Solent University

About Solent University

Solent University Description

The student funding team here at Solent University provides professional and impartial funding advice to our students. If you are having issues relating to any of the following, please don't hesitate to get in touch:

  • Funding entitlement.
  • Tuition fee and maintenance loans.
  • Grants, bursaries and scholarships.
  • How and when to apply for funding.
  • What forms to complete.
  • Complex funding matters eg, if you leave/change or suspend your course.
  • Claiming estrangement.
  • Delayed funding.
  • Liaising with Student Finance England, and much more.

The student finance team are available on 023 8201 5200 or via email at When emailing, please provide:

  • your name, and
  • your student ID number

We will always reply to your University email address where possible. If you have a private email, please link it to your University email.

You can also visit us in person during term time in the Student Hub (RM050):

  • Monday to Thursday: 10am - 4pm
  • Friday: 10am - 3pm

Please note: times may vary in the event of staff absence and during the holidays.

Need financial advice?

All students who are worried about their financial situation can see a funding adviser during our drop-in times, or via an appointment. You could benefit from this service if you:  

  • borrow money to pay debts,
  • have no idea where your money goes,
  • get letters from collection agencies,
  • skimp on essentials like food to pay your bills,
  • panic every time the post arrives, or
  • regularly have to ask your friends/family to lend you money.

The funding advisers can offer you advice on where to get help to negotiate with your creditors.

If you do have to arrange a payment plan with your creditors your credit rating may be affected. However, regularly defaulting on payments or embarking on a spiral of debt is likely to cause much more damage.

You can contact external agencies such as Citizens Advice, Step Change, or National Debt Line, to name a few. Please ensure you look around and choose a free service.

If finances are affecting your mental health or your mental health is affecting your finances, either way, please get advice and support. Please don't suffer in silence thinking it will go away - there's a lot of help you can access. You can find advice and support through MoneySavingExpert in the mental health and debt guide. There is also help available through Step Change.


While at university it is advisable to try to actively manage your money. It's also a good idea to set yourself a budget. Try this simple budget planner to get an idea of your income and expenditure while you're at university. Only budget your maintenance loan and other funds, over the length of the academic year, not 52 weeks.

Your income as a student is generally made up of:

  • a maintenance loan and/or a maintenance grant (for pre-2016 entrants only),
  • a University bursary,
  • extra grants (if you have dependants/disability),
  • benefits (if you have dependants/disability),
  • part-time work,
  • a student overdraft,
  • help from family/friends.

From this, you will need to pay for a range of expenditures. These include rent, bills/utilities, food, clothes, course equipment/trips and the cost of socialising.

How much you spend on these items will vary depending on your individual circumstances. When you have an idea of costs, you can begin to work out your own personal budget to ensure you can pay for the essentials without worrying.

Our policies

The student funding team have many policies in place in order to make our service fair and accessible to all students.

Solent global

Solent University is partnered with institutions and organisations from all over the world. We are home to students from over 100 different countries who have all chosen to study abroad here in the UK.

Our strengths in maritime, the creative industries and sports are globally recognised. Our ambition is to be renowned for excellence in everything we do.

Find out more about international partnerships

Supporting international students

Students who choose to leave their country of origin and study abroad at a UK university may need support while adjusting to their new home. If you have any questions, our international advice team are here to help. The team can provide information, advice and guidance on issues including visas and immigration, life in the UK and employment.

International alumni ambassadors

We also have a team of international alumni ambassadors who can answer any questions you have about being an international student at Solent.

Find out more and get in touch

Being a University student is about more than just the things you study or the qualifications you earn. You’ll be making friends, having fun and experiencing life as part of Southampton’s 30,000-strong student community. Our campus (and six halls of residence) can all be found in the heart of the city, so you'll never be far from the things that make life in Southampton great.

Southampton is a city with something for everyone. Beautiful city centre parks, an electric night-time economy and a thriving arts and music scene all meet to offer residents something truly unique.

Moving away from West Quay (one of the UK’s largest shopping centres) and towards the waterfront, you’ll find a hub of independent eateries, venues and stores. At the other end of the city is Bedford Place, the centre of the city’s night-life and home to a huge range of pubs and clubs.

There’s plenty going on here on campus too. The Students’ Union is complemented by fitness facilities, a student-run cinema and a range of other leisure venues. Spend downtime between lectures relaxing in our cafés or step out of the front reception directly in one the city’s five parks.

Solent University Programme

  1. Architectural Design and Technology | BA(Hons)
  2. BA (Hons) Digital Arts | (Top-up) Degree
  3. Communications Engineering | MSc
  4. Finance and Big Data Analytics | MSc
  5. Oil, Gas and Renewable Energy Law | LLM
  6. Strategic Marketing | MSc
  7. Education with a Foundation Year | BA(Hons)
  8. Sport and Exercise Science | BSc (Hons)
  9. International Relations with a Foundation Year | BA(Hons)
  10. Renewable Energy Engineering | BEng (Hons)
  11. Make-up and Hair Design | BA(Hons)
  12. Sustainable Building Design | MSc (Hons)
  13. Data Analytics Engineering | MSc (Hons)
  14. Engineering Design and Manufacture | BSc (Hons)
  15. Biomedical Science | BSc (Hons)
  16. Digital Design | MSc (Hons)
  17. Foundation Year in Digital Arts | FOUNDATION
  18. BA (Hons) Photography | (Top-up) Degree
  19. Photography | BA(Hons)
  20. Digital Marketing (Apprenticeship) | BA(Hons)
  21. Foundation in Journalism, Advertising and Marketing | FOUNDATION
  22. Foundation Certificate in Marketing | CIM
  23. Diploma in Professional Marketing | CIM
  24. Certificate in Professional Marketing | CIM
  25. Public Relations and Multimedia Communications | MA
  26. Marketing | MSc (Hons)
  27. Luxury Brand Management | MA
  28. Creative Advertising | MA
  29. Creative Enterprise | MA
  30. Advertising and Multimedia Communications | MA
  31. Marketing with Sport | BA(Hons)
  32. Public Relations and Communication Management | BA(Hons)
  33. Marketing with Advertising | BA(Hons)
  34. BSc (Hons) Marketing | (Top-up) Degree
  35. Marketing | BA(Hons)
  36. BA (Hons) Creative Enterprise | (Top-up) Degree
  37. Sport Foundation Year | FOUNDATION
  38. Sport, Health and Exercise Science Foundation Year | FOUNDATION
  39. Football Foundation Year | FOUNDATION
  40. Youth Sport and Physical Education | PGCert
  41. Sport Management | MA
  42. Sport Science and Performance Coaching | MSc (Hons)
  43. Sport Development | PGCert
  44. Sport Development | MA
  45. Physical Education and School Sport | MA
  46. Football Science | MSc (Hons)
  47. Sport Performance Coaching | BSc (Hons)
  48. Sport Management | BA(Hons)
  49. Sport Coaching and Sport Development | BA(Hons)
  50. BA (Hons) Sport Coaching and Physical Education | (Top-up) Degree
  51. Sport and Exercise Therapy | BSc (Hons)
  52. Sport and Exercise Psychology | BSc (Hons)
  53. Physical Education | BA(Hons)
  54. Football Studies | BA(Hons)
  55. Football Science | MSci
  56. Football Business Management | BA(Hons)
  57. Fitness Management | BA(Hons)
  58. Fitness and Personal Training | BSc (Hons)
  59. Applied Sport Science | BSc (Hons)
  60. Adventure and Outdoor Management | BA(Hons)
  61. Media Technology Foundation Year | FOUNDATION
  62. Foundation Year in Media | FOUNDATION
  63. Media Arts Management | MA
  64. Post Production in Film and Television | MA
  65. Film Production | MA
  66. Television Production | BA(Hons)
  67. BA (Hons) Post-Production | (Top-up) Degree
  68. Post Production for Film and Television | BA(Hons)
  69. BA (Hons) Media Production | (Top-up) Degree
  70. Media Production | BA(Hons)
  71. Media Engineering | BEng (Hons)
  72. Live Event Technology | BSc (Hons)
  73. Film Visual Effects | BA(Hons)
  74. Film Production | BA(Hons)
  75. Film | BA(Hons)
  76. BA (Hons) Film and Television | (Top-up) Degree
  77. Film and Television | BA(Hons)
  78. Computer Generated Imagery | BA(Hons)
  79. Acoustic and Audio Engineering | BEng (Hons)
  80. Popular Music Production Foundation Year | FOUNDATION
  81. Performance Foundation Year | FOUNDATION
  82. Contemporary Music | MA
  83. Popular Music Production | BSc (Hons)
  84. Popular Music Performance | BMus (Hons)
  85. Popular Music Performance and Production | BA(Hons)
  86. BSc (Hons) Music Technology | (Top-up) Degree
  87. Music Business | LLM
  88. Musical Theatre | BA(Hons)
  89. Digital Music | BA(Hons)
  90. Acting and Performance | BA(Hons)
  91. Event and Tourism Foundation Year | FOUNDATION
  92. International Tourism Management | BA(Hons)
  93. International Air Travel and Tourism Management | BA(Hons)
  94. Shipping Operations | MSc (Hons)
  95. International Trade and Maritime Law | PgDip
  96. International Maritime Business | MSc (Hons)
  97. International Shipping and Logistics | MSc (Hons)
  98. Shipping and Port Management | BSc (Hons)
  99. BSc (Hons) Maritime Management | (Top-up) Degree
  100. Maritime Business | BSc (Hons)
  101. Marine Operations | FdSc
  102. Marine Engineering | FdEng
  103. BEng (Hons) Marine Engineering and Management | (Top-up) Degree
  104. Marine Electrical and Electronic Engineering | FdEng
  105. Law and Criminology Foundation Year | FOUNDATION
  106. Criminology and Criminal Justice | MSc (Hons)
  107. LLB (Hons) Law | LLB(Hons)
  108. Criminology | BA(Hons)
  109. Criminology and Psychology | BA(Hons)
  110. Criminal Investigation with Psychology | BA(Hons)
  111. Study Abroad | Professional Diploma
  112. Pre-Sessional English Language | Professional Diploma
  113. Level 6 Registered Nurse (Degree) Apprenticeship | Professional Diploma
  114. Level 5 Nursing Associate Apprenticeship | Diploma
  115. Level 5 Healthcare Assistant Practitioner Apprenticeship | HND
  116. Social Sciences Foundation Year | FOUNDATION
  117. Sociology | BSc (Hons)
  118. Social Work | BSc (Hons)
  119. Psychology (Forensic and Psychopathology) | BSc (Hons)
  120. Psychology (Counselling and Mental Health) | BSc (Hons)
  121. Psychology (Child Development and Education) | BSc (Hons)
  122. Psychology | BSc (Hons)
  123. Mental Health and Psychological Wellbeing | BSc (Hons)
  124. Health, Nutrition and Exercise Science | BSc (Hons)
  125. Applied Human Nutrition | BSc (Hons)
  126. Adult Nursing Practice | BSc (Hons)
  127. Creative Direction for Fashion and Beauty | MA
  128. Fashion Styling and Creative Direction | BA(Hons)
  129. Fashion Promotion and Communication | BA(Hons)
  130. Fashion Photography | BA(Hons)
  131. Fashion Media | BA(Hons)
  132. Fashion Management with Marketing | BA(Hons)
  133. Fashion Graphics | BA(Hons)
  134. Fashion Buying and Merchandising | BA(Hons)
  135. Fashion | BA(Hons)
  136. Beauty Promotion | BA(Hons)
  137. Journalism and Multimedia Communications | MA
  138. Sports Broadcast Journalism | MA
  139. Sports Journalism | BA(Hons)
  140. Journalism | BA(Hons)
  141. Fashion Journalism | BA(Hons)
  142. English and Media | BA(Hons)
  143. English and Film | BA(Hons)
  144. English and Creative Writing | BA(Hons)
  145. Science and Engineering Foundation Year | FOUNDATION
  146. Technician Professional Review (TPR) Preparation | Professional Diploma
  147. Diploma in Acoustics and Noise Control (IOA) | Professional Diploma
  148. Engineering | HNC
  149. Certificate of Competence in Environmental Noise Measurement (IOA) | Professional Diploma
  150. Certificate of Competence in Building Acoustics Measurement (IOA) | Professional Diploma
  151. Superyacht Design | MSc (Hons)
  152. Applied Acoustics | MSc (Hons)
  153. Yacht Design and Production | BEng (Hons)
  154. Yacht and Powercraft Design | BEng (Hons)
  155. Mechanical Engineering | BEng (Hons)
  156. Electronic Engineering | BEng (Hons)
  157. Future Transport Engineering | BEng (Hons)
  158. Computing Foundation Year | FOUNDATION
  159. Cisco Network Associate | Professional Diploma
  160. Cisco Certified Network Professional | Professional Diploma
  161. Cyber Security Engineering | MSc (Hons)
  162. Applied Computing | MSc (Hons)
  163. Computer Engineering | MSc (Hons)
  164. Software Engineering | BSc (Hons)
  165. Digital Design and Web Development | BSc (Hons)
  166. Cyber Security Management | BSc (Hons)
  167. Computing | BSc (Hons)
  168. Computer Systems and Networks Engineering | BSc (Hons)
  169. Computer Games Technology | BSc (Hons)
  170. Computer Games Design | BA(Hons)
  171. Computer Games (Art) | BA(Hons)
  172. Business Foundation Year | FOUNDATION
  173. Quantity Surveying | HNC
  174. PRINCE2® Foundation & Practitioner | FOUNDATION
  175. PgD Personnel and Development | PgDip
  176. CIPD Intermediate Diploma Human Resource Management | PgDip
  177. Project Management | MSc (Hons)
  178. Professional Development Planning | PgDip
  179. Personnel and Development | MA
  180. Management | MSc (Hons)
  181. International Business Management | MSc (Hons)
  182. Architectural Project Management | MSc (Hons)
  183. Critical Creative Practice | MA
  184. Visual Communication | MA
  185. Human Resource Management | MA
  186. Global Master of Business Administration | MBA
  187. Festival and Event Management | BA(Hons)
  188. Events Management | BA(Hons)
  189. Business (Professional Development) | BA(Hons)
  190. Business Management | BA(Hons)
  191. BSc (Hons) Business Administration | (Top-up) Degree
  192. BSc (Hons) Accountancy and Finance | (Top-up) Degree
  193. Accountancy and Finance | BA(Hons)
  194. Design | FOUNDATION
  195. Visual Communication (Accelerated) | BA(Hons)
  196. Product Design | BA(Hons)
  197. Interior Design Decoration | BA(Hons)
  198. Illustration | BA(Hons)
  199. Graphic Design | BA(Hons)
  200. Fine Art | BA(Hons)
  201. Digital Animation | BA(Hons)
  202. Body Art | BA(Hons)
  203. Animation | BA(Hons)
  204. International Construction, Design and Sustainability BSc (Hons) | (Top-up) Degree
  205. Advanced Building Simulation | MSc (Hons)
  206. Interior Design | BA(Hons)
  207. Construction Management | HNC
  208. Construction Management | BSc (Hons)
  209. Civil Engineering | HNC
  210. Architectural Technology | HNC
  211. Architectural Design and Visualisation | BA(Hons)

United Kingdom (UK)

United Kingdom, island country located off the northwestern coast of mainland Europe. The United Kingdom comprises the whole of the island of Great Britain—which contains England, Wales, and Scotland—as well as the northern portion of the island of Ireland. The name Britain is sometimes used to refer to the United Kingdom as a whole. The capital is London, which is among the world’s leading commercial, financial, and cultural centres. Other major cities include Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester in England, Belfast and Londonderry in Northern Ireland, Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland, and Swansea and Cardiff in Wales.

United Kingdom
United KingdomUnited KingdomEncyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

The origins of the United Kingdom can be traced to the time of the Anglo-Saxon king Athelstan, who in the early 10th century CE secured the allegiance of neighbouring Celtic kingdoms and became “the first to rule what previously many kings shared between them,” in the words of a contemporary chronicle. Through subsequent conquest over the following centuries, kingdoms lying farther afield came under English dominion. Wales, a congeries of Celtic kingdoms lying in Great Britain’s southwest, was formally united with England by the Acts of Union of 1536 and 1542. Scotland, ruled from London since 1603, formally was joined with England and Wales in 1707 to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain. (The adjective “British” came into use at this time to refer to all the kingdom’s peoples.) Ireland came under English control during the 1600s and was formally united with Great Britain through the Act of Union of 1800. The republic of Ireland gained its independence in 1922, but six of Ulster’s nine counties remained part of the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland. Relations between these constituent states and England have been marked by controversy and, at times, open rebellion and even warfare. These tensions relaxed somewhat during the late 20th century, when devolved assemblies were introduced in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Nonetheless, even with the establishment of a power-sharing assembly after referenda in both Northern Ireland and the Irish republic, relations between Northern Ireland’s unionists (who favour continued British sovereignty over Northern Ireland) and nationalists (who favour unification with the republic of Ireland) remained tense into the 21st century.

The United Kingdom has made significant contributions to the world economy, especially in technology and industry. Since World War II, however, the United Kingdom’s most prominent exports have been cultural, including literature, theatre, film, television, and popular music that draw on all parts of the country. Perhaps Britain’s greatest export has been the English language, now spoken in every corner of the world as one of the leading international mediums of cultural and economic exchange.

The United Kingdom retains links with parts of its former empire through the Commonwealth. It also benefits from historical and cultural links with the United States and is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Moreover, the United Kingdom became a member of the European Union in 1973. Many Britons, however, were sometimes reluctant EU members, holding to the sentiments of the great wartime prime minister Winston Churchill, who sonorously remarked, “We see nothing but good and hope in a richer, freer, more contented European commonalty. But we have our own dream and our own task. We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked, but not comprised. We are interested and associated, but not absorbed.” Indeed, in June 2016, in a referendum on whether the United Kingdom should remain in the EU, 52 percent of British voters chose to leave. That set the stage for the U.K. to become the first country to do so, pending the negotiations between the U.K. and the EU on the details of the separation.


The United Kingdom comprises four geographic and historical parts—England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom contains most of the area and population of the British Isles—the geographic term for the group of islands that includes Great Britain, Ireland, and many smaller islands. Together England, Wales, and Scotland constitute Great Britain, the larger of the two principal islands, while Northern Ireland and the republic of Ireland constitute the second largest island, Ireland. England, occupying most of southern Great Britain, includes the Isles of Scilly off the southwest coast and the Isle of Wight off the southern coast. Scotland, occupying northern Great Britain, includes the Orkney and Shetland islands off the northern coast and the Hebrides off the northwestern coast. Wales lies west of England and includes the island of Anglesey to the northwest.

Windermere Cumbria England
Windermere, Cumbria, EnglandWindermere, Cumbria, England.Julie Fryer/Bruce Coleman Ltd.

Apart from the land border with the Irish republic, the United Kingdom is surrounded by sea. To the south of England and between the United Kingdom and France is the English Channel. The North Sea lies to the east. To the west of Wales and northern England and to the southeast of Northern Ireland, the Irish Sea separates Great Britain from Ireland, while southwestern England, the northwestern coast of Northern Ireland, and western Scotland face the Atlantic Ocean. At its widest the United Kingdom is 300 miles (500 km) across. From the northern tip of Scotland to the southern coast of England, it is about 600 miles (1,000 km). No part is more than 75 miles (120 km) from the sea. The capital, London, is situated on the tidal River Thames in southeastern England.

The archipelago formed by Great Britain and the numerous smaller islands is as irregular in shape as it is diverse in geology and landscape. This diversity stems largely from the nature and disposition of the underlying rocks, which are westward extensions of European structures, with the shallow waters of the Strait of Dover and the North Sea concealing former land links. Northern Ireland contains a westward extension of the rock structures of Scotland. These common rock structures are breached by the narrow North Channel.

The North Channel coast south of Torr Head Northern Ireland
The North Channel coast south of Torr Head, Northern Ireland© Michael Jennet/Robert Harding Picture Library

On a global scale, this natural endowment covers a small area—approximating that of the U.S. state of Oregon or the African country of Guinea—and its internal diversity, accompanied by rapid changes of often beautiful scenery, may convey to visitors from larger countries a striking sense of compactness and consolidation. The peoples who, over the centuries, have hewed an existence from this Atlantic extremity of Eurasia have put their own imprint on the environment, and the ancient and distinctive palimpsest of their field patterns and settlements complements the natural diversity.


Great Britain is traditionally divided into a highland and a lowland zone. A line running from the mouth of the River Exe, in the southwest, to that of the Tees, in the northeast, is a crude expression of this division. The course of the 700-foot (213-metre) contour, or of the boundary separating the older rocks of the north and west from the younger southeastern strata, provides a more accurate indication of the extent of the highlands.

The highland zone

The creation of the highlands was a long process, yet elevations, compared with European equivalents, are low, with the highest summit, Ben Nevis, only 4,406 feet (1,343 metres) above sea level. In addition, the really mountainous areas above 2,000 feet (600 metres) often form elevated plateaus with relatively smooth surfaces, reminders of the effects of former periods of erosion.

Ben Nevis from Loch Linnhe Scotland
Ben Nevis from Loch Linnhe, Scotland.Colour Library International

Scotland’s three main topographic regions follow the northeast-to-southwest trend of the ancient underlying rocks. The northern Highlands and the Southern Uplands are separated by the intervening rift valley, or subsided structural block, called the Midland Valley (or Central Lowlands). The core of the Highlands is the elevated, worn-down surface of the Grampian Mountains, 1,000–3,600 feet (300–1,100 metres) above sea level, with the Cairngorm Mountains rising to elevations of more than 4,000 feet (1,200 metres). This majestic mountain landscape is furrowed by numerous wide valleys, or straths. Occasional large areas of lowland, often fringed with long lines of sand dunes, add variety to the east. The Buchan peninsula, the Moray Firth estuarine flats, and the plain of Caithness—all low-lying areas—contrast sharply with the mountain scenery and show smoother outlines than do the glacier-scoured landscapes of the west, where northeast-facing hollows, or corries, separated by knife-edge ridges and deep glens, sculpt the surfaces left by earlier erosion. The many freshwater lochs (lakes) further enhance a landscape of wild beauty. The linear Glen Mor—where the Caledonian Canal now threads the chain of lakes that includes Loch Ness—is the result of a vast structural sideways tear in the whole mass of the North West Highlands. To the northwest of Glen Mor stretches land largely divided among agricultural smallholdings, or crofts; settlement is intermittent and mostly coastal, a pattern clearly reflecting the pronounced dissection of a highland massif that has been scored and plucked by the Ice Age glaciers. Many sea-drowned, glacier-widened river valleys (fjords) penetrate deeply into the mountains, the outliers of which rise from the sea in stately, elongated peninsulas or emerge in hundreds of offshore islands.

  • Ben Macdui
  • Loch Tummel
Ben MacduiBen Macdui, Cairngorm Mountains, Scotland.Mick Knapton
Loch TummelLoch Tummel, Perth and Kinross, Scot.Val Vannet

In comparison with the Scottish Highlands, the Southern Uplands of Scotland present a more subdued relief, with elevations that never exceed 2,800 feet (850 metres). The main hill masses are the Cheviots, which reach 2,676 feet (816 metres) in elevation, while only Merrick and Broad Law have elevations above the 2,700-foot (830-metre) contour line. Broad plateaus separated by numerous dales characterize these uplands, and in the west most of the rivers flow across the prevailing northeast-southwest trend, following the general slope of the plateau, toward the Solway Firth or the Firth of Clyde. Bold masses of granite and the rugged imprint of former glaciers occasionally engender mountainous scenery. In the east the valley network of the River Tweed and its many tributaries forms a broad lowland expanse between the Lammermuir and Cheviot hills.

The Midland Valley lies between great regular structural faults. The northern boundary with the Highlands is a wall-like escarpment, but the boundary with the Southern Uplands is sharp only near the coast. This vast trench is by no means a continuous plain, for high ground—often formed of sturdy, resistant masses of volcanic rock—meets the eye in all directions, rising above the low-lying areas that flank the rivers and the deeply penetrating estuaries of the Firth of Clyde and the Firth of Forth.

In Northern Ireland, structural extensions of the Scottish Highlands reappear in the generally rugged mountain scenery and in the peat-covered summits of the Sperrin Mountains, which reach an elevation of 2,241 feet (683 metres). The uplands in the historic counties Down and Armagh are the western continuation of Scotland’s Southern Uplands but reach elevations of more than 500 feet (150 metres) only in limited areas; the one important exception is the Mourne Mountains, a lovely cluster of granite summits the loftiest of which, Slieve Donard, rises to an elevation of 2,789 feet (850 metres) within 2 miles (3.2 km) of the sea. In the central region of Northern Ireland that corresponds to Scotland’s Midland Valley, an outpouring of basaltic lavas has formed a huge plateau, much of which is occupied by the shallow Lough Neagh, the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles.

Part of the Mourne Mountains astride Down district and Newry and Mourne district Northern Ireland
Part of the Mourne Mountains astride Down district and Newry and Mourne district, Northern Ireland.G.F. Allen—Bruce Coleman

The highland zone of England and Wales consists, from north to south, of four broad upland masses: the Pennines, the Cumbrian Mountains, the Cambrian Mountains, and the South West Peninsula. The Pennines are usually considered to end in the north at the River Tyne gap, but the surface features of several hills in Northumberland are in many ways similar to those of the northern Pennines. The general surface of the asymmetrically arched backbone (anticline) of the Pennines is remarkably smooth because many of the valleys, though deep, occupy such a small portion of the total area that the windswept moorland between them appears almost featureless. This is particularly true of the landscape around Alston, in Cumbria (Cumberland), which—cut off by faults on its north, west, and south sides—stands out as an almost rectangular block of high moorland plateau with isolated peaks (known to geographers as monadnocks) rising up above it. Farther south, deep and scenic dales (valleys) dissect the Pennine plateau. The dales’ craggy sides are formed of millstone grit, and beneath them flow streams stepped by waterfalls. The most southerly part of the Pennines is a grassy upland. More than 2,000 feet (610 metres) above sea level in places, it is characterized by the dry valleys, steep-sided gorges, and underground streams and caverns of a limestone drainage system rather than the bleak moorland that might be expected at this elevation. At lower levels the larger dales are more richly wooded, and the trees stand out against a background of rugged cliffs of white-gray rocks. On both Pennine flanks, older rocks disappear beneath younger layers, and the uplands merge into flanking coastal lowlands.

The Cumbrian Mountains, which include the famous Lake District celebrated in poetry by William Wordsworth and the other Lake poets, constitute an isolated, compact mountain group to the west of the northern Pennines. Many deep gorges, separated by narrow ridges and sharp peaks, characterize the northern Cumbrian Mountains, which consist of tough slate rock. Greater expanses of level upland, formed from thick beds of lava and the ash thrown out by ancient volcanoes, lie to the south. The volcanic belt is largely an irregular upland traversed by deep, narrow valleys, and it includes England’s highest point, Scafell Pike, with an elevation of 3,210 feet (978 metres), and Helvellyn, at 3,116 feet (950 metres). Nine rivers flowing out in all directions from the centre of this uplifted dome form a classic radial drainage pattern. The valleys, often containing long, narrow lakes, have been widened to a U shape by glacial action, which has also etched corries from the mountainsides and deposited the debris in moraines. Glacial action also created a number of “hanging valleys” by truncating former tributary valleys.

Mountain-encircled Esthwaite Water in the Lake District of northwestern England
Mountain-encircled Esthwaite Water in the Lake District of northwestern England.Tom Wright/FPG

The Cambrian Mountains, which form the core of Wales, are clearly defined by the sea except on the eastern side, where a sharp break of slope often marks the transition to the English lowlands. Cycles of erosion have repeatedly worn down the ancient and austere surfaces. Many topographic features derive from glacial processes, and some of the most striking scenery stems largely from former volcanism. The mountain areas above 2,000 feet (610 metres) are most extensive in North Wales. These include Snowdonia—named for Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), the highest point in Wales, with an elevation of 3,560 feet (1,085 metres)—and its southeastern extensions, Cader Idris and Berwyn. With the exception of Plynlimon and the Radnor Forest, central Wales lacks similar high areas, but the monadnocks of South Wales—notably the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons—stand out in solitary splendour above the upland surfaces. There are three such surfaces: a high plateau of 1,700 to 1,800 feet (520 to 550 metres); a middle peneplain, or worn-down surface, of 1,200 to 1,600 feet (370 to 490 metres); and a low peneplain of 700 to 1,100 feet (210 to 340 metres). These smooth, rounded, grass-covered moorlands present a remarkably even skyline. Below 700 feet (210 metres) lies a further series of former wave-cut surfaces. Several valleys radiate from the highland core to the coastal regions. In the west these lowlands have provided a haven for traditional Welsh culture, but the deeply penetrating eastern valleys have channeled English culture into the highland. A more extensive lowland—physically and structurally an extension of the English lowlands—borders the Bristol Channel in the southeast. The irregularities of the 600-mile (970-km) Welsh coast show differing adjustments to the pounding attack of the sea.

Coastline Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Wales
Coastline, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Wales.James P. Rowan

The South West—England’s largest peninsula—has six conspicuous uplands: Exmoor, where Dunkery Beacon reaches an elevation of 1,704 feet (519 metres); the wild, granite uplands of Dartmoor, which reach 2,038 feet (621 metres) at High Willhays; Bodmin Moor; Hensbarrow; Carn Brea; and the Penwith upland that forms the spectacular extremity of Land’s End. Granite reappears above the sea in the Isles of Scilly, 28 miles (45 km) farther southwest. Despite the variation in elevation, the landscape in the South West, like that of so many other parts of the United Kingdom, has a quite marked uniformity of summit heights, with a high series occurring between 1,000 and 1,400 feet (300 and 430 metres), a middle group between 700 and 1,000 feet (210 and 300 metres), and coastal plateaus ranging between 200 and 400 feet (60 and 120 metres). A network of deep, narrow valleys alternates with flat-topped, steplike areas rising inland. The South West derives much of its renowned physical attraction from its peninsular nature; with both dramatic headlands and magnificent drowned estuaries created by sea-level changes, the coastline is unsurpassed for its diversity.

Exmoor National Park West Somerset England
Exmoor National Park, West Somerset, EnglandHeather-covered hills in Exmoor National Park, West Somerset, England.A.F. Kersting

The lowland zone

Gauged by the 700-foot (210-metre) contour line, the lowland zone starts around the Solway Firth in the northwest, with a strip of low-lying ground extending up the fault-directed Vale of Eden (the valley of the River Eden). Southward the narrow coastal plain bordering the Lake District broadens into the flat, glacial-drift-covered Lancashire and Cheshire plains, with their slow-flowing rivers. East of the Pennine ridge the lowlands are continuous, except for the limestone plateau north of the River Tees and, to the south, the North York Moors, with large exposed tracts that have elevations of more than 1,400 feet (430 metres). West of the North York Moors lies the wide Vale of York, which merges with the east Midland plain to the south. The younger rocks of the Midlands terminate at the edge of the Cambrian Mountains to the west. The lowland continues southward along the flat landscapes bordering the lower River Severn, becomes constricted by the complex Bristol-Mendip upland, and opens out once more into the extensive and flat plain of Somerset. The eastern horizon of much of the Midland plain is the scarp face of the Cotswolds, part of the discontinuous outcrop of limestones and sandstones that arcs from the Dorset coast in southern England as far as the Cleveland Hills on the north coast of Yorkshire. The more massive limestones and sandstones give rise to noble 1,000-foot (300-metre) escarpments, yet the dip slope is frequently of such a low angle that the countryside resembles a dissected plateau, passing gradually on to the clay vales of Oxford, White Horse, Lincoln, and Pickering. The flat, often reclaimed landscapes of the once-marshy Fens are also underlain by these clays, and the next scarp, the western-facing chalk outcrop (cuesta), undergoes several marked directional changes in the vicinity of the Wash, a shallow arm of the North Sea.

The chalk scarp is a more conspicuous and continuous feature than the sandstone and limestone outcrops farther west. It begins in the north with the open rolling country known as the Yorkshire Wolds, where elevations of 750 feet (230 metres) occur. It is breached by the River Humber and then continues in the Lincolnshire Wolds. East of the Fens the scarp is very low, barely attaining 150 feet (45 metres), but it then rises gradually to the 807-foot (246-metre) Ivinghoe Beacon in the attractive Chiltern Hills. Several wind gaps, or former river courses, interrupt the scarp, and the River Thames actually cuts through it in the Goring Gap. Where the dip slope of the chalk is almost horizontal, as in the open Salisbury Plain, the landscape forms a large dissected plateau with an elevation of 350 to 500 feet (110 to 150 metres). The main valleys contain rivers, while the other valleys remain dry.

Chalk cliffs of Flamborough Head on the North Sea East Riding of Yorkshire northern England
Chalk cliffs of Flamborough Head on the North Sea, East Riding of Yorkshire, northern England.© Martin Priestley/Getty Images

The chalk outcrop continues into Dorset, but in the south the chalk has been folded along west-to-east lines. Downfolds, subsequently filled in by geologically recent sands and clays, now floor the London and Hampshire basins. The former, an asymmetrical synclinal (or structurally downwarped) lowland rimmed by chalk, is occupied mainly by gravel terraces and valley-side benches and has relatively little floodplain; the latter is similarly cradled by a girdle of chalk, but the southern rim, or monocline, has been cut by the sea in two places to form the scenic Isle of Wight.

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