When I first arrived in Bristol and saw the Wills Memorial Building - the law building, I was in awe of its architecture and when I visited the rest of the campus, I knew I had made the right choice of coming here to study instead of the other two universities that I've turned down.
I studied an MSc in Development and Security which is a taught postgraduate course in the Politics Department. My year's intake for taught postgrads was 150, which I was told by the head of department to have been a decrease since the year before and next year, the dept will be reducing the intake further down. There are actually more postgrads than there are undergrads in this department, where this year there is about 120 now. Today, the politics department is a profit making one thanks to an excellent reputation for research and it has several leading people in that field, where just recently they've managed to recruit a political superstar called Mark Duffield, who is a leading scholar in the new field Development and Security. Unfortunately, I might not be able to take advantage of his expertise as he will not be teaching till next year.
I paid £4,250 for one year, which was cheaper than a couple of other universities such as LSE, Birmingham but around the same price for Scottish universities like Edinburgh and St Andrews as well as other similar scale English universities. For this four grand, I feel that I paid more for the university name and staff associations rather than for anything else.
I lived in the worst building for postgraduate student halls called Chantry Court, where within two weeks of moving in, the first three floors were flooded and everyone was evacuated into hotels for a week. I was lucky - I lived on the fourth floor so my stuff was ok. Unfortunately, the Student Accommodation failed in supporting us the students - the customers - and despite putting on a front, they were more concerned about their business relations with the company Unite. This building had a long record of burst pipes, flooding and any other dodgy maintenance but of course, new students were never notified all this before they signed the contract or asked to choose which accomodation they wished to apply for. So since the start of my academic year, our building has thus been plagued by disruptions of noise, lack of water and blocked pathways to name but a few annoyances because of constructions and reparations of these faulty pipes.
Despite this, the building itself looks decent and is located in a very central location, next to the Hippodrome Theatre. About 15 minutes walk to train station and 10 minutes to bus station. The central shopping centre Broadmead is less than 10 minutes away aswell or you can go up Park Street towards the Triangle in about the same amount of time.
The student union is a several storey building with lots of facilities from internet, careers and accomodation, canteen/cafe, meeting rooms, music rooms, art rooms, dance halls, bar, lounges, sports halls, theatre, shop, printing and photocopying facilities, laundry services to list a few. Although the building is not the prettiest in Bristol, it does contain many good services for students. It is very close to a couple of the undergraduate halls aswell.
The student body has a wide range of different societies and you can get an idea of what each is about through the Fresher's fair which I thought was rubbish mainly because I expected better goody bags - my undergraduate university were able to get better sponsers and thus better bags than Bristol even though they're the far richer university. Instead, this freshers fair was just upping the carbon foot print through lots of plastic bags containing mostly paper and nothing much else.
I was part of the Postgraduate Union's marketing team and from that experience I did not think that the PGU was that great. It was full of inexperienced people who were not very good at organising but good at talking about it. Some of the events they put on were good but still lacked lustre.
I personally don't think that there are enough services for postgraduate student specifically and the existing ones are not that great even though they have so much potential to be.
The gym was £100 for the year which is a really good bargain for the good range of equipment it offered. Although I've been told that other universities' gyms were better (because they were newer) I had very little to complain about the gym. There was a pool, indoor running track, serveral sports halls, free weights training room and the general gym. There was also a little cafe area to eat. There is a £5 induction fee which people have to do for health and safety.
The university libraries were split between each faculty and while the libraries for the more scientific areas were well stocked and maintained, unfortunately I could not say the same for the Arts and Social Sciences. This was one of the worst libraries I've used where the library sorting system was a shambles - it's filing system was not very logical and plain but quite confusing for practically everyone until many weeks later it was figured out. I thought my undergraduate library's filing system as well as other universities I've visited were alot better. The printing and photocopying charges were done by purchasing a card at first but this was changed to just adding money to your own student ID account which was good as it allowed you to keep tabs on how much you have or need. The prices were extortionate though at the equivalent to 5p per sheet at hte cheapest.
The careers service is great and they really help the students find more about future career paths. My careers advisor still to this day looks over my cover letters even though I've already left the university. They in partnership with the student union, have lots of workshops for students to brush up on skills as well as engage students with lots of companies enabling networking opportunities.
It seems that you would have much more fun and a better experience of university life here as an undergraduate than a postgraduate as there were alot more services, events etc targeted to the undergrads than the postgraduates even though there is a sizeable postgrad population. I also wouldn't necessarily recommend Bristol to potential postgrads for Arts and Social Science subjects but for any scientific subject, I would highly applaud Bristol as their departments' range of facilities and opportunities are fantastic - I only know this as my flatmates were all in the science, medicine and engineering fields.
Written by Anonymous on 16th Oct 2007