University constitution

The University is a chartered corporation and an exempt charity, whose legal status derives from a royal charter granted in 1909, which has since been amended.

The University's objects, powers and framework of governance are set out in the Charter and supporting Statutes and Ordinances, which are published annually. These are complemented by delegation schedules (University of Bristol access only, also known as scheme of delegation) which set out where decisions are made.

The Charter and Statutes may be amended following a proposal by the Board of Trustees, but only with the consent of the Privy Council. Ordinances may be made or amended by the Board. 

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University Charter

The Charter is approved by the King and focusses on key governance principles, which change infrequently but are important for the long term protection of the University. The Charter sets out the Powers and Objects of the University, as well as establishing the Board of Trustees, Court, Senate, the Alumni Association and the Students' Union.

View the Charter (PDF, 145kB)


The Statutes are approved by the Privy Council and set out further information about the composition and arrangements of the Board of Trustees and Court, as well as establishing the ability for the Board and Senate to delegate their powers. 

View the Statutes (PDF, 144kB)


The Ordinances supplement the framework set out in the Charter and Statutes. They are approved by the Board of Trustees and reviewed on an annual basis.

Ordinance 0: Contents and definitions

This document sets out the content of each Ordinance, as below, as well as providing consistent definitions of terminology.

Read Ordinance 0: Contents and definitions (PDF, 111kB)

Ordinance 1: Board of Trustees – duties, responsibilities and standards

Sets out the duties and responsibilities of the Board of Trustees, as the University's supreme governing body and board of charity trustees. It includes the Code of Conduct for Trustees.

Read Ordinance 1: Board of Trustees – duties, responsibilities and standards (PDF, 184kB)

Ordinance 2: Board of Trustees

Provides details of the appointment and terms of office of Trustees including their resignation, dismissal and removal. It details the role and responsibilities of the Chair, Deputy Chair of the Board and the Treasurer.

Read Ordinance 2: Board of Trustees (PDF, 222kB)

Ordinance 3: Delegation framework

Details how the Board may delegate its functions and powers to individual members of the Board; Board Committees; Senate; and the Vice-Chancellor and other members of Staff.

Read Ordinance 3: Delegation framework (PDF, 145kB)

Ordinance 4: Board Committees

Sets out the Terms of Reference and arrangements for Board Committees including the role of Committee Chairs and Deputy Chairs.

Read Ordinance 4: Board Committees (PDF, 259kB)

Ordinance 5: Proceedings of the Board and Board Committees

Details the proceedings of Board and Board Committee meetings, including attendance, conduct of meetings, business without a meeting and conflicts of interest.

Read Ordinance 5: Proceedings of the Board and Board Committe (PDF, 183kB)

Ordinance 6: Senate

Sets out the duties and responsibilities of Senate, its membership, and the standards, qualities and responsibilities for members.

Read Ordinance 6: Senate (PDF, 153kB)

Ordinance 7: Senior executive officers

Describes the Senior Executive Officers of the University and the University Executive Board.

Read Ordinance 7: Senior executive officers (PDF, 148kB)

Ordinance 8: Faculties and Schools

Details the organisation of Faculties and Schools, including Deans, Faculty Boards and Faculty Assemblies.

Read Ordinance 8: Faculties and Schools (PDF, 112kB)

Ordinance 9: Student and academic status and University membership

Sets out arrangements for student status, academic awards, academic status and congregations.

Read Ordinance 9: Student and academic status and University membership (PDF, 127kB)

Ordinance 10: Employment

Details employment arrangements, including performance and conduct.

Read Ordinance 10: Employment (PDF, 304kB)

Ordinance 11: Alumni Association

Sets out the arrangements for the Alumni Association, its membership and powers.

Read Ordinance 11: Alumni Association (PDF, 171kB)  

Ordinance 12: Students' Union

Describes the arrangements for working with the Students' Union, including the responsibilities of the Board of Trustees.

Read Ordinance 12: Students' Union (PDF, 98kB)

Acts of Parliament

The University is also subject to three Acts of Parliament. The 1909 Act, which dissolved the former University College Bristol and transferred all holdings to the University of Bristol; and the 1960 and 1974 Acts, which determine arrangements for the University Endowment Fund.

Read the Acts of Parliament (PDF, 213kB)


Academic Regulations

Academic Regulations means all and any regulations, policies, rules or other procedures made or prescribed by Senate.

Student Regulations

Student Regulations apply to all students.

Financial Regulations

The Financial Regulations apply to all financial business of the University, irrespective of the source of funding.

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