Why Study at Edinburgh?

The University of Edinburgh is one of the best universities in the UK. Located on the east coast of Scotland, Edinburgh is considered the second-best university in Scotland by many national league tables, and offers both undergraduate and postgraduate students access to first-class researchers, facilities, and educational resources.

There are many reasons why students choose to study at Edinburgh. This guide rounds up five of the top reasons you should consider Edinburgh when making your university choices.

1. Academic reputation

Edinburgh is one of the most academically prestigious universities in the UK. Since its founding in 1583, Edinburgh has built an esteemed academic reputation and now houses top researchers in a wide range of fields.

League table rankings

Edinburgh is one of the best universities in the UK and is considered the second best university in Scotland behind only St Andrews. It is currently ranked:

Research excellence

As well as ranking highly in league tables, Edinburgh is also one of the world’s top research universities and is famous for its research excellence and innovation. Its research was ranked fourth in the UK for research quality and breadth and five subject areas, including Computer Science and Informatics, Anthropology and Development Studies, and Sociology, are ranked as the best in the UK for these research qualities. Additionally, Edinburgh is ranked 29th in the world in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023 and almost 90% of its research was judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in the latest Research Excellence Framework (2021).

2. Range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses

Edinburgh offers a range of courses in all major disciplines at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. It is particularly well-known for its Arts and Humanities courses, however, it also offers prestigious courses in Medicine and the Sciences too.

Undergraduate

Edinburgh’s undergraduate population is over 28,000 and makes up more than half of the total student population. The university offers more than 400 different courses at undergraduate level covering a wide range of subject combinations, and its entry requirements typically range from A*AA to ABB at A level (equivalent qualifications are also accepted), depending on the course. The majority of Edinburgh’s undergraduate students are enrolled in courses in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (60%), however the university also attracts students in the Medicine and Veterinary Medicine and Science and Engineering fields as well.

See Edinburgh’s full list of undergraduate courses and their entry requirements on its website.

4-year degrees

The University of Edinburgh follows Scotland’s four-year undergraduate degree structure, which is sometimes referred to as the ‘gold standard’ of university education. Its undergraduate degree programmes emulate the structure of higher education courses in many countries worldwide, including the United States and Hong Kong. Scotland is the only country within the UK to offer this degree structure as standard.

The advantages of the four-year undergraduate degree include:

  • Greater flexibility in subject choice, allowing students to experience new subjects without committing to them longer-term;
  • The opportunity to mature academically and personally before committing to a specialism;
  • Greater academic breadth which is particularly valuable for your academic development and future employability.

Postgraduate

Edinburgh’s graduate school is a large, thriving community of researchers and postgraduate students. There are over 20,000 graduate students at Edinburgh who form around 40% of the university’s overall student population. Its course offering is just as great, with around 300 different taught Master’s programmes and 180 research areas. The majority of taught Master’s students are enrolled in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences courses, however, the most common field for research students is Science and Engineering.

See Edinburgh’s full list of graduate courses and their entry requirements on its website.

3. Top facilities

Edinburgh’s undergraduate and postgraduate students have access to some of the very best resources and facilities. These include:

  • 10 campus libraries, including the Main Library, site libraries and library storage facilities which hold more than 1.8 million printed volumes and almost 19 million online resources, including journal articles, e-book chapters, and databases;
  • 30 open-access computer labs and 24-hour computer access in key locations across the university;
  • World-famous museums and collections, including the Anatomical Museum, Talbot Rice Gallery, Cockburn Geological Museum, and Natural History Collections.

4. Student life

Edinburgh University is located on the east coast of Scotland, with its campuses and buildings dotted across the city. As a city, Edinburgh is relatively small and very historic, with an over 900-year-old castle and bustling Old Town at its centre. There are plenty of cafes, bars and study spaces for students to enjoy, as well as a vibrant nightlife.

Within Edinburgh University itself, there are also countless ways to make the most of your time as a student and enjoy your free time. The university has more than 300 clubs and societies, opportunities to partake in campaigning and volunteering, and its own student newspaper. Whatever your interests, talents and career goals, there will almost certainly be opportunities to pursue them at Edinburgh.

5. Work opportunities and job prospects

Thanks to its outstanding reputation, Edinburgh is one of the most well-known and respected universities in the world amongst employers. In 2021-22, Edinburgh was the ninth most targeted university by top employers (High Fliers Research), and the university has links to a range of top organisations and industries both in the UK and globally.

As a result of this reputation among employers and the skills and links built while at Edinburgh, 96.5% of Edinburgh leavers are employed or in further study 6 months after graduating. Edinburgh graduates (undergraduate level) also earn a mean salary of £29,000 within 15 months of leaving university, compared to an average graduate salary of £22,000 in the UK.

FAQs

Is Edinburgh University good?

Edinburgh is a Russell Group university and is considered one of the best universities in the UK (second best in Scotland behind only St Andrews). It is currently ranked 12th in the UK in the Complete University Guide (2023) and 16th in the world in the QS World University Ranking (2023). It is also a competitive university, with an acceptance rate of 11.7%, similar to universities such as Imperial College London (11.5% acceptance rate) and Manchester (12.5% acceptance rate).

Where is Edinburgh University?

The University of Edinburgh is located on the east coast of Scotland, just over an hour east of Glasgow and an hour and a half south of Dundee (by car). The university itself consists of several campuses and buildings dotted across the city, with its main campus located to the south of Edinburgh Old Town, around 15 minutes’ walk from Edinburgh Waverley train station. The train from London to Edinburgh typically takes between 4 and 5 hours.

Is Edinburgh a campus university?

Edinburgh is a city university, with several campuses and buildings spread across the city, however it offers a campus-like feel in many respects. The university has a large student population of around 45,000 students, with about 25,000 being undergraduates, however, the city is relatively small and the main campus is known to have a community feel.

How hard is it to get into Edinburgh University?

Edinburgh University is a Russell Group university and one of the best universities in the UK, so it is one of the harder universities to get into. According to UCAS, Edinburgh received 72,365 applications and accepted 8,455 students in 2021. The Edinburgh acceptance rate is 11.7%, making it as competitive as universities such as UCL (12% acceptance rate), Imperial College London (11.5% acceptance rate), and Manchester (12.5% acceptance rate).

How old is Edinburgh University?

The University of Edinburgh was founded in 1583, making it around 440 years old. It is one of Scotland’s four ancient universities, along with the Universities of St Andrews, Glasgow, and Aberdeen.

Is Edinburgh a Russell Group university?

Yes, Edinburgh is a Russell Group university. It is ranked as the 8th best Russell Group university by the Complete University Guide (2023).

What is Edinburgh University known for?

According to Times Higher Education, Edinburgh University ranks particularly highly for Arts and Humanities subjects, and the majority of its students study within the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Science (the largest of its colleges). However, Edinburgh is also well-respected across a wide range of disciplines, particularly Clinical, Pre-Clinical and Health Studies, Life Sciences, and Physical Sciences.