Bath Spa University

Bath Spa University is a public university in Bath, England, with its main campus based at Newton Park on Duchy of Cornwall land. The University has other campuses in the city of Bath, and one at Corsham Court in Wiltshire.

Bath Spa University
Established2005 - Bath Spa University (gained university status)
1997 - Bath Spa University College
1975 - Bath College of Higher Education
1852 - Bath School of Art
ChancellorJeremy Irons
Vice-ChancellorSue Rigby
Students7,980 (2016/17)[2]
Undergraduates6,250 (2016/17)[2]
Postgraduates1,730 (2016/17)[2]
Location, ,

51°22′32″N 2°26′18″W
AffiliationsUniversities UK
Association of Commonwealth Universities

The institution gained full university status in August 2005, and was previously known as Bath College of Higher Education, and later Bath Spa University College. It is the UK's sixth biggest provider of Teacher Education.[3]


The institution can trace its roots back to the foundation of the Bath School of Art in 1852, following the impact of The Great Exhibition of 1851.

In 1946 Bath Teacher Training College was opened on the Newton Park campus, as part of the post-war initiatives to fill wartime teaching shortages. It was a women's college offering two year courses, under the Principal Mary Dawson. The present institution was formed in 1975 as Bath College of Higher Education by the merger of Bath Teacher Training College and Bath College of Domestic Science. In 1983 Bath Academy of Art also merged into the college.

In 1992, the college was granted degree-awarding powers and in 1997 adopted the name Bath Spa University College.[4] In March 2005 the institution was granted university status, becoming Bath Spa University in August 2005.[5]


Newton Park

The Newton Park campus, located to the west of Bath near the village of Newton St Loe, is the largest of the university's three main campuses. It is here that courses from all schools are taught, with the exception of Art and Design and most post-graduate courses. The campus is based in Newton Park in grounds designed by English landscape architect Lancelot "Capability" Brown and leased from the Duchy of Cornwall. The campus features buildings from a mixture of ages including many listed buildings, all still used as teaching or administration spaces, such as the Grade I Listed Main House building built between 1762 and 1765 by Stiff Leadbetter for Joseph Langton,[6] the remnants of the 14th century Newton St Loe Castle, a scheduled monument holding a Grade 1 listed building status and several other grade 2 and 2* listed stable buildings, gardens and walled gardens. It is the only campus to house student accommodation on its premises. The campus is home to the Students Union, which operates out of the union building at the top of the campus. The site has a lake, nature reserve, woodlands and arable farmlands. The campus is currently undergoing an enormous development program (see Plans) that will transform the campus in phases over the coming years.[7]

'Commons' Academic Building

In the summer of 2012 work began on the development of a new academic building, now called "Commons", roughly in the centre of the Newton Park campus. Situated next to the academic building is an outside amphitheatre primarily for use by the School of Music and Performing arts. The building was handed over to the university at the end of January 2014, and was officially opened on 5 June 2014, by Academy Award-winning film producer Lord Puttnam CBE.[8]

Michael Tippett Centre Located at Newton Park is the Michael Tippett Centre, which is the only purpose built concert hall in Bath.[9] The building features a large number of teaching rooms and spaces, and the hall itself is used for lectures mainly by the School of Music and Performing Arts. The hall is routinely used for exhibitions, musical performances and plays from student performers as well professional acts from around the country.

University Theatre The University Theatre is also situated on the Newton Park campus and was part of a £5.7m scheme designed by Fielden Clegg Bradley Architects LLP and was completed in 2006. It comprises a 186-seat auditorium with backstage and technical facilities, including three large teaching studios. The venue is used by the School of Music and Performing Arts for teaching, student actors, directors, production managers, choreographers and dancers.

Bath School of Art and Design, Sion Hill, Bath

The Sion Hill campus is in the north of Bath, in the Lansdown district. This campus houses the Bath School of Art and Design and the majority of Art and Design courses are taught here. Its history extends to the original Bath School of Art which was founded in 1852. One of the earliest Masters of the school Anthony Carey Stannus, an Irish painter noted for marine scenes and who later helped establish a society which evolved into the Royal Ulster Academy.[10] Until 2009, the University also owned the nearby Somerset Place. The sale of this listed Georgian crescent was intended to finance a new campus in the city centre. This development, alongside the Dyson School of Design Innovation, did not proceed due to planning issues relating to the chosen riverside site.

Corsham Court, Corsham

The University has a specialist centre for postgraduate research and teaching in Corsham Court, Corsham, Wiltshire. The university developed this centre in 2008 after an absence of more than 20 years from the site.[11] Corsham Court became the home of the Bath Academy of Art (now Bath School of Art and Design and part of the University) when its premises were destroyed during the Second World War. Walter Sickert, who taught in that School was also a mentor to Lord Methuen RA, owner of the Court. The centre handles the majority of postgraduate courses, and includes development support for research projects, postgraduate workshops, studios and seminar rooms providing facilities for the academic Schools, specialist facilities for music, photography, film and textiles, a library and dedicated librarian, shared quiet study and social learning spaces for Masters and PhD research students, a common room space, a university research office which works with schools on the development of funding bids to external agencies, and a gallery space - managed by the Bath School of Art & Design in support of undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum activities.[12]

Rush Hill, Bath

This campus is located in the Southdown area of Bath. It is situated next to Bath Community Academy (formerly Culverhay School) and was formerly the school's Humanities block. The campus is the home to most of the University's Postgraduate Certificate in Education Secondary and Middle Years Education courses, including History, Music, English, Geography, Mathematics and Religious Education. Facilities at the campus are not as extensive as those found in Newton Park but there are IT facilities and a common room.

Additional teaching sites

The University maintains some smaller satellite teaching spaces around Bath for use by students on certain courses, often those that require large amounts of space that are simply not available at the other campuses.

  • Dartmouth Avenue, Bath, was developed as a series of painting and media studios as well as a project space for year two students by the Bath School of Art and Design. This was to offset the loss of space incurred with the sale of Somerset Place. The site has been expanded into an adjoining building to accommodate creative studios and a second, larger, project space (the first now being predominantly used for life drawing classes).
  • Burdall's Yard, Bath, is an Arts Centre for the School of Music and Performing Arts. The centre is used as a teaching, rehearsal and performance space and also hosts cultural events. These have included Party in the City (Bath Festival) and a UK Songwriting Festival gig with singer/songwriter Eddi Reader.
  • Ashman's Yard, Bath, is home to the Theatre Production Centre for the School of Music and Performing Arts. Located between Newton Park campus and Bath City centre, this facility was formally opened by Vice Chancellor, Professor Christina Slade, in 2012. Students based here undertake practical work on the BA (Hons) Theatre Production course. Facilities include a construction workshop, costume workshop, prop making workshop, production office with Mac editing suite, and a student common room.
  • Artswork Media at Paintworks, Bristol, located at Paintworks business park in Bristol, Artswork Media Ltd. is the university's media production company that is run by a team of media professionals and third year students of the University. It offers training, professional practice and experiential learning for students of various programmes. It provides a production office, edit suites, lighting equipment and video cameras.

Development plans

Since 2012 massive development has been undertaken at the Newton Park campus and plans exist for further development in the future subject to being granted planning permission. The existing buildings in the main Newton Park campus are being gradually refurbished and modified to deal with the influx of students expected in the next few years.[13] The Duchy of Cornwall, the university's landlord, raised some objections to these plans.[14]

Plans exist on the University's website that detail further development to the Newton Park campus, including replacing the Lakeside accommodation blocks, relocating the nursery and replacing the security lodge.

Herman Miller Building

In October 2015 the university announced that it had submitted proposals for the purchase and redevelopment of the Herman Miller factory building on Locksbrook Road, Bath,[15] with the desire to make it the new home for Bath School of Art and Design.[16] The idea for a move of campus is due to the current Sion Hill campus not providing enough academic space for the university's needs. The University received support from the factory's architect, Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, as well as B&NES council in November 2015. The proposals detail changes that would be made to car parking provision on the site, as well as a more general transport plan for the campus.[17] The location of the current factory building means it is within walking distance of Charlton Court, Waterside Court, Twerton Mill and Green Park House student accommodation blocks, meaning a reduced reliance on private cars to the new campus for those living at this accommodation, as well as meaning the campus is closer to the city centre.

In 2016 the purchase went ahead, and detailed redevelopment plans have been drawn up during 2017.[18] The University's planning application for the redevelopment was approved by Bath and North East Somerset Council in September 2017.[19]


Schools of study

The University has six schools of study.

The Bath School of Art and Design is based at the Sion Hill and Dartmouth Avenue campus' and teaches art, fine art, graphic communication, interactive multimedia, media communication, materials based design, textile design studies and visual culture.

The Institute for Education teaches Education Studies as an academic subject, and also has responsibility for PGCE provision and for other postgraduate studies in education. The School has links to over 400 schools in the region and further afield, and students taking teacher training courses can take their placements through these schools.[20] Graduates from the school are highly sought after, and the university the largest provider of teacher education in the region, the sole provider in the city of Bath, and the sixth largest provider in the country.[21] Based at the Newton Park campus, the Bath Spa Institute for Education allows Bath Spa teachers, classroom teachers, education practitioners, academics, and anyone interested in education come together in a community of research and practice.[22] Plans originally called for a new campus to be constructed in Wiltshire but these have since been abandoned.

The School of Humanities and Cultural Industries has responsibility for undergraduate courses in English Literature and in Creative Writing (including Writing for Young People) and the MA in Creative Writing (MACW). It also teaches subjects such as history, cultural studies, the study of religions, media communications, and film studies.

The School of Music and the Performing Arts is responsible for courses in music, music technology, dance, drama, creative arts, performing arts and acting. The university is one of the ten largest providers of music degrees in the country and receives on average 10 applications for every place available on its music courses.[23]

The School of Society, Enterprise and Environment is responsible for the teaching of biology, environmental science, food nutrition, geography, tourism management, psychology, sociology, health-care and business and management studies.

The School of Research and Graduate Affairs is responsible for postgraduate level qualifications and offers funding for PhD and MPhil level qualifications. The PhD in Creative Writing has a reputation of being one of the UK's leading doctoral programmes in this area.[24]

Academic profile

Rankings and reputation

National rankings
Complete (2020)[25]94
Guardian (2020)[26]107
Times / Sunday Times (2020)[27]103
British Government assessment
Teaching Excellence Framework[28]Silver

In 2005, 2006 and 2008 the university was named in the top 10 modern British universities by The Sunday Times, at positions 8, 5 and 8 respectively.[29] The university was again ranked 8th best modern university in the UK by The Sunday Times in their 2016 university guide.[30]

According to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework assessment, 51% of the research undertaken at the university is either world leading or internationally significant, up from 19% in 2008. Acceptance rate is 12%. [31]

Bath Spa University is ranked as one of the top five creative universities in the UK by Which?'s student survey.[32]

Some courses at Bath Spa rank well amongst university subject league tables:

  • The 2015 Complete University Guide ranked the Art and Design courses 29th in the UK, and Music courses at 32nd.
  • The Guardian ranked Art courses at 27th in the UK in 2015.
  • The Guardian ranked Film Production and Photography at the university 23rd in the UK in 2016.
  • The Sunday Times ranked Creative Writing 12th in the country in 2016.

Partnership and collaboration

The University has formed partnerships with a number of regional Further Education Colleges and institutions. Under the Partnership, students take the first year of their Higher Education course in their local college and, if successful, the rest of their course at Bath Spa University. The British and Irish Modern Music Institute campus in Bristol has all of its courses verified by Bath Spa University.[33]

The partners are:

Student satisfaction

The university has had 3 years of continuous rises in the National Student Survey, and in 2015 Bath Spa University was ranked joint 20th in the United Kingdom with 90% student satisfaction, 4% above the national average of 86%. In 2013 and 2014, student satisfaction was 87% and 89% respectively.[34]

Student life

Student accommodation

The University currently offers accommodation to 2,264 students in several locations around the Bath area, as well as on its main Newton Park campus.

Newton Park Campus

The Newton Park Campus currently houses 868 students in single, shared and en-suite study bedrooms. The accommodation forms two groups of buildings at either end of the campus, known as Lakeside and Gardens. Bus stops by the library building and Lakeside accommodation service the U5 and U6 buses. Both groups of accommodation have access to laundrette facilities. Because of the limited availability of parking, students living on campus are not permitted to bring a car, however bicycle racks and some motorcycle parking spaces are available.

In June 2013 work began on the development of a new "student village" in the main Newton Park campus, known as Gardens, which houses 561 first year students in separate "houses" of up to 10 students. Building work was completed during the summer of 2014 in time for the start of the academic year in October. Work on the surrounding landscaping and car parks was completed during early 2015.

Mail services at the university are handled at a building called 'The Vinery', which also contains the estates and management team and is located adjacent to the Students' Union building, and next to the estates and management workshops and garages. The university also has two Amazon Lockers on campus, situated in the Refectory and outside Stanton building.

City accommodation

  • Green Park House: A 461-bed property located in the centre of Bath, available for new students starting in September 2016. This accommodation offers en-suite rooms in shared flats, townhouses with shared facilities, studios, and twodios (two study bedrooms with shared bathroom and kitchen facilities). The building also provides four accessible rooms on the ground floor. There are two accessible studios and two en-suite rooms within a cluster flat. The property has been built using classic Bath Stone, taking design inspiration from historical photographs that show a building of similar style occupying this location in the 1930s.
  • Waterside Court: Offers 316 en-suite bed spaces and is run by student accommodation company Unite Students. It is next to the Charlton Court accommodation on the Lower Bristol Road, and is only a short distance from the centre of Bath and has a nearby bus stop with buses running to the centre as well as the university itself.
  • Charlton Court: Offers 294 en-suite bed spaces and is run by Unite Students. It is located next to the Waterside Court accommodation on the Lower Bristol Road.
  • Twerton Mill: In 2015 the university acquired 277 rooms at the new Twerton Mill development on the Lower Bristol Road. These rooms were made available as of the 2015/2016 academic year. The development is a carless site, with only 4 total parking spaces; 3 disabled spaces and 1 maintenance space.[35] This development consists of a mixture of en-suite and traditional town houses with shared bathrooms and kitchens. Run by CRM, facilities at Twerton Mill include: Laundry facilities, common room, secure bicycle storage, inclusive bills, basic Endsleigh contents insurance included in the tenancy and WIFI with a base speed of 50Mb wired.
  • Bankside House: Situated 10 minutes from the Sion Hill campus, and comprises 10 flats making a total of 40 student bed spaces. It is located in a way that it is ideal for people who are studying at the Sion Hill campus, the Circus, Dartmouth Avenue and City of Bath College[36]

Students' Union

The main Students' Union facilities are at the Newton Park campus, although the Union maintains a presence in all campuses. The Main union building runs a bar, café, gym and shop, and hosts regular events throughout the academic year. There are 20 sports societies, 40 interest societies and 10 sports clubs run by the union, many of which compete in the BUCS.[37] The sports facilities include rugby and football pitches at the top of the campus, as well as a netball court and changing facilities inside the walled garden adjacent to the union building. The walled garden itself is also a social space, featuring BBQs, games tables, seating and tables, a small pond, greenhouses and small allotment style areas. The Union is in charge of organising the Freshers events, as well as the Winter and Summer balls. It also has facilities to run health campaigns and give academic advice to students, volunteering and skill development opportunities, travel opportunities, and it liaises directly with the University and organisations nationally and in the local area to campaign about and discuss issues that affect students.[38]

The Union also has its own student card called Student Zest, founded by students in 2012 which offers discounts on goods and services offered in over 100 local businesses. There is a dedicated website that deals with matters concerning this card.[39]

The Students' Union building at Newton Park campus was refurbished during the summer of 2014, doubling the size of shop, reconfiguring the bar/cafe area, improving the gym, and updating the toilet facilities. There is also a new footpath around the front entrance of the building improving access. The Students' Union is also working with the University, the student body, and architects, to produce a long term plan to completely rebuild the Union.[40]

Alumni Community

Bath Spa University's growing alumni community is a network of over 80,000 graduates, former students and staff, honorary graduates, friends and benefactors. It publishes an annual alumni magazine and promotes raising philanthropic income for a wide range of important projects for the university, particularly the Bath Spa Students Fund and bursaries. The president is Mary Berry, who is a former student of the Bath College of Domestic Science and is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from the university.

Oak Tree Day Nursery

Oak Tree Day Nursery was established in 1995 and operates from two adjoining houses in the parkland grounds of the university's Newton Park campus. It is a full day-care nursery offering both full and part-time places for the children of university staff and students as well as the local community.[41] It has won numerous awards, including The Baby Quality Award in 2011, the Children's and Young People's Rights Gold Award in 2012, and the Director of Public Health Award in 2013.[42]

Notable people

Academic staff



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