The University of Bath is among the top rated universities in the UK1. Relatively young - it was founded in 1966 - and having a somewhat small student population of approximately 8000, it has nevertheless built up a fine reputation as a science and technology centre of excellence.
And On Your left...
A district and city in the county of Avon, England. Bath lies along the River Avon in a natural amphitheatre of steep hills. Built of local limestone, it is one of the most elegant and architecturally distinguished of British cities.
The University Of Bath can be found to the north east of the city proper, on top of one of the many surrounding hills. This placement means that in times of heavy snowfall it is completely cut off from the rest of the city - vehicles cannot traverse the hills due to the treacherous road conditions. The out of town location does mean the university is essentially self-sufficient and, if they so wish, students need not leave the confines of the campus.
The Place Itself
The university itself is a campus-based development featuring all the lecture halls, sports facilities, student union facilities, halls of residence et al necessary for a large educational institute located on a self-contained site. The compactness means all lecture theatres are within five minutes walking distance of each other and a mere stone's throw from the impressive sports village.
Getting Around Campus
A walkway, equivalent to first floor level, connects the majority of the buildings and provides access. The Parade, as it is known, is designed to make things easy for the students and lecturers to get around as the university is perched on top of a steep hill and ground floors in some buildings actually correspond to the second floor on some others.
The Home of Obscure Numbering Systems
The main buildings are organised along an east-west orientation with a numbering system that has the library at its centre and the buildings numbered relative to it. The buildings to the east are numbered 'East' and those to the west, 'West'. Odd numbers are on the north side of the Parade and even numbers are on the south. While this can be confusing for newcomers and visitors, by the end of the first week of lectures most people understand it fairly well.
Fancy Facilities Feature
The university likes to make a fuss of its modern library building. Featuring 300 computers - as well as countless assorted books - it is available for use 24 hours a day, only closing between midnight Saturday and 9am Sunday morning. This excellent news is, unfortunately, slightly offset by the fact that the glass fronted building acts as an efficient greenhouse. This can make things uncomfortable for people working on the computers, with the further annoyance of having the sun in your eyes for half the day if you are working on the upper levels. Rumour has it that when designing the library the architects and engineers failed to take into account the weight of the books when calculating stresses on the building so rapid work was needed to stop the whole thing collapsing before they eventually put the books in.
Superb Sports Complex
Great emphasis is placed on the sports side of the university. It has evolved to become the United Kingdom Sports Institute for the South West. All facilities are relatively new and of the quality required when the area hosted the European Youth Olympics in 1995. They serve as the training ground for many of Britain's world-class athletes. The sports complex is expected to further improve with the recent allocation of £20 million for future development.
Bath University Students Union
The active student union (SU) ensures that all sports facilities are free of charge for students. It has a knack of using very bad puns in naming its offshoots. The student bar is the Bath Plug and the newspaper used to be Bath Sponge before being upgraded to a fortnightly glossy named Impact. The sports clubs easily outstrip other societies in number with over 50 of them providing training and events for their members. As well as the usual support and training services, the SU also runs the Venue Nightclub, a short crawl home for freshers2 living on campus.
A Home Away From Home
Almost all freshers have the opportunity to live in the halls of residence on campus, which are 'marvels' of 1960s architecture. The majority is self-catering single study bedrooms - which leads to lots of fire alarms going off3. The proximity of the halls to the Parade is such that many a fresher can wake up five minutes before a lecture, doze for a minute or two before getting up and then walk nonchalantly in before the lecture actually begins. A definite advantage for those who have been working all night in the library after the nightclub closed.
Good Employment Prospects
The courses at Bath tend to be sandwich courses lasting, on average, four years with a full year out between periods of study. Many of the courses split the placements into two six-month sessions in industry, allowing a change of company or direction for students on those courses. The placements help to contribute to a high percentage of Bath graduates obtaining employment4 and are a heavy influence on why many undergraduates choose to attend Bath.
The Degree in Business Administration
The DBA as it is better known - is one of the largest single courses at the University of Bath with approximately 130 undergraduates in each year. The School of Management, which runs the course, is the largest subject area in terms of students and merits being a faculty on its own.
There is intense rivalry - one-upmanship - between people taking this course and the ones studying engineering.
This four-year-long course incorporates two six month work placements - almost exclusively paid at competitive rates - one at the beginning of the second year and a second halfway through third year. This means students have a year of lectures; six months working; another year of lectures; followed by another six months in industry and a final year of lectures to finish. It is a modular degree course with a total of ten compulsory and two free choice option modules in the first year though all modules for the other years are freely chosen save for compulsory group projects. As it is a science degree5 there is a lot of contact time with lecturers and other staff. This amounts to approximately 18-20 hours a week between lectures and seminar/tutorial/workshop classes
Finishing the Course
All students get placements which has the effect of making them among the more desirable business graduates around. The relevant experience does wonders for the CV. The course is also quite business oriented with a large number of contacts in industry providing not only job opportunities but also extracurricular training opportunities to improve skills further. Few business courses in the UK provide the same possibilities for their students.