Student life in Exeter

Exeter celebrates history and embraces today... its thriving nightlife, lively cultural scene and rich history make it well worth a visit. This old city is young at heart thanks to a large student crowd and plenty of bars, clubs and cafés, especially around the revitalised quay area.

Lonely Planet Guide to Great Britain

Life in Exeter

Exeter has a population of around 118,000 and is consistently rated as one of the best places to live in the UK. Exeter’s popularity as a growing business centre means the city is weathering the current economic climate better than some cities. Unemployment is below the national average and the University’s campus investment projects have contributed towards Exeter retaining its status as an investment centre.

It is a safe, student-friendly city with a vibrant and fun culture and relaxed atmosphere.


The cafés, restaurants, pubs and modern shops of the city centre mix easily with Exeter’s historic buildings. The city centre itself has an impressive shopping centre with all the stores and facilities you’d expect in the regional capital. But the real enjoyment of shopping in Exeter is to explore the side streets and some of the more unconventional shops, such as the Cathedral Green with its bars and restaurants or Gandy Street with its diverse range of shops selling designer labels, jewellery and gifts.


The city’s arts centre, the Exeter Phoenix, offers top quality theatre, dynamic dance, live music from around the world, exhibitions of visual arts and crafts and thought-provoking films. Exeter’s Northcott Theatre is based on the Streatham Campus and stages its own productions as well as touring shows, comedy nights and concerts. The Vue Cinema is the main cinema in Exeter but the Picturehouse is also very popular. Its programme includes art house and classic films as well as major blockbusters and it has a café/bar with fabulous views.


The nightlife in Exeter is dominated by a diverse range of bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants in the city centre, with student nights most nights of the week. Performers from the London stand-up comedy circuit regularly visit the Comedy Club at the Corn Exchange. Live music can be enjoyed throughout the city in various venues, on campus and at the large Westpoint Arena.

Guide to Exeter

To introduce you to the city and surrounding area, visit our comprehensive Guide to Exeter. This guide will give you all the information you'll need about what to do and where to go as you make Exeter your new home.

You can also find out more about Exeter from these external websites:

Exeter campuses

Why did I choose Exeter? Like you are doing now, I looked at the prospectus. My programme was one of the best in the country and at the forefront of research, the University’s ranking was also high and I got a feel that the University was very student orientated, and welcoming. Everyone I knew who had been had loved it. So I went along to the Open Day and my decision was made. I haven’t looked back since. 

Exeter really has so much to offer. Aside from being a campus university, close to the city centre, it has beautiful countryside on its doorstep. Everything you need is also on campus – an excellent library, fantastic sports facilities, cafes, study rooms, SU bar and campus cinema; you name it and it’s there. The support you get for your programme is also fantastic, and includes tutorials, online resources, office staff, module choices, and lecturer help.

Andy Morton, BA Geography.

Before embarking on my search for a university, I’d been told by older friends and family that I’d know when I found the university that was right for me. I didn’t expect this would be the case, but from the moment I set foot on the Streatham Campus I felt at home. It’s not until you visit the University and meet the staff and students that you really understand the ethos of the place. There are so many opportunities and so many things going on, and Exeter students just love getting involved. Whether it’s sports, volunteering, working or joining societies, there seems to be something here for everyone.

The University’s location is something I was really impressed with. It’s great how the city is big enough to satisfy any student’s needs, yet small enough that you’ll bump into friends on the High Street or night out. Being a campus university, it’s also great how everything you need is so close together and in such an idyllic setting.

Dan Harnett, BA English and German.

The University has around 18,500 students, of which 14,200 are undergraduates. This means it’s large enough to offer the academic excellence and facilities you’d expect to find in a major university, but also offers a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

Streatham Campus

This is an exciting time to be at the University of Exeter. We have recently invested more than £380 million in facilities on the Streatham Campus including £130 million on student residences, £50 million on the Forum, £25 million on the Business School and £25 million on Biosciences.

The majority of students are based at the Streatham Campus, which is the largest site in Exeter.

The campus is one of the most beautiful in the country and offers a unique environment in which to study with lakes, parkland, woodland and gardens to enjoy throughout the year. The centrepiece is the stunning Forum, which provides

  • a Student Services Centre
  • a refurbished library
  • new technology-rich learning spaces
  • a 400-seat lecture theatre
  • a new University reception
  • and retail and catering outlets.

The city centre is only a 15-minute walk away or you can enjoy the advantages of a campus-based university without missing out on life in the city.

The catered halls of residence and most of our purpose-built self-catered flats are either on campus or nearby in the city centre, so you’ll have easy access to everything you’ll need.

Further information

St Luke’s Campus

St Luke’s is home to Sport and Health Sciences, Medical Sciences and Medicine students.

Students have studied at St Luke’s for over 150 years and although much has changed over the years, the campus has retained a vibrant, collegiate atmosphere in which everyone soon gets to know each other. As you walk through the arches of the traditional North Cloisters you will see the lawns of the quadrangle surrounded by modern teaching buildings.

Academic facilities include a library, which has recently undergone a £1 million refurbishment, IT facilities and support, and modern seminar rooms and lecture theatres. The St Luke’s Campus has excellent facilities for sport including a sports hall, an air-conditioned health and fitness studio and an indoor heated swimming pool.

The Students’ Guild organises many events and activities on campus but students at St Luke’s also take full advantage of all the academic, social and sporting facilities at the Streatham Campus which is about a 25-minute walk or a short bus ride away and the buses run very frequently between the campuses.

Further information

Student’s Guild

The University of Exeter is a fantastic place to study and live. While your degree is a massive part of your time at university, it’s your overall experience that makes it truly exceptional. The Students’ Guild works hard to ensure that your ‘Exeter Experience’ is second to none.

The Students’ Guild is our students’ union, and we provide hundreds of opportunities for you to take an active role in the University community. With more than 190 societies, 450 academic representatives, support for student entrepreneurs, a pioneering Students’ Green Unit, there’s a lot to engage with and enjoy.

As Guild President I work alongside three other sabbatical officers, elected to represent the views of the students to the University, the community, and the wider world and ensure you have the best possible time while you’re here. The Guild gives students the opportunity to have their say and make change happen through campaigning and student representation. The student voice is heard loud and clear at Exeter, so whatever your interest or passion, we can help.

Of everything the Guild and the University have to offer, it’s this student body that makes Exeter the renowned institution it is.

Hannah Barton, Students’ Guild President 2013/14.

The Students’ Guild (Exeter’s Students’ Union) is central to student life and is recognised as one of the UK’s leading students’ unions.

The Guild is an award-winning, member-led organisation, which exists to represent all our Exeter-based students. All students have a say in the running of the Guild and it often sets national records for turnout in students’ union elections. Through the representation and services that the Guild provide, we are confident that you’ll have the best possible university experience at Exeter.


Elected officers make sure your voice is heard within the University and wider community.

The Guild’s Advice Unit

Advice on legal, accommodation, financial and academic problems. If you need information on settling in to university life, or tips for successful house hunting, the Advice Unit also has a team of students on hand, who can provide friendly advice based on their own experiences at Exeter.


Your student listening service. Operated by a dedicated team of student volunteers, VOICE provides information, advice, or just a listening ear.


The Great Hall is the main live music venue on campus and has recently seen acts such as Tinchy Stryder, Newton Faulkner, Professor Green and Kaiser Chiefs. The Lemon Grove also hosts live music as well as regular club nights. Every Saturday over 1,200 students descend on the Lemon Grove for the ‘Lemmy’ club night and there are always a range of events organised by student-led societies to get involved with, including club nights and pub socials in the city centre.


Thousands of students sign up to over 180 different Guild-affiliated societies. These societies cover a wide range of activities enabling our students to get fully involved with university life.


Our award-winning student media network is one of the most vibrant in the country. Based on the Streatham Campus, X-Media is made up of three student run media outlets: Xpression FM; Exeposé; and XTV. These provide high quality radio, news and TV, respectively. Involvement in the Guild’s media outlets has provided the springboard for the careers of several famous Exeter graduates, including Thom Yorke of Radiohead. Former XTV station managers are now working in the television industry.


RAG (Raising and Giving) is Exeter’s own student fundraising group. Each year it raises tens of thousands of pounds through the hard work of over a thousand students, who volunteer valuable amounts of time to help raise money for local, national and international charities. We also have one of the most active Community Action (CA) groups in the country. CA runs a number of weekly projects and one-off events. You could get involved with anything from running a Kids’ Camp, enjoying tea and cake with the elderly, redecorating a homeless shelter or cleaning up the beach, all of which can significantly contribute to your employability skills and CV.

More information

Visit the Students' Guild website for more information.

“Exeter is very easy to fall in love with. It has one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, in one of the most beautiful counties in Britain.”
Virgin Alternative Guide to British Universities

“St Luke’s Campus is not only about joining a university, it is also about joining a family. Coming to university is such a major leap which is softened by being immediately accepted into a group of like-minded people.”
Undergraduate in Sport Sciences