Most beautiful universities in the UK and Ireland

Sep 25 20

Do you want to attend lectures in a medieval castle, relax on green lawns, and study ancient books in the library? The atmosphere of a university motivates and inspires students and helps them achieve academic success. Knowing that you can study in such institutions encourages you to set your goals and work hard to achieve them.

And where can you find a huge variety of old and stately universities? Of course, in the UK and Ireland – countries whose poets and writers gave the world so many legends about kings, knights, and castles. Yes, British and Irish universities aren’t just some of the most prestigious in Europe, but also some of the most beautiful, where you will study in a rich historical atmosphere or on a peaceful campus surrounded by nature. 

To inspire you, we have chosen 10 beautiful universities in the UK and Ireland! 

Royal Holloway, University of London

Founder's Building, Royal Holloway
Study at Royal Holloway with!

Founded in 1879, Royal Holloway is part of the University of London. It lies in close proximity to the capital of Britain, whilst also being located in the leafy county of Surrey.

Its striking Neo-Gothic main building – the Founders Building – was designed to look like the magnificent Chambord Castle in the Loire Valley, France. It was opened by Queen Victoria herself two centuries ago! The Founders Building remains one of the UK’s most impressive university buildings, and is a popular filming destination, for example in the TV series Downton Abbey. What’s more, inside the luxurious interiors of the building is an art gallery with Victorian-era exhibits!

Aside from the pristine 19th century beauty of the university buildings, on the territory of Royal Holloway is an arboretum – a forest park home to countless animals and plants. You’ll also find a number of modern buildings in which there are educational facilities and student residences.

Queen’s University Belfast

Queen's University Belfast
The grand Queen’s University Belfast

Queen’s University Belfast is one of the highest-ranked universities in Northern Ireland, one of the most striking buildings in all of Belfast, and one of the ten oldest universities in the UK!

The main building of the university, the Lanyon Building, was designed in the Gothic and Tudor styles, much like the great medieval universities of the United Kingdom. Local students have nicknamed the university ‘Hogwarts’, which is no surprise – it even has a Great Hall! Apparently, Queen’s University is also home to some magical occurrences. For example, right opposite the entrance, under the clock, sits a statue of Galileo deep in thought. Students say that on the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour, Galileo suddenly blinks. 

Trinity College Dublin

Long Room of the Old Library, Trinity College Dublin
Imagine studying in the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin!

Trinity College Dublin is the No.1 university in the Republic of Ireland. The oldest part of the college is a long red-brick building called the Rubrics, built in around 1700! Originally, the Rubrics was part of a quadrangle of similar buildings around the college’s Library Square, but now it is the only remaining structure. 

  • Did you know? Edward Ford, Fellow of the College, was murdered outside the Rubrics in 1734. Rumour has it that his ghost still wanders alongside the Rubrics at dusk.

To the south of the Rubrics is one of the world’s most beautiful and magnificent libraries – the Old Library! The main chamber of the Old Library is known as the Long Room. Its 65-metre hall is lined with marble busts of great philosophers and writers connected with Trinity College, and the room is filled with 200,000 of the Old Library’s oldest books! The main treasure of the Long Room is considered to be the Book of Kells – an ancient manuscript written by Irish monks in the year 800 AD. Every student and book lover simply must visit this library!

University of St Andrews

St Andrews University
Study at the 3rd oldest university in the English-speaking world!

Founded in the 1400s, the University of St Andrews is the 3rd oldest university in the English-speaking world, and was named UK University of the Year in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020.

The University of St Andrews is located in the east of Scotland right on the North Sea coast, near a hilly forest. The coolness of the local climate is compensated by breathtaking views of nature, which can only be seen on postcards and in guidebooks of the most picturesque corners of the planet. The university is part of the ancient city of St Andrews: spectacular historic structures are combined with the vibrant architecture of modern research buildings.

The oldest buildings of the university complex, such as the Chapel of St Salvador, St Leonard’s College and St Mary’s College, are still in use. Incidentally, this isn’t only a charming place but also a romantic one – Prince William and his wife, Duchess Catherine, got acquainted whilst studying at St Andrew’s University 😍.

University of Sheffield

University of Sheffield, Faculty of Music and The Diamond.jpg - Wikimedia Common
The University of Sheffield is a fascinating combination of old and new

The University of Sheffield campus is a unique combination of old and new, as antique buildings from centuries past meet modern structures. The Faculty of Engineering is housed in one of the campus’s most high-tech buildings, known as the Diamond, which received its name due to its truly unusual facade. Inside, the Diamond has 19,500 m² of space for state-of-the-art media facilities, specialised engineering laboratories, lecture halls, and seminar rooms for 5,000 students. It adjoins the Department of Music, housed in the Gothic-Revival style former Jessop Hospital for Women. As well as this, the University of Sheffield’s Central Block and Sir Frederick Mappin buildings are two grand, red-brick Victorian buildings linked by a modern curved glass roof.

National University of Ireland

Quadrangle Building, National University of Ireland, Galway
Study at the National University of Ireland!

Not far from Galway city centre, on the banks of the picturesque Corrib River, stands a magnificent building belonging to the National University of Ireland. The oldest part of the institution is the Quadrangle Building, which was modelled on Christ Church College, Oxford University.

The Quadrangle, which sits around a green central courtyard, is a vivid example of the Tudor style. It was built from unique grey stone mined near Galway. The facade of the building is decorated with arched windows and two graceful towers with battlements. The octagonal tower, crowned with a green dome and a sharp spire, immediately draws the eye of anyone nearby!

University of Glasgow

University of Glasgow main building
The University of Glasgow is an architectural masterpiece

Heading north from England, you’ll find yourself at the University of Glasgow – the fourth oldest in the English-speaking world!

The main building looks like a true castle and is the second-largest Gothic Revival building in the UK, its 280-foot tower reaching high over Glasgow’s skyline. The magnificent lobby of the main building is decorated with mosaic tiles, marble columns, a granite staircase, wall paintings, gold leaf, and faience pottery. The building itself and the surrounding grounds are decorated with various sculptures. You can appreciate all the beauty of this university only with your own eyes!

University of Nottingham

Trent Building, University of Nottingham
Study at the stunning University of Nottingham!

The University of Nottingham’s main campus – University Park – is home not just to beautiful buildings, but is one of the greenest campuses in the UK. University Park campus has won a Green Flag Award for its landscaping  every year from 2003, and is so beautiful that it is even used for weddings! Studying in the grand white stone Trent and Portland Buildings is really quite inspiring, as you feel part of a centuries-old institution. Both these buildings overlook the lawn and Highfield’s Boating Lake, the perfect place to relax after lectures and rent a boat in summertime with your friends. Many of the student halls are located around the Downs, a huge green space where festivals and parties are held. The Jubilee Campus is also home to lakes, water features and green spaces, which are dotted with ultra-modern buildings such as the Djanogly Learning Resource Centre.

University of Aberdeen

King's College, University of Aberdeen
The University of Aberdeen is home to a medieval chapel

The last of the four oldest Scottish universities, the University of Aberdeen is known for its graduates, including Nobel Prize winners. The university’s buildings are recognisable symbols of the city: King’s College and Marischal College are a particular pride of Aberdeen’s architecture. The oldest buildings in the King’s College complex – the Corona Tower and the chapel – date back to 1500! The openwork “lantern” of the tower is considered a masterpiece of medieval architecture, and oak seats with awnings and other elements of the chapel’s original decor have been preserved, making it the most complete example of medieval church interiors in Scotland.

University of Birmingham

Aston Webb buildings in snow, The University of Birmingham
Imagine yourself at the University of Birmingham!

Another of the UK’s gorgeous Russell Group universities is the University of Birmingham. On its Edgbaston campus are landmarks such as the huge semicircular Aston Webb block, which is home to the Bramall Music Hall, Lapworth Museum of Geology, and late-Victorian Great Hall with its domed ceiling. On the lawn just opposite stands the ‘Old Joe’ clock tower, the tallest free-standing clock tower in the world! The Green Heart is 12 acres of green space in the very centre of campus with walking and cycle routes, trees and beautiful landscaping. Nearby you can find the Winterbourne House and Botanic Gardens, a green oasis in the city home to 6,000 different species of plant!


Now you know about the most ancient, prestigious and unique campuses in the UK and Ireland where you can become a world-class specialist. If your dream is to study in the UK, then is here to help! Visit our website to discover the programmes and scholarships available to you at UK universities. And if you’re still not convinced about why you should study in the UK, check out our blog post. will help you to apply for UK programmes and scholarships and to prepare for your move abroad. Let your dream education start today!

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