It was established in 1963 and received its Royal Charter in 1965.
The university’s main campus is located within Wivenhoe Park in the English county of Essex, less than a mile (1.6 km) from the town of Wivenhoe & 2 miles (3.2 km) from the town of Colchester. Apart from the Wivenhoe Park campus, there is a rapidly developing campus in Southend-on-Sea (Essex’s largest town), and the East 15 Acting School is based in Loughton. The University’s motto, Thought the harder, heart the keener, is adapted from the Anglo-Saxon poem The Battle of Maldon. The university enjoys collaborative partnerships with a number of institutions across the eastern region. These are University Campus Suffolk, Colchester Institute, Kaplan Open Learning (KOL), South Essex College and Writtle College.
The university exhibits an international character with 132 countries represented in its student body. The latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in 2008 ranked Essex ninth in the UK for the quality of its research with more than 90% of research recognised internationally for its quality, with 22% of research rated as ‘world leading’.