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Sex, Drugs & Rock'n'Roll

Okay, so this page might not be so interesting as the title lead you to believe, but it is important that you are aware of the rules on Alcohol, Cigarettes and Sex!


The legal age for buying and drinking alcohol in the UK is 18. Retailers generally take this very seriously and can ask to see an identification document from any person who seems under the age of 25! Expect to be asked for proof of age. Very rarely, a shop worker may not accept non-UK identification documents because they do not recognise them and presume they are fake, even if they are perfectly valid. Unfortunately there is not a lot you can do about it and arguing with the person definitely won’t help! In this situation it would be best to try another shop or a different identity document.

There are many places where you can get alcholic drinks on campus. See the Food & Drink page for more info. You can also purchase alcoholic drinks from off-licences, supermarkets, some smaller grocery stores and bars, pubs and clubs in the local area. Alcohol, particularly wine, tends to be a lot more expensive in the UK than in Europe and abroad but many places do ‘happy hours’ or have special offers on certain drinks.

It must be said that in the UK, unlike in some other countries, and particularly at universities, there tends to be a very strong drinking culture. That is to say that people drink lots and often. Some people even think that it is cool to get as drunk as possible. This can be especially true of some society social events such as ‘circling.’

‘Circling’ is when members of a society or sports club gather together to play drinking games and is a traditional part of university-life in the UK. Whilst it is very good fun and no-one is obliged to drink alcoholic drinks, the atmosphere tends to be very rowdy and could, if you are not used to drinking much or attending these types of events, be a little intimidating. That doesn’t mean you should be scared or not go but we would recommend that you go with somebody you trust for the first time whilst you get used to what it involves.

For lots of useful facts about drinking, you can visit Drinkaware. We want you to enjoy your alcohol of course but remember to be safe, never leave a drink unattended and never let anybody pressure you into drinking if you don’t want to.


It is illegal to buy smoking products (cigarettes, roll-ups, cigars etc) in the UK if you are under 18. Since 2007, smoking has been banned in all public places in the UK, including the Students Union, the University buildings, campus halls and on public transport. Buying cigarettes and smoking products is taken quite seriously by most retailers and you should expect to be asked for an identity document even if you seem old enough. For information about UK Smoking laws, the smoking ban and for help to quit smoking, visit Smokefree England or the Students Union Health advice page.


The legal age for having sex in the UK, known as the ‘age of consent,’ is 16 for everybody, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. For advice on sexual health services at the university, including details of how to be tested for sexually transmitted infections, contraceptive advice or where to get free condoms, click here. For general advice on all aspects of your sex life, visit the NHS Choices Sexual Health page.