of the five schools then in place. Corresponding changes would be made in Sciences.

The changes were finally implemented in September 2003. After discussion in senate and the schools, disciplinary departments which had been located across the different schools, were located firmly within one school, and undergraduates were offered straightforward degree subjects. The multi-disciplinarity provided by the school courses was now to be achieved through elective courses from other departments and schools. The new schools were:

  • Humanities (HUMS)
  • Life Sciences (LIFESCI)
  • Science and Technology (SCITECH)
  • Social Sciences and Cultural Studies (SOCCUL)
  • Sussex Institute (SI)

In 2009 the university adopted a new organisational structure. The term "Schools of Studies" was retained, but each was headed by a "Head of School" rather than the traditional "Dean". Many of these new heads were appointed from outside Sussex rather than from existing faculty. The schools as of 2009 are listed below.[26] The term "department" has been retained in some cases, where a school contains separate disciplines.

  • Engineering and Informatics (two separate schools before 2011)[27]
  • Life Sciences (includes Biology, Environmental Science, Chemistry and Biochemistry and houses the Centre for Genome Damage and Stability)
  • Mathematical and Physical Sciences (includes Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy)
  • Psychology
  • Business, Management and Economics
  • Education and Social Work
  • Global Studies (includes Anthropology,[28] Geography and International Relations, as well as interdisciplinary programmes in Development Studies)
  • Law, Politics and Sociology
  • English
  • History, Art History and Philosophy
  • Media, Film and Music

The changes did not affect the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS).

Educational partners

Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) is a partnership between the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex. The school, which is the first medical school in the South East outside London, gained its licence in 2002 and opened in 2003.

The Institute of Development Studies offers research, teaching and communications related to international development. IDS was founded in 1966 as a research institute based at the University of Sussex. It is financially and constitutionally independent under the status of a charitable company limited by guarantee.

The Centre for Research in Innovation Management is a research-based school of the University of Brighton, established in 1990. It is located in the Freeman Centre building with the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) on the University of Sussex campus.

The Sussex Innovation Centre is an on-campus commercial business centre. Opened in 1996, it provides services for the creation and growth of technology and knowledge based companies in the South East. It offers a business environment to over 40 companies in the IT, Biotech, Media and Engineering sectors.

Study Group works in partnership with the University to provide the Sussex University International Study Centre (ISC).[29] It offers a course of academic subjects, study skills and English language training for students who wish to study a degree at the university but who do not yet possess the necessary qualifications to start a degree. The ISC course provides students with English language and academic skills to start at Sussex the following year.

The Brighton Institute of Modern Music has BA courses in Modern Musicianship validated by the University of Sussex at its centres in Brighton and Bristol.[30]

In 2012 the new Centre for Advanced International Theory (CAIT) was founded at Sussex, conducting research in the field of International Relations.

Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors

The current and fifth Chancellor of the university is Sanjeev Bhaskar, who succeeded Lord Attenborough in 2009.[31]

  1. Viscount Monckton of Brenchley (1961–65)
  2. Lord Shawcross (1965–85)
  3. The Duke of Richmond and Gordon (1985–98)
  4. Lord Attenborough (1998–2008)
  5. Sanjeev Bhaskar OBE (2009–Present)

The university has had seven Vice-Chancellors:

  1. John Fulton, later The Lord Fulton (1961–67)
  2. Professor Asa Briggs (1967–76)
  3. Sir Denys Wilkinson (1976–87)
  4. Sir Leslie Fielding (1987–92)
  5. Professor Gordon Conway (1992–98)
  6. Professor Alasdair Smith (1998–2007)
  7. Professor Michael Farthing (2007–Present)

Academic profile


(2013, national)
(2013, world)
(2013/14, national)
(2013/14, world)
(2013/14, national)
(2013/14, world)
(2014, national)
The Guardian[36]
(2014, national)
Times/Sunday Times[37]
(2014, national)

The Times Higher Education Supplement places Sussex 99th in its world rankings, with high rankings for our international staff and research. National league tables have put many of our subjects in the UK's top 10 or 20 - including business and management, engineering, media, computer sciences, politics and international relations.[38] This ranks Sussex in the top 1% of all higher education institutions across the globe.

The university is currently ranked 13th in the UK and 34th in Europe by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings[10] According to the 2008 and 2010 Guardian university rankings, Sussex had Britain's best chemistry department. The current head of Chemistry at Sussex professor Geoff Cloke was in 2007 elected a fellow of The Royal Society. According to the Complete University Guide, Sussex has 12 subjects ranked in the top 10: American Studies, Anatomy and Physiology, Anthropology, Drama, German, History of Art, Italian, Media and Communications, Physics and Astronomy, Psychology, Social Work and Sociology. In recent years, the university has established itself firmly as a top 20 institution in the UK.[39]


Sussex had its research funding cut by £1.15 million in 2009; this was the ninth biggest cut in the country.[40][41]

Sussex performed well in the 2008 national Research Assessment Exercise with 18 departments ranking in the top 20 in the U.K.[42][43]

In respect of teaching quality, 13 of the 15 subjects assessed under the current teaching quality assessment scheme have scored 21 or more points (out of 24), with Philosophy and Sociology achieving the maximum score.

Student life


The early campus included five "Park Houses" (Essex, Kent, Lancaster, Norwich, and York, named after other 1960s universities) and Park Village. The "houses", of which all but Kent House were based on a courtyard design, featured several long corridors with kitchens and bathrooms at the end and a social space on the ground floor. Park Village, by contrast, consists of individual houses with four bedrooms per floor, a kitchen on both the bottom and the top floor, and bathroom facilities on the middle floor. The houses are arranged in "streets" with a social centre building including porters' office, pigeon-holes for post, and a bar, towards the campus end of the area.

Essex House also featured a self-contained flat (external but attached by a walkway) which was given over to the Nightline confidential listening and advice service in 1992. Essex House was reallocated in the late 1990s as postgraduate teaching space. Kent House includes the Kulukundis House wing, developed with easy access for residents with special needs.

Accommodation on campus was expanded in the 1970s with the construction of the unusual split-level flats of East Slope. This development also has a social building with a porters' office and bar.

In the 1990s, as student numbers rose, further developments were constructed in the corner of campus between East Slope and Park Village. Brighthelm and Lewes Court were constructed in public-private partnership funding arrangements with the Bradford & Northern and Kelsey Housing Associations.

In total there are seven areas of student accommodation on campus. Two newer accommodation areas were completed recently: one next to Falmer railway station, named Stanmer Court, and the other next to East Slope, opposite Bramber House, known as Swanborough.[44]

The newest student residences, named Northfield, have been constructed at the top end of campus, beyond Lewes Court, which opened in September 2011, with more planning to opened by December 2013.[45]


The University competes in the following sports, usually with both men's and women's teams:

Campus media

  • The Badger is the Union’s weekly newspaper and is written and designed entirely by Sussex students. It aims to represent the views and interests of students and communicate the work of the Union, as well as informing members about local, national and international issues that affect them as students. It has interviewed such celebrities as Leonardo DiCaprio, Bruce Willis and Sir Michael Caine.
  • The Pulse, Sussex's termly on-line magazine, complements the Badger by providing in-depth feature articles, interviews with local and national stars, and analysis of the latest happenings in Brighton.
  • University Radio Falmer was one of the first student radio stations in the country. It broadcasts locally on 1431AM and to the world via the Internet
  • "University of Sussex Student Television", abbreviated to UniTV is a new student television channel launched in September 2010.

International students and opportunities

Of the 10,500 students at Sussex, around a quarter are international. Sussex has academic staff from over 50 countries and students from over 120 countries.

The University includes people from many different religious and cultural backgrounds, and there are several places for religious worship on campus.

English Language courses for speakers of other languages are provided by the Language Institute. "English in the Vacation" is intensive practice of spoken and written English. An International Foundation Year offered by the ISC offers routes directly to Sussex degrees.[49]

The International Summer School runs for four and eight weeks starting in July, providing intensive courses. It is predominantly attended by foreign students.[50] The ISS trips office provides excursions to prominent cities, theatres, and activities.[51]

Sussex students may also spend a year abroad as part of their degree in a variety of European institutions through the ERASMUS programme, as well as North America, Asia, Central & South America, Australia and North Africa.[52] Such study abroad opportunities are a result of the strong relationships Sussex has with a number of institutions including all campuses of the federal University of California.

Notable people

Notable alumni





Writers and broadcasters



Notable faculty

In the sciences Sussex counts among its past and present faculty five Nobel Prize winners: Sir Anthony Leggett,[54] Sir Paul Nurse,[55] Archer Martin,[56][57] Sir John Cornforth[58] and Professor Harry Kroto.[59] Sir Harry, the first Briton to win the chemistry prize in over ten years, received the prize in 1996 for the discovery of a new class of carbon compounds known as the fullerenes.

John Maynard Smith, FRS, founding father of Sussex Biology was honoured with the Crafoord Prize [60] and the Kyoto Prize[61] for his contributions to Evolutionary Biology.

The University has 15 Fellows of the Royal Society - the highest number per science student of any British university other than Cambridge.

In the arts, there are six members of faculty - an unusually high proportion - who have the distinction of being Fellows of the British Academy. Faculty publish around 3,000 papers, journal articles and books each year, as well as being involved in consultative work across the world.

Other prominent academics on the staff of the University have included Geoffrey Bennington, the creator of the MA programme in Modern French Thought (Derrida, Lyotard); Homi K. Bhabha (postcolonialism); Rachel Bowlby (feminism, Woolf, Freud); Geoff Cloke FRS (Inorganic Chemistry); Jonathan Dollimore (Renaissance literature, gender and queer studies); Katy Gardner (social anthropology); Gabriel Josipovici (Dante, the Bible); Michael Land FRS (Animal Vision - Frink Medal); Michael Lappert FRS (Inorganic Chemistry); Alan Lehmann FRS (Genetics and Genome Stability); (Laura Marcus (Woolf); John Murrell FRS (Theoretical Chemistry); Peter Nicholls (Pound, modernism); John Nixon FRS (Inorganic Chemistry)); Laurence Pearl FRS (Structural Biology); Guy Richardson FRS (Neuroscience); Jacqueline Rose (feminism, psychoanalysis); Nicholas Royle (modern literature and theory; deconstruction); Alan Sinfield (Shakespeare, sexuality, queer theory); Norman Vance (Victorian, classical reception); Brian Street (anthropology); Richard Whatmore & Knud Haakonssen (intellectual historians); Gavin Ashenden (Senior Lecturer in English, University Chaplain, and Chaplain to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II);[62] Cedric Watts (Conrad, Greene); Marcus Wood (postcolonialism).


External links

  • University of Sussex website
  • Brighton and Sussex Medical School
  • Institute of Development Studies
  • University of Sussex YouTube channel
  • Sussex UCU site
  • University of Sussex Students' Union website
  • University Radio Falmer website
  • A-Z listing of research groups at Sussex
  • The Badger Online

Coordinates: 50°51′55″N 0°05′08″W / 50.86528°N 0.08556°W / 50.86528; -0.08556

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