University of Sheffield

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University of Sheffield
University of Sheffield coat of arms.png
MottoLatin: Rerum cognoscere causas
Motto in EnglishTo discover the causes of things
Established1828 (1828)Sheffield Medical School
1897 (1897) – University College of Sheffield
1905 (1905) – University of Sheffield
Endowment£ 36.5 million[1]
ChancellorSir Peter Middleton
Vice-ChancellorSir Keith Burnett
Admin. staff5,306
LocationSheffield, South Yorkshire, England, UK
Coordinates: 53°22′53″N 1°29′18″W / 53.381389°N 1.488272°W / 53.381389; -1.488272
Former namesUniversity College of Sheffield
ColoursBlack & Gold
AffiliationsRussell Group, WUN, ACU, N8 Group, White Rose, Yorkshire Universities, EQUIS, AMBA
Logo of the University of Sheffield
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University of Sheffield
University of Sheffield coat of arms.png
MottoLatin: Rerum cognoscere causas
Motto in EnglishTo discover the causes of things
Established1828 (1828)Sheffield Medical School
1897 (1897) – University College of Sheffield
1905 (1905) – University of Sheffield
Endowment£ 36.5 million[1]
ChancellorSir Peter Middleton
Vice-ChancellorSir Keith Burnett
Admin. staff5,306
LocationSheffield, South Yorkshire, England, UK
Coordinates: 53°22′53″N 1°29′18″W / 53.381389°N 1.488272°W / 53.381389; -1.488272
Former namesUniversity College of Sheffield
ColoursBlack & Gold
AffiliationsRussell Group, WUN, ACU, N8 Group, White Rose, Yorkshire Universities, EQUIS, AMBA
Logo of the University of Sheffield

The University of Sheffield (informally Sheffield University) is a research university in the city of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, England. It received its royal charter in 1905 as successor to Sheffield Medical School (1828) and University College of Sheffield (1897). As one of the original red brick universities, it is also a member of the prestigious Russell Group of research-intensive universities.

The University of Sheffield is widely recognized as a leading research and teaching university in the UK and in the world.[3][4][5][6] In 2014, QS World University Rankings[7] placed Sheffield as the 69th university worldwide and 12th in the UK. In 2011, Sheffield was named 'University of the Year' in the Times Higher Education awards.[8] The latest Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2014 ranked the University of Sheffield 1st for student experience, social life, university facilities and accommodation, among other categories.

The university had more than 17000 undergraduate and around 9000 postgraduate students in 2012.[9] Its annual income for 2012-13 was £479.8 million, with an expenditure of £465.0 million, resulting in a surplus of £14.8 million.[1]



Portrait of Mark Firth, opened Firth College in 1879
Sheffield School of Medicine, founded in 1828 (right)
Firth Court, opened in 1905, with the Royal Charter

The University of Sheffield was originally formed by the merger of three colleges. The Sheffield School of Medicine was founded in 1828, followed in 1879[10] by the opening of Firth College, which developed out of the Cambridge University Extension Movement scheme, by Mark Firth, a steel manufacturer, to teach arts and science subjects.[11] Firth College then helped to fund the opening of the Sheffield Technical School in 1884 to teach applied science, the only major faculty the existing colleges did not cover. The three institutions merged in 1897 to form the University College of Sheffield.[11] Sheffield is one of the six red brick universities.

Royal Charter[edit]

It was originally envisaged that the University College would join Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds as the fourth member of the federal Victoria University. However, the Victoria University began to split up before this could happen and so the University College of Sheffield received its own Royal Charter in 1905 and became the University of Sheffield.

Coat of arms[edit]

The arms of the University blazoned Azure, A gold-edged book inscribed with the Latin Disce Doce (Learn and Teach), A sheaf of eight silver arrows on either side (from the arms of the city), The Crown of Success and The White Rose of York, with a scroll carrying the motto Rerum cognoscere causas (To Discover the Causes of Things). The University's logo, consists of a redrawn version of the Coat of Arms and the name of the institution, is introduced in 2005, the centenary year of the University. However, the Coat of Arms should not be confused with the logo.


From 363 full-time students and 71 staff in 1905, the University grew slowly until the 1950s and 1960s when it began to expand rapidly. Many new buildings (including the famous Arts Tower and the Main Library) were built and student numbers increased to their present levels of just under 26,000. In 1987 the University began to collaborate with its once would-be partners of the Victoria University by co-founding the Northern Consortium; a coalition for the education and recruitment of international students.

In 1995, the University took over the Sheffield and North Trent College of Nursing and Midwifery, which greatly increased the size of the medical faculty. In 2005, the South Yorkshire Strategic Health Authority announced that it would split the training between Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University – however, the University decided to pull out of providing preregistration nursing and midwifery training due to "costs and operational difficulties".[12]


The Arts Tower and Western Bank Library

Main (Western Bank) campus[edit]

The Alfred Denny Building

The University of Sheffield is not a campus university, though most of its buildings are located in fairly close proximity to each other. The centre of the University's presence lies one mile to the west of Sheffield city centre, where there is a mile-long collection of buildings belonging almost entirely to the University. This area includes the Sheffield Students' Union (housed next door to University House), the Octagon Centre, Firth Court, the Geography and Planning building, the Alfred Denny Building (housing natural sciences, the Departments of Animal and Plant Sciences and Biology, and including a small museum), the Dainton and Richard Roberts Buildings and the Hicks Building. The Grade II*-listed library and Arts Tower are also located in this cluster. The Arts Tower houses one of Europe's few surviving examples of a Paternoster lift. A concourse under the main road (the A57) allows students to easily move between these buildings. Amongst the more recent additions to the universities estate are The Information Commons, opened in 2007, The Soundhouse (Carey Jones Architects and Jefferson Sheard Architects 2008) and the Jessop West building (2009), the first UK project by renowned Berlin architects Sauerbruch Hutton.[13] In addition, throughout 2010 the Western Bank Library received a £3.3m restoration and refurbishment, the University of Sheffield Union of Students underwent a £5m rebuild, and work commenced on a multimillion pound refurbishment of the grade II* listed Arts Tower to extend its lifespan by 30 years.[14]

The Octagon Centre[edit]

The Octagon Centre
Main article: Octagon Centre

The Octagon Centre is a multi-purpose conference centre and music venue situated at the Western Bank campus, and is joined by a skyway to University House. The Octagon Centre comprises an eight-sided auditorium with a capacity of 1600, offices, meeting rooms, and a lounge with bar and patio. The Octagon Centre consists of a main auditorium known as the Convocation Hall, with offices and meeting rooms in corridors across two floors at a lower elevation on the southern side of the building, and a bar lounge. All of these areas are connected by a foyer entrance block. The building is connected to University House by a footbridge, offering access to University House's catering facilities.

Firth Court[edit]

Main article: Firth Court

Firth Court is the main administrative centre for the University of Sheffield, stands at the heart of the University precinct on Western Bank. It originally housed the Arts, Science and Medicine departments, while it is currently home to the Department for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology and Biomedical Science. The building was opened by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1905, and is named after Mark Firth.

Dainton and Richard Roberts Buildings[edit]

The Dainton Building, houses the Department of Chemistry and Faculty of Sciences, is named after Sheffield academic chemist and university chancellor Frederick Sydney Dainton. The East Wing of Dainton Building was renamed Richard Roberts Building after Nobel Laureate and University graduate Richard Roberts.

Hicks Building[edit]

Main article: Hicks Building

The Hicks Building is a building named after William Mitchinson Hicks, a British mathematician and physicist who spent most of his career at Sheffield, contributing to the development of the university. It houses the departments of Physics and Astronomy, the Chemistry and Physics Workshop and the School of Mathematics and Statistics. The Building is in three sections, including a taller building clad in red-brick, a shorter fully linked section clad in blue tiles and glass, and a section facing the University Concourse.

Arts Tower and Western Bank Library[edit]

Main article: Arts Tower

The Arts Tower is a Grade II* listed building opened in 1966. It was the tallest in Sheffield from 1965 to 2010, and is the tallest university building in the UK. The building, previously housed several academic departments, is now mainly an administration block. A bridge at the mezzanine level links the tower to Western Bank Library. The two buildings are intended to be viewed together. Formerly known as the University Library, the Western Bank Library was the main library of the University of Sheffield until the Information Commons was established. The Grade II*-listed library is home to 25,000 rare books and 150 special collections.

St George's[edit]

To the east lies St George's Campus, named after St George's Church (now a lecture theatre and postgraduate residence). The campus is centred on Mappin Street, home to a number of University buildings, including the Faculty of Engineering (partly housed in the Grade II-listed Mappin Building) and the University of Sheffield School of Management and Department of Computer Science. The University also maintains the Turner Museum of Glass in this area. The University recently converted the listed old Victorian Jessop Hospital for Women buildings into the new home of the Department of Music. The adjacent Edwardian buildings and a large vacant plot of land opposite St George's Church are awaiting development as and when funding permits. The grade II listed Edwardian wing of the Jessop Hospital is being demolished to be replaced by a new £81 million building for the Faculty of Engineering.[15]

Sir Frederick Mappin Building[edit]

The Sir Frederick Mappin Building is a grade II-listed building in an area known as the St George's Complex. The building houses much of the Faculty of Engineering and St George's IT centre. The oldest part of the building, the former Technical School, now lies in the centre of the building. The extensive Mappin Street frontage includes the main entrance, the John Carr Library and Mappin Hall, and is connected to the Technical School by a bridge.

West of the main campus[edit]

Further west lies Weston Park, the Weston Park Museum, the Harold Cantor Gallery, sports facilities in the Crookesmoor area, and the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health around the Royal Hallamshire Hospital (although these subjects are taught in the city's extensive teaching hospitals under the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and throughout South Yorkshire and North East Lincolnshire). It is in this area that the new £12m Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in November 2010, is located.[16]

Student accommodation[edit]

Further west still lie the University halls of residence. These comprise Tapton Hall of Residence (now vacant awaiting redevelopment into private housing), The Endcliffe Student Village comprising the established Halifax and Stephenson Halls (although much of the Halifax Hall has been converted to conferencing rooms), Endcliffe Vale Flats, Crescent Flats, Crewe Flats, and newly built (2007) Burbage, Stanage, Howden, Froggatt, Millstone, Rivelin, Yarncliffe, Birchen, Curbar, Cratcliffe, Lawrencefield and Derwent, as well as University owned private houses. A new student village was completed (but not fully occupied) for the 2009/10 academic year with 1200 beds on the site of the former Ranmoor Halls of Residence, now known as the Ranmoor Village. Student accommodation in both the Endcliffe and Ranmoor villages is rented out during the summer recess to visiting conference delegations etc.

Manvers campus[edit]

The Manvers campus, at Wath-on-Dearne between Rotherham and Barnsley, was where the majority of nursing was taught, but this has now been mothballed.


Sir Frederick Mappin Building, Faculty of Engineering
Bartolomé House, Sheffield Law School

The University has five faculties[17] plus an International Faculty in Thessaloniki, Greece.[17]


There are several bodies which govern the University.

The University Executive Board, whose members are:

The Court is a large body which fosters relations between the University and the community, and includes lay members. Ex-officio members of the Court include all the MPs of Sheffield, the Bishops of Sheffield and Hallam, and the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police.[18] It also includes representatives of professional bodies such as the Arts Council, Royal Society and the General Medical Council.[19]

The Council manages the University's business side (finance and property).[18]

The Senate manages the academic side of the University. It is the highest academic authority of the University.[18]


The University Coat of Arms, displayed on the front of Mappin Building


Coat of arms
The University’ s logo

The brand (encompassing the visual identity) is centred on the theme of "discovery", led by the Latin motto from the coat of arms "Rerum Cognoscere Causas" – "to discover the causes of things". It has been applied across print, screen and other areas such as signage, vehicle livery and merchandising. The project was key to the University's Marketing Department receiving "HEIST Marketing Team of the Year, 2005".[20]

Reputation and rankings[edit]

(2014, national)
(2014, world)
(2014/15, national)
(2014/15, world)
(2014/15, national)
(2014/15, world)
(2015, national)
The Guardian[25]
(2015, national)
Times/Sunday Times[26]
(2015, national)

The University of Sheffield has been described by The Times as one of the powerhouses of British higher education.[27] The University is a member of the Russell Group, the European University Association, the Worldwide Universities Network and the White Rose University Consortium.

Firth Court Quad

In 2012, QS World University Rankings[7] placed Sheffield as the 66th university worldwide. The University has won Queen's Anniversary Prizes in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2007.[28] It was also named the Sunday Times University of the Year in 2001 and 'University of the Year' in the 2011 Times Higher Education awards. The University of Sheffield is also in the UK’s top 10 for research power, according to the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, as well as being in the UK's top 10 universities according to the Shanghai Jiao Tong University's ranking of the top 500 universities worldwide. These results confirm the University's position among the top ten in the Russell Group, as 93% of the research submitted are classed as "internationally recognised" or "world-leading". The university's business school is one of only five Russell Group business schools to have the internationally recognised Triple Crown accreditation.

Furthermore, The Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2013 ranks Sheffield as third overall in the country. It was ranked first for its social life, first for the ‘university most people would recommend to a friend’, second for library facilities and accommodation.

Major research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls Royce, Siemens, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, and Slazenger, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations. As an example, the Department of Architecture, under the guidance of Professor Jeremy Till, are currently involved in a research project with development and disaster relief charity Article 25 to investigate the possibilities of building sustainably in arid regions.The University also works with local small and medium enterprises through the dedicated physical spaces at the Sheffield Bioincubator and Kroto Innovation Centre.

For many years the University has been engaged in theological publishing through Sheffield Academic Press and JSOT Press.

The University of Sheffield is also a partner organisation in Higher Futures, a collaborative association of institutions set up under the government's Lifelong Learning Networks initiative, to co-ordinate vocational and work-based education.[29]

As well as the research carried out in departments, the university has 84 specialised research centres or institutes.[30] The last Teaching Quality Assessment awarded Sheffield University grades of "excellent" in 29 subject areas, a record equalled by only a few other UK universities.

Involvement with the arms trade[edit]

The University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre is run in partnership with Boeing, which conducts research projects funded by arms manufacturers such as BAE Systems.[31] In 2008, the University partnered with BAE Systems to launch a new Centre for Research in Active Control which aimed to improve the stealth of BAE Systems' submarines.[32] In 2012 the Students Union voted in favour of the University ending all links with the arms trade.[33]

Student life[edit]

The University of Sheffield Students' Union has been rated as the best in the UK by the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey for 5 years in-a-row (2009-2013). It was founded in 1906 and consists of two bars (Bar One – which has a book-able function room with its own bar, The Raynor Lounge – and The Interval); three club venues (Fusion, Foundry and Studio); and coffee shops, restaurants, shops, and the student run cinema Film Unit. There is also a student radio station called Forge Radio and a newspaper called Forge Press, which are run under the umbrella of 'Forge Media'. The Union has nearly three hundred student societies and nearly fifty sports teams.

In November 2009 a development project began to redevelop the Students' Union building, funded by £5m by the HEFCE, which was completed and re-opened in September 2010. Works centred on improving circulation around the building by aligning previously disjointed floors, improving internal access between the Union building and neighbouring University House, and constructing a striking new entrance and lobby that incorporates the university's traditional colours of black and gold.

During 2012-13 the Students' Union went under a further redevelopment costing £20 million which led to the refurbishment of the University House. University House, which was one of the first glass curtain walled buildings in the world when it was completed in 1963, has now been integrated with the University’s Students' Union – the number one in the UK - in one single building.[34]

The union has an active volunteering and charity community. The RAG (Raising and Giving society) raised over £180,000 in 2011-12, through general fundraising and several larger events; the union is host to the world's largest student organized charity hitchhike, Bummit, which runs every year.[35] Another RAG tradition is Spiderwalk, a 12.5-mile trek through the city and the Peak District through the night; other societies run fund-raising activities throughout the night, such as a 24-hour role-playing event. The Union's "SheffieldVolunteering" scheme is one of the country's most active and well-recognised student volunteering schemes, with over 26,269 hours logged in 2011-12, and has won various national acclaims over the years.[36]

Varsity sports[edit]

The annual "Varsity Challenge" takes place between teams from the University and its rival Sheffield Hallam University. The University has 26 varsity sports (sports contested in varsity). The University sports colours are black and gold. The University of Sheffield won the Varsity competition in 2013, beating Sheffield Hallam University for the first time in ten years.[37]

People associated with the university[edit]

Nobel prizes[edit]

The University's Faculty of Pure Science may boast an association with five Nobel Prizes, two for the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology:

And three to its Department of Chemistry:

Notable alumni[edit]


Business people[edit]


In November 2013, for the first time in history, the Court of Appeal had an all-Sheffield alumni bench. The judges sitting were Lord Justice Maurice Kay (LLB Law, 1964; PhD Law, 1971 and Hon LLD, 2003), Lady Justice Anne Rafferty (LLB Law, 1971 and Hon LLD, 2005) and Lady Justice Julia Macur (LLB Law, 1978).[38] This event was also extremely significant because outside Oxford and Cambridge, Sheffield now has the record for the highest number of graduates appointed to the bench above any other UK University.


Lee Child, author (LLB)

Media and Artists[edit]



Public servants[edit]



Sports people[edit]

Jessica Ennis, Olympic Gold medallist, heptathlete

Notable academics[edit]

Lord Florey, Nobel Prize winner, Joseph Hunter Professor of Pathology

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Annual Report & Financial Statements 2011–2012". University of Sheffield. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "All students by HE institution, level of study, mode of study and domicile 2010/11" (Microsoft Excel spreadsheet). Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b "QS World University Rankings - 2012". Top Universities. 19 December 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  8. ^ "Sheffield named ‘University of the Year’ at annual THE Awards". Times Higher Education. 25 November 2011. 
  9. ^ "The University of Sheffield Institutional Profiles". 
  10. ^ "A Legacy of Excellence" (PDF). Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  11. ^ a b "Historical note". Sheffield, United Kingdom: University of Sheffield. 
  12. ^ Donald MacLeod (20 July 2005). "Sheffield pulls out of nurse training deal". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 4 April 2008. 
  13. ^ "About Jessop". Sheffield, United Kingdom: The University of Sheffield. 2010. Retrieved 6 December 2010. 
  14. ^ "Arts Tower Project". Sheffield, United Kingdom: The University of Sheffield. 23 November 2010. Retrieved 6 December 2010. 
  15. ^ "New Engineering Building will open door to growth and investment". The University of Sheffield. 17 December 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  16. ^ "SITraN". Sheffield, United Kingdom: The University of Sheffield. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 6 December 2010. 
  17. ^ a b "Faculties". The University of Sheffield. Retrieved 16 June 2010. 
  18. ^ a b c "Governance of the University". Sheffield, United Kingdom: The University of Sheffield. 
  19. ^ "Membership of the Court" (PDF). Sheffield, United Kingdom: The University of Sheffield. 1 August 2009. Retrieved 2 August 2010. 
  20. ^ "University scoops top marketing award". The University of Sheffield. 5 April 2006. Retrieved 29 December 2007. 
  21. ^ a b "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2014". Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. Retrieved 15 August 2014. 
  22. ^ a b "QS World University Rankings 2014/15". Quacquarelli Symonds. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  23. ^ a b "Top European Universities 2014-15". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  24. ^ "University League Table 2015". The Complete University Guide. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  25. ^ "University league table 2015 - the complete list". The Guardian. 2 June 2014. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  26. ^ "The Times and Sunday Times University League Tables 2015". Times Newspapers. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  27. ^ Asthana, Anushka (23 September 2007). "University of Sheffield". London: Times Online. Retrieved 19 December 2007. 
  28. ^ University website Queen's Anniversary Prizes
  29. ^ "Partners". Higher Futures. Retrieved 30 July 2007. 
  30. ^ University of Sheffield Research Centres and Institutes. Retrieved 2 July 2010
  31. ^ "About AMRC". AMRC. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  32. ^ "BAE SYSTEMS Centre for Research in Active Control launched - news releases - News - ACSE - The University of Sheffield". The University of Sheffield. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  33. ^ Rouse, Alisha (18 October 2012). "‘Fund Education Not War’ proposal voted in, as record turnout chooses new union councillors". Forge Press (University of Sheffield Students Union). 
  34. ^
  35. ^ "About Us". 20 May 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  36. ^ "About Us". 20 May 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  37. ^
  38. ^

Further reading[edit]

There are two official histories of the university:

External links[edit]