But the place has many aspects that are less well known.
From hidden artworks and the existence of a secret museum to a surprise gig by a pioneering band and unusual research into a contraceptive for squirrels, here are 10 interesting facts about one of the city's most important institutions.
5. There's a museum dedicated to glass
The Turner Museum of Glass is situated in the university's Sir Robert Hadfield Building. "The collection is unrivalled in its display of work from the 1920s to the 1950s," its website says.
Photo: Chris Lawton
6. Students live near a huge piece of hidden public art
Ingots, consisting of two fluted steel columns, can be found in the grounds of Endcliffe student village. The work is by sculptor Mark Firth - the great-great-grandson of the Sheffield steel manufacturer Mark Firth who launched Firth College.
Photo: Chris Etchells
7. The university has its own boutique hotel
Halifax Hall has 38 bedrooms, a restaurant and function rooms. It sits on the edge of the Endcliffe village and was once student accommodation - now it is licensed to carry out weddings. The picture shows wine, cheese and fruit supplied to the suites.
Photo: Scott Merrylees
8. The library was the result of a major competition
The university's Western Bank Library, opened in 1959 by the poet T.S. Eliot, came about following a national competition in which entrants were asked to design a new building capable of holding one million volumes. The winning architecture firm was Gollins Melvin Ward and Partners.