Southampton ELC

High-quality intensive English courses for intermediate/advanced students


About Southampton

Southampton (population: 220,000), arguably the most important town on Britain’s south coast, is a place of enormous historical, cultural, commercial and geographical significance. Both the Romans and the Saxons had important settlements here, but the present city centre stands on the site of the medieval walled town, which grew rapidly from around 1000 A.D. Long sections of the medieval walls, remarkably well preserved, can still be seen, especially on the south-western side of the centre. By the eighteenth century Southampton had become a well-known spa, later attracting figures such as Jane Austen, who lived in the town in the early 19th century. Its location at the end of Southampton Water - a long, thin arm of the sea stretching inland from the Isle of Wight - has played a huge part in the town’s development as a port. This protected waterway, with its calm waters and unique double high tides, provides ideal conditions for big ships. No wonder The Mayflower (1620) and The Titanic (1912) set sail from here. A number of the world’s largest cruise ships, as well as numerous vast container ships, are still regular visitors.

Building over the last 20 years has totally transformed the face of the town. Fortunately, the development has for the most part been imaginative, sensitive and non-intrusive. The largest change in recent years has been the completion of West Quay shopping centre, a vast, attractively-designed complex which you would really expect to find in a city much larger than Southampton. The choice and standard of goods on offer here is second to none in southern counties outside London. And don’t forget: the main shops are open for six hours on Sundays. A second complex, Ocean Village, is a smaller, more intimate development built around a marina, with shops, restaurants and modern residences. It is also home to Harbour Lights, an arts cinema which recently won an award for best independent cinema in the country.

The city as a whole is very green and spread out: you will see very few tower blocks here. The parks all over the city, filled with exotic trees and shrubs from all over the world, are a valued part of city living and are popular with office workers during the lunch hour. The biggest park, The Common, has a circumference of more than 4 km. It boasts four lakes, numerous paths and wild, woody areas, a nature study centre, and plenty of tranquil spots for people to escape to. Unsurprisingly, it is also popular with joggers, who can run round for hours well away from any traffic.

There are plenty of cultural amenities in the town, as well as a thriving, bustling night life. Apart from Harbour Lights (see above) there are two multiplex cinemas and several other single-screen venues. On any given day, you can expect a choice of about 20 - 25 different films in the town. There are also two top-flight professional theatres - The Nuffield and The Mayflower - which stage plays, opera, ballet, musicals, rock concerts and one-man / one-woman shows throughout the year; three art galleries; two concert halls; plenty of discos and night clubs; and numerous good pubs and museums.

On the sporting scene, there is a new indoor swimming centre adjoining the West Quay shopping centre; tennis courts all over the town; and a public golf course with separate 18-hole and 9-hole courses. Tennis and golf are both cheap in Britain.

Last but not least, mention must be made of Southampton University, where the courses take place. There was a University College in the town from the late 19th century, but the University in its present form has existed since 1952. It is perhaps best known these days for its engineering faculties - reputedly some of the best in the country - but it is a broad-based institution and offers all the main subjects you would expect to find in both the arts and the sciences. There is a well-known medical school, with strong links to Southampton General Hospital, the largest teaching hospital in the area. The campus itself is very compact and well landscaped, with a small stream running through its centre. A number of our past students, a year or two after their language course with us, have opted to spend a year studying at Southampton University. During the language course, students have full access to most of the University's facilities, e.g. library, computers and free email facilities, food and drink, swimming-pool etc.


© Copyright Southampton ELC. All rights reserved.

Write to: Southampton English Language c/o Nick Pritchard, 41 Highfield Crescent, Southampton SO17 1SG

Tel: 02380 - 581019    Email: