The following are brief descriptions of the eight institutions with which the University of Chicago has formed agreements. Together they represent a range of academic strengths. All of them, except for the London School of Economics, are essentially "comprehensive" universities offering a variety of subjects. The London School of Economics, University College London, and King’s College London are all institutions within the federated University of London.
The sketches below are intended only as an introduction to these institutions. Students should continue their investigation by visiting each university’s website. For a relative assessment of departmental strengths at these universities (not including Trinity College, Dublin), students can also explore the British university "Research Assessment Exercise" (RAE) conducted by the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE).
The University of Bristol is the newest of the "old" civic universities. It was established as a university in 1909 through an amalgamation of older institutions including University College, Bristol (founded 1876) and Bristol Medical School (founded 1833). It has a student body of over 11,000 with fewer than 200 American visitors. Bristol's academic strengths are spread out over a number of fields though sciences are a traditional strength, and the admission competition for regular British students is normally stiff. The city of Bristol, located on the Avon River near the west coast of England at approximately the same latitude as London, is of medieval origin (with Roman antecedents). Though it was a major port through most of its existence, the silting up of the tidal Avon now limits the access of larger vessels to its harbors.
The University of Edinburgh, the pre-eminent Scottish university, was founded in 1583. With a student body of 20,000 (approximately one-fifth are graduate students), Edinburgh is one of the largest universities in Great Britain. Predictably it offers a rich variety of subjects, and its strengths are broadly based. Among a number of esteemed departments at Edinburgh, philosophy and theology draw upon long and distinguished traditions and continue to earn high respect. The city of Edinburgh, with a population of about a half million, was established as the capital of Scotland in the eleventh century.
King’s College London, the second oldest of the institutions comprising the University of London, was founded in 1829 as an Anglican reaction to the secular University College, founded three years earlier. Like University College, King's is essentially a comprehensive university in its own right, teaching a variety of subjects to a student body of 26,000 students across its four central London campuses. Its strengths lie mainly within the humanities, though there is also a proud tradition in the sciences. The main College precinct, the "Strand Campus," is in the heart of London near the theater district.
The London School of Economics, founded in 1895, has long enjoyed a wide reputation in the social sciences. One measure of its international eminence is the high proportion of its student body hailing from outside the UK (nearly half of its 4,500 students). This makes LSE the most cosmopolitan institution within the University of London if also perhaps the least typically British institution on this list. The associated Library of Political and Economic Science, while serving the instructional needs of LSE, is also a preeminent center of social research. The London School of Economics is located, compactly, on Houghton Street just off the Strand at Aldwych Circle (near King's College).
St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, the newest of the thirty-eight Oxford colleges, was founded in 1962 (though it existed as a "delegacy" since the mid-nineteenth century). It is one of the larger colleges (by Oxford standards) and is open to students in nearly all subjects. It is considered to be especially suitable for Chicago students in the humanities and social sciences, though natural sciences students may also apply. Unlike the other programs featuring direct enrollment in a British or Irish university, the St. Catherine's program is a one-quarter (autumn) opportunity. During that quarter the student takes two courses. Each course consists of a series of tutorials on a topic selected in consultation with the student. These are intensive courses, requiring substantial independent work and the presentation of a series of shorts papers through the term. The student will also attend lectures appropriate to his or her subject.
Trinity College, Cambridge, with around 900 students, is the largest of the thirty-one colleges comprising Cambridge University (which enrolls over 12,000 students). Trinity was founded by Henry VIII in 1546 as an amalgamation of two pre-existing colleges, King's Hall and Michaelhouse, both among the oldest of the Cambridge colleges. With traditions of excellence in many fields, a long roster of celebrated alumni, and an architecturally distinguished physical setting, Trinity is among the most highly regarded of the Oxbridge colleges. Cambridge University is, of course, an international center of learning.
Trinity College, Dublin, is the late sixteenth-century creation of Queen Elizabeth I, who was perhaps inspired by the philanthropy of her father Henry VIII, the founder of Trinity College, Cambridge. Like the earlier college, Trinity College of Dublin grew well beyond the traditional size and scope of a typical Oxbridge college. Indeed it remains the single constituent college of the University of Dublin, and the two names are used interchangeably. Trinity is an important and preeminent university, comprehensive in the subjects taught and rich in tradition. Among its outstanding alumni are Oliver Goldsmith, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, George Berkeley, and Douglas Hyde. Some 10,000 students are enrolled.
University College London, founded in 1826 as a non-Anglican institution open to all regardless of race, creed or sex, is the oldest college within the University of London as well as England's third oldest university after Oxford and Cambridge (the ancient Scottish universities are older). With over 16,000 students, it is also the largest and most comprehensive college in the University of London. University College enjoys an international reputation in a wide variety of subjects, extending through the humanities, the natural sciences, and most of the social sciences (not including political science or sociology). It is located on Gower Street in the storied Bloomsbury section of London within easy walking distance of a number of institutes and facilities of the University of London, as well as the British Museum.