Student View: University of Exeter, Penryn Campus

As part of our new blog series 'Student View', we welcome guest blogger, Emma McKnight, to give an insight into her experiences at Russell Group British university Exeter, Penryn Campus.

My Experience Studying at a Small Campus – at a Big University

Applying for university is such a big step which can feel pretty daunting. Choosing a new place to move to and a new course to start is a challenging enough decision, made only harder by the overwhelming number of options available to pick from.

For me, those options narrowed themselves down pretty quickly. Despite spending hours perusing every prospectus I could get my hands on, I only ended up with two offers out of my five options. As an overambitious applicant, it was at this point that reality hit, and the possibility of not getting into a university of my choice became all the more real. Fast forward to slightly missing my predicted grades on results day - I didn’t achieve either offer, and the panic set in – until I received an email from the University of Exeter. While I hadn’t met the requirements for their original offer, to study English Literature at their main (Streatham) campus, they did have a few places for the same course at their smaller campus in Penryn, Cornwall.

As much of a relief as this email was, it threw my plans further into a tailspin. Not only had I never heard of this campus before, but it was nearly an extra two hours away from home than the main campus was, which was a big worry for a homebody like myself. After much research, however, and asking many questions to the university’s helpful team over the phone, I accepted the alternative offer. In the end, despite this initial uncertainty, it honestly has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Right off the bat, the experience of attending a small campus is completely unique. I got to have the full experience of going to a more lowkey campus, whilst also attending a Russell Group university. The Penryn campus is also shared with Falmouth University, which means that I had the opportunity to meet an even wider and more diverse variety of students.

The campus itself is located in the most beautiful area, and is only a 15 minute bus ride away from the beach. The benefit of this is beyond superficial too – as it is very useful to have a natural escape from the bustle of university and the stress of essays. There is nowhere as relaxing as sitting on the beach watching the waves roll in. It also became the perfect place to read course texts!

The Penryn campus takes around 5,000 students, which is much more cosy compared to the approximate 23,000 students studying at the main campus. This proved to be super beneficial particularly in the first few months, as it meant that it took less time for faces to become familiar, and made it easier to make friends (which was something I had been particularly nervous about before moving). As cheesy as it sounds, a smaller university

campus really does feel a lot more like a community. While it was still a new learning and growing experience, I think the size really helped to make the settling in process a whole lot easier.

Academically, one of the biggest benefits of attending a smaller campus, is the lower student to lecturer ratio – meaning that there is a whole lot more one on one time with academics. My lectures were relatively small, with a maximum of probably around 80 students in a busy lecture, and about 15 in a seminar/ workshop. Quite quickly lecturers knew everyone by name, which once again helped the settling in process. The experience was more personal, and meant that I was able to speak to, and get help from, my lecturers pretty much as and when I needed.

While there are generally fears of being ‘forgotten about’ when studying at a lesser known campus of a bigger university, in my experience the pros far outweighed the cons. I honestly don’t think I would have had as enjoyable an experience if I had gone to the main campus – attending Penryn has been so unique, and perfect for me. Not to mention the wonderful course I got to partake in, and the amazing friends I made while I was here. I honestly would not have traded my experience for anything.

About the Author

Hi I’m Emma, a 21 year old English Literature undergraduate at the University of Exeter. You can find me over on my lifestyle blog at, where I cover a range of topics such as life as a student, books I am reading, and skincare and makeup I’m enjoying, to name but a few.

About Canis Major

Canis Major is an elite group of tutors, handpicked for their experience and expertise, who tutor students of all ages and have worked with clients from around the world. All Canis Major tutors have a first class undergraduate degree from a Russell Group university, a postgraduate degree from either Oxford or Cambridge, a 4.5 star rating or above from former students, and at least two years of private tuition experience. Online or in person, students receive the best support available from some of Britain's brightest minds.

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