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Plymouth is a coastal city in Devon, south-west England. It has a proud history as a port city with a significant naval heritage. The University of Plymouth and Plymouth Marjon University are based in the city, along with several other higher education institutions.
Plymouth has long been one of the most important maritime centres in England. Vice admiral Francis Drake was mayor of the city in the 16th century and set off from here on his circumnavigation of the globe. In 1620, Plymouth was the departure point for the Mayflower taking the Pilgrim Fathers to the New World. Other significant voyages that used Plymouth harbour include James Cook’s expeditions to the South Pacific and Charles Darwin’s trip to the Galapagos Islands.
The city has been associated with the Royal Navy for centuries, having been the site of the first Royal Dockyard in 1690 and a series of naval bases ever since. Plymouth is now home to HMNB Devonport, the biggest naval base in Western Europe. Unfortunately, Plymouth’s strategic significance as a major port meant that it suffered heavy bombing during the Second World War, with many citizens losing their lives and much of the commercial centre destroyed.
Post-war Plymouth was redeveloped and is now a vibrant seaside city. There are several museums and attractions in that pay tribute to its maritime tradition, including the Mayflower Museum and Smeaton’s Tower, an iconic lighthouse. Plymouth is also home to the National Marine Aquarium – the biggest aquarium in the UK – a must-visit for Marine Biology postgraduates. You can still see glimpses of pre-war Plymouth among the cobbled streets of the Barbican area along the waterfront, a former fish market that now bustles with cafes and galleries.
Devon is one of the most popular holiday destinations in England, and there are plenty of attractive resorts, nature reserves and beaches within easy reach of Plymouth. Whether you want to explore Dartmoor National Park, catch some waves at Bantham Beach or visit the charming seaside town of Salcombe, there’s more than enough to keep you occupied in South Devon if you need a break from your studies.
Established in 1992, the University of Plymouth is the largest university in the city, with around 23,000 students. Several higher education institutions are associated with the University of Plymouth, including the MLA College.
Plymouth Marjon University is also based in Plymouth. It is a smaller institution that nonetheless offers postgraduate courses in a range of disciplines.
The maritime sector has long played an important role in Plymouth’s economy. Nearby Devonport Dockyard is a major employer, with 2,500 people working there. It’s only the only naval base in the UK with the ability to service nuclear submarines. Marine sciences and engineering, along with renewable energy, are key business sectors.
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