University College London

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UCL was founded in 1826 to open up higher education in England to those who had been excluded from it – becoming the first university in England to admit women students on equal terms with men in 1878.

Academic excellence and research that addresses real-world problems inform our ethos to this day and are central to our 20-year strategy, UCL 2034.

  • UCL has the best academic to student ratio in the UK (1:10), enabling small class sizes and outstanding individual support (Times 2013).

  • UCL is one of the top two universities in the UK for the number of professors, which means that our students are taught by the most highly qualified experts in their field (Higher Education Statistics Agency 2011).

  • UCL provides an environment that encourages students to be ambitious yet idealistic. In 2013 alone, UCL students participated in 41,500 hours of voluntary work and set up 80 social enterprises and 25 student businesses.

UCL is made up of remarkable people: eminent professors and exceptional students; public engagement professionals and lab technicians, and all the other pieces of the puzzle that make up a leading university.

Schools / Colleges / Departments / Courses / Faculties

Faculty of Arts & Humanities

The UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities is a renowned centre of excellence, where research of world-leading quality feeds directly into all programmes of study.

Students benefit from the multi-disciplinary breadth of teaching in areas such as English, Philosophy, Greek & Latin, Hebrew & Jewish Studies along with more than 20 modern European languages. Programmes are available from our various centres for research, and the faculty also hosts the Slade School of Fine Art, which consistently contributes to the lively discourses of contemporary art, both nationally and internationally.

We aim to enable students to follow their own academic interests and to develop both intellectually and personally.


  • UCL Arts & Sciences (BASc)
  • UCL English Language & Literature
  • UCL European Social & Political Studies
  • UCL Greek & Latin
  • UCL Hebrew & Jewish Studies
  • UCL Information Studies
  • UCL Philosophy
  • UCL School of European Languages, Culture and Society
  • UCL Slade School of Fine Art

The Bartlett, UCL’s Faculty of the Built Environment

We are the Bartlett: UCL’s global faculty of the built environment. Our sections span the entire area of study and research. Individually, they lead their fields. In partnership, they develop new responses to pressing world issues. As a whole, they represent a world-leading, multidisciplinary faculty, united by the radical spirit of UCL.

Our schools and sections cover disciplines from architecture and planning, to energy and the global south, and together they form the UK’s most comprehensive and innovative faculty of the built environment.

We offer a full range of programmes in the built environment field, from undergraduate to postgraduate, as well as at MRes and doctoral levels. We also run a range of summer schools and foundation courses and are developing an executive education programme for future leaders in the built environment professions.


  • The UCL Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
  • The UCL Bartlett Development Planning Unit
  • The UCL Bartlett School of Architecture
  • The UCL Bartlett School of Construction & Project Management
  • The UCL Bartlett School of Planning
  • UCL Energy Institute
  • UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering
  • UCL Institute for Global Prosperity
  • UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage
  • UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources
  • UCL Space Syntax Laboratory

Faculty of Brain Sciences

The UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences undertakes world-leading research and teaching in areas that range from neural pathways used to control body functions (e.g. hearing, sight and speech) to cognition and psychology, which determine human behaviour.

We are recognised as world leaders in our fields and our work attracts staff and students from around the globe. The faculty and its component parts create an outstanding and vibrant environment for study and research.

UCL is Europe’s research powerhouse in neuroscience. We are ranked second in the world, and first in Europe, in neuroscience and behaviour by Thomson ISI Essential Science Indicators, with more than twice as many publications and citations as any other European institution. UCL Neuroscience researchers generate over 30% of the country’s contribution to the most highly cited publications in neuroscience, more than twice as much as any other university. In neuroimaging and clinical neurology, UCL produces 65% and 44% of the UK’s contribution to the world’s most highly cited papers, five times that of the next highest UK institution.

The Faculty of Brain Sciences along with the Faculties of Life Sciences, Medical Sciences and Population Health Sciences combine to form the School of Life & Medical Sciences. The School is one of the largest and most prestigious aggregations of academics in its field and has a global reputation for teaching informed by cutting-edge research. The SLMS Domains encompass the breadth of research activity across the School within nine core groupings. This research is conducted in collaboration with other UCL departments and supported by partnerships with our NHS trusts, research councils, charities and industry.

Faculty of Engineering

UCL Engineering delivers research and training across all aspects of the modern world. Previous studies and work here have produced rapid vaccine productions, fibre-optic communications and the infrastructure of the internet, and we continue to deliver world-changing innovations.

Our students and staff are drawn from across the globe, as are our academic and business partners. Our teaching programmes focus on subjects that have an impact on the world around us, while their content is led by the best international research. Members of the faculty use their skills across Engineering’s institutes and centres, within UCL, and in the wider world.

  • UCL Australia
  • UCL Biochemical Engineering
  • UCL Chemical Engineering
  • UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering
  • UCL Computer Science
  • UCL Electronic & Electrical Engineering
  • UCL School of Management
  • UCL Mechanical Engineering
  • UCL Medical Physics & Bioengineering
  • UCL Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy
  • UCL Security & Crime Science

UCL Institute of Education

The UCL Institute of Education is a world-leading school for education and social science. Founded in 1902, we currently have more than 7,000 students and 1,000 staff. We are active in every continent.

In the 2016 QS rankings, we were placed first in the world for education for the third year running, ahead of Harvard, Stanford and Melbourne. We were awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education 2014–16 for our “contribution to the policy and practice of education with international reach around innovative social research”.

We’ve trained more than 10,000 teachers over the past decade and in January 2014, we were recognised by Ofsted for our ‘outstanding’ initial teacher training in every criterion across primary, secondary and further education.

In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, two-thirds of our publications were judged to be internationally significant and over a third were judged to be ‘world leading’. The findings of our high-quality research have influenced government activity and policy in areas from early years to higher education and workplace learning. We are placed first for research strength in education in the UK.

We also specialise in study and research in health, psychology and longitudinal studies, among other areas of social science. Our three birth cohort studies have had a major impact over many years on policy for health, gender equality and young people.

  • Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment
  • Learning and Leadership
  • Culture, Communication and Media
  • Psychology and Human Development
  • Education, Practice and Society
  • Social Science

Faculty of Laws

UCL Laws is one of the world’s leading law schools. It is committed to the rigorous, multi-disciplinary and innovative study of law in all its dimensions, with particular attention to the global context in which law operates.

The faculty’s top-rated research makes a vital contribution to the quality of our teaching and the supervision of our students. It also contributes to the development of law, whilst shaping legal practice and public policy.

Our London base provides a positive opportunity to draw on the resources of a city that is the UK’s centre of law, commerce, finance and culture.

Faculty of Life Sciences

The UCL Faculty of Life Sciences undertakes world-leading research and teaching, which combines the strengths of UCL’s basic biological and preclinical sciences. Our work attracts staff and students from around the world, and together they create an outstanding and vibrant environment for both students and researchers. The faculty comprises the Division of Biosciences, the UCL School of Pharmacy, the UCL MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology and the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit.

The Faculty of Life Sciences along with the Faculties of Brain Sciences, Medical Sciences and Population Health Sciences combine to form the School of Life & Medical Sciences. The School is one of the largest and most prestigious aggregations of academics in its field and has a global reputation for teaching informed by cutting-edge research. The SLMS Domains encompass the breadth of research activity across the School within nine core groupings. This research is conducted in collaboration with other UCL departments and supported by partnerships with our NHS trusts, research councils, charities and industry.

Faculty of Mathematical & Physical Sciences

The Faculty of Mathematical & Physical Sciences encompasses the logical, experimental and mathematical study of our universe. Front-line research feeds directly into our teaching programmes, and our students benefit from access to first-class laboratory facilities. The faculty offers an array of three-year BSc and four-year Master’s-level MSci degrees in emerging as well as more traditional academic areas.

The faculty provides a base for several research centres. These facilitate in-depth, interdisciplinary research through collaboration between experts within the faculty, and in related areas in Engineering and Life Sciences. The faculty also has its own interdepartmental degree programme: Natural Sciences.

  • UCL Chemistry
  • UCL Earth Sciences
  • UCL Mathematics
  • UCL Natural Sciences
  • UCL Physics & Astronomy
  • UCL Science & Technology Studies
  • UCL Space & Climate Physics (Mullard Space Science Laboratory)
  • UCL Statistical Science

Faculty of Medical Sciences

The UCL Faculty of Medical Sciences brings together UCL Medical School and seven of UCL’s divisions and institutes, creating a powerhouse of medical science research and teaching.

Staff in the faculty undertake world-leading research and teaching in areas that range from viral oncology to connective tissue disease and oral health. The faculty and its component parts create an outstanding and vibrant environment for study and research.

The Faculty of Medical Sciences along with the Faculties of Brain Sciences, Life Sciences, and Population Health Sciences combine to form the School of Life & Medical Sciences. The School is one of the largest and most prestigious aggregations of academics in its field and has a global reputation for teaching informed by cutting-edge research. The SLMS Domains encompass the breadth of research activity across the School within nine core groupings. This research is conducted in collaboration with other UCL departments and supported by partnerships with our NHS trusts, research councils, charities and industry.

Faculty of Population Health Sciences

The UCL Faculty of Population Health Sciences brings together expertise in Child Health, Women’s and Reproductive Health, Population Health, Global Health, Clinical Trials, Health Informatics and Cardiovascular Science. Its aim is to deliver outstanding research and teaching for improved human health, and the unifying concept that informs its scholarship and educational activity is the life course.

The faculty’s research elucidates the biological, behavioural and psychosocial processes that operate across an individual’s life, and across generations, that affect the development of disease in populations. This research informs undergraduate, postgraduate and vocational teaching.

The Faculty of Population Health Sciences, along with the Faculties of Brain Sciences, Life Sciences and Medical Sciences combine to form the School of Life & Medical Sciences. The School is one of the largest and most prestigious aggregations of academics in its field and has a global reputation for teaching informed by cutting-edge research. The SLMS Domains encompass the breadth of research activity across the School within nine core groupings. This research is conducted in collaboration with other UCL departments and supported by partnerships with our NHS trusts, research councils, charities and industry.

UCL Social & Historical Sciences faculty

The UCL Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences represents an area of knowledge where humanities and science meet. The interests and methods of the nine component departments offer excellent opportunities for innovative and collaborative research.

Each of the departments has major research strengths in its own discipline. Some 200 academic staff contribute to the teaching activities across the faculty and their research activities are complemented by those of almost 100 research staff. The departments also play a major role in UCL’s growing network of interdisciplinary research centres.

  • UCL Institute of the Americas
  • UCL Anthropology
  • UCL Institute of Archaeology
  • UCL Economics
  • UCL Geography
  • UCL History
  • UCL History of Art
  • UCL Political Science
  • UCL School of Slavonic & East European Studies


UCL was founded on 11 February 1826 under the name London University as a secular alternative to the religious universities of Oxford and Cambridge. London University’s first Warden was Leonard Horner, who was the first scientist to head a British university.

Despite the commonly held belief that the philosopher Jeremy Bentham was the founder of UCL, his direct involvement was limited to the purchase of share No.633, at a cost of £100 paid in nine installments between December 1826 and January 1830. In 1828 he did nominate a friend to sit on the council, and in 1827 attempted to have his disciple John Bowring appointed as the first professor of English or History, but on both occasions his candidates were unsuccessful. This suggests that while his ideas may have been influential, he himself was less so. However Bentham is today commonly regarded as the “spiritual father” of UCL, as his radical ideas on education and society were the inspiration to the institution’s founders, particularly the Scotsmen James Mill (1773–1836) and Henry Brougham (1778–1868).

In 1827, the Chair of Political Economy at London University was created, with John Ramsay McCulloch as the first incumbent, establishing one of the first departments of economics in England. In 1828 the university became the first in England to offer English as a subject and the teaching of Classics and medicine began. In 1830, London University founded the London University School, which would later become University College School. In 1833, the university appointed Alexander Maconochie, Secretary to the Royal Geographical Society, as the first professor of geography in the UK. In 1834, University College Hospital (originally North London Hospital) opened as a teaching hospital for the university medical school.

In 1836, London University was incorporated by Royal Charter under the name University College, London. On the same day, the University of London was created by royal charter as a degree-awarding examining board for students from affiliated schools and colleges, with University College and King’s College, London being named in the charter as the first two affiliates.

The Slade School of Fine Art was founded in 1871 following a bequest from Felix Slade.

In 1878 the University of London gained a supplemental charter making it the first British university to be allowed to award degrees to women. The same year, UCL admitted women to the faculties of Arts and Law and of Science, although women remained barred from the faculties of Engineering and of Medicine (with the exception of courses on public health and hygiene). While UCL claims to have been the first university in England to admit women on equal terms to men, from 1878, the University of Bristol also makes this claim, having admitted women from its foundation (as a college) in 1876. Armstrong College, a predecessor institution of Newcastle University, also allowed women to enter from its foundation in 1871, although none actually enrolled until 1881. Women were finally admitted to medical studies during the First World War in 1917, although after the war ended limitations were placed on their numbers.

In 1898, Sir William Ramsay discovered the elements krypton, neon and xenon whilst professor of chemistry at UCL.

In 1900 the University of London was reconstituted as a federal university with new statutes drawn up under the University of London Act 1898. UCL, along with a number of other colleges in London, became a school of the University of London. While most of the constituent institutions retained their autonomy, UCL was merged into the University in 1907 under the University College London (Transfer) Act 1905 and lost its legal independence.

1900 also saw the decision to appoint a salaried head of the college. The first incumbent was Carey Foster, who served as Principal (as the post was originally titled) from 1900 to 1904. He was succeeded by Gregory Foster (no relation), and in 1906 the title was changed to Provost to avoid confusion with the Principal of the University of London. Gregory Foster remained in post until 1929.

In 1906 the Cruciform Building was opened as the new home for University College Hospital.

UCL sustained considerable bomb damage during the Second World War, including to the Great Hall and the Carey Foster Physics Laboratory. The first UCL student magazine, Pi Magazine, was published for the first time on 21 February 1946. The Institute of Jewish Studies relocated to UCL in 1959. The Mullard Space Science Laboratory was established in 1967. In 1973, UCL became the first international link to the precursor of the internet, the ARPANET.

Although UCL was among the first universities to admit women on the same terms as men, in 1878, the college’s senior common room, the Housman Room, remained men-only until 1969. After two unsuccessful attempts a motion was passed that ended segregation by sex at UCL. This was achieved by Brian Woledge (Fielden Professor of French at UCL from 1939 to 1971) and David Colquhoun, at that time a young lecturer in pharmacology.

In 1976, a new charter restored UCL’s legal independence, although still without the power to award its own degrees. Under this charter the college became formally known as University College London, having previously formally been “University of London, University College” since its incorporation into the University. This name abandoned the comma used in its earlier name of “University College, London”.

In 1986, UCL merged with the Institute of Archaeology. In 1988 UCL merged with the Institute of Laryngology & Otology, the Institute of Orthopaedics, the Institute of Urology & Nephrology and Middlesex Hospital Medical School.

In 1993 a shake up of the University of London meant that UCL (and other colleges) gained direct access to government funding and the right to confer University of London degrees themselves. This led to UCL being regarded as a de facto university in its own right.

In 1994 the University College London Hospitals NHS Trust was established. UCL merged with the College of Speech Sciences and theInstitute of Ophthalmology in 1995, the Institute of Child Health and the School of Podiatry in 1996 and the Institute of Neurology in 1997. In 1998 UCL merged with the Royal Free Hospital Medical School to create the Royal Free and University College Medical School (renamed the UCL Medical School in October 2008). In 1999 UCL merged with the School of Slavonic and East European Studies[63][64] and the Eastman Dental Institute.

The UCL Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science, the first university department in the world devoted specifically to reducing crime, was founded in 2001.

Proposals for a merger between UCL and Imperial College London were announced in 2002. The proposal provoked strong opposition from UCL teaching staff and students and the AUT union, which criticised “the indecent haste and lack of consultation”, leading to its abandonment by the UCL Provost Sir Derek Roberts. The blogs that helped to stop the merger, are preserved, though some of the links are now broken: see David Colquhoun’s blog, and the rather more stylish Save UCL blog, which was run by David Conway, a postgraduate student in the department of Hebrew and Jewish studies.

The London Centre for Nanotechnology was established in 2003 as a joint venture between UCL and Imperial College London.

Since 2003, when UCL Professor David Latchman became Master of the neighbouring Birkbeck, he has forged closer relations between these two University of London colleges, and personally maintains departments at both. Joint research centres include the UCL/Birkbeck Institute for Earth and Planetary Sciences, the UCL/Birkbeck/IoE Centre for Educational Neuroscience, the UCL/Birkbeck Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology, and the Birkbeck-UCL Centre for Neuroimaging.

In 2005, UCL was finally granted its own taught and research degree awarding powers and all new UCL students registered from 2007/08 qualified with UCL degrees. Also in 2005, UCL adopted a new corporate branding, under which, among other things, the name University College London was replaced by the simple initialism UCL in all external communications. In the same year a major new £422 million building was opened for University College Hospital on Euston Road, the UCL Ear Institute was established and a new building for the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies was opened.

In 2007, the UCL Cancer Institute was opened in the newly constructed Paul O’Gorman Building. In August 2008 UCL formed UCL Partners, an academic health science centre, with Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. In 2008 UCL established the UCL School of Energy & Resources in Adelaide, Australia, the first campus of a British university in the country. The School is based in the historic Torrens Building in Victoria Square and its creation followed negotiations between UCL Vice Provost Michael Worton and South Australian Premier Mike Rann.

In 2009, the Yale UCL Collaborative was established between UCL, UCL Partners, Yale University, Yale School of Medicine and Yale – New Haven Hospital. It is the largest collaboration in the history of either university, and its scope has subsequently been extended to the humanities and social sciences.

In June 2011, the mining company BHP Billiton agreed to donate A$10 million to UCL to fund the establishment of two energy institutes – the Energy Policy Institute, based in Adelaide, and the Institute for Sustainable Resources, based in London. In November 2011 UCL announced plans for a £500 million investment in its main Bloomsbury campus over 10 years, and the establishment of a new 23-acre campus next to the Olympic Park in Stratford in the East End of London. It revised its plans of expansion in East London and in December 2014 announced to build a campus UCL East covering 11 acres and provide up to 125,000m2 of space on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. UCL East will be a part of the planned Olympicopolis that plans to transform the Olympic Park into a cultural and innovation hub where UCL will open its first school of design, a centre of experimental engineering and a museum of the future, along with a living space for students.

The School of Pharmacy, University of London merged with UCL on 1 January 2012, becoming the UCL School of Pharmacy within the Faculty of Life Sciences. In May 2012, UCL, Imperial College London and the semiconductor company Intel announced the establishment of the Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Sustainable Connected Cities, a London-based institute for research into the future of cities.

In August 2012 UCL received criticism for advertising an unpaid research position; it subsequently withdrew the advert.

UCL and the Institute of Education formed a strategic alliance in October 2012, including co-operation in teaching, research and the development of the London schools system. In February 2014 the two institutions announced their intention to merge and the merger was completed in December 2014.

In October 2013 it was announced that the Translation Studies Unit of Imperial College London would move to UCL, becoming part of the UCL School of European Languages, Culture and Society. In December 2013, it was announced that UCL and the academic publishing company Elsevier will collaborate to establish the UCL Big Data Institute. In January 2015 it was announced that UCL had been selected by the UK government to be one of the five founder members of the Alan Turing Institute (together with the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford and Warwick), an institute to be established at the British Library to promote the development and use of advanced mathematics, computer science, algorithms and Big Data.

In 2015 UCL established a new School of Management focused on technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, replacing its Department of Management Science and Innovation. It moved to One Canada Square, Canary Wharf in May 2016.

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