University of Sussex

University of Sussex

University of Sussex Coat of Arms
Motto Latin: Vacate et scire
Motto in English
Be still and know
Type Public
Established 1961 (Royal Charter)
Endowment £9.4 million (2015)[1]
Chancellor Sanjeev Bhaskar
Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell
Visitor The Lord President of the Council ex officio
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 13,535 (2014/15)[3]
Undergraduates 10,150 (2014/15)[3]
Postgraduates 3,390 (2014/15)[3]
Location Falmer, East Sussex, England
Campus City, Campus, Seaside
Colours White and Flint          
Sports Volleyball, Rugby, Hockey, Lacrosse
Mascot Badger
Affiliations 1994 Group, Research Excellence Framework, BUCS

The University of Sussex is a public research university situated in Falmer, near Brighton in Sussex.[4] The university received its Royal Charter in August 1961,[5] and was a founding member of the 1994 Group of research-intensive universities promoting excellence in research and teaching.

Sussex counts three Nobel Prize winners, 14 Fellows of the Royal Society, six Fellows of the British Academy and a winner of the Crafoord Prize among its faculty. In the latest rankings, the university was placed 62nd in Europe and 140th in the world by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015–16. The Guardian University Guide 2016 placed Sussex 19th in the United Kingdom and the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016 also ranks Sussex 19th. The 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities placed the university within the top 18-21 in the United Kingdom and in the top 151-200 internationally.[6]


20th century

Campus from above in 2004. There have since been expansions most notably on central campus with the addition of the Jubilee building, which is the home of the business school, and the Swanborough student residences. The far north of campus is now where the Northfield residences are located

In an effort to establish a university to serve Brighton, a public meeting was held in December 1911 at the Royal Pavilion in order to discover ways to fund the construction of a university; the project was halted by World War I, and the money raised was used instead for books for the Municipal Technical College.

The idea was revived in the 1950s and, in June 1958, the government approved the corporation's scheme for a university at Brighton, to be the first of a new generation of what came to be known as plate glass universities.[5] The University was established as a company in 1959, with a Royal Charter being granted on 16 August 1961.[5] The University's organisation broke new ground in seeing the campus divided into Schools of Study, with students able to benefit from a multidisciplinary teaching environment. Sussex would emphasise cross-disciplinary activity, so that students would emerge from the university with a range of background or 'contextual' knowledge to complement their specialist 'core' skills in a particular subject area.[7]

Sussex came to be identified with student radicalism. In 1973 a mob of students physically prevented United States government adviser Samuel P. Huntington from giving a speech on campus, due to his involvement in the Vietnam War.[8]

21st century

In an attempt to appeal to a modern audience, the university chose in 2004 to cease using its coat of arms [9] and replace it with the "us" logo (a somewhat odd decision given the anti-US opinions of many of the staff and students). The then Vice-Chancellor of the University described the new visual identity as "the starting point for what will be a fresh look and feel for Sussex. It is based on the university's vision and values, themselves a statement of what it aspires to be: pioneering, creative, international, excellent, engaging and challenging."[10]


A picture of Meeting House and Library Square
Side entrance to Bramber House with Eat Central food court
A view of the Arts Piazza Cafe situated in the Arts building on the south end of campus
View of Bramber House from Jubilee Economics building

Sussex has been noted to have an attractive location. The university is situated in undulating parkland on the edge of Brighton, and the campus architecture itself has been praised. The campus is surrounded by the South Downs National Park, but relatively close to Brighton, Hove and Lewes.

The campus, designed by Sir Basil Spence, is in the village of Falmer, next to its railway station, and accessed by car from the A27 road. It is situated close to the South Downs, which influenced Spence's design of the campus. The campus is self-contained with facilities and shops.[11]

Spence's designs were appreciated in the architecture community, with many of the buildings on the University's campus winning awards. The gatehouse-inspired Falmer House won a bronze medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects.[5] Another campus building, The Meeting House, won the Civic Trust award in 1969.[12] In 1993, the buildings which made up the core of Spence's designs were given listed building status, with Falmer House being one of only two buildings to be given a Grade 1 status of "exceptional interest".[12]

Sussex laid claim to being the "only English university located entirely within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty".[13] It is now entirely surrounded by the newly founded South Downs National Park.

The Gardner Arts Centre, another of Basil Spence's designs, was opened in 1969 as the first university campus arts centre.[14] It had a 480-seat purpose built theatre, a visual art gallery and studio space and was regularly used for theatre and dance as well as showing a range of films on a modern cinema screen. The Centre closed in the summer of 2007:[15] withdrawal of funding and the cost of renovating the building were given as the key reasons. Following an extensive refurbishment, the centre will reopen as the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA) in autumn 2015.

The campus has facilities such as the Genome Damage and Stability Centre; the medical imaging equipment at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS); and the University's Library, until 2013 the home of the Mass Observation Archive, which relocated to The Keep, a purpose-built facility situated nearby.

Organisation and administration

Schools of Studies

The university was founded with the unusual structure of "Schools of Study" (ubiquitously abbreviated to "schools") rather than traditional university departments within arts and science faculties.

In the early 1990s the University promoted the system by claiming "[c]lusters of faculty [come] together within schools to pursue new areas of intellectual enquiry. The schools also foster broader intellectual links. Physics with Management Studies, Science and Engineering with European Studies, Economics with Mathematics all reach beyond conventional Arts/Science divisions."[16] By this time the original schools had been developed somewhat and were:

There was also the Institute of Development Studies(IDS).

In 2001, as the university celebrated its 40th anniversary, the then Vice-Chancellor Alasdair Smith proposed[17] major changes to the curriculum across the "Arts schools", and the senate agreed to structural changes which would create two Arts schools and a "Sussex Institute" in place of the five schools then in place. Corresponding changes would be made in Sciences.

The changes were finally implemented in September 2003. After discussion in senate and the schools, disciplinary departments which had been located across the different schools, were located firmly within one school, and undergraduates were offered straightforward degree subjects. The multi-disciplinarity provided by the school courses was now to be achieved through elective courses from other departments and schools. The new schools were:

In 2009 the university adopted a new organisational structure. The term "Schools of Studies" was retained, but each was headed by a "Head of School" rather than the traditional "Dean". Many of these new heads were appointed from outside Sussex rather than from existing faculty. The schools as of 2009 are listed below.[18] The term "department" has been retained in some cases, where a school contains separate disciplines.

The changes did not affect the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS).

Educational partners

Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) results from a partnership between the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex. The school, the first medical school in the South East outside London, gained its licence in 2002 and opened in 2003. The school attracts thousands of prospective doctors both from Britain and from the rest of the world - so many in fact, that in 2005 it was by far the most competitive UK medical school, with 16 applicants per place.

The Institute of Development Studies offers research, teaching and communications related to international development. IDS originated in 1966 as a research institute based at the University of Sussex. It is financially and constitutionally independent under the status of a charitable company limited by guarantee.

The Centre for Research in Innovation Management, a research-based school of the University of Brighton, dates from 1990. It is located in the Freeman Centre building with the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) on the University of Sussex campus.

The Sussex Innovation Centre, an on-campus commercial business centre, opened in 1996. It provides services for the formation and growth of technology- and knowledge-based companies in the South East. It offers a business environment to over 40 companies in the IT, biotech, media and engineering sectors.

Study Group works in partnership with the University to provide the Sussex University International Study Centre (ISC).[21] It offers a course of academic subjects, study skills and English-language training for students who wish to study a degree at the university but who do not yet possess the necessary qualifications to start a degree. The ISC course provides students with English-language and academic skills to start at Sussex the following year.

The Brighton Institute of Modern Music offers BA courses in Modern Musicianship - validated by the University of Sussex - at its centres in Brighton and Bristol.[22]

In 2012 the new Centre for Advanced International Theory (CAIT) was founded at Sussex, conducting research in the field of international relations.

Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors

Lord Attenborough in academic regalia
Library Square at Christmas

The current and fifth Chancellor of the university is Sanjeev Bhaskar, who succeeded Lord Attenborough in 2009.[23]

Name of Chancellor Period
The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley 1961-65
The Lord Shawcross 1965-85
The Duke of Richmond 1985-98
The Lord Attenborough 1998-2009
Sanjeev Bhaskar OBE 2009-present

The university has had seven Vice-Chancellors:

Name of Vice-Chancellor Period
John Fulton 1961-67
Asa Briggs 1967-76
Denys Wilkinson 1976-87
Leslie Fielding 1987-92
Gordon Conway 1992-98
Alasdair Smith 1998-2007
Michael Farthing 2007-16
Adam Tickell 2016-Present

Academic profile


(2016, national)
(2016, world)
(2016/17, national)
(2016/17, world)
(2016/17, national)
(2016/17, world)
(2017, national)
The Guardian[31]
(2017, national)
Times/Sunday Times[32]
(2017, national)

The University of Sussex was ranked 62nd in Europe and 140th in the world by The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015/2016. The Academic Ranking of World Universities 2015 put the University of Sussex in the top 151–200 globally, while the university was ranked 187th in the world according to the QS World University Rankings 2016. Notably, the QS World University Rankings by Subject for 2016 placed the University of Sussex number two in the world for Development Studies, while it was ranked number one in the world for the same subject in 2015's instalment of the rankings.[33][34] Nationally, the University of Sussex is ranked among the top 20 universities by The Academic Ranking of World Universities, The Guardian and The Times/Sunday Times.


The results of the Research Excellence Framework 2014 show that 98 per cent of research activity at Sussex is categorised as ‘world-leading’ (28 per cent), ‘internationally excellent’ (48 per cent) or ‘internationally recognised’ (22 per cent) in terms of originality, significance and rigour.[35] Sussex History was the highest rated History submission in the UK for the quality of its research outputs. The Sussex English submission rose from 31st to 9th across the UK since the last research assessment exercise in 2008. 84 per cent of the University’s research impact in Psychology was rated as the top possible grade, 4*. Sussex Geography had the most 4* rated research impact of any Geography submission across the UK.[36]

Student life


University of Sussex Square
Shawcross Building

Accommodation on campus was expanded in the 1970s with the construction of the unusual split-level flats of East Slope. This development also has a social building with a porters' office and bar.

In the 1990s, as student numbers rose, further developments were constructed in the corner of campus between East Slope and Park Village. Brighthelm and Lewes Court were constructed in public-private partnership funding arrangements with the Bradford & Northern and Kelsey Housing Associations.

In total there are seven areas of student accommodation on campus. Two newer accommodation areas were completed recently: one next to Falmer railway station, named Stanmer Court, and the other next to East Slope, opposite Bramber House, known as Swanborough.[37]

The newest student residences, named Northfield, were constructed at the top end of campus, beyond Lewes Court, which opened in September 2011, with more planning to be opened by December 2013.[38]


All weather pitch at the university

The University competes in the following sports, usually with both men's and women's teams:

Campus media

The Badger is the Union’s weekly newspaper and is written and designed entirely by Sussex students. It aims to represent the views and interests of students and communicate the work of the Union, as well as informing members about local, national and international issues that affect them as students.

University Radio Falmer was one of the first student radio stations in the country. It broadcasts to the world via the Internet.[41] The station has a busy daytime schedule and during the evening offers a range of genre programming, all from Sussex students. URF also runs a news service which is bound by legal regulations to remain neutral and unbiased. It won a bronze award in the best scripted programming category in the 2008 UK Student Radio Awards.[42]

"University of Sussex Student Television", abbreviated to UniTV is a student television channel, launched in September 2010. UniTV is a member of NaSTA (National Student Television Association) and has won 7 NaSTA awards in the past three years.

International students and opportunities

Of the 10,500 students at Sussex, around a quarter are international. Sussex has academic staff from over 50 countries and students from over 120 countries.

The University includes people from many different religious and cultural backgrounds, and there are several places for religious worship on campus.

English Language courses for speakers of other languages are provided by the Language Institute. "English in the Vacation" is intensive practice of spoken and written English. An International Foundation Year offered by the ISC offers routes directly to Sussex degrees.[43]

The International Summer School runs for four and eight weeks starting in July, providing intensive courses. It is predominantly attended by foreign students.[44] The ISS trips office provides excursions to prominent cities, theatres, and activities.[45]

Sussex students may also spend a year abroad as part of their degree in a variety of European institutions through the ERASMUS programme, as well as North America, Asia, Central & South America, Australia and North Africa.[46] Such study abroad opportunities are a result of the strong relationships Sussex has with a number of institutions including all campuses of the University of California.

Notable people

Notable alumni

Notable staff

In the sciences Sussex counts among its past and present faculty five Nobel Prize winners: Sir Anthony Leggett,[47] Sir Paul Nurse,[48] Archer Martin,[49][50] Sir John Cornforth[51] and Harry Kroto.[52] Sir Harry, the first Briton to win the chemistry prize in over ten years, received the prize in 1996 for the discovery of a new class of carbon compounds known as the fullerenes.

John Maynard Smith, FRS, founding father of Sussex Biology was honoured with the Crafoord Prize [53] and the Kyoto Prize[54] for his contributions to Evolutionary Biology.

The University has 15 Fellows of the Royal Society. These include Geoff Cloke (Inorganic Chemistry); Michael F. Land (Animal Vision - Frink Medal); Michael Lappert (Inorganic Chemistry); Alan Lehmann (Genetics and Genome Stability); John Murrell (Theoretical Chemistry); John Nixon (Inorganic Chemistry); Laurence Pearl (Structural Biology); Guy Richardson (Neuroscience).

In the arts, there are six members of faculty who have the distinction of being Fellows of the British Academy. Faculty staff publish around 3,000 papers, journal articles and books each year, as well as being involved in consultative work across the world.

Other prominent academics on the staff of the University have included; Geoffrey Bennington, the creator of the MA programme in Modern French Thought; Homi K. Bhabha (postcolonialism); Jonathan Dollimore (Renaissance literature, gender and queer studies); Katy Gardner (social anthropology); Gabriel Josipovici (Dante, the Bible); Jacqueline Rose (feminism, psychoanalysis); Nicholas Royle (modern literature and theory; deconstruction); Alan Sinfield (Shakespeare, sexuality, queer theory); Brian Street (anthropology); Gavin Ashenden (Senior Lecturer in English, University Chaplain, and Chaplain to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II);[55] and Michael Lipton, shared winner of the 2012 Leontief Prize.


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  2. 1 2 "Financial Statements 2014-15" (PDF). University of Sussex. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
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  9. "Official Crest on Vellum a". Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  10. "Press release archive : News and events : University of Sussex". University of Sussex. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
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  15. "Gardner Arts Centre enters final season". University of Sussex. Retrieved 12 August 2007.
  16. The University of Sussex (1990, 1991). The University of Sussex Undergraduate Prospectus 1991 OCLC 50454932
  17. "Bulletin". University of Sussex. 20 July 2001.
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  19. University of Sussex (13 March 2012). "Two new heads of school to be appointed". The University of Sussex. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
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  44. Courses: International Summer School: University of Sussex Archived 1 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  45. "Trips: International Summer School: University of Sussex". Archived from the original on 10 September 2010. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  46. Web Team. "Destinations". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
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  48. "Sir Paul M. Nurse". Retrieved 18 May 2011.
  49. "Archer John Porter Martin". Retrieved 18 May 2011.
  50. "Martin, Archer John Porter". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/77176. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
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  54. "Japan's "Nobel Prize" for Sussex University biologist".
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