History – Bath Spa University

The University builds on a proud heritage, with our origins dating back over 160 years.

In 1852 the Bath School of Art was established after the Great Exhibition, and there begins our long and prestigious history. The School enjoyed a reputation as one of the leading art schools in the country, and some of Britain’s best known artists, including Walter Sickert and Howard Hodgkin, studied and taught at what was to become the Bath School of Art and Design.

In the immediate post war era it was acknowledged as a leading British Art school, involved in the flowering of the English Modernist movement.  The School’s post-war residence, Corsham Court, has now become the home of the majority of our taught postgraduate courses. This reputation for excellence endures today – graduates of the Bath School of Art, Film and Media and the Bath School of Design are sought after for their high standards of creative exploration and practice.

The two Bath-based campuses of the University began as teacher training institutions in the 1940s. Newton Park’s Main House, built for Joseph Langton from 1762-5 set in Capability Brown gardens and leased from the Prince of Wales, is Grade 1 listed. The Sion Hill campus was built after the Second World War and became the home of the Bath College of Domestic Science in 1959. It was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother on 23 March 1960.

Both colleges were highly regarded, beginning the University’s long-standing reputation for training high-quality professionals. The colleges merged in 1975 to become the Bath College of Higher Education. The School of Education is now one of the highest rated providers of teacher education in the country.

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