The General Board of Faculties was established in 1918. Its membership comprised all members of the University's Boards of Faculties, and it was chaired by the Vice-Chancellor.
The primary role of the Board was to supervise the administration of the Ph.D. degree, which had been introduced at Manchester in 1918. An Executive Committee of the Board oversaw the mechanics of this administration; to this body reported subject-based sectional committees. Initially there were three of these for: 1) arts, law, theology, music, economic and social studies, education; 2) science and technology; and 3) medicine. In 1962, economics and social studies, law, education and business were detached from arts to form their own section. The most active sections in the early years of the Ph.D. degree were Arts and Science, with very few Ph.D. degrees being submitted in medicine.
Typically the Sections would consider and recommend applications for admission to the degree, thesis subjects and titles, appointments of supervisors and examiners, requests for study leave, extensions and submissions. These recommendations would be formally approved by the Executive Committee, which would also approve of the award of the degree. The role of General Board, which met annually, was to oversee the regulations for the Ph.D. and to appoint members of the Executive Committee and the sectional committees.
In the 1960s, the General Board extended its remit to consider more general issues; for example, it oversaw the publication of the University magazine, Staff Comment, it investigated staff superannuation matters, and it was involved in discussions over the new University charter. In 1967, the General Board underwent a major change in function when responsibilities for the Ph.D. degree were transferred to the individual Faculties, typically becoming the responsibility of a Faculty Ph.D. or Higher Degrees Committee. These faculty committees reported to a Ph.D. Committee of Senate.
Under the terms of the 1973 University charter, a new Assembly replaced the General Board, undertaking some of the tasks the Board had performed between 1967-1972.