University of Wales, Lampeter

University of Wales, Lampeter

Infobox University
name = University of Wales, Lampeter
native_name = Prifysgol Cymru, Llanbedr Pont Steffan

motto = "Gair Duw Goreu Dysg"
The word of God is the best teacher
established = 1822 (Charter 1828)
staff = 200
chancellor = HRH the Prince of Wales
vice_chancellor = Position currently vacantcite web |url= |title=University of Wales, Lampeter - Vice-chancellor retires |work=Times Higher Education |accessdate=2008-09-18]
endowment = £5.9M (2004/05)
city = Lampeter
country = Wales, UK
campus = Rural
address = College Street
SA48 7ED.
students = 9,150cite web |url= |title=Table 0a - All students by institution, mode of study, level of study, gender and domicile 2005/06 |work=Higher Education Statistics Agency online statistics |accessdate=2007-03-31]
undergrad = 7,455 (of which, 1,100 are on campus)
postgrad = 1,035
colours = Black and Gold [cite web|url =|title = Scarves of the University of Wales|accessdate = 2007-08-21]

affiliations = University of Wales ACU Universities UK
website =
University of Wales, Lampeter ( _cy. Prifysgol Cymru, Llanbedr Pont Steffan) is a university in Lampeter, Wales, the oldest Academic degree awarding institution in Wales and the third oldest in England and Wales after Oxford and Cambridge. The university started in 1822 as St David's College ("Coleg Dewi Sant"), becoming St David's University College ("Coleg Prifysgol Dewi Sant") in 1971, when it became part of the federal University of Wales. With fewer than 2,000 students on campus, it often claims to be one of the smallest public universities in Europe. In many ways, then, it is miraculous that the university has survived in the increasingly competitive atmosphere of the British Higher Education sector and the institution's financial health was often a cause for concern. Principal J.R. Lloyd Thomas's decision to lead the institution into the University of Wales in the 1970s rescued the college from bankruptcy once, and more recently, the college has had to pioneer foundation degrees and distance learning through its Voluntary Sector studies and Welsh language departments, which has helped to rescue the university college once more from having to amalgamate with a larger institution. Through this adversity, however, the university continues to rate highly in its research, particularly the Theology and Religious Studies and English Literature and Language departments which received the top rating in the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise. The campus's setting in the Ceredigion hills, on the banks of the River Teifi attract a high proportion of mature students and students from outside Wales, who wish to escape the urban environments of the majority of the other British universities.


When Thomas Burgess was appointed Bishop of St David's in 1803 he almost immediately identified the need to establish a College in which Welsh ordinands could receive a higher education. The existing colleges at Oxford and Cambridge were out of the geographical and financial means of most men.

Burgess had no Welsh connections; he was born in England in 1756 and after Winchester and Oxford he had short stays in Salisbury and Durham before being appointed to his first bishopric in Wales in 1803. Originally Burgess intended to build his new college to train priests in Llanddewi Brefi, which at the time was similar in size to Lampeter, but ten kilometres from it, and with an honoured place in the Christian history of Wales. When Burgess was staying with his friend the Bishop of Gloucester in 1820, however, he met John Scandrett Harford, a wealthy landowner from Gloucestershire, who donated the three acre (12,000 m²) site called Castle Field in Lampeter, so called for the Norman castle once contained in the field. This is the site on which the present University stands.

(BA), long before the other colleges in Wales gained their own degree awarding powers.

Although it continued as a centre of clergy training until 1978, there was always a proportion of students who did not intend to be ordained. The 1896 charter specifically stated that the college could accept anyone, regardless of whether they intended to take Holy Orders, and since 1925 it had been possible to study for a BA at the college without studying any theology at all. Throughout the college's history, non-ordinands had been in a minority. In the 1950s, however, the number of ordinands declined sharply, and the College faced possible closure unless it could secure government funding. Principal J.R. Lloyd Thomas did not spare himself in the fight for survival, and in 1960, after much negotiation, University College, Cardiff, agreed to sponsor Saint David's, thus the government finally began to assist SDC financially. In 1971 the college became a member of the federal University of Wales, and suspended its own degree-awarding powers. It became St David's University College (SDUC). By this time, the college had begun shifting its specialisms, and whilst theology continued to be a strong point, students could choose from a much wider range of liberal arts subjects. In 1996 the Privy Council — in response to a petition from the University — agreed to change its title again to the University of Wales, Lampeter in line with moves elsewhere in the University and the recognition of its growth and changing status. In September 2007, the University of Wales become confederal rather than federal in nature, effectively giving Lampeter independent university status. Unlike other former Wales colleges, however, the institution's name has remained unchanged.

Today, the university specialises in Theology, Religious Studies, Philosophy, Classics, Anthropology, Archaeology, English and History. The university is also growing in disciplines from the liberal arts and social sciences such as Film and Media Studies, Information Society Studies, Business Management, Chinese Studies and Voluntary Sector Studies.

The university also has a number of research and consultancy departments, most notably, Centre for Beliefs and Values, Centre for Enterprise, European & Extension Services, Archaeological Services, and Centre for the Study of Religion in Celtic Societies.

In the early 1990s there also existed a hugely influential Human Geography department at the college. This was closed in 2001, but the diaspora of the Lampeter Geography School continue to have an influence on their field.

University buildings

The Old College

C.R. Cockerell designed the original college, now called the Saint David's Building (Old Building or OB by students) in the centre of the Campus. It is a Grade II* listed building, and contains lecture rooms, common rooms, administrative offices, student residential accommodation and the following three main areas:

The Old Hall was the refectory until the present one came into use in 1969, and fell into disuse until 1991 when it opened after much restoration; it is now used as one of the main public rooms for meetings, conferences and use by outside organisations. It is also used for some examinations.

St David's Chapel was originally consecrated in 1827. In 1879 it was closed and rebuilt according to the specifications of the architect Thomas Graham Jackson of Cambridge. It re-opened on June 24 1880. It was then refurbished again during the 1930s, mainly through the provision of a new reredos in 1933 and a major overhaul of the organ in 1934.

The Founders' Library was the library until the new library opened in 1966, and now houses the University's oldest printed books (1470–1850) and manuscripts (the earliest being from the thirteenth century), given to Lampeter from 1822 onwards, as well as the archives of the university. It is a priceless collection unique to Lampeter. Named after its founders — Thomas Burgess (1756–1837), Thomas Bowdler (1754–1825) and Thomas Phillips (1760–1851) — it is a resource for teaching, research and scholarship within the University. In 2005, it was announced that a new £700,000 library building was to be built on campus to house the university's manuscripts, as the Founders' Library was not environmentally suitable for such valuable documents. This extension to the main library was completed in 2008.

Recent additions

There have been a number of notable additions to the university in recent times:

The Canterbury Building was originally built to house a growing number of students at the end of the 19th century. The foundation stone was laid by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1885, and the building was officially opened on June 24, 1887. It contained a physical science laboratory, two lecture rooms, and new accommodation. However, structural problems forced the university to demolish the original building in the summer of 1971. The current Canterbury Building was opened on October 20 1973 by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent and now houses the History and English departments.

The New Library was opened on July 7, 1966 by the then Chancellor of the University of Wales, the Duke of Edinburgh. It was extended, and then reopened by the Prince of Wales on June 21 1984.

The Arts Building was opened by The Rt. Hon Peter Thomas, Secretary of State for Wales on October 4, 1971, in time for it to house the new Geography department. The Archaeology and Anthropology department has since moved into the ground floor of the building, the first floor being shared by the Department of Film and Media and the Department of Management and I.T.

The Cliff Tucker Theatre, on the banks of the River Dulas, was officially opened by Sir Anthony Hopkins in 1996, and incorporates teaching rooms and lecture theatres, and a large computer room. It is named in honour of Cliff Tucker, a former student and benefactor of the university.

The Sheikh Khalifa Building completed in 1997, and named after Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a benefactor of the university, is the new purpose-built home of the Department of Theology, Religious Studies and Islamic Studies, one the largest departments of its kind in the United Kingdom. It was officially opened by Professor Sir Stewart Sutherland. Behind the departmental building is a small mosque, used by Islamic students and residents of the town.

Academic dress

Lampeter currently awards University of Wales degrees, and as such, the academic dress matches that of the University of Wales — graduates wear a black stuff gown, with bell sleeves for bachelors, and glove sleeve for masters. Hoods are lined with mazarin blue shot green (arts), mazarin blue shot red (divinity). The degrees of MSc (lined yellow shot black) and MBA (yellow shot red, bound light blue) have been recently introduced. The traditional Lampeter academic dress differs from this.

Undergraduates wore a black stuff gown, with bell-sleeves, with the whole sleeve split open in front. The wearing of undergraduate academic dress officially ended in 1971 on federalisation with the [University of Wales] , however there is some support for a resurrection of this tradition.

Bachelor of Divinity. A black gown, of MA pattern (long closed sleeves), with a double crescent cut at the end of each sleeve. A black silk hood, lined with dark violet silk, and bound with 1" white silk. Originally, it could be made in either the Oxford or the Cambridge shape, but Cambridge became the norm.

Bachelor of Arts. A black stuff gown of Cambridge BA pattern. A black silk hood, part-lined and bound with 'miniver' - white fur with black spots. (Rabbit was usually used, with 'stick-on' spots, on account of the cost of real miniver!). As with the BD, it could be made in either the Oxford or the Cambridge shape, but Cambridge became the norm.

There was also a two-year course for those who could not afford the full three-year one. From 1884, this was called the Licence in Divinity (LD). Holders wore the undergraduate gown, with a black stuff hood, lined with black stuff, and bound for 1" with white silk. This was always Cambridge shape. The LD was not awarded after about 1940, and in 1969 the hood was used for the DipTh, which was awarded until the College ceased clergy training in 1978.

The College currently awards a number of Licences (Theology, Religious Studies, Islamic Studies, Latin, Classical Greek). Holders of the Licence in Theology may wear the University of Wales BA gown, with the old Lampeter BD hood.


The university owns a sports hall with badminton and squash courts, and a "multigym" with weight training equipment. For outdoor sports, the University has tennis courts, a cricket field and facilities for football and rugby. Indeed, the college cricket pavilion, opened officially on 1 May, 1909 is now a listed building in its own right.

Lampeter has active field hockey, football and rugby union teams, all of which play in the traditional college colours of black and gold.


Rugby was introduced to Lampeter by Vice-Principal Rowland Williams around 1850, and as such the college can claim to have the oldest Rugby football team in Wales. Despite some debate as to whether this honour belongs to the town team or the University side, the Welsh Rugby Union's official history "Fields of Praise: The Official History of the Welsh Rugby Union, 1881-1981" [Fields of Praise, The Official History of the Welsh Rugby Union 1881-1981 pp259, David Smith, Gareth Williams (1980)] indicates the college team as the first. However, Lampeter Town RFC were the representatives of Lampeter at the formation of the WRU in 1881.

The red strip worn by Wales is actually one of the University's original strips and as such are the only other club permitted to wear it. The club was one of the founder members of the Welsh Rugby Union in 1881, but following trouble at a match against the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, in 1933, were reprimanded from the union.

The club's nicknames are "Mad Pilgrims" and "Fighting Parsons", reflecting Lampeter's history of training clergy. Traditionally a match is played between the current student team and an old boys (graduate) team on the first Saturday in December each year. In recent years the old boys have formed a touring side know as Old Parsonians RFC. The old boys have become known for their battle cry "chuff". Old Parsonians play in the college change strip of black/navy, maroon and white. Sky and white socks are worn as a recognition to the historical rugby link with Cambridge.

The College Yell

Taken from the Student Handbook 1938–39, the College Yell was originally used at sporting and other competitive events. It has largely fallen into obscurity in recent years, though is occasionally resurrected by zealous students.

"Hip Hip Hooray
Hip Hip Hooray
Hip Hip Hooray
Nawr Dewi. Nawr Dewi. Nawr Dewi.
Dy Blant. Dy Blant. Dy Blant.
Backshe Odinthorog. Backshe Odinthorog.
Niri Giri Wari. Niri Giri Wari.
Zey Zey Zey
Bing Bang Odin. Bing Bang Odin.
Io Dewi. Io Dewi. Io Dewi.
Dewi Sant. Dewi Sant. Dewi Sant.

Student life

The Students' Union at Lampeter is heavily involved in Student Life and entertainment. Three full time sabbatical officers and ten non-sabbatical officers oversee student entertainment, welfare and childcare, as well as ensuring that the views of Lampeter students are represented on a national level, through affiliation with the National Union of Students. Lampeter's small and compact campus, and its beautiful rural setting, attracts a unique and varied range of students, and it is regularly commented that the university is one of the friendliest in the United Kingdom and that everyone seems to know one another. The atmosphere is unique. The Students Union also publishes a popular satirical magazine entitled 1822 which "blends satire, pointlessness and toilet humour".

Lampeter is well over an hour away from the nearest city of Swansea, and as such, many students find it difficult to adjust to rural life, although to some who come here, this is among the main attractions. Local country towns of Carmarthen and Llandeilo are nearby as well as the coastal resorts of Aberystwyth and New Quay. The union entertainments officer has to work tirelessly, organising events for students. The union building, purpose built on the banks of the "Afon Dulas" and extended in 1998, contains a student bar and small club, known as the Extension, which hosts various parties and live music events, and the university's film society shows new and old films in the Arts Hall and Cliff Tucker Theatre. There is also a strong emphasis of getting students involved in clubs, societies and associations; there are well over 30 officially recognised ones to choose from ranging from African Students' Society to Pudding Club, Medieval Re-enactment and Women's Rugby, alongside societies not affiliated with the Students' Union such as the Christian Union, the Jewish Society, Amnesty and "The 16' Club".

Notable academics

Important academics past and present:
*Reverend Professor Paul Badham (Theology)
*Professor David Cockburn (Philosophy)
*Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok (Jewish Studies)
*Professor Tim Cresswell (Geography)
*Professor Peter Davison (English)
*Mr Dic Edwards (English)
*Reverend Islwyn Ffowc Elis (Welsh)
*Professor Andrew Fleming (Archaeology)
*Professor Mary Grey (Feminist Theologies)
*Professor Harold Arthur Harris (Latin and Greek)
*Reverend Professor Ernest William Hunt (Theology)
*Professor John Manning (English)
*Professor Chris Philo (Geography)
*Professor Michael Shanks (Archaeology)
*Doctor Laurie Thompson (Swedish)
*Professor Nigel Thrift (Geography)
*Professor Thomas Frederick Tout (History)
*Reverend Professor Rowland Williams (Hebrew, also Vice-Principal of the college)


Academic departments

* [ Archaeology and Anthropology]
* [ Chinese Studies]
* [ Classics]
* [ Film and Media]
* [ English]
* [ History]
* [ Management and Information Technology]
* [ Philosophy]
* [ Theology, Religious Studies and Islamic Studies]
* [ Voluntary Sector Studies]
* [ Welsh]

Defunct departments

*Physical Science
*Modern Languages (French, German and Swedish)
**Centre for Australian Studies in Wales

Lampeter Geography School

The Lampeter Geography School was an important collection of academics based at the Geography department of the University of Wales, Lampeter. The department has since closed, but the Lampeter diaspora continues to have a major impact on the academic discipline.



The Robbins Report of 1963 recommended immediate expansion of British universities. In its implementation of these recommendations, Lampeter planned to open new Economics and Geography departments. The former never materialised, but the groundwork was well in place for the Geography department to open by 1970 or 71. The new Arts Building of the University was opened by the Secretary of State for Wales on October 4, 1971, which provided the new department with luxurious lecture and teaching rooms in time for its opening. Dr David Thomas (not to be confused with David SG Thomas, Professor at Oxford) became the first Professor of Geography at Lampeter in 1970, and in 1971, Donald A Davidson and John A Dawson joined the staff as lecturers, ready to welcome the first Geography students to Lampeter in October 1971.

Academics of the Lampeter Geography School

*Professor Chris Philo
*Professor Tim Cresswell
*Professor David Sadler
*Professor Ulf Strohmayer
*Professor Paul Cloke
*Professor Nigel Thrift
*Professor Andrew Leyshon
*Professor John A Dawson
*Professor Miles Ogborn
*Professor Joe M. Painter
*Assoc. Prof.Ian Cook
*Professor Joe Howe
*Dr Hester Parr
*Dr David A Atkinson
*Dr Eric Laurier
*Professor Ghazi Falah
*Professor Catherine Nash
*Professor Jon Beaverstock
*Professor David A Kirby
*Ian Farrington
* Dr MJC Walker
* Dr G Sumner



*D T W Price, "A History of Saint David's University College, Lampeter", University of Wales Press, Cardiff. Volume One, to 1898 (ISBN 0-7083-0606-3) Volume Two 1898–1971 (ISBN 0-7083-1062-1).
*D T W Price, "Yr Esgob Burgess a Choleg Llanbedr: Bishop Burgess and Lampeter College", University of Wales Press, Cardiff (ISBN 0-7083-0965-8)
*Nicholas Groves "Academical robes of Saint David's College Lampeter (1822–1871)", University of Wales, Lampeter Special Publications (ISBN 0-905285-68-9).

See also

*Lampeter Geography School
*University of Wales
*List of universities in Wales
*Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales, Lampeter

External links

* [ University of Wales, Lampeter website]
* [,,396799,00.html "Guardian" Newspaper article on the future of the College]
* [ Lampeter University Conservative Society]


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