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Discover Plymouth

Located on the coast of Devon in the South West of England, Plymouth is Britain’s Ocean City. With a beautiful waterfront and harbour that includes a lovingly restored 1935 Art Deco lido, and plenty of stunning surrounding countryside, our thriving city offers a wealth of inspiration alongside vibrant culture and world-class events to over 35,000 students.

There’s something special about the way that music, art and film blend in Plymouth. And we are actively involved in an intergenerational placemaking project that is transforming the city into the regional capital of visual arts – reflected in investment from Arts Council England. Contemporary arts venues like KARST house innovative contemporary art exhibitions and residencies, whilst the university houses our own well-established gallery, MIRROR and independent arthouse cinema. You’ll find live music venues where you can catch local and touring bands, as well as DIY creative communities and community interest companies springing up all over the city.

Devonport’s £7.2 million Market Hall regeneration project, led by the Real Ideas Organisation, has created a digital centre for arts, community activity and enterprise, generating jobs and opportunities.

A lively exhibition opening is lit up in the dark of the evening, the floor to ceiling gallery windows show colourful sculptural pieces as guests chat and enjoy the space.

MIRROR (previously known as The Gallery), our on-site international exhibition space at Tavistock Place, undergraduate building.

MIRROR, the university's onsite art gallery plays host to major exhibitions and artists, including British Art Show 7 (with British Art Show 9 set to return to Plymouth in 2022), and shows by the likes of Martin Parr and Rose Wylie. Across Plymouth, creative events and exhibitions like We The People Are The Work, The Atlantic Project, Plymouth Art Weekender and Rebel Film Festival have welcomed internationally renowned names to the city, including Oscar-winning filmmaker Mia Bays, Ryoji Ikeda, Postcommodity collective, and Turner prize nominated artist Ciara Phillips.

Alongside the city’s much loved creative spaces, a host of newly developed centres for arts and enterprise have recently opened. The Box is the new home for Plymouth’s museum and city archives, with a £40 million rebuild opened in September 2020, housing seven large-scale permanent galleries, including collections from the South West Film and Television Archive.

Meanwhile Ocean Studios in Plymouth’s historic Royal William Yard offers collaborative facilities, residencies and open-space workshops, and is already home to a wealth of creative, independent businesses – from screenprinting workshops to contemporary jewellers.

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"Plymouth is Britain’s coolest little city by the sea" — British GQ magazine

Not only is Plymouth a city of rich creative and cultural heritage in its built form, but increasingly projects and people are embracing creativity in the city in their lives, their work, their leisure. A great example of this is the flagship iMayflower project, in which Arts University Plymouth is playing a lead role in bringing new digital, immersive and creative design and manufacturing skills to the masses. Through our Smart Citizens Programme, we are looking to upskill over 1,500 people in the city in key future skills that you will find in our Fab Lab - including coding, programming, 3D printing, 3D design (CAD), and laser cutting. We believe passionately in the power of making and Maker Cultures to respond to some of the societal challenges we face, and with the ability to make, we can shape our future in a positive, sustainable and responsible fashion. You can be part of that when you study with us.

Plymouth’s artistic spirit also shines in the Theatre Royal, the largest and best-attended regional producing theatre in the UK. Our relationship with the theatre provides opportunities for collaborations and industry experience – it is currently the venue for our graduation ceremony.

Plymouth Pavilions draws the biggest names in music and comedy, and the whole city gets involved with MTV’s annual festival style events in the city, with headliners including the likes of Clean Bandit, The Vaccines, Rudimental and Charli XCX – to name a few.

Comparethemarket recently ranked Plymouth as the UK’s top city for nightlife for young adults, with a massive 27 venues per 10,000 young adults, easily beating Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and London! And unlike bigger cities, every city-centre venue is within walking distance of Arts University Plymouth, so there’s no need for expensive taxis.

What’s more, Plymouth is among the top 20 safest cities in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, with one recent study ranking Plymouth as the safest major city in England and Wales. Overall Devon and Cornwall remain one of the safest areas in the UK according to crime statistics, making Plymouth an excellent place to study and enjoy the city’s nightlife safely!

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Bend reality with experimental installations and events at Radiant Gallery Photo credit Dom Moore
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Left to right: The Bread & Roses / Radiant Space / Prime Cafe

Just a stone’s throw away is some of the South West’s most beautiful coastline, moors and prehistoric woodlands, as well as exciting creative hubs where you can discover independent shops and cafes, exhibition spaces and more.

The nearby market town of Totnes is home to extraordinary vintage stores and eclectic record shops – the perfect destination for a day of browsing markets, galleries and shopping.

Less than an hour away, the Eden Project is the world’s largest indoor rainforest and plays host to the Eden Sessions each summer, where artists including Björk, Muse, The Chemical Brothers and Foals have played intimate shows in this breathtaking setting.

Venture further into Cornwall, and you’ll find the small town of St Ives. Nestled into a hillside and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, St Ives is home to Tate St Ives, celebrating the artistic connections of the town which has been a destination for artists since Victorian times. Renowned names associated with the town range from Mark Rothko to Barbara Hepworth – a must-visit whilst you’re studying at Arts University Plymouth.

We’ve always loved our city, but lately there’s an even greater buzz to the place than usual. Come and find out for yourself.

Graduate Nicholas White stands at the top of a tor in Dartmoor looking through the lens of a large 5x4 film camera as the rich golden light of the morning sun brings the moorland to life around him.

Award-winning photographer Nicholas White embraced the wilds of Dartmoor during his studies at Arts University Plymouth.

Find out more about nearby attractions and Plymouth's creative scene by visiting the links below. For recommendations on places to stay, travel routes and places to dine please email enquiries@aup.ac.uk