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Exploring the best universities in London

In this article we will take a look at London’s leading universities, as well as exploring some of the city’s best neighbourhoods for student life, and provide some tips on how to choose a university in London that best suits you.

Rankings: Which universities in London are the best?

In terms of understanding what is on offer, there are many different ranking systems, using various criteria to determine which university in London is the best. London is often considered to be one of the best student cities in the world, and if you’re considering studying there, the place to start is by exploring which of the universities in London is the best. 

Students looking for the top universities in London will come across a variety of options, whether you’re looking for a specialist institution or a university that covers a variety of academic disciplines. Exploring what London’s universities have to offer, your chances of finding a good match in the city ranked number one in the QS Best Students Cities ranking are high.

QS World University Rankings is an annual publication of international university rankings, and being the only international ranking to achieve International Ranking Expert Group (IREG) approval, the QS ranking is viewed as one of the most read university rankings in the world. It uses Academic peer review, faculty/student ratio, citations per faculty, employer reputation, and international student and staff ratio to rank universities across the world. 

Here are the ten highest ranked universities in London, according to the QS World University Rankings 2024.

  1. Imperial College London - Ranking sixth in the world, this is the highest ranking university in London. It is a university with a strong global pull, reflected in the high number of international students, accounting for around half the student population. Its main campus is in South Kensington, not far from the centre of London, surrounded by some of London’s most famous sites.

  2. University College London (UCL) - Another university that proves popular with international students and ranks ninth in the world, UCL is a multidisciplinary university. It covers a wide range of subjects, and has a high proportion of postgraduate students. Its faculties and teaching hospitals are found in the heart of the city, with its main campus just a short walk from Soho and Oxford circus.

  3. King’s College London (KCL) - Ranking 40th in the world, KCL is a comprehensive research-led university which has a particularly good reputation for courses in the humanities, law and the sciences.

  4. London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) - Ranking 45th in the world LSE is the only UK university specialising purely in social sciences. It is at the forefront of subjects such as anthropology, politics, sociology, law and accounting.  

  5. Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL) - Ranking joint 145th in the world, QMUL provides teaching and research across a wide range of subjects, with around 4,000 of its 23,000 students completing joint overseas studies in China, Greece and France.

  6. City, University of London - Ranking 328th in the world, its name reflects its close relationship with London’s historic financial district. It offers a broad spectrum of courses and maintains a high level of diversity, appearing in the global top 50 for international students indicator.

  7. Brunel University - Ranking 343th in the world, Brunel University is named after engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and is well known for its engineering and design courses. As a campus-based universitie, it provides everything for the student university experience all within walking distance.

  8. Birkbeck, University of London - Ranking joint 374th and the only one of London’s best universities to allow students to complete full length degrees during evening courses, with the visa and loan benefits of daytime study. Situated in Bloomsbury, central London, it is within walking distance to many of central London’s attractions.

  9. Royal Holloway, University of London - Ranking joint 413th in the world, this university offers courses in a broad range of subjects, with particular strengths in the areas of humanities and arts. Situated slightly further out than some of the other universities listed, it is perfect for students looking for a more suburban London university experience.

  10. School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) - Ranking joint 511th in the world, SOAS focuses on the cultures and languages of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East, the only institution in Europe to specialise in this field.

Which areas in London are the best for student life?

As well as considering the academic side of student life, it is also important to think about which areas of London are best for student life. While your studies will likely be a priority, there are many other aspects to life to consider when choosing where to live and which university to study at. One of the many benefits of studying in the UK is the variety of different places to study. 


Located in southeast London, Bermondsey is a great place if you love food. For instance, the famous Borough Market is not far away, and is one of the oldest markets in London. For getting into central London, the Jubilee Line is here, and KCL is within walking distance, too.


If you’re more concerned about your budget, Docklands is a much more affordable area. Although still located in central London, it is slightly more relaxed than the rest of London, and you can still reach the bustling city centre via one of the many great transport links.


If you’re looking for a trendy area of London, look no further than Brixton. This is an area that is reasonably central without being unaffordable, has great community, and brilliant nightlife. It is perfectly situated for students of KCL and is also well connected to other Universities in London.

These are just a few examples of the diverse range of areas London offers for a great student experience. London really is a varied, busy, multicultural city, with something to offer everyone. With a great transport system, and many of its sites and attractions within walking distance of one another, finding what you’re looking for in London can be simple once you know where to look. 

How to choose a London University 

When choosing a London university, ultimately your chosen course of study will have a big impact on which university you choose, with some being better suited than others for specific courses. But there are some other factors that you may want to consider.

Is the university affordable? Is it situated in an area in which you would like to live? What is the culture like? What is the ratio of international to UK students like? These factors can be extremely important in shaping what studying at each university will be like.

When choosing a university, it is important to consider the areas that are most important to you. These will be different for every individual, but there are some great resources out there to help you determine the things that are most important to you.

If you would like to find out more about studying in London, as well as the range of pre-University courses we provide, please get in touch today.

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