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Overseas university spotlight: Aberystwyth University (UK)

"Aber," or Aberystwyth, is a university located in the coastal town of the same name on the west coast of Wales.

It's an easy 5-hour journey from London with only one change in Birmingham and is home to about 18,000 people during term time, half of which are students at the campus.

But despite it's small size, it's definitely a place steeped in history; the university itself was first established in 1872.

The historic Old College building in Aberystwyth
Old College, which is undergoing renovations to be transformed into a cultural and creative centre for Wales
Historic buildings in Aberystwyth
Scene near Aberystwyth seafront

Since then, it is known for having started the world's first Department of International Politics, founded in 1919 as a response to World War I (during which the town was actually a major base for troop training).

Nowadays, there are about 350 undergrads and 22 academic staff in this department, which attracts students from around the world due to its 95 percent student satisfaction rate.

Awarded the Welsh University of the Year in 2020, Aber is also a bilingual institution where the Welsh language and culture thrives.

In fact, His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, came to Aber to study Welsh in 1969, which is portrayed in an episode of the Netflix show "The Crown."

Here are some highlights from my visit in May 2022!

Student buildings on Aberystwyth's campus
Student Welcome Centre
Buildings on Aberystwyth University's campus
Hugh Owen Building

Aberystwyth campus

Aber's Penglais campus is located in a fantastic spot about a 20-minute walk up / 10-minute walk down to the shore.

Note the "up"; this is because the campus is quite hilly. But it's worth it for the views!

View of Aberytswyth's student village
View from pedestrian bridge across to Pentre Jane Morgan (PJM), also known as 'The Student Village'

There is plenty of housing on campus, which is guaranteed for all years of the degree, and even more attractive is the international accommodation offer: international students can live in the dorms at Cwrt Mawr at no cost for the first year!

Student housing at Aberystwyth
Cwrt Mawr housing
Interior of Aberystwth student housing
Shared kitchen in Cwrt Mawr housing
The student village at Aberystwyth University
Pentre Jane Morgan (PJM), also known as 'The Student Village'

Other perks of studying at Aber include a free gym membership, internships available for all students, career service support for life, access to a business professional for entrepreneurial advice and an Aber card for easy dining on campus.

Student spaces at Aberystwyth University
Facilities for students at Aberystwyth
Restaurants at Aberystwyth University
Aberystwyth's famous School of Welsh & Celtic Studies
Brightly coloured flags in Aberystwyth

With castle ruins on the coast, colorful buildings and even a cliff railway, it's definitely one of the most beautiful seaside towns I've seen.

Aberystwyth seafront
Funiculuar railway, Aberystwyth
Historic buildings and coastline, Aberystwyth
A stretch of west Wales coastline
Visitors explore Aberystwyth
View from an archway
Historic scene on the coast
Ancient Welsh structures
Historic monuments
Unspoiled coastline in Wales
Welsh heritage on display
View of town
Historic Welsh monument on the coast
Seaside pier
A view of the pier
A shopping street in Aberystwyth


Within the above-mentioned international politics degree, there are some really interesting modules and activities for students, including a year-long dissertation in third year to specialize in favorite topic, simulation modules on the EU, a parliamentary placement scheme (4-6 weeks after end of second year), Interpol Society, annual crisis simulations and a journal run by students since the 1960s (Interstate).

It also offers one of the leading departments of history in the UK due to Aber having one of the five copyright libraries in the UK, the National Library of Wales.

Students can work in any of the collections and benefit from primary source analysis in their learning (imagine the learning experience being able to read original letters from the Prime Minister during WWI, as opposed to seeing copies in a textbook; history is brought to life here).

Other programs of note include art history (Aber is one of two UK unis and the only one in Wales to have a nationally accredited art museum) and creative writing (students experience a unique writing retreat to a country house in the third year and benefit from links with large publishing houses).

Aberystwyth University - Summary

Aber is a fantastic option for someone looking to study at a smaller institution in a place rich in history and natural beauty--at a fraction of the cost one would find elsewhere in the UK.

Overall, the student support here is outstanding and student experience ranks very high.


Interested in applying for college or grad school abroad?

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G'day! My name is Sara, and I'm the founder of College Apps Abroad and a Certified Educational Planner (CEP), one of only 40 CEP's in California and 300 worldwide. I have more than 10 years of experience working in international recruitment and admissions, and I've studied and lived overseas myself in the UK, Ireland, Australia and Brazil for almost a decade. I've also worked for some of the world's top institutions, including The University of Edinburgh, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and The University of Western Australia (UWA)!

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