University of Manchester, General Board of Faculties Archive

Scope and Content

Archive of the University's General Board of Faculties, comprising minutes of the General Board, executive committee and sectional committees from creation in 1918 to dissolution in 1972.

The minutes of the General Board and Executive Committee (GBF/1) deal mostly with routine administration, but also include matters relating to the introduction of the degree, and changes in regulations over time. The minutes for the inter-war period include some examiners' reports for Ph.D candidates; this practice was not continued post-war.

The minutes of the sectional committees (GBF/2) include records for Arts, Social Sciences and Science. These records deal with routine administration of the Ph.D. degree. There are some gaps in these minutes: for the Arts Section between 1918-1930, and no records of the Medical Section are present.

Administrative / Biographical History

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.


Arranged chronologically by series: GBF/1 - Minutes of the General Board and Executive Committee; GBF/2 - Minutes of the Sectional Committees.

Access Information

Access conditions apply to use of this collection; some parts of the archive may be closed to public inspection.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Open parts of this collection, and the catalogue descriptions, may contain personal data about living individuals. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The John Rylands University Library (JRUL) holds the right to process personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the JRUL to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, the JRUL has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Restrictions/closures of specific items will be indicated in the catalogue.

Acquisition Information

The minutes of the sectional committees were transferred by the Faculties of Arts and Science, which inherited them, when they took over responsibility for the Ph.D. It is believed that General Board minutes were transferred by central administration.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Keeper of Manuscripts and Archives, John Rylands University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.


None expected.

Related Material

Minutes of the Faculty Ph.D./Higher Degrees Committees may be found in individual Faculty archives.


The standard studies of the Ph.D. degree in Britain by Renate Simpson include a discussion of the degree at Manchester: How the Ph.D. came to Britain (Guildford 1983)  and The development of the Ph.D. in Britain, 1917-1959 and since (Lewiston, N.Y. 2009).

Geographical Names