United Kingdom

UK study visits

KE study visits generally start with a university visit (for those selecting the University focus) or a city visit (for those selecting the Discovery focus), and are then followed by an opportunity to see something of the local area, including some of the main sights.

Most study visits are full-day trips from your study centre; but some are part of a transfer between centres. If you’d like to see how they work in practice, please look at the timetable for your chosen programme.

York minster

Cambridge (local study visit)

Everyone will see the city centre and the colleges of the University as part of a photo tour which we arrange.  There is also a presentation, not just on Cambridge, but on the very special status of the two universities, Cambridge and Oxford, collectively known as ‘Oxbridge’.  We feel that this is interesting for all our students, whether they have selected the University focus or the Discovery focus.

London (two visits!)

London (population: about 8.5 million)

London is one of the world’s greatest and most exciting capital cities, and really needs no introduction!   Because it’s so popular with students, we arrange two full-day study visits from Cambridge. One of our London trips concentrates on the City of Westminster, the other on the City of London and Greenwich.

A note on universities in London

With around 400,000 students attending universities or colleges in London, the position is complicated!  London has 22 universities offering a wide range of subjects, plus more than 60 universities or institutes of higher education offering a more limited range of subjects.

Some, but not all, of the universities and similar institutions are part of the University of London.  This is a federal university, the largest in the UK, with 170,000 students.  It’s divided into 19 colleges, located mainly in central London.  The colleges are largely independent, and in fact are generally regarded as separate universities (though students will eventually receive a degree from the University of London).  These colleges include UCLKing’s College and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), some of which may be visited in the course of KE’s trips to London.uk-flags

Other universities in London are completely independent of the University of London.  Some, such as Imperial College, have an outstanding reputation, and are regarded as among the very best in the UK.  (Imperial used to be part of the University of London, but became totally independent in 2007.)  Other universities never have been part of the University of London. Do just be careful: not every university which has the name ‘London’ in it is among the best!  One or two are among the lowest ranking in the UK.

If you want to study certain specialised subjects (maybe art, music, drama or tropical medicine or veterinary medicine), one of the other institutions in London may well be suitable for you – and could well be the best in the country for that particular subject.

If you’re interested in studying in London, the advantages of life there are obvious: the convenience and the excitement of being in one of the world’s greatest cities.  The big disadvantage is the cost of living!  London is the most expensive place in the UK, and you need to think carefully about where you would live and how much it would cost.

London 1 – The City of London and Greenwich (included on all UK programmes)

The City of London (or just ‘the City’) is the oldest part of London, but it’s quite small, covering just one square mile (about 3 square kilometres) on the northern bank of the River Thames.  The City is the financial and business centre of London; the main law courts are also in the City.  Among the really impressive tourist sights are the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, but some of the modern buildings are really striking, including the Shard, the tallest building in the European Union.  You’ll also have great views of the magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral.tower-bridge

Our trips to the City of London also include Greenwich, situated on the River Thames, not far from central London.  Here you will see a fascinating contrast between Canary Wharf, one of the most modern parts of London, and the elegant buildings of Greenwich; most of these date from around 1700, and some of them can be visited; others now house the University of Greenwich, which, with 27,000 students, is the largest in London.  Greenwich was once the residence of the kings of England, and it has also long been associated with astronomy: here you can stand on the Greenwich Meridian, with one foot in the western hemisphere, the other in the eastern hemisphere.

University visit (University focus): University College London (UCL) or Imperial College London (you’ll visit one of these, depending on your subject interests)

UCL – 25,000 students.  Housed in grand buildings near the British Museum, UCL is one of the world’s leading universities, with a strong record across the subject range.

Imperial College – 13,000 students.  Outstanding in science and technology, Imperial stands at the very top of national and international league tables.

City visit (Discovery focus): the National Gallery houses one of the world’s greatest art collections, with works dating from the Middle Ages to around 1900.  Artists represented are mainly European, both English and from across the European continent.

London 2 – the City of Westminster (included on all UK programmes)

The City of Westminster is to the west of the City of London on the River Thames.  Many centuries ago, the kings of England left the City for the cleaner and healthier city of Westminster about 4km away.  In the UK, the word ‘Westminster’ is still synonymous with government.  Here you’ll find the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, with the majestic Westminster Abbey almost next door.  The Queen’s London residence, Buckingham Palace, is just a short walk away.  Other famous sights in Westminster include Trafalgar Square with the National Gallery, and Piccadilly Circus, heart of the West End and its celebrated theatres.uk-center

Also on the west side of London are some of its famous shopping areas, including the great department stores, such as Harrods.  This area also has some large parks and a whole series of great museums.

– University visits (University focus): King’s College or LSE (you’ll visit one of these, depending on your subject interests)

King’s College – 25,000 students.  Another of the UK’s top universities, King’s covers a broad range of courses, but is particularly famous for medicine and related subjects.

London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) – 9,000 students.  Famous not just for its economics, but also for its social science, LSE has long been a training ground for politicians and economists.  But it’s the most selective university in the country, so you have to be pretty good to get in!

– City visit (Discovery focus): either the British Museum or the Science Museum

The British Museum presents the history of human cultures from around the world.   With around 8,000,000 items, it is one of the world’s largest collections.  Some of the most impressive sections are devoted to Ancient Egypt, Greece and Assyria.   Famous exhibits include the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon Marbles.

The Science Museum is devoted to scientific developments right up to the modern day.  Its collection includes the world’s oldest surviving locomotive and the first jet engine.  A number of the exhibits are interactive.  If there is time, you may also want to go next door to the Natural History Museum, with its amazing collections of animal and plant specimens – and with the dinosaurs often attracting the most attention.

Leeds and York (full-day visit)

Leeds (population: 750,000)

Leeds is one of Britain’s most important cities, and the largest in the region known as Yorkshire. It used to be a centre for manufacturing woollen garments, but this sector is not so important now. Today, it’s a centre for a wide range of manufacturing industries, and also for financial and legal services, also call centres.

The city centre has quite a modern look, with a lot of high-rise buildings. Many of these are to be found along the banks of the River Aire, which is a popular area for a walk on a nice day. The grandest building in Leeds is probably the Town Hall, built as a symbol of pride in what was perhaps once the greatest centre for woollen manufacturing in the world. The city is also great for shopping, and has the largest covered market in Europe.

With five universities, Leeds is a major educational centre, and is generally seen as a vibrant place for young people to live in.

University visit (University focus): the University of Leeds

The University of Leeds dates from 1904, and is a member of the Russell Group of leading universities. It is one of the biggest universities in the UK, and the campus is located in the heart of a vibrant, affordable and multicultural city. Campus facilities and student support services at Leeds are excellent. With a student population of over 30,000 students, Leeds offers a very wide range of subjects as degree courses across nine faculties, including Medicine, Engineering, Business, Social Sciences and Arts.   Leeds has a very strong international reputation for the high quality of its academic teaching and research output. Leeds graduates are highly sought after by employers across the globe. The buildings on the campus are very diverse, but the ones most photographed are the Great Hall, used for University graduation ceremonies and large events, and the art deco Parkinson Building, with its tall, white tower. Leeds is a very popular university, and the entry requirements are on the website: www.leeds.ac.uk.

– City visit (Discovery focus):  ‘Arcades and elegance’.   This is a rather different sort of study visit!  Leeds is known as a great shopping centre, and it’s home to five major shopping arcades, four built just before 1900, the fifth in 2012.  Here we’re going to be looking at the arcades in two different ways: firstly, as an art form; secondly, as a means of creating effective retail opportunities in the 21st century.

York (population: 150,000)

York is one of the most ancient of English cities, and it’s probably the number one destination in the North of England for foreign visitors.  York was one of the great cities of Roman Britain, when it was known as Eboracum.  It was later the capital of the kingdoms of Northumbria and, under the Viking invaders from Scandinavia, of Jorvik.  By far the most famous building in York is its magnificent cathedral, York Minster, one of the largest and most impressive buildings in the Gothic style.  However, it also has many ancient and beautiful buildings dating from many different periods, and some of the houses are hundreds of years old.  There is still a city wall around the central part of York, and it’s possible to walk along this in many places.  You can also see another side of York from the wide River Ouse, which flows through the city.

York has been important in more modern times as a railway centre – it has a splendid railway station – and as a place where confectionery (sweets and chocolates) is made.   In recent years, tourism has become more important for York.  York has two famous museums, one about the railways, another about the Vikings.

University visit (University focus): the University of York

The University of York is a modern campus university on the edge of the city.  It is one of the UK’s most respected universities, and a member of the Russell Group of leading universities; it has around 15,000 students.  In the university rankings, it frequently features in the top 10, and is often ranked among the top 100 in the world.  It’s often regarded as the best of the British universities founded in the last 50 years.  York owes its reputation to the quality of its research, teaching and facilities, and it’s seen as particularly strong in sciences, law, management and public administration.

– City visit (Discovery focus):  York photo tour.   Here you’ll have the chance to explore the great city of York in more depth, and to encourage you to do this, KE has created an itinerary based on some key sites for a great photo.


Durham (local study visit)

University visit (University focus): University of Durham

The University is introduced under ‘Study Centres – UK’.

Presentations are not offered by the University, but we do arrange our own tour.

– City visit (Discovery focus): Our study centre, St. Chad’s College, is in the middle of a UNESCO world heritage site, and today we explore more of that site, dominated by its Cathedral and its Castle.  To assist us, we visit the impressive Museum of Archaeology.


Newcastle-upon-Tyne (half-day study visit)

Newcastle-upon-Tyne (population: about 1 million – urban area)

Newcastle is one of the great English cities, and has a very impressive location on the River Tyne, crossed in just a short distance by a series of bridges in different styles.  Newcastle used to be a great centre for shipbuilding, but today it has more modern, lighter industries.  The lively city centre has a lot of elegant buildings dating from the early 19th century, and it also contains a large shopping area; the University is just on the edge of this.

University visit (University focus): Newcastle University

Newcastle is a well-established university, and a member of the Russell Group of leading British universities.  It’s quite large, with around 20,000 students, and is a very prominent research university.  It occupies an impressive campus close to the city centre, although it also has a branch in Singapore.   Particular strengths at Newcastle include medicine and sciences.

– City visit (Discovery focus):  The visit here is to the Great North Museum.  There are two main parts to the Museum, both of them located on the campus of the University of Newcastle.  One part, the Hancock, is devoted to natural history and ancient civilisations, but we’ll be focusing on the section devoted to Roman Britain: the Romans built a great wall, called Hadrian’s Wall, right across England, with Newcastle at one end of it.  A second part of the Museum, the Hatton Art Gallery, houses one of the most important art collections in the North of England, and we’ll also visit if there is time.

Edinburgh (full-day visit)

Edinburgh (population: 480,000)

When you’re in Edinburgh, we’re sure you’ll agree that it feels very much like a major capital city.

Situated a few miles inland, the city centre is in two main parts, the Old Town and the New Town.  The Old Town sits on a ridge which connects the Castle at the top and Holyrood House, the Edinburgh residence of Queen Elizabeth, at the bottom.  The road joining the Castle and Holyrood is called the Royal Mile, and it’s full of places of interest.

If you start at the Castle, you’re in the most ancient part of Edinburgh.  As you walk down the Royal Mile, you go past a lot of interesting shops selling traditional Scottish products.  You come to the Cathedral, and you also see some buildings and streets which are hundreds of years old.  Holyrood House is one of the most famous buildings in Scotland, and was for many years the palace of the kings and queens of Scotland, most famously, Mary Queen of Scots.  In complete contrast, just opposite, is the very modern building housing the Scottish Parliament.  Then, behind these places, a surprise: there is a little mountain in the city centre – Arthur’s Seat, which, if climbed, gives wonderful views across the city.

The New Town is actually not very new at all, but it’s completely different from the Old Town – it was largely built in the 18th century, in what is called the neo-classical style.  In the New Town, you will find street upon street of grand, stone-built houses, together with squares containing lawns and gardens.  The New Town dates from a period known as the Enlightenment, when Edinburgh was one of the great European centres of thought and debate.

Between the New Town and the Old Town lies Princes Street, the main shopping street in Edinburgh, and from there you have great views across the gardens to the buildings of the Old Town on the hill.

University visit (University focus): the University of Edinburgh

Just 10 minutes’ walk from the Royal Mile is the University of Edinburgh.  Occupying grand stone buildings, the University has the same impressive feel as the city itself.  With around 30,000 students, Edinburgh is a large university, and it’s also one of the richest universities in the UK.  It’s one of only two Scottish universities to be members of the prestigious Russell Group, and it enjoys very high rankings in a number of subjects (it’s currently ranked in first position in the UK for medicine, and also scores very well for veterinary medicine, linguistics, chemistry, mathematics and art).

– City visit (Discovery focus):  As the name suggests, the National Museum of Scotland looks at the history and culture of Scotland.   A visit here will help you to understand the uniqueness of Scotland and the different interpretations of its status as part of the UK.  But the Museum is just not about history: there are also important sections on science and technology.


Aberdeen and the Highlands (full-day visit)

Aberdeen (population: 220,000)

Aberdeen is one of Scotland’s oldest cities.  It’s often called the ‘Granite City’, because so many of its buildings were constructed out of granite, a light grey stone which can look rather dull in bad weather, but very attractive when it appears to shine in sunlight.  Aberdeen has a lively city centre, and a very interesting old fishing village by the sea.  It’s generally regarded as Britain’s oil and gas capital, and as a result it’s now one of the wealthier cities in Scotland.

From Aberdeen, you travel inland along what is called Royal Deeside, a beautiful green valley.  You then go through the classic scenery of the Scottish Highlands, stopping at various places of interest.

University visit (University focus): the University of Aberdeen

Founded in 1495, the University of Aberdeen is the fifth oldest university in the UK, and one of its most distinguished internationally.  It has a student population of around 14,500, including a large international community drawn from 120 different countries.

– City visit (Discovery focus): Our visit here takes in two museums: the Maritime Museum and Tolbooth Museum.   The Maritime Museum looks at the relationship which Aberdeen has had with the cold waters of the North Sea on its doorstep, going right up the present day and the oil and gas industry.  Housed in one of Aberdeen’s oldest buildings, the Tolbooth Museum is very different: it’s a former prison, and the exhibits relate to the history of crime and punishment.


St. Andrews (local study visit)

University visit (University focus): University of St. Andrews

The University is introduced under ‘Study Centres – UK’.

– City visit (Discovery focus): The Museum of the University of St. Andrews (MUSA) is the leading museum in St. Andrews.  It introduces you to the development of St. Andrews – both the town and the University.  There are a number of interactive exhibits, and the rooftop allows you to enjoy some of the best sea views in the area.

All our transfers between centres in the UK include a visit to a high-ranking university or, for students choosing the Discovery Focus, to a place of interest in the same city. The places visited depend on the programme, as indicated below.


Coventry (for Warwick University) (UK1 – between Cambridge and Durham)

Coventry (population: 350,000)

Coventry is right in the centre of England, so most other places in the country are not that far away.  Birmingham and Stratford-upon-Avon are actually very close, as is Birmingham International Airport. 

Coventry has long been famous as the centre of the UK’s car manufacturing industry, and is still the base for the Jaguar company.  Before that, it was the place where the greatest number of bicycles were made.  But even earlier, in the Middle Ages, it was a great cultural centre, and traces of that period remain.  The city was badly damaged by bombing in the Second World War, and the Cathedral was almost destroyed, only to be replaced by a striking new one in the 1960s.

– University visit (University focus): Warwick University

There is a town called ‘Warwick’ (pronounced ‘Worrick’), but Warwick University is actually on the outskirts of the city of Coventry, with Warwick town about 12km away!  There is a frequent bus service into the centre of Coventry.

Founded in 1965, Warwick has risen rapidly in the rankings to overtake many of the older-established universities in the UK; it’s now consistently included in the top ten overall. It offers a very comprehensive range of courses across three faculties: Arts; Science, Engineering and Medicine; and Social Sciences.  There are around 25,000 students.

Warwick has an excellent record for the employability of its graduates, and many employers actively seek out talent from Warwick.

– City visit (Discovery focus): Coventry Transport Museum

Coventry was once the centre of the UK’s car-making industry, and before that was known as the ‘birthplace of the bicycle’.  It’s appropriate, then, that the largest public collection of British-made road transport should be here in Coventry.  The collection includes more than 240 cars and commercial vehicles, 100 motorcycles and 200 bicycles.


Nottingham (UK2, UK3 – between Cambridge and Durham)

Nottingham (population: 300,000)

For many people, Nottingham is synonymous with the legendary Robin Hood, who is supposed to have lived in the nearby forest; you can see his statue in the city.   But Nottingham is really important for its science-based industries and as the headquarters of a number of important companies.  It has also become a tourist centre, as people enjoy seeing its attractive Old Market Square, its castle and what is often claimed to be the oldest pub in England.  Below ground is the rather bizarre City of Caves, where people once used to live.

– University visit (University focus): the University of Nottingham

Nottingham has two main campuses on the outskirts of the city, but also, as one of the UK’s most international universities, it has campuses in Malaysia and China.  With 45,000 students, it’s one of the UK’s largest universities.

The original Nottingham campus, University Park, is one of the most imposing in the UK, with elegant buildings, and great gardens in front.   Its newer, Jubilee, campus is within walking distance, and is very different: strikingly contemporary.  (We encourage all our students visiting the city of Nottingham to spend a little time admiring the campus.)

Nottingham is a high-ranking university offering a very broad range of subjects across five faculties. Its graduates do very well in finding good jobs, and many have gone on to hold prestigious positions or receive honours (including three Nobel winners).

– City visit (Discovery focus): Wollaton Hall

Wollaton Hall is quite close to the University.  It’s a grand house dating from the 16th century, in the Elizabethan style.  It now contains a natural history museum, while in the grounds is an industrial museum.  All around the house is a great park, with deer.


Glasgow (UK2 – between Durham and St. Andrews)

Glasgow (population: 1,100,000 – ‘Greater Glasgow’)

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland.  At one time, it was a great port and a centre of heavy industry, focused on shipbuilding on the River Clyde.  The economy today is much more diversified, with a wide range of companies providing employment and opportunity.  The city has a rich cultural heritage, linked as it is with a number of famous artists and scholars.  It’s now a popular tourist destination.

– University visit (University focus): the University of Glasgow

Founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world.  Given its long and distinguished history, it’s not surprising that it’s a member of the prestigious Russell Group of leading British universities; it’s also a founder member of the worldwide Universitas 21, dedicated to promoting high standards at universities.  With 25,000 students, the University offers courses in a very broad range of disciplines.

The main campus consists of imposing stone buildings in a green and attractive part of the city, but within easy reach of the centre.  The University is a major cultural centre for Glasgow, and has its own museum and art gallery.

– City visit (Discovery focus):  With 8,000 exhibits, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is one of Scotland’s favourite cultural attractions.  Housed in a very grand and impressive building, the Museum has a very diverse collection, ranging from a mummified head to a painting by Van Gogh!


Durham (UK4 – between St. Andrews and Cambridge)

UK4 students don’t stay in Durham, but they do still visit this impressive city!  Those choosing the University Focus see the University of Durham, while those choosing the Discovery Focus explore the city in depth.

Durham is presented elsewhere on our website here.