University of London

Scope and Content

Records, 1791-2005, of the University of London, separated into the following categories: Academic Council (AC); the Athlone Press (AP); Accountant (AT); Audio-Visual Centre (AV); British Postgraduate Medical Federation (BPMF); Brown Animal Sanatory Institution (BR); Botanical Supply Unit (BS); Centre of International and Area Studies (CA); Careers Advisory Service (CB); Collegiate Council (CC); Commerce Degree Bureau (CD); Central File (CF); Children's Outing Group (CG); College Hall (CH); Institute of Computer Science (CM); Convocation and Committees (CN); University Computing Services (CP); Central Registry (CR); Central Secretariat (CS); Court (CT); Institute of Commonwealth Studies (CW); External Council (EC); Examination Department (EX); Finance and General Purposes Committee (FG); University of London Graduates Association (GA); Human Resources (HR); Labour Party (LP); Library Resources Co-ordinating Committee (LR); Military Education Committee (ME); Medical Graduates Society (MG); Miscellaneous (MI); University Observatory (OB); Organisation and Methods Unit (OM); Physiological Laboratory (PL); Public Relations (PR); Purchasing Group (PU); Registrar's Office (RO); Registrar's Collection (RC); Registration Officer (RG); Central Staff Association and Affiliated Clubs (SA); School of Advanced Study (SAS); Standing Conference of School Training Officers (SC); School Examinations Board (SE); Standing Conference of the Librarians of the Libraries of the University of London (SCOLLUL)(SL); Senate (ST); Services Department (SV); Training Management Board (TM); University Entrance Requirements Department (UE); University Library (UL); University of London Computer Centre (ULCC); University of London Union (UN); University Publications (UP); Vice Chancellor and Principal (VP).

Administrative / Biographical History

The University of London was established in 1836 out of the principle of a more inclusive approach to education, free from religious tests and more affordable. With its power to grant degrees the University worked generally in close alliance with University College and King's College London as well as numerous other colleges around Britain.

In terms of degrees awarded, the University was the first in England to introduce a Bachelor of Science, tending away from the more general degree. Honours degrees were established in 1903. Of the more marginal degrees, Music was instituted in 1877, the D.Sc. in 1859 and the D.Litt in 1885. Certificates of Higher Proficiency for 'female candidates' were introduced in 1867. Regulations for medical degrees were established in 1839 but continued to change for many years to come.

In 1893, after many years of dispute, a commission sat with the aim of forming a single teaching university in London. The reconstructed University would consist of: University College; King's College; the Royal College of Science; nine medical colleges; the London School of Medicine for Women; the City and Guilds Institute; Bedford College; six theological colleges and four colleges of music. Added to these proposed institutions were the London School of Economics and Political Science; Royal Holloway College and the South Eastern Agricultural College. These proposals were passed in an Act in 1898.

A new committee was established to examine the structure of the University in 1924 that suggested the University adopt the now familiar federal model alongside other recommendations. The University of London Act, 1926, set up a Statutory Commission to pursue the committee's recommendations. In the first half of the century, thirteen more schools were admitted into the federal structure.

The newly modelled University needed more appropriate housing than its present scattered buildings. With the assistance of a sizeable gift from the Rockefeller Foundation a new site was purchased in Bloomsbury. The construction of this new building began in 1933 and it was occupied from 1936.

After the interruption of the war with its occupation of the Ministry of Information, the University began to increase significantly in size and complexity. Expansion also took place outside of Bloomsbury such as Imperial College in South Kensington in the mid 1950s.

The structure and organisation of the University was examined closely in the mid 1960s under the guidance of the Robbins Report. Many of the schools were given a new voice to air their concerns and show their deep-rooted support for the federal system. Numerous other reports would shape the evolution of the University over the next decades. That same evolution and growth exists today.


Collection is arranged by originating department.

Access Information

Open except for records exempt under the Data Protection Act or the Freedom of Information Act. Access to the records for the purposes of private study and personal research is possible within the controlled environment and restrictions of the Library's Palaeography Room. Access to archive collections may be restricted under the Freedom of Information Act. Please contact the University Archivist for details.

Other Finding Aids

Hard-copy catalogues available in the Special Collections reading room, Senate House Library. More recent material is described on the ULRLS on-line archives catalogue,

Archivist's Note

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be made, subject to the condition of the original. Copying must be undertaken by the Palaeography Room staff, who will need a minimum of 24 hours to process requests.

Related Material

The University of London Collection is also held at Senate House Library.

Corporate Names