Colourful seating pods in Faculty of Technology

making waves for over a century

See where we've been and what we've achieved – from our earliest days to right now

Since we first opened our doors, almost everything has changed, with one exception – we're still as ambitious as ever.

Find out more about our major achievements, the positive impacts we're making at home and around the world, and the facts and figures behind who we are.

Landmark moments in our history


The Park building opened as a Municipal college and public library. We focused on chemistry and engineering.


Our Student Union got up and running. The opening was featured in the earliest edition of our Student Union newspaper, The Galleon.


After World War II, we started teaching arts and humanities subjects to respond to a growing demand from students.


We became Portsmouth Polytechnic.


Three years of building work began on Frewen Library – on the site of what is now our University library.


After a decade as one of the largest and best performing polytechnics in the UK, we out-grew our old name and received university status. The University of Portsmouth was born.

2005 to today

Across the last decade and a half, we've been investing in all areas of the University, improving our campus and our services along the way – check out a few of our highlights below. 

2006: New Library, halls and sports centre

New halls of residence and sports centres are built and we finish an £11m expansion of our Library.

Student standing on balcony in University of Portsmouth Library
2009: Dennis Sciama Building opens

The Dennis Sciama Building opens for teaching and research, and becomes home to our Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation.

Students chatting outside Dennis Sciama Building, Portsmouth
2011-onwards: new partnerships flourish

We begin new local, national and international partnerships, with everyone from Portsmouth's New Theatre Royal to King's College London.

Interior of Third Space, Portsmouth
2014: Eldon Building

A new wing of our Eldon Building officially opens after a £14 million investment, bringing new facilities for the creative arts – including a 200-seat cinema-quality screening room and creative studios.

Stairs in foyer of Eldon Building, Portsmouth
2017: Rebrand and 25th Anniversary

Our second rebrand: we retain our name but refresh our identity to better reflect who we are and what we stand for today. Our new image emerged out of an in-depth consultation with over 10,000 participants from the staff and student body. It's just one part of our 25th anniversary celebrations, during which we mark our first quarter of a century as The University of Portsmouth.

University logo sculpture in The Hub, Dennis Sciama, Portsmouth
2017: Karen Blackett OBE appointed as Chancellor

Karen Blackett OBE, an alumna of the University, returned as our Chancellor in October 2017. Karen is CEO of GroupM UK, the world's leading media investment company. She was appointed Race Equality Business Champion by the Prime Minister as part of the Race at Work Charter in October 2018.

Karen Blackett OBE, Vice-Chancellor, University of Portsmouth
2018: Our Future Technology Centre

Our new £12 million Future Technology Centre (FTC) is opened. Further proof of our excellence in engineering – one of the first two subjects we offered students, back in 1908 – it's where our engineering students can get hands-on experience of specialist technology, and develop creative answers to the next generation of challenges facing the world.

People in colourful seating pods in Faculty of Technology, Portsmouth
2019: Launch of the Centre for Enzyme Innovation

We launched the Centre for Enzyme Innovation after the discovery of a plastic eating enzyme – an enzyme capable of breaking down plastics into parts that can be repurposed and recycled within a circular plastics economy.

Professor John McGeehan in his laboratory
2020: Launch of the Centre for Blue Governance and CCIXR

We launched the Centre for Blue Governance in February 2020 to drive the sustainable development of marine and freshwater environments. We also received £3.6 million from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership to develop a Centre for Creative and Immersive eXtended Reality.

Fisherman holding his catch and rods by tropical sea shore
2020: Launch of Revolution Plastics

Revolution Plastics aims to lead a transformation in the world’s relationship with plastics. The initiative is assembling scientists, businesses, campaigners and citizens to transform the way we make, use and dispose of plastic.

Plastic on a beach
2021: Ravelin Sports Centre launch

In 2021, we will complete our new £57 million Ravelin Sports Centre, which has been awarded an ‘Outstanding’ rating from BREEAM UK, the world’s leading sustainability assessment for buildings. Staff, students and the community will have access to an 8-court sports hall, 8-lane 25m swimming pool, 175 station fitness suite, multipurpose studios, squash courts, climbing wall and a ski simulator.

Students sat outside of the new Ravelin Sports Centre at University of Portsmouth
Why our graduates love the University of Portsmouth

Our graduates – including our Chancellor Karen Blackett and Paralympian Lauren Steadman – talk about why they're proud to be part of our community

Karen Blackett: I am incredibly proud to always be part of Portsmouth.

Ollie Marsh: I studied journalism at the University of Portsmouth and I now work at Portsmouth Football Club in the media team.

Lauren Steadman: I love Portsmouth – it's got so much character and I think you'd agree that it's cool.

Karen Blackett: It's part of my soul, it's part of who I am today, it's made me who I am today. To be able to go back and keep giving back is great.

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