University of South Wales

About University of South Wales

University of South Wales Description


A modern, ambitious university, the University of South Wales makes a real difference to the lives of students, staff and the communities which surround us. With campuses in Cardiff, Newport, Pontypridd and Dubai, the University is renowned for its partnerships with major employers.

Our industry connections and emphasis on equipping students with real world experiences make our graduates among the most employable in the UK, with 95%* of our students in employment or further study within six months of graduating. And throughout everything we do, we strive to stay true to our core values of being Professional, Responsive, Inspiring and Creative.

The University of South Wales is a diverse academic community of many nations and beliefs, brought together by a shared commitment to the transformation of lives through knowledge and education.

Whether we are educating graduates for the changing world of work and industry, or providing policy advice to government, pushing the boundaries of applied research or using those discoveries to address the great choices that face our society, we want our University to add value to our communities, our economy, and most fundamentally, to the lives of those who study here.

University of South Wales Programme

  1. Computer Science | MSc
  2. BA (Hons) International Business (Top Up) | (Top-up) Degree
  3. Legal Practice Course | LLM
  4. BSc (Hons) Applied Computing | (Top-up) Degree
  5. BSc (Hons) Artificial Intelligence with Computer Science (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  6. Visual Effects and Motion Graphics | BA(Hons)
  9. Community Health & Wellbeing (Top-Up) | BSc (Hons)
  10. Artificial Intelligence with Computer Science | BSc (Hons)
  11. Artificial Intelligence | MSc
  12. Artificial Intelligence with Computer Science (Including Foundation Year) | BSc (Hons)
  13. Marketing Management (Including Foundation Year) | BSc (Hons)
  14. Marketing Management | BSc (Hons)
  15. Logistics, Procurement and Supply Chain Management (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  16. Logistics, Procurement and Supply Chain Management | BSc (Hons)
  17. BSc(Hons) Information Communication Technology (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  18. BSc(Hons) Information Communication Technology | BSc (Hons)
  19. Business and Management (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  20. Strategic Digital Marketing | MSc
  21. Strategic Procurement Management | MSc
  22. Pharmaceutical Chemistry | MSc
  23. Film (Cinematography) | MA
  24. Chiropractic (Including Foundation Year) | Master Degree
  25. Film (Directing) | MA
  26. Film (Documentary) | MA
  27. Film (Editing) | MA
  28. Film (Production Management) | MA
  29. Film (Screen Writing) | MA
  30. Forensic Science with Criminology | MSci
  31. Dementia Studies | MSc
  32. MA Drama | MA
  33. Visual Journalism | MA
  34. Songwriting and Production | MA
  35. Music Engineering and Production | MSc
  36. Documentary Photography | MA
  37. Professional Policing | MA
  38. Health and Public Service Management | MSc
  39. Computer Science | MCOMP
  40. Design Innovation | MA
  41. Graphic Communication | MA
  42. CAMH (Child and Adolescent Mental Health) | MA
  43. Film | MA
  44. Education (Innovation in Learning and Teaching) | MA
  45. Leadership & Management (Education) | MA
  46. Automotive Engineering | MEng
  47. Professional Accounting (with ACCA tuition) | MSc
  48. Electrical and Electronic Engineering | MEng
  49. Civil Engineering | MEng
  50. Finance and Investment | MSc
  51. Engineering Management | MSc
  52. Human Resource Management | MSc
  53. Safety, Health and Environmental Management | MSc
  54. International Logistics and Supply Chain Management | MSc
  55. Management | MSc
  56. BEng(Hons) Automotive Engineering | BEng (Hons)
  57. BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science (Including Foundation Year) | BSc (Hons)
  58. BA (Hons) Hotel and Hospitality Management | BA(Hons)
  59. Finance and Investment | MSc (Hons)
  60. BSc (Hons) Aircraft Engineering and Maintenance Systems (Top Up) | (Top-up) Degree
  61. Business and Management | BA(Hons)
  62. International Business and Management | BSc (Hons)
  63. Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology | MSc
  64. BSc(Hons) Human Biology | BSc (Hons)
  65. BSc(Hons) Human Biology (Including foundation year) | BSc (Hons)
  66. BSc(Hons) Medical Sciences | BSc (Hons)
  67. BSc(Hons) Natural History (Including foundation year) | BSc (Hons)
  68. BSc (Hons) Chemistry (Including foundation year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  69. Biology (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  70. BSc(Hons) Medicinal and Biological Chemistry (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  71. BSc(Hons) Pharmaceutical Science (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  72. Chiropractic Foundation Year | FOUNDATION
  73. BSc(Hons) Natural History | BSc (Hons)
  74. BSc(Hons) Computer Science | BSc (Hons)
  75. MSc(Hons) Master of Chiropractic (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  76. BSc(Hons) Applied Computing (Top-Up) | (Top-up) Degree
  77. BSc(Hons) Applied Cyber Security | BSc (Hons)
  78. BA(Hons) lustration | BA(Hons)
  79. BA(Hons) Advertising Design | BA(Hons)
  80. BSc(Hons) Computer Games Development | BSc (Hons)
  81. BSc(Hons) Computer Security | BSc (Hons)
  82. BA(Hons) Fashion Promotion | BA(Hons)
  83. BSc(Hons) Computer Security (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  84. BSc(Hons) Computing | BSc (Hons)
  85. BA(Hons) Graphic Communication | BA(Hons)
  86. BSc(Hons) Computing (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  87. Ba(Hons) Education | BA(Hons)
  88. BSc(Hons) Criminology and Criminal Justice | BSc (Hons)
  89. BSc(Hons) Psychology with Criminology & Criminal Justice | BSc (Hons)
  90. BSc(Hons) Criminology and Criminal Justice (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  91. BA(Hons) Working with Children and Families | BA(Hons)
  92. BSc(Hons) Criminology and Criminal Justice and Sociology | BSc (Hons)
  93. BSc(Hons) Criminology and Criminal Justice with Psychology | BSc (Hons)
  94. BSc(Hons) Forensic Science with Criminology | BSc (Hons)
  95. BSc(Hons) Pharmaceutical Science | BSc (Hons)
  96. LLB(Hons) Law with Criminology and Criminal Justice | LLB(Hons)
  97. BA(Hons) Early Years Education and Practice (with Early Years Practitioner status) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  98. BSc(Hons) Childhood Development | BSc (Hons)
  99. BSc(Hons) Childhood Studies (Top Up) | (Top-up) Degree
  100. BEng(Hons) Aeronautical Engineering | BEng (Hons)
  101. BSc(Hons) Medicinal and Biological Chemistry | BSc (Hons)
  102. BEng(Hons) Aeronautical Engineering (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  103. BSc(Hons) Aircraft Engineering and Maintenance Systems | BSc (Hons)
  104. BSc(Hons) Aircraft Engineering and Maintenance Systems (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  105. BSc(Hons) Forensic Investigation | BSc (Hons)
  106. BSc(Hons) Aircraft Maintenance Engineering | BSc (Hons)
  107. BSc(Hons) Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  108. BEng(Hons) Civil Engineering | BEng (Hons)
  109. BEng (Hons) Automotive Engineering (Including foundation year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  110. BSc (Hons) Civil Engineering (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  111. Electrical and Electronic Engineering | BEng (Hons)
  112. BEng (Hons) Electrical and Electronic Engineering (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  113. BSc (Hons) Electrical and Electronic Engineering (Top Up) | (Top-up) Degree
  114. Lighting Design and Technology | BSc (Hons)
  115. BSc (Hons) Lighting Design and Technology (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  116. Applied Biosciences | BSc (Hons)
  117. BSc (Hons) Engineering Technology Management | BSc (Hons)
  118. BSc (Hons) Engineering Technology Management (Mosbach) | BSc (Hons)
  119. BSc (Hons) Mechanical Engineering | BSc (Hons)
  120. BSc (Hons) Geography | BSc (Hons)
  121. BSc (Hons) Geography (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  122. BSc (Hons) In Mathematics | BSc (Hons)
  123. Geology | BSc (Hons)
  124. Geology (Including foundation year) | BSc (Hons)
  125. BSc (Hons) Mathematics (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  126. BSc (Hons) Geology and Physical Geography | BSc (Hons)
  127. BSc (Hons) Geology and Physical Geography (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  128. BSc (Hons) International Wildlife Biology | BSc (Hons)
  129. Medical Sciences | BSc (Hons)
  130. BSc (Hons) International Wildlife Biology (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  131. BSc (Hons) International Wildlife Biology (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  132. Natural History | BSc (Hons)
  133. BSc (Hons) Natural History (Including foundation year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  134. BSc (Hons) Natural History and Media | BSc (Hons)
  135. BSc (Hons) Natural History and Media (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  136. Community Health and Wellbeing | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  137. BSc (Hons) Community Health & Wellbeing (Top-Up) | (Top-up) Degree
  138. Health and Social Care Management | BSc (Hons)
  139. BSc (Hons) Health and Social Care Management (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  140. BSc(Hons) Medicinal and Biological Chemistry (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  141. Sound and Live Event Production | BSc (Hons)
  142. History | BA(Hons)
  143. BA(Hons) History (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  144. Sound and Live Event Production | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  145. Documentary Photography | BA(Hons)
  146. Journalism | BA(Hons)
  147. Media Production | BA(Hons)
  148. Media, Culture and Journalism | BA(Hons)
  149. Performance and Media | BA(Hons)
  150. Nursing (Learning Disabilities) | BSc (Hons)
  151. Nursing (Adult) | BSc (Hons)
  152. Photojournalism | BA(Hons)
  153. Nursing (Child) | BSc (Hons)
  154. Sports Journalism | BA(Hons)
  155. Lighting Design and Technology | BSc (Hons)
  156. BSc (Hons) Lighting Design and Technology (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  157. Nursing (Mental Health) | BSc (Hons)
  158. Sound and Live Event Production | BSc (Hons)
  159. BSc (Hons) Sound and Live Event Production (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  160. Mathematics | BSc (Hons)
  161. Music Business | BA(Hons)
  162. Chemistry | BSc (Hons)
  163. Popular and Commercial Music | BA(Hons)
  164. Theatre and Drama | BA(Hons)
  165. LLM Laws | Master Degree
  166. International Wildlife Biology | BSc (Hons)
  167. Professional Policing | BSc (Hons)
  168. International Wildlife Biology | BSc (Hons)
  169. BSc (Hons) Professional Policing (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  170. BSc(Hons) of Psychology | BSc (Hons)
  171. Psychology with Behaviour Analysis | BSc (Hons)
  172. Psychology with Counselling | BSc (Hons)
  173. Psychology with Criminology & Criminal Justice | BSc (Hons)
  174. MSc Professional Practice | MSc
  175. Psychology with Developmental Disorders | BSc (Hons)
  176. Social Work | BSc (Hons)
  177. Primary Initial Teacher Education with QTS | BA(Hons)
  178. Sociology | BSc (Hons)
  179. Youth and Community Work | BA(Hons)
  180. Sociology (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  181. Youth and Community Work (Including Foundation Year) | BACHELOR DEGREE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR
  182. Youth and Community Work (Youth Justice) | BA(Hons)
  183. Football Coaching and Performance | BSc (Hons)
  184. BSc (Hons) Football Coaching, Development and Administration | BSc (Hons)
  185. BSc (Hons) Football Coaching, Development and Administration (Top Up) | (Top-up) Degree
  186. BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching and Development | BSc (Hons)
  187. BSc (Hons) Sports and Exercise Therapy | BSc (Hons)
  188. BA (Hons) Sports Journalism | BA(Hons)
  189. BSc (Hons) Strength and Conditioning | BSc (Hons)
  190. Rugby Coaching and Performance | BSc (Hons)
  191. Pharmaceutical Chemistry | Master Degree
  192. Strategic Digital Marketing | Master Degree
  193. Public Relations | MSc
  194. Project Management | MSc
  195. Marketing | MSc
  196. Management | MSc (Hons)
  197. International Logistics and Supply Chain Management | MSc (Hons)
  198. International Business and Enterprise | MSc
  199. Human Resource Management | MSc (Hons)
  200. Engineering Management | MSc (Hons)
  201. Master of Business Administration | MBA
  202. Safety, Health and Environmental Management | MSc (Hons)
  203. Construction Project Management | MSc (Hons)
  204. Forensic Audit and Accounting | MSc
  205. Finance and Investment | Master Degree
  206. Cyber Security | MSc
  207. Computing and Information Systems | MSc
  208. Computer Systems Security | MSc
  209. Computer Forensics | MSc
  210. Computer Games Development | MCOMP
  211. Master of Chiropractic | Master Degree
  212. Fashion Business and Marketing | BA(Hons)
  213. Chemistry | MSci
  214. Applied Sciences | MRes
  215. Strategic Procurement Management | Master Degree
  216. Crime and Justice | MSc
  217. Working with Adult and Young Offenders | MSc
  218. MSc Data Science | MSc
  219. Aeronautical Engineering | MSc
  220. Aviation Engineering and Management | MSc
  221. Civil Engineering and Environmental Management | MSc
  222. Civil and Structural Engineering | MSc
  223. Electronics and Information Technology | MSc
  224. Mobile and Satellite Communications | MSc
  225. Mechanical Engineering | MSc
  226. Analytical and Forensic Science | MSc
  227. Forensic Investigation | MSci
  228. MSci Forensic Science | MSci
  229. Public Health | MSc
  230. Music Engineering and Production | MSc
  231. Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (Health Visiting) | MSc (Hons)
  232. MScSpecialist Community Public Health Nursing (School Nursing) | MSc
  233. Global Governance | MSc
  234. International Security and Risk Management | MSc
  235. Wildlife and Conservation Management | MSc
  236. Behaviour Analysis and Therapy | MSc
  237. Clinical Psychology | MSc
  238. Psychology by Research | MSc
  239. Geography | MGeog
  240. Advanced Coaching in Strength and Conditioning | MSc
  241. Sport, Health and Exercise Science | MSc
  242. Advanced Applied Field Geoscience | MSc
  243. Advanced Performance Football Coaching | MSc
  244. Sports Coaching and Performance | MSc
  245. Biology | BSc (Hons)
  246. Applied Biosciences | BSc (Hons)
  247. Creative and Therapeutic Arts | BA(Hons)
  248. Illustration | BA(Hons)
  249. Games Enterprise | MA
  250. Animation | MA
  251. Computer Games Development (Including Foundation Year) | BSc (Hons)
  252. Computer Games Development | BSc (Hons)
  253. Game Art | BA(Hons)
  254. Computer Games Design | BA(Hons)
  255. Computer Animation | BA(Hons)
  256. Animation (2D and Stop Motion) | BA(Hons)
  257. Forensic Audit and Accounting | MSc (Hons)
  258. Accounting and Finance | BA(Hons)
  259. Accounting and Finance (Including Foundation Year) | BA(Hons)
  260. Accounting and Management | BA(Hons)
  261. Accounting and Management (Including Foundation Year) | BA(Hons)
  262. Forensic Accounting | BA(Hons)
  263. Banking, Finance and Investment (Top Up) | BSc (Hons)
  264. Forensic Accounting (Including Foundation Year) | BA(Hons)
  265. Civil Engineering | HND

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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