Newest Review: ... Edinburgh. === Accommodation === For new first year students ariving at the university, the University of Edinburgh has a large catered ... more
Ideal place to be a student
University of Edinburgh in general
Member Name: helenc72
University of Edinburgh in general
Date: 14/05/12, updated on 15/05/12 (418 review reads)
Advantages: Brilliant city, good social side, excellent reputation, flexibility of the outside subject
Disadvantages: Extra year at uni can make it costly, accommodation is quite expensive
I graduated from Edinburgh in 2008 and I really enjoyed my time there.
I studied Modern European Languages but I won't go into much detail about my course, as I want this review to be useful to anyone considering Edinburgh University, regardless of their subject.
=== Unique Aspects ===
First of all, degrees at Edinburgh last at least 4 years, so for many students this means they would spend an extra year at university in Edinburgh. This obviously has pros (you can go into more depth in your subject and enjoy the university experience for longer) and cons (mainly just the cost!).
Another aspect of an Edinburgh course which is a bit different is that you have to take "outside subjects" in your first year. This means you have the chance to try something new without actually having to commit to studying it for your degree. You can then continue your outside subject if you want to (instead of your main subject or as a joint honours degree) so this gives you a lot of flexibility. It is ideal for students who are not ready to 100% commit to one subject but I know some people did find it annoying they that had to take an extra subject when they wanted to focus on the one they had chosen for their degree. I was not allowed to take the outside subject I wanted (a third language) and ended up taking philosophy. I quite liked having the outside subject just to add a bit of variety.
=== Campus ===
My course was based around George Square in the centre of the city, which is where most humanties students will spend most of their time. The main library is here and it is close to the students unions. Some of the buildings are attractive (such as McEwan Hall) but some are quite ugly tower blocks (e.g. David Hume Tower). There are also some classes in nice old terraced buildings to the side of the square. On the whole, I was glad to be based there as the location is so convenient. Some other subjects are elsewhere, such as the law school is further towards the Bridges (in very nice buildings), Kings Buildings for sciences are to the south and I never once set foot there! There are shuttle buses between Kings and George Square.
=== My Course ===
I was satisfied with my course (languages), especially the German Department which was amazing. It is a very small, friendly department with tutors who love their subject and many are experts on their particular research topics. The French Department also has very good tutors with real expertise, but it is not quite as friendly and personal as German simply because they have more students. Both languages have their own theatre groups which put on plays in the target language.
European language courses at Edinburgh are very traditional and literature heavy, so I would only recommend it if the idea of ploughing through old novels and plays, often in slightly out-dated language, appeals! I was not given many options until my final year, as years 1 and 2 contain a lot of compulsory modules and year 3 is spent abroad. My degree result was based only on my final exams in 4th year and my disseration which I also wrote in 4th year, so it is good for people who are good under pressure but want the option to take it easy every now and again in the earlier years! It is not ideal for people who are scared of the pressure of having everything resting on a few final exams. However, this does not apply to all subjects by any means, so definitely check with the department you are interested in if you want to know how the course is assessed!
I won't say any more about my course as it won't be relevant to most people thinking of going to Edinburgh.
=== Accommodation ===
For new first year students ariving at the university, the University of Edinburgh has a large catered hall of residence (Pollock Hall) on the South side of the city, close to Arthur's seat and Holyrood Park. It also has a large number of self-catered flats throughout the city and I chose to live in one of those as I did not want to be tied down to eating at certain times. I found the process of applying for accommodation very simple and I was allocated to my first choice residence. I was given all the information I needed when I accepted my university place.
Pollock Halls is made up of a number of different blocks. Many of these are non-descript 1960s blocks. Chancellor's Court is a comparatively modern block, built in 2003, which was seen as the most luxurious part of Pollock due to being modern and all the rooms having en-suite bathrooms. While I was at Edinburgh, the old house Salisbury Green which was one of the original buildings on the Pollock site was still in use as student housing and in my opinion this was by far the nicest house at Pollock. Unfortunately for the students it is now used as a hotel. Pollock students eat in the JMC. Personally I never ate there, but the comments I heard about the food were generally not very favourable!
The self-catered flats generally house 4-6 students, although some flats in Kincaid's Court contain 12 students! This block seemed to house a lot of exchange students including a lot of American students and European students on the Erasmus program. I went to quite a few house parties in this block and it did have a very sociable atmosphere, but I know some of the people living there did find it frustrating living with so many people due to problems with keeping it clean, so many people sharing kitchens and bathrooms etc. The self-catered flats do have cleaners who come around once a week.
I was happy with my self-catered flat. I shared with three other girls, and the whole building housed 122 students. This meant it was easy to meet and make friends with plenty of people when moving in, and people were generally friendly and in and out of each other's flats. The rooms are quite large in most flats and they have open plan kitchen lounge areas. Most flats have washing machines in the basement but a few blocks (Darroch Court, possibly others now) have their own washing machines in the flat.
Accommodation in Edinburgh is a bit more expensive than some other cities I considered, such as Manchester and Leeds. I can't remember what the prices were in my day and I am sure they have changed now, so I won't try to give any figures but I am sure they are available on the university website.
=== Social Side and Things To Do ===
The social side at Edinburgh is great. It is very varied and there is bound to be something for everyone. There are hundreds of societies and each year students have the opportunity to find out about the societies and teams on offer by going to the Societies Fair during freshers' week. This also gives them the opportunity to load up on freebies from some of the stalls!
Societies range from sports, drinking, music, Student newspaper, artistic societies, political societies, LGBT, fund raising, societies for different subjects, theatre and probably almost anything else you can think of! Most societies cost about £3 to join and you can then attend and take part in all their activities for the year.
There are three student union buildings - Teviot, Potterow and Pleasance. These are all very central and a short walk from each other. Teviot is in a lovely old building that looks a bit like a castle turret. It has more of a laid back, pubby atmosphere inside and also has a large hall for balls. Potterow is more of a clubby atmosphere. In my day the Big Cheese, a cheesy disco, was a classic for most students along with things such as 80s roller disco. In Potterow there is also a shop, coffee bar etc for day time activities. There are also meeting rooms which can be used for societies. Pleasance houses a theatre, bar, general meeting rooms for societies and also has the gym.
I am sure anyone would be able to meet likeminded students and find fun ways to spend their time at Edinburgh University.
Outside of events and activities organised by the university itself, the city offers so much. It is an amazing place to live. There are lots of really nice cafes, bars and pubs including plenty with a lot of atmosphere and personality, such as Chocolate Soup where you can get amazing hot chocolate or the Brass Monkey pub whose back room is like a huge bed to lie on and watch the films they regularly project on the wall in there. For those who like culture there is loads of art, history and buildings of interest all around the city. In the summer there is the Edinburgh Festival and in the winter Princes Street has the Winter Wonderland german market.
Edinburgh has lots of green spaces, such as Princes St Gardens and the Meadows. There is the famous Arthur's Seat hill and you feel like you are really in the countryside when climbing it. You are also close to the beach at Portobello. It is ideal!
=== Careers and Future Prospects ===
These days many students are worried about whether going to university will be worth it for them as they will be paying back £9,000 per year in fees and in this economic climate there is no guarantee of a job at the end of it. So is going to Edinburgh a good investment?
In my experience, an Edinburgh degree is a great thing to have on your CV. It is an old, traditional university and a lot of employers hold Edinburgh University in high regard. After graduating I worked abroad in Austria and people there knew of Edinburgh's good reputation. My law firm over there specifically wanted to recruit Edinburgh grads as they had had good experience of them in the past. Now I am back in the UK and wanted to get into a London law firm. I had no problem getting interviews for training contracts and I think my Edinburgh degree definitely played an important role as you often hear of HR sifting out applications from lower ranked universities and most people I met at interviews had gone to traditional universities like Edinburgh. Although Edinburgh sometimes moves up and down the league tables in the newspapers and is not always inside the top 10, it has always had a very solid reputation. It is a member of the Russell Group, which people seem to fixate on these days!
The careers service at the university is probably similar to most universities. I have to admit I didn't pay much attention to it until my final year but I then found out they host careers fairs a few times a year which give students the opportunity to learn about their options and meet big employers such as some of the law firms, banks, accountancy firms, retail companies offering grad management schemes, organisations for international aid and development and more. There is an intranet page with loads of adverts for graduate jobs as well as part-time jobs to do while at uni.
=== Overall ===
I was very happy with my choice of Edinburgh. I loved living there and I still miss it! I feel that my Edinburgh degree has set me up well for the future and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone.
Summary: Best of both worlds - great fun and great academic reputation.
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