student life

The good, the bad, and the ugly: A guide to Exeter University

Written by James Bruce

Like a trio of angry bounty-hunters, three years at Exeter University helped me to search and locate the good, the bad, and the ugly during my time there. Exeter can be wild, it is geographically western, and in certain restaurants its renowned for its spaghetti. Thus, what better way to structure my evaluation of the nightlife, food and sights of the area than with a Spaghetti Western-themed structure. Here’s everything good, everything bad, and everything ugly.



Timepiece; ‘The Piece’ (TP tues, weds, fri)- Everyone wants to have a big piece, and Exeter has accomplished just that. Timepiece is the most popular club in town without a doubt, and it’s no surprise why. With three separate floors of house, chart, and RnB/Rap music respectively, it offers the greatest variety of all the clubs. But it’s not this that drags in the punters, it’s the world-famous smoking area that surrounds it.

A large spacious stone-walled area with vast wooden, period gazebos; long sturdy wooden tables that wouldn’t be out of place in Beowulf’s feasting hall; an adjacent food stall; multiple outside bars; the smoking area’s own local, ‘Old Timers’; and ancient witches’ graves dotted around the place who have been sentenced to a lifetime of absorbing poor chat. It’s priceless. The atmosphere is constantly bustling, and with options to attend on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (most popular) it never fails to deliver.

Move/Bierkeller: The ‘duttiest’ club around, but in a good way.

Walking through the club feels like you’re entering a dirty World-War-II submarine; it’s exciting, and the further you advance down the corrugated iron steps, the cooler it gets (not in terms of temperature). You are thrust into an intensely bustling underground utopia of nightlife, a cornucopia of aural pleasure and dancing madness.

Mosh pits or chilled head-bopping, big-names or local up-and-comers, Move has it all. Plus, on top of that, it has a handy Bierkeller upstairs in case you fancy a break from the intense heat of the room*. Don’t expect a clean, working, or fully-constructed toilet though, so you’d best get your ones and twos out the way before the DJ gets on them. Preferably, not in the quay though, the water’s brown enough.

*The room, which looks like the inside of a pizza oven, becomes a sweltering sauna when fully packed-out and oven-bakes everyone to gas mark 6, until the roof creates a miniature hurricane Dorian and it feels like you’re in a dirty human Amazon rainforest.

Fever: It’s called Fever because it’s always 3000°Ϲ on the dancefloor, making you feel like you have ebola. However, unlike the name, it’s one of the clubs you’re least likely to catch a disease in. On Mondays and Thursdays, it can sometimes host some big names from the Exeter Chiefs rugby team, but don’t think about getting an autograph because a line of three-thousand girls already got there first, and it’s definitely not the autographs they’re queuing up for.

The music is outstanding with one intense house room, and a second room with an 80s multi-coloured flashing disco-floor with a mirror wall so you can see how disgustingly hammered you are. The best out of all the clubs.

Fever has a couple added extras chucked in the goodie bag; a tiki-themed bamboo-shoot terrace which you have to diet for three months and contract bulimia just to fit down; and a mini-balcony over the main dancefloor so you can lob things at your friends, enemies, and watch the girl you love get with another guy.


Unit One– Formerly named ‘Arena’ and this is no surprise. With seemingly thousands packed into the tiny circular dancefloor, desperately fighting to keep their lungs from packing inwards, it seems to resemble more of a dog-fighting pit than a place to throw shapes. Bully circles of friendship groups spontaneously form around you and before you know it, you’re throwing haymakers without a Queensbury rule in sight.

The most frequently heard song there during my time was ‘Feed Em’ to the Lions’ by Preditah, which is fitting considering that, for girls, you can’t walk around without getting Donald Trumped by some Preditahs. The abundance of locals means it’s often a ‘student versus locals’ turf war and neither firm likes to back down.

‘Cheesy Tuesdays’ is a highlight if you’re a twelve-year-old girl, or similarly an English student. They got rid of their most popular night: ‘Dirty Sexy People (DSP)’. But, the new ‘Quids In’ Thursdays is always packed as it’s the Poundland equivalent of a night out (everything’s a quid until midnight). It’s cheap fun, even if you end up getting assaulted.


Lemon Grove; ‘The Lemmy’- Dirty, dark, and with a floor like a pooey sticky toffee pudding (because it’s brown, glueier than a pritstick, and probably not that tasty. Although I don’t doubt there’s been a few brave enough to sample the flavour)

Contrary to my description of the ebola-ridden dancefloor, the Lemmy is a fan favourite with everyone in the uni. It’s terrible tunes, Spotify DJ, and unlimited stock of many-hued vks makes it so bad that it’s good. It’s like an ugly puppy; a silly pug who on the outside has flappy facial features and isn’t the most attractive thing but it looks so funny that you can’t not love it and roll around with it on the grass giggling. You’d wrestle a bear for it, defend it till the death, and you’re the only one who’s allowed to laugh at it. That’s the Lemmy.

And it’s every Saturday, only on Saturday.

Food on Campus


Comida– A wraps-only subway but footlongs aren’t an option.

Comida in Spanish means food, and it’s certainly that. It’s got chilli wraps for the spice heads, it’s got spinach wraps for the vegans, it’s got plain wraps for the normal people, and it’s got an array of differently flavoured chicken, chorizo and salad. At three pound a wrap it’s a super deal, but being northern, I cram all the extras in for my money’s worth.

Pieminister (Acceptable price for a decent pie)- Served out of a caravan, it’s no surprise that they take your money and serve you food out of a cardboard box. But the money you spend, in my opinion, is well worth it for this one. Whether it be a ‘Moo’, a ‘Mothership Moo’, or a ‘Mothership Moo Blue’, you know you’re in for a treat. The option to upgrade your pie and gravy with onions, peas, and mashed potato never gets old, and all served with eco-friendly wooden cutlery that would bring a tear to David Attenborough’s eye; what’s not to like?

The Ram: Like a prize ram, it’s bold, majestic, and well-trimmed. Its pints are cheap, its curly fries are good, and its got free sport on the tele.


Costa: It’s gunna cost-ya. In case you’ve never been in Costa, it’s twenty quid a sandwich, five-pound entry, and three pounds for a glance at the outside logo. I don’t go in there much, but other people seem to, maybe they bought a student membership or something.

Pret: Pret-y expensive also.


The Marketplace (In a sentence: ‘The Marketplace has a shocking sandwich selection’)- It’s a market alright, but all they sell is disappointment. If quality’s what you’re expecting for decent prices, then you’re going to be upset.

Buying value packets of bourbons for the sub-one-pound range is all fine n’ dandy for spontaneous mid-library cravings, but if you want to get down and dirty and actually assemble yourself a meal, things are going to get ugly- metaphorically and literally.

Grab a mangled sandwich with wilting lettuce leaves that look like they’ve spent three-quarters of their life trapped in a basement against their will, which is nestled alongside, most-likely, battery-farmed chicken that has actually spent most of its life trapped in a cage against its will. Then you have two more things to add to the meal deal. Two more things to add is acceptable, right? Well, thanks to the sugar tax it’s going to cost you extra for a fizzy branded beverage.

The crisps or chocolate bar can admittedly be a saviour, but the main piece of the meal is usually atrociously dry, putrid and makes you want to aggressively chunder everywhere. What is supposed to be the main showstopper of the meal deal, the star bake, is repeatedly a poor show. It’s scraping a 2:2 with additional time just because it can’t be bothered to put in the effort. But, it’s food, I suppose.


(all sell-out in one-billionth of a second so have to have faster hands than Sugar Ray-Robinson to catch a ticket)


Touch Duckes: Although it sounds like a day people get added to an offender’s register, it’s not a day solely designated to touching ducks. It’s a touch rugby tournament with risky chat when it comes to team names.

Hijacked festival: Big end-of-year festival, micro-festival, what am I kidding it’s too small to call it a festival; back-garden rave. But it’s had some big names over the years and always delivers the goods. It’s a giant university event in a pub’s huge back yard.  Everyone packs in and it’s just along from the idyllic quay/river that runs alongside. Pack your hiking boots for the expedition you have to mount to get there or use it as an elongated pre. It’s well worth the trek.


Grad Ball: Suit up, or Tux up if you’re rich (you go to Exeter, of course, you’re rich). Its’ the last event you’ll ever do as a student, so it produces mixed feelings. It’s got a giant Ferris wheel, some carnival rides, food and drinks tents, funny picture stands, and a silent disco. Although, you’ll probably not go on any because you’re absolutely seeya-latered or the queues are too big. Try not to cry.

Potentially Ugly

Enchanted Garden Ball (EGB) (Example sentence: ‘Hey Florence, you going to the Enchanted Garden Ball? Florence: Only if you take pictures of me every three seconds)- Pretty enchanted, garden-y, and a ball. Not really, it’s more of a carnival-stroke-ball-stroke-rave-stroke-night out-stroke-coach trip. Basically, the same as grad ball but in a garden with more tents and music on show; always a cracking time just try not to fall in the mud if you’ve gone all-out on the outfit and don’t want to have to splash out on a risky dry-clean. That’d be ugly.

See the Sights


Cathedral: Peeking out from behind Wagamama’s like a naughty child, the cathedral is a standout landmark in Exeter. It’s always a busy place to go and nice to eat lunch at. Although, watch out for the homeless; it’s their turf at night.

The Quay: A nice tranquil place until night. Lovely waterfront area, where you’ll have plenty luck catching them swans then, because it’s not just the one swan actually.

An Abundance of Trees: With almost certainly more greenery than the Amazon these days, Exeter’s shrubbery, greenery, and general tree-ery is what makes the campus so nice. But I doubt it will manage to replace 20% of the world’s oxygen just yet.

Bad and Ugly

Huge hills

  • Cardiac Hill (Birks Grange to Forum)- a steep climb, arduous, long, potentially need a Sherpa to complete the journey. Altitudes of 2000ft above Birks-level. If you reach the summit it’s usually for lectures or the gym so don’t celebrate too soon (carry a defibrillator just in case).
  • Forum Hill (Main road to Forum)- It’s not a crawl-job like the Birks route, and it certainly won’t shock you into cardiac arrest (maybe a few minor arterial flutters), but it’s a tough-challenge for any beginner and over-time it doesn’t get more fun. Guaranteed to leave you sweaty before any lecture or anything constantly.