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Guide To Postgraduate Study In Exeter & Plymouth

Postgraduate study in Exeter and DevonThe county of Devon in southwest England is home to two cities, Exeter and Plymouth.

It is bordered by the counties of Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset, with the British Channel to the north and the English Channel to the south.

Devon is a popular tourist destination boasting sandy beaches, spectacular cliffs, expansive national parks and beautiful medieval towns. It features the English Riviera along its south coast – these picturesque harbour towns and sheltered coves are the perfect holiday destination.

Exeter is the county town of Devon, while Plymouth – known as the Ocean City – is the largest city by population in Devon. Both cities offer a range of quality options for students considering postgraduate study. Importantly, these are also excellent places to live in, so that you can enjoy a well-rounded postgraduate experience while studying your masters or PhD. 


Studying in Exeter

Studying in Exeter – Exeter CathedralExeter’s history began before Roman times, more than 2,000 years ago, and relics of that era still inspire the city’s architecture and culture today. The city boasts beautiful cathedrals and museums from millennia ago, providing a unique experience for those with an appreciation of history and culture.

However, Exeter is also a city that has evolved with the times. A visit to the city’s historical sites illustrates how the city has evolved from Medieval, Victorian and Industrial eras to the city that it is today – a modern hub and the capital city of the Devon region.

Present-day Exeter is a tourist hotspot with a range of exquisite and affordable leisure activities and dining options. It is also home to Exeter University, one of the most well-regarded universities in the UK, with a long history and some very famous alumni to boot.

Student life in Exeter

Exeter is an incredibly student-friendly city. It has constantly been rated as one of the best places to live and study, and for good reason. Not only is it safe and walkable, a key concern for students on a budget, all the amenities that you could possibly needed are conveniently located within a close vicinity.

There are many cafes and restaurants in the city, so you are spoiled for choice for dining options. If you prefer to cook, there are several local supermarkets located conveniently near the city centre as well as international supermarkets selling Asian, African and European food items – these are particularly popular for international students missing food from home.

If you’ve had a stressful week of classes, there are numerous pubs touting reasonably priced drinks and pub grub, where you and your friends can take a breather. Exeter also offers students an eclectic nightlife including discounted student club nights and live gigs

University of Exeter

University of ExeterThe main institution in Exeter is the University of Exeter. As a Russell Group university, it is unsurprising that many prospective students seek a place at the institution. In fact, the latest statistics suggest that enrolment is rising exponentially year on year, with enrolment rates for postgraduate taught masters degrees rising a whopping 87% over the last five years, and postgraduate research masters degree places rising 19% in that same time.

Clearly, Exeter is a university of choice for graduate students and it looks to be getting more popular every year.

Student numbers 2017–2022







5 year 
% change






























Reasons to be a student at the University of Exeter

There are many reasons to choose the University of Exeter for your postgraduate studies.

1. Excellent research quality

The Research Excellence Framework suggests that Exeter is one of the leading research institutions in the UK, which aligns with its position as a prestigious Russell Group university. As a graduate student, regardless of whether you are pursuing a taught or research program, the strength of the research that a university puts out is key to determining the quality of the masters program that you are considering. The high standards at Exeter promise that you will have a rigorous but fulfilling postgraduate student experience.

2. Affordable living

You can experience postgraduate life at Exeter for a fraction of the costs of other popular university cities like London. While Exeter ranks highly in the league tables, attending university in the city itself is much less expensive than many other parts of the UK. This makes pursuing a masters in Exeter an economical choice – it’s good value-for-money, ideal for those on a budget.

3. Outstanding alumni

The University of Exeter boasts some famous alumni such as JK Rowling (of Harry Potter fame) and Thom Yorke (the lead vocalist of the world-famous Radiohead) to name just two. Overall, the university has had several notable former students, who have made their mark in a range of fields including the media and politics. If you are looking for an institution that could help you develop to be a leader in your field, Exeter could be the place for you.

4. Extra-curricular activities

The University is home to nearly 200 clubs and societies that range from the performing arts to sports and volunteering opportunities. These clubs provide students with access to a variety of activities to build social networks and have a well-rounded university experience.

5. Diverse and inclusive environment

In the most recent past academic year, more than 6,000 or roughly 20% of the students at Exeter were international students. This means that studying at the university will provide you with a multicultural experience and the opportunity to learn from and about various cultures. The University of Exeter also provides extensive support for international students both in terms of scholarships and pastoral care, so if you are from outside of the UK, you can be assured that you will be well-supported at Exeter.

Postgraduate study in Exeter and Plymouth

Tips to enjoying student life in Exeter

  • Enjoy visits to the historical attractions in Exeter like the Cathedral, Old Jewish Quarter and museums.
  • Support the independent cafes, bars and cinemas to enjoy a unique city experience.
  • Join one of the many clubs and societies to expand your social circle.

Student accommodation in Exeter

The University of Exeter offers a range of accommodation options, including self-catered rooms and a catered option where your accommodation provision comes together with a meal plan. These meal plans come with a range of vegetarian options, and you can always put in a request for any special dietary requirements that you have, making it really convenient to dine in after a long day of classes. For older postgraduate students with families, the university can provide guidance on accommodation that is suitable for couples or families. The Residence Life Team is always on hand to provide support to students regarding their living situation while at Exeter.

Students who don’t want to live in university halls of residence can opt for one of the excellent accommodation options offered by Fresh. Our accommodation partner has properties in four locations in Exeter that are all ideally placed for postgraduate study at the University of Exeter.

Things to do in Exeter when you’re not studying

When you’re not busy with schoolwork, besides taking part in clubs and societies, one big advantage of living and studying in Exeter is that you can go on day trips to a number of fantastic places so easily. The city is just 10 minutes away from the nearest sandy beach and a short journey from the Jurassic Coast in Exmouth. Lundy Island and the beautiful town of Dartmoor are also nearby local options.

If you’re looking for a highly ranked university, adventure and low-cost travels, studying at Exeter provides you with an excellent base to explore more of the country.


Studying in Plymouth

Studying in Plymouth – Plymouth pierFrom the 16th century, Plymouth has been a maritime hub, a legacy that has imbued the architecture and character of the city even until today.

A visit to the city’s famous dockyards provides an important reminder of how the trade and transportation of textiles and other goods has been a key part of the city’s history for centuries.

Plymouth remains firmly a seaside city and a large amount of work in the area revolves around ship building and trading, and eateries with a sea view line the city’s coast.

Student life in Plymouth

Plymouth it is an extremely student-friendly city, making it a great place to pursue a postgraduate course. And its universities are just a stone’s throw away from the centre,  making them an easy base to access all the amenities you could need.

To top that off, Plymouth is a very affordable city to live in, with reasonable house and rental prices.

There are also plenty of cafes and restaurants for you to take a break from your course work. Furthermore, being right next to the ocean makes Plymouth a beautiful place to rest and relax in tyour spare time.

Student facts and figures

There are three universities based in Plymouth – the University of Plymouth, Plymouth Marjon University and Arts University Plymouth. Of these three institutions, the University of Plymouth is the largest with over 18, 500 students enrolled, Plymouth Marjon University has 2,750 students, while the Arts University Plymouth has roughly 2,000 students.

As a result of these three universities, Plymouth is a bustling student hub with the number of prospective students choosing to attend a university in Plymouth increasing annually. The universities in Plymouth also have a good overall ratio of undergraduate to postgraduate students.


Undergraduate Students

Postgraduate Students

University of Plymouth



Plymouth Marjon University



Arts University Plymouth




Reasons to be a student in Plymouth

There are many reasons to choose Plymouth for your postgraduate studies – let’s take a look at some of the main ones.

1. Cost of living

Let’s face it, the rising inflation rates globally has got all of us concerned. If you’re a student on a budget, Plymouth is a great place to be at because it is very affordable. On average, accommodation in the city costs 60% less than London, another major UK student hub. If sticking to a budget is one of your main concerns while pursuing a postgraduate qualification, Plymouth is certainly an attractive option.

2. Entertainment options

Plymouth is bustling with restaurants and bars, not to mention nightclubs offering discounted student nights. The city also boasts some interesting museums like The Box or the National Marine Aquarium. There are also plenty of outside activities to enjoy such as taking a stroll by the marinas.

3. Quality education

The city’s largest university, the University of Plymouth, has been ranked one of the top 25 universities in the UK for teaching quality. This means that studying in Plymouth will provide you with a great learning experience, from some of the top educators in the country. Given the investment in resources that the decision to pursue a postgraduate course entail, it is always reassuring to know that you will receive a quality education in return.

4. Escapes from the bustle of city life

Plymouth is the kind of city where you can enjoy the convenience of city life by visiting the mall, cinema and nightclubs, but you can also easily escape from the busyness of city life altogether by heading out to the countryside or nearby remote coastline. Plymouth is truly the perfect place for students who want both a taste of city living with pockets of respite.

5. Sense of community

Unlike bigger cities where it can be a little harder to make new friends, because Plymouth is a smaller area, its residents enjoy a strong sense of belonging and the warmth of being part of a close-knit community. Campus life at one of the universities in Plymouth will likely mean you know most people on your course, or even at your school. This means you will get the chance to build long-lasting and close relationships that you can carry with you through life.

Postgraduate study in Exeter and Plymouth

Tips to student life in Plymouth

  • Take advantage of the close-knit university community to build a strong network of friends.
  • If you’re looking for a fun place to cool off when the weather turns warmer, the Tinside Lido is a great spot – it’s an outdoor saltwater swimming pool that overlooks the sea and has been voted one of the top 10 pools in Europe.
  • Take a walk and enjoy the ocean air any time you feel overwhelmed my university life.

Universities in Plymouth

There are three universities in Plymouth.

University of Plymouth

University of PlymouthThe University of Plymouth, founded in 1862, is a public university with a long history. It provides a range of courses ranging from the arts, humanities, science, engineering, business and medicine. It is a future-oriented, sustainability-focused university, ranking 4th in the world for marine action and 15th for climate actions, among universities globally.

Plymouth Marjon University

Plymouth Marjon UniversityPlymouth Marjon University is one of the best places in the UK to study, as it has been ranked as one of the top five universities for overall postgraduate satisfaction in the 2021 Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey. Besides providing courses in traditional disciplines like the arts, humanities and business, it also provides unique specialisations in areas like criminology and forensic science.

Arts University Plymouth

Arts University PlymouthThe Arts University Plymouth is the number one arts university in terms of student satisfaction in the UK. It provides a variety of courses including courses in fine art, film studies and coming up in January 2023, commercial photography.

Student accommodation in Plymoutth

The University of Plymouth has university-managed halls of residence, primarily located in the Student Village right off campus that allow students to enjoy living in secure residences with meal plans and enjoy social events within the accommodation providers. Plymouth Marjon University also has a range of student halls of residence. Arts Univerisity Plymouth has teamed up with private accommodation providers to offer student accommodation.

If these options are not available or don't appeal to you, Plymouth has several private student accommodation providers that can advise students on options to suit their specific needs. This may be more suitable for postgraduate students who are moving to Plymouth with their families. 

Things to do in Plymouth when you’re not studying

Plymouth’s location makes it an excellent travel base with day trips to other parts of the southwest like Cornwall and Dartmoor being easily accessible by train, bus or car. Major UK cities like Bristol and Cardiff are also easy to reach for a weekend away when you’re looking for a change of scene.

Postgrad study in the southwest

The southwest region of England offers far more than stunning seasides, magnificent views and historical towns. It’s also home to many great universities including those in the cities of Exeter and Plymouth. Check out these universities if you are thinking of pursuing a postgraduate degree – you never know what you could achieve. You might end up having the best and most unique experience of your life.


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