Its main campus, in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham, is arranged around the 100m-high Chamberlain clock tower, commemorating Joseph Chamberlain, the university's first chancellor. The Great Hall of the university is in the domed Aston Webb Building, named after its architect.
The university's Selly Oak campus is a short distance to the south of the main campus. It was the home of a federation of nine higher education colleges, mainly focussed on theology and education, which were integrated into the university for teaching purposes in 1999. Among these was Westhill College (later the University of Birmingham, Westhill) which merged with the university's School of Education in 2001. The university operates on several other sites in the city, also.
Due to Birmingham's role as a centre of light engineering, the university traditionally had a special focus on science, engineering and commerce. It now teaches a full range of academic subjects.
It is a member of the Russell Group of Universities.