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University of East Anglia (UK)

Located three miles from the medieval city centre of Norwich, the University of East Anglia (UEA) offers a peaceful campus experience set in 320 acres.

Founded in 1963, it's one of the top places to study creative writing.

The campus itself was also designed around a central square to create a community feel.

Here are some of the highlights from my visit to UEA!

The central UEA square
The central UEA square


With around 16,000 students, UEA is a medium-sized UK university and takes only 15 minutes to walk from one side of the campus to the other.

One of the key selling points though is that whilst many UK cities are suffering from a housing crisis, UEA is now able to guarantee student housing for all three years!

Barton House student halls
Barton House student halls
UEA student accommodation
View from one of the shared kitchens in Barton House
View from one of the shared kitchens in Barton House

The Ziggurats, pictured below, are probably the most iconic UEA residential halls, which face the sun and the beautiful on-campus lake.

UEA Ziggurats

Close to these halls, it's a short bridge walk over to the Sainsbury Centre (more on this later), which also featured in some of the Marvel films as the Avengers' headquarters!

UEA green space
Sainsbury Art Centre
Sainsbury Centre

UEA also has one of the biggest indoor sports centres in Britain.

UEA Sportspark

The UEA library is open 24/7, and there's also a newer student space called The Warren, where students can hang out or study.

The Warren student space
The Warren student space
Counselors visiting UEA

And yes, there is a bar on campus, as well as plenty of student support.

UEA campus
UEA Student Information Zone


Despite a 3-year degree with no general education requirements, UEA's focus is still on providing interdisciplinary studies and breadth within its programs.

UEA's beautiful law school
UEA's beautiful law school

UEA is home to the UK's first School of Environmental Sciences and was also the first to offer a master's degree in creative writing.

Fun facts: The MA in Creative Writing was actually founded in a pub, and Ian McEwan is a graduate!

One of UEA's distinct programs is art history, and students in this program get the benefit of their own study space within the aforementioned Sainsbury Centre.

Inside the Sainsbury Centre

This arts centre was designed in the 1970s by Norman Foster, who also famously designed the London Stansted Airport, the 'Gherkin' and Wembley Stadium to name a few.

It was purpose built for the art it would later house, donated by Robert and Lisa Sainsbury from their own personal collection.

They specifically wanted the gallery to have a living room feel with chairs around so people could sit down and enjoy the art leisurely.

UEA Sainsbury Centre

With such a unique space, students in UEA's art history program spend a lot of time here, studying specific pieces and learning to curate their own displays.

UEA also has degrees in law and medicine, and one of the youngest schools on campus is engineering.

UEA lecture theatres

The engineering school started due to the request and needs of the local energy industry, and many students get to work on projects for companies like Lotus Cars and Kettle Brand as early as their first year.

But unlike most engineering courses, which assess students usually based on just two to three major exams, UEA is the only engineering program to offer continuous assessment with competence tests every three weeks.

This has taken away lots of stress on students and has resulted in greater student retention since it was first implemented three years ago.

And in addition to building one of the largest green farms, UEA is also home to a new regional hub for engineering and innovation, Productivity East.

Productivity East buildings

Norwich city

One of the common phrases you'll hear regularly about Norwich is that there is a church for every weekend and a pub for every day.

At its height in the medieval ages, there were 58 churches serving 15,000 people.

St Peter Mancroft, Norwich's largest medieval parish church
St Peter Mancroft, Norwich's largest medieval parish church
St Peter Mancroft and the public market
St Peter Mancroft and the public markets
Public markets
Public markets
The cobbled streets of Norwich
Slate church in Norwich
Norwich Cathedral
Norwich Cathedral
Norwich Cathedral
Norwich Cathedral
Another church in Norwich

Nowadays, many have been converted, but there are still 31 churches, which is more than any other city in northern Europe.

Rated as one of the top 10 safest cities in the UK, Norwich was also known for its shoe production, with 23 shoe factories at its peak.

People still do come to Norwich for its shopping though.

Royal Arcade shopping
Royal Arcade shopping
Inside the Royal Arcade
Inside the Royal Arcade

There is quite a strong connection between Norwich and the U.S., too.

During World War II, many American forces were based here, as depicted in American Library within the larger Norwich public library.

Library dedicated to American soldiers from WWII

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Norwich Castle, which peers down onto the city from above a hill.

It's currently being renovated to restore its five levels and is one of the largest heritage projects of its kind currently underway in the UK.

Once completed, people will be able to access the original dungeons, which was a prison for 500 years, and it will be the best place to study the Normans.

Norwich Castle

Another really cool area of the city is Elm Hill Road.

In 1508, a huge fire destroyed almost everything, including most of the thatched roofs.

After that, people were told they had to build their roofs out of tiles.

Elm Hill Road
Elm Hill Road

Norwich itself is quite alternative and artsy, and it seemed like everyone I met or overheard (people in coffee shops, students, academic staff) was in a band.

Norwich Creative Quarter

As usual, I went on a quest to find the best coffee shop, and I really liked the view at Artel.

Artel coffee shop

Another interesting place is the Cinema City Cafe Bar, which used to be a 14th century merchant's house.

You can grab a drink and actually take it into the onsite cinema!

Cinema City Cafe Bar

And if you're looking for a place to stay overnight, I highly recommend The Maids Head hotel.

It's the oldest hotel in the UK, dating back 800 years.

Interior of The Maids Head
Interior of The Maids Head

Some say it's even haunted, and I must admit, the first night I was there, my TV randomly turned on in the middle of the night - spooky!

Nevertheless, it has a great location across the road from the Norwich Cathedral grounds.

Norwich Cathedral grounds
Norwich Cathedral grounds
Norwich cathedral grounds

Lastly, I also recommend checking out the Belgian Monk pub and sampling the cherry beer.

Belgian Monk cherry beer

University of East Anglia: Summary

UEA is a great option for someone looking for a campus-based university experience minutes from the city.

The Sainsbury Centre is also a real gem and unique learning lab for anyone interested in studying art history.

And speaking of history, Norwich itself is packed with it, along with all the culture you would need.

It's super charming, easily located just two hours on the train from London and even has its own airport with connections to mainland Europe for those wanting to get out and explore.

Norwich river


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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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