Choosing a university

Top political unis... as voted by students [2012-13]

By Rebecca Hughes (Digital content producer, Which? University) - 10 September 2012

Source: University College London

Planning on studying a politics degree or just want to get involved in debates and participate in student campaigns during your time at uni? We asked current students across the UK to tell us how politically active their university is - and here's who came out with top marks.

UPDATE: take a look at our 2013-14 student survey findings to see the latest top political universities.

We surveyed almost 10,000 current students to find out first-hand how they rate their university on a whole range of characteristics, including politics, student union nightlife and creativity. By 'political', we mean that a university has a particularly visible and active political scene, with lots of political groups, demos and meetings to get involved with.

Here are the results and a little taster of what each uni could offer you…

1. School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Did you know...

  • Interested in campaigning? Students in the union campaign for a wide variety of different causes – for example, students for social change, women’s liberty and justice for cleaners, to name a few
There are many different societies and clubs for political interests. Fourth Year Chinese Studies Student

Find out more about what students think about the School of Oriental and African Studies.

2. London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London

Did you know...

  • Situated very closely to government and parliament, the University is a political hub and has regular guest speakers. Recent visitors have included President Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama
  • The Debate society represents LSE at competitions throughout Britain, Europe and the world. The current team are finalists in the World University Debating Championships
Find out more about what students think of London School of Economics.

3. University of Oxford 

Did you know....

  • David Cameron is an Oxford graduate – as are many of Britain’s previous prime ministers, including Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair
The Oxford Union is a hub for student political life and a source of excellent speakers and great debates. First Year Social Sciences Student

Find out more about what students think of Oxford University.

4. Goldsmiths, University of London

Did you know...

  • Goldsmiths has a very politically active and diverse Students’ Union, with political groups including the Socialist Workers Students Society and Food Not Bombs
The student union grants students lots of provision to launch their own political campaign. Second Year Media Studies Student

Find out more about what current students think about Goldsmiths.

5. University of Cambridge

Did you know...

  • The SU has a vast number of campaigns you could get involved with, including the Mental Wealth Campaign and Zero Tolerance to Sexual Harrassment, as well as campaigns targeted at local government such as the Right to Light petition
The Cambridge Union Society hosts fantastic speakers every week, in debates and single-speaker events. Second Year Modern Languages Student

Find out more about what students think of the University of Cambridge.

6. University of Sussex

Did you know...

  • The university newspaper, The Badger, is a platform for students to comment on current affairs and participate in political debates
  • The union has a number of social action groups such as Hear Afrika, Amnesty International and the Environmental Society
Find out more about what students think of the University of Sussex.

7. University of Birmingham

Did you know...

  • The Politics society organises regular political events, inviting guest speakers and lecturers to talk about hot topics
  • You could get involved in the Guild Council, the student parliament of the university, contributing to decision-making on issues affecting students
Find out more about what students think of the University of Birmingham.

8. University of Glasgow

Did you know...

  • The Politics society mixes political discussion with fun get-togethers, running socials such as Pints and Politics and the American Politics pub quiz
It's great that the union has its own debate rooms. First Year Veterinary Medicine Student

Find out more about what students think of the University of Glasgow.

9. University College London, University of London

Did you know...

  • The Debating Society is UCL’s oldest society, running Monday debates on a range of topical issues (often attracting high-profile guest speakers) and Thursday workshops for those who want to improve their debating skills
  • Other political societies include the Global Development Initiatives Society and the Student Action for Refugees Society
Find out more about what students think about University College London.

10. Queen's University Belfast

Did you know...

  • The Centre for Advancement of Women in Politics is based in QUB’s School of Politics
  • Past events at the Politics Society (Polysoc) include a formal at Stormont sponsored by Anna Lo and an education debate with Stephen Nolan
Find out more about what students think about Queen's University Belfast

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