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University College London

University College London
The UCL logo since 2005
Motto Cuncti adsint meritaeque expectent praemia palmae (Latin)
Motto in English Let all come who by merit deserve the most reward
Established 1826
Type Public research university
Endowment £85.9 million (at 31 July 2013)[1]
Chancellor HRH The Princess Royal (University of London)
Provost Michael Arthur
Chairman of the Council Dame DeAnne Julius[2]
Admin. staff 11,024 (2013 average)[1]
Students approx. 36,000 (2014/15 academic year)[3]
Undergraduates approx. 16,000 (2014/15 academic year)[3]
Postgraduates approx. 19,000 (2014/15 academic year)[3]
Location London, United Kingdom
Visitor John Dyson, Lord Dyson
As Master of the Rolls ex officio[4]

University College London (UCL), formerly styled University College, London, is a G5,[13] the League of European Research Universities and the Russell Group and forms part of the 'golden triangle' of British universities.[14]


  • History 1
    • 1826 to 1901 1.1
    • 1901 to 2005 1.2
    • 2005 to 2010 1.3
    • 2010 to present 1.4
  • Campus and locations 2
    • Bloomsbury 2.1
    • Other sites 2.2
  • Organisation and administration 3
    • Governance 3.1
    • Faculties and departments 3.2
    • Finances 3.3
    • Terms 3.4
    • Logo, arms and colours 3.5
    • Secularism 3.6
    • Memberships, affiliations and partnerships 3.7
  • Academics 4
    • Faculty and staff 4.1
    • Research 4.2
    • Medicine 4.3
    • Admissions 4.4
    • Foundation programmes 4.5
    • Libraries 4.6
    • Museums and collections 4.7
    • Rankings and reputation 4.8
  • Student life 5
    • Student body 5.1
    • UCL Union 5.2
    • Sport 5.3
    • Rivalry with King's College London 5.4
    • Student campaigns 5.5
    • Student housing 5.6
  • Notable people 6
    • Notable faculty and staff 6.1
    • Notable alumni 6.2
    • Heads of state, government and international organisations 6.3
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


1826 to 1901

The London University as drawn by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd and published in 1827–1828 (now the UCL Main Building)

UCL was founded on 11 February 1826 under the name London University as a secular alternative to the religious universities of Oxford and Cambridge.[15][16] London University's first Warden was Leonard Horner, who was the first scientist to head a British university.[17]

Henry Tonks' 1923 mural The Four Founders of UCL

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.[18] 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).[19]

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.[20] In 1828 the university became the first in England to offer English as a degree subject[21] 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 opened as a teaching hospital for the university medical school.[22] In 1836, London University was renamed University College, London, when, under a Royal Charter, it worked with the recently established King's College, London, to create the federal University of London. The Slade School of Fine Art was founded in 1871 following a bequest from Felix Slade.[23] In 1878 UCL became the first British university to admit women on equal terms to men.[24] In 1898, Sir William Ramsay discovered the elements krypton, neon and xenon whilst professor of chemistry at UCL.[25][26]

1901 to 2005

William Ramsay is regarded as the "father of noble gases".

Gregory Foster became UCL's first Provost in 1906, a post he would hold for the next 23 years. In the same year the Cruciform Building was opened as the new home for University College Hospital.[27] In 1907 the University of London was formally reconstituted with a new Royal charter, and a number of new institutions joined the federation. As part of this reconstitution each of the constituent institutions, including UCL, lost their legal independence, and henceforth all offered degrees awarded by the University of London. 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.[28] In 1973, UCL became the first international link to the precursor of the internet, the ARPANET, sending the world's first e-mail in the same year.[29][30]


In 1976, a new charter restored UCL's legal independence, although not the power to award its own degrees.[31][32] It was also under this charter that the College became formally known as University College London (thus abandoning the comma after "College" which had been used since 1836).

In 1986, UCL merged with the Institute of Archaeology.[33] In 1988 UCL merged with the Institute of Laryngology & Otology, the Institute of Orthopaedics, the Institute of Urology & Nephrology and Middlesex Hospital Medical School.[33] In 1994 the University College London Hospitals NHS Trust was established.[34] UCL merged with the College of Speech Sciences and the Institute of Ophthalmology in 1995, the Institute of Child Health and the School of Podiatry in 1996[35] and the Institute of Neurology in 1997.[33][36] 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[37][38] and the Eastman Dental Institute.[33]

The UCL Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science, the first university department in the world devoted specifically to reducing crime, was founded in 2001.[39]

Proposals for a merger between UCL and Imperial College London were announced in 2002.[40] 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.[41]

The London Centre for Nanotechnology was established in 2003 as a joint venture between UCL and Imperial College London.[42][43]

Since 2003, when UCL Professor IoE Centre for Educational Neuroscience, the UCL/Birkbeck Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology, and the Birkbeck-UCL Centre for Neuroimaging.

2005 to 2010

The Torrens Building in Adelaide, South Australia, houses the UCL School of Energy and Resources

In 2005, UCL was again 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.[44] In the same year a major new £422 million building was opened for University College Hospital on Euston Road,[45] 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.[46] In 2008 UCL established the UCL School of Energy & Resources in Adelaide, Australia, the first campus of a British university in the country.[47] 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.[48]

In 2009, the Yale UCL Collaborative was established between UCL, UCL Partners, Yale University, Yale School of Medicine and Yale – New Haven Hospital.[49] It is the largest collaboration in the history of either university, and its scope has subsequently been extended to the humanities and social sciences.[50][51]

2010 to present

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.[52] 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.[53]

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.[54][55] 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.[56][57]

In August 2012 UCL received criticism for advertising an unpaid research position; it subsequently withdrew the advert.[58]

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.[59] In February 2014 the two institutions announced their intention to merge[60][61] and the merger was completed in December 2014.[62][63]

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, Society and Culture.[64] In December 2013, it was announced that UCL and the academic publishing company Elsevier will collaborate to establish the UCL Big Data Institute.[65]

Campus and locations


The Wilkins Building and main quadrangle
The Rockefeller Building on University Street, one of UCL's largest premises

UCL is primarily based in the Bloomsbury area of central London. The main campus is located around Gower Street and includes the biology, chemistry, economics, engineering, geography, history, languages, mathematics, philosophy, politics and physics departments, the UCL Institute of Education, the preclinical facilities of the UCL Medical School, the London Centre for Nanotechnology, the Slade School of Fine Art, the UCL Union, the main UCL Library, the UCL Science Library, the Bloomsbury Theatre and the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology. Close by in Bloomsbury are the UCL Cancer Institute, the UCL Ear Institute, the UCL Eastman Dental Institute, the UCL Faculty of the Built Environment (The Bartlett), the UCL Faculty of Laws, the UCL Institute of Archaeology, the UCL Institute of Child Health, the UCL Institute of Neurology, the UCL School of Pharmacy, the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies and University College Hospital.[66]

Notable UCL buildings in Bloomsbury include the UCL Main Building, including the Octagon, Quad, Cloisters and the Wilkins building designed by William Wilkins; the Cruciform Building, Gower Street (a red, cross-shaped building previously home to University College Hospital); and the Rockefeller Building, University Street, home to the original University College Hospital Medical School and named after the American oil magnate John D. Rockefeller after support from the Rockefeller Foundation in the 1920s. Due to its position within London and the historical nature of its buildings, including most notably the UCL Main Building and Quad, UCL has been used as a location for a number of film and television productions, including Doctor in the House (1954), Gladiator (2000), The Mummy Returns (2001), The Dark Knight (2008) and Inception (2010).[67]

A number of important institutions are based near to the main campus, including the British Library, the British Medical Association, the British Museum, Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council, RADA, the Royal Academy of Art, the Royal Institution and the Wellcome Trust. Many University of London schools and institutes are also close by, including Birkbeck, University of London, London Business School, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the Royal Veterinary College, the School of Advanced Study, the School of Oriental and African Studies and the Senate House Library. The nearest London Underground station is Euston Square, with Goodge Street, Russell Square and Warren Street all nearby. The mainline railway stations at Euston, King's Cross and St Pancras are all within walking distance.

Other sites

Elsewhere in central London are the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology (based in Clerkenwell), the Windeyer Institute (based in Fitzrovia), the UCL Institute of Orthopedics and Musculoskeletal Science (based in Stanmore), The Royal Free Hospital and the Whittington Hospital campuses of the UCL Medical School, and a number of other teaching hospitals. The Department of Space and Climate Physics (Mullard Space Science Laboratory) is based in Holmbury St Mary, Surrey, the UCL School of Energy and Resources is based in Adelaide, Australia and there is a UCL campus in Doha, Qatar specialised in archaeology, conservation and museum studies.[68] Since September 2010 UCL has been running a University Preparatory Certificate course at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan.[69]

Organisation and administration


Although UCL is a constituent college of the federal University of London, in most ways it is comparable with free-standing, self-governing and independently funded universities, and it awards its own degrees.[70]

UCL's governing body is the Council, which oversees the management and administration of UCL and the conduct of its affairs, subject to the advice of the Academic Board on matters of academic policy, and approves UCL's long-term plans.[71] It delegates authority to the Provost, as chief executive, for the academic, corporate, financial, estate and human resources management of UCL. The Council normally meets six times each year. The Council comprises 20 members, of whom 11 are members external to UCL; seven are UCL academic staff of UCL, including the Provost, three UCL professors and three non-professorial staff; and two are UCL students. The Chair is appointed by Council for a term not normally exceeding five years. The Chair is ex officio Chair of the Honorary Degrees and Fellowships Committee, Nominations Committee and Remuneration and Strategy Committee.[71] The current Chairman of the Council is Sir Stephen Wall.

UCL's principal academic and administrative officer is the President and Provost, who is also UCL's designated principal officer for the purposes of the Financial Memorandum with the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).[71] The Provost is appointed by Council after consultation with the Academic Board, is responsible to the Council, and works closely with its members, and especially with the Chair of Council. The current and tenth Provost and President of UCL is Michael Arthur, who replaced Sir Malcolm Grant in 2013.[72]

Vice-Provosts are appointed by the Provost, through the Council, to assist and advise the Provost as required. The Vice-Provosts are members of the Provost's Senior Management Team. There are presently six Vice-Provosts (for Education, Enterprise, Health, International, Research, and Operations).[71]

The Deans of UCL's faculties are appointed by Council and, together with the Vice-Provosts and the Director of Finance and Business Affairs, form the members of the Provost's Senior Management Team. The Deans' principal duties include advising the Provost and Vice-Provosts on academic strategy, staffing matters and resources for academic departments within their faculty; overseeing curricula and programme management at faculty level; liaising with Faculty Tutors on undergraduate admissions and student academic matters; overseeing examination matters at faculty level; and co-ordinating faculty views on matters relating to education and information support.[71]

Faculties and departments

Drayton House, which houses the Faculty of Economics
The UCL School of Pharmacy building
The Faculty of Engineering Sciences building
The Bedford Way building, home to UCL's Departments of Geography, Psychology and Language

UCL’s research and teaching is organised within a network of faculties and academic departments. Faculties and academic departments are formally established by the UCL Council, the governing body of UCL, on the advice of the Academic Board, which is UCL’s senior academic authority. UCL is currently organised into the following 11 constituent faculties:[73]

Faculty[74] Academic and research staff
(as at 30 April 2012)[74]
Undergraduate students
Postgraduate students
UCL Faculty of Arts and Humanities 328 2,157 1,075
UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences 1,249 722 1,457
UCL Faculty of the Built Environment (The Bartlett) 355 570 1,241
UCL Faculty of Engineering Sciences 667 2,049 1,642
UCL Faculty of Laws 137 528 458
UCL Faculty of Life Sciences 798 1,183 486
UCL Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences 754 2,187 677
UCL Faculty of Medical Sciences (incorporating the UCL Medical School) 1,257 1,773 1,342
UCL Faculty of Population Health Sciences 1,092 64 815
UCL Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences 621 2,539 1,894
UCL Institute of Education n/a n/a n/a
Total 5,277 (ex. Institute of Education) 13,772 (ex. Institute of Education) 11,087 (ex. Institute of Education)

To facilitate greater interdisciplinary interaction in research and teaching UCL also has three strategic faculty groupings:

  • the UCL School of Life and Medical Sciences (comprising the Faculties of Brain Sciences, Life Sciences, Medical Sciences and Population Health Sciences);
  • the UCL School of the Built Environment, Engineering and Mathematical and Physical Sciences (comprising the UCL Faculty of the Built Environment, UCL Faculty of Engineering Sciences and UCL Faculty of Mathematical & Physical Sciences); and
  • the UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities, UCL Faculty of Laws, UCL Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences and the UCL School of Slavonic & East European Studies.


In the financial year ended 31 July 2013, UCL had a total income (including share of joint ventures) of £937.2 million (2011/12 – £868.7 million) and total expenditure of £917.4 million (2011/12 – £843.4 million).[1] Key sources of income included £334.7 million from research grants and contracts (2011/12 – £300.7 million), £240.9 million from academic fees and support grants (2011/12 – £208.5 million), £191.2 million from Funding Council grants (2011/12 – £198.3 million) and £5.3 million from endowment and investment income (2011/12 – £6.9 million).[1] During the 2012/13 financial year UCL had a capital expenditure of £97 million (2011/12 – £55.2 million).[1] At year end UCL had endowments of £85.9 million (31 July 2012 – £72.4 million) and total net assets of £811.7 million (31 July 2012 – £750.4 million).[1]

In 2012/13, UCL had the third-highest total income of any British university (after the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford), and the second-highest income from research grants and contracts (after the University of Oxford).[75] According to a survey published by the Sutton Trust, UCL had the eighth-largest endowment of any British university in 2012.[76]

UCL launched a 10-year, £300 million fundraising appeal in October 2004, at the time the largest target ever set by a university in the United Kingdom for such an appeal.[77]


The UCL academic year is divided into three terms.[78] For most departments except the Medical School, Term One runs from late September to mid December, Term Two from mid January to late March, and Term Three from late April to mid June.[78] Certain departments operate reading weeks in early November and mid February.[78]

Logo, arms and colours

Whereas most universities primarily use their logo on mundane documents but their coat of arms on official documents such as degree certificates, UCL exclusively uses its logo. The present logo was adopted as part of a rebranding exercise in August 2005.[44] Prior to that date, a different logo was used, in which the letters UCL were incorporated into a stylised representation of the college portico.

UCL formerly made some use of a coat of arms depicting a raised bent arm dressed in armour holding a green upturned open wreath.[79] A version of this badge (not on a shield) appears to have been used by UCL Union from shortly after its foundation in 1893.[80] However, the arms are not known to have ever been the subject of an official grant of arms, and indeed depart from several of the rules and conventions of heraldry. They are no longer formally used by the College, although they are still occasionally seen in unofficial contexts, or used in modified form by sports teams and societies. The blazon of the arms is: Purpure, on a wreath of the colours Argent and Blue Celeste, an arm in armour embowed Argent holding an upturned wreath of laurel Vert, beneath which two branches of laurel Or crossed at the nombril and bound with a bowed cord Or, beneath the nombril a motto of Blue Celeste upon which Cuncti adsint meritaeque expectent praemia palmae. The motto is a quotation from Virgil's Aeneid, and translates into English as "Let all come who by merit deserve the most reward".[81]

UCL's traditional sporting and academic colours of purple and light blue are derived from the arms.


From its foundation the College was deliberately secular; the initial justification of this secularity was that students of different denominations (specifically Catholics and Protestants) could study alongside each other without conflict. Even today UCL retains its strict secular position, and unlike most other UK universities has no specific religious prayer rooms. However there has been a Christian chaplaincy since 2005, there is no restriction on religious groups among students, and a 'quiet contemplation room' allows prayer for staff and students of all faiths.

Memberships, affiliations and partnerships

The main building of University College Hospital

UCL is a constituent college of the federal University of London, of which it was one of the two founding members in 1836 (the other being King's College London).[82]

UCL is a founding member of the Russell Group, an association of British research universities established in 1994.[83] UCL is a member of the G5 lobbying group, which it established in early 2004 with the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, Imperial College London and the London School of Economics.[84][85] UCL has been a member of the SES-5 engineering and physical sciences research alliance since May 2013, which it formed with the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Southampton and Imperial College London.[86] UCL is part of three of the 11 biomedical research centres established by the NHS in England and is a founding member of the Francis Crick Institute and the UCL Partners academic health science centre.[12]

UCL has been a member of the League of European Research Universities since January 2006, and is currently one of five British members (the others being the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh and Oxford and Imperial College London).[87][88] Other international groupings that UCL is a member of include the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the European University Association, UNICA and the Universities Research Association.[89] UCL has a major collaboration with Yale University, the Yale UCL Collaborative. UCL has hundreds of research and teaching partnerships, including around 150 research links and 130 student-exchange partnerships with European universities.[5]

UCL is regarded as forming part of the 'golden triangle', an unofficial name for a set of leading universities located in the southern English cities of Cambridge, London and Oxford[90] including the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, Imperial College London and the London School of Economics.[91]

UCL is the sponsor of the UCL Academy, a secondary school in the London Borough of Camden. The school opened in September 2012 and was the first in the UK to have a university as sole sponsor.[92] UCL also has a strategic partnership with Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Centre.[93]


16 Taviton Street, home to the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies

Faculty and staff

As of April 2012, UCL had 5,277 academic and research staff.[74] UCL has the highest number of full professors of any university in the UK, with 648 established and personal chairs.[8] There are currently 53 Fellows of the Royal Society, 51 Fellows of the British Academy, 15 Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering and 117 Fellows of the Academy of Medical Sciences amongst UCL academic and research staff.[94] There are currently approximately 3,000 PhD students working at UCL.


UCL has made cross-disciplinary research a priority and orientates its research around four "Grand Challenges".[95] According to David Price, Pro-Provost for Research: "We believe we have a moral obligation to make a difference to global problems, and to combine the knowledge that our research generates to develop wisdom that can be applied in each of the four Grand Challenges: Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interaction and Human Wellbeing".[96]

In 2012/13, UCL had a total research income of £334.7 million, the second-highest of any British university (after the University of Oxford).[75] Key sources of research income in that year were OST research councils (£114.3 million), UK-based charities (£95.5 million), UK central government, local/health authorities and hospitals (£48.6 million), EU government bodies (£33.5 million), and UK industry, commerce and public corporations (£12.8 million).[1] In 2012/13, UCL was awarded a total of £135 million in grants from UK research councils, the largest amount of any British university, having made 478 applications and achieved a 33% success rate.[97]

John O'Keefe, neuroscientist and the latest (2014) UCL faculty member to win a Nobel Prize (in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of place cells)

According to a ranking of universities produced by SCImago Research Group, UCL is ranked 12th in the world (and 1st in Europe) in terms of total research output.[98] According to data released in July 2008 by ISI Web of Knowledge, UCL is the 13th most-cited university in the world (and most-cited in Europe). The analysis covered citations from 1 January 1998 to 30 April 2008, during which 46,166 UCL research papers attracted 803,566 citations. The report covered citations in 21 subject areas and the results revealed some of UCL's key strengths, including: Clinical Medicine (1st outside North America); Immunology (2nd in Europe); Neuroscience & Behaviour (1st outside North America and 2nd in the world); Pharmacology & Toxicology (1st outside North America and 4th in the world); Psychiatry & Psychology (2nd outside North America); and Social Sciences, General (1st outside North America).[99] According to a separate analysis by ISI Web of Knowledge, for the period January 2000 to August 2010 UCL was ranked 16th in the world (and 2nd in Europe) for citations per paper in engineering.[100]

In the Microsoft Academic Search, which measures total research output, UCL ranks highly in a diverse range of areas.[101] As of 2012 UCL ranked: among the top five institutions in the world in Chromatography (5th), Geography (2nd), Linguistics (5th), Literature (2nd), Medical Education and Training (2nd), Neuroscience (2nd), Oncology (4th), Ophthalmology (4th) and Pathology (5th);[101] among the top 10 in the world in: Archaeology (6th), Art History (8th), Dentistry (9th), Evolutionary Sciences (10th), Gynecology and Obstetrics (10th), Machine Learning and Recognition (10th), Pharmacology (9th), Plastic Arts (6th), Regional Studies (10th), Religion (6th) and Simulation (10th);[101] and 11th to 20th in the world in Anatomy (15th), Biochemistry (15th), Biomedical Engineering (20th), Biotechnology (16th), Cardiology (20th), Diabetes (11th), Diseases (11th), Endocrinology (17th), Family Medicine (20th), Genetics and Genealogy (14th), History (14th), Hydrology (13th), Immunology (12th), Labor and Demographics Economics (14th), Mineralogy and Petrology (15th), Molecular Biology (16th), Nutrition (12th), Physiology (12th), Psychiatry and Psychology (19th), Public Affairs (12th) and Statistics (16th).[101] UCL is ranked 10th overall in Arts and Humanities and 9th in Medicine.[101]

UCL submitted a total of 1,793 full-time equivalent staff to the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), the fourth-largest number of any British university (after the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge and the University of Manchester), across a total of 47 subject areas.[102] 27% of research produced by UCL was assessed as 4* (world-leading), 39% as 3* (internationally excellent), 27% as 2* (recognised internationally) and 6% as 1* (recognised nationally).[102] UCL came fifth in the overall 2008 RAE ranking produced by The Guardian (after the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, the London School of Economics and Imperial College London)[103] and seventh in the overall ranking produced by Times Higher Education (after the Institute of Cancer Research, the University of Cambridge, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the London School of Economics, the University of Oxford and Imperial College London).[102]


The Cruciform Building on Gower Street houses the preclinical facilities of the UCL Medical School

UCL has offered courses in medicine since 1834, but the current UCL Medical School developed from mergers with the medical schools of the Middlesex Hospital (founded in 1746) and the Royal Free Hospital (founded as the London School of Medicine for Women in 1874).[104] Clinical medicine is primarily taught at the Royal Free Hospital, University College Hospital and the Whittington Hospital, with other associated teaching hospitals including the Eastman Dental Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Moorfields Eye Hospital, the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital.

UCL is a major centre for biomedical research. It is a member of three of the 11 biomedical research centres established by the NHS in England – the UCLH/UCL Biomedical Research Centre, the Moorfields Eye Hospital/UCL Institute of Ophthalmology Biomedical Research Centre and the Great Ormond Street Hospital/UCL Institute of Child Health Biomedical Research Centre.[105] It is also a founding member of UCL Partners, the largest academic health science centre in Europe with a turnover of approximately £2 billion.[106] UCL has joined with the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK and the Wellcome Trust to establish the Francis Crick Institute, a new £600 million medical research centre to be based next to St Pancras railway station and planned to open in 2015.[107] It will be one of the world's largest medical research centres, housing 1,250 scientists.[108]


Bentham House, the main building of the UCL Faculty of Laws

Admission to UCL is highly selective. For undergraduate entry many of UCL's courses require three A grades at A Level, or a grade equivalent of 6,6,6 on higher level subjects on the International Baccalaureate Program. Due to a very high proportion of applicants receiving the highest school grades, UCL,[109] along with institutions such as Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge[110] was one of the first universities in the UK to make use of the A* grade at A-Level (introduced in 2010) for admissions, particularly for very oversubscribed courses such as Architecture, Engineering, Economics, Mathematics, Theoretical Physics, Medicine, History, Psychology and European Social and Political Studies.

Undergraduate law applicants are required to take the National Admissions Test for Law[111] and undergraduate medical applicants are required to take the BioMedical Admissions Test.[112] Applicants for European Social and Political Studies are required to take a Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA),[113] should they be selected for an assessment day. Some UCL departments interview undergraduate applicants prior to making an offer of admission.[114]

Foundation programmes

UCL runs intensive one-year foundation courses that lead to a variety of degree programmes at UCL and other top UK universities. Called the UCL University Preparatory Certificate, the courses are targeted at international students of high academic potential whose education systems in their own countries usually do not offer qualifications suitable for direct admission. There are two pathways – one in science and engineering called the UPCSE; and one in the humanities called UPCH. The same courses run at the Centre for Preparatory Studies at Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan. Students completing this course progress onto undergraduate programmes at Nazarbayev University.[115]


The Donalsdon Reading Room, part of UCL's Main Library

The UCL library system comprises 16 libraries located across several sites within the main UCL campus and across Bloomsbury, linked together by a central networking catalogue and request system called Explore.[116][117] The libraries contain a total of over 1.5 million books.[118] The largest library is the UCL Main Library, which is located in the UCL Main Building and contains collections relating to the arts and humanities, economics, history, law and public policy.[116] The second largest library is the UCL Science Library, which is located in the DMS Watson Building on Malet Place and contains collections relating to anthropology, engineering, geography, life sciences, management and the mathematical and physical sciences.[116] Other libraries include the UCL Bartlett Library (architecture and town planning), the Cruciform Library (general clinical and medical sciences), the UCL Eastman Dental Institute Library (oral health sciences), the UCL Institute of Archaeology Library (archaeology and egyptology), the UCL Institute of Neurology Rockefeller Medical Library (neurosurgery and neuroscience), the Joint Moorfields Eye Hospital & the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology Library (biomedicine, medicine, nursing, ophthalmology and visual science), the UCL Language & Speech Science Library (audiology, communication disorders, linguistics & phonetics, special education, speech & language therapy and voice) and the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies Library (the economics, geography, history, languages, literature and politics of Eastern Europe).[116]

UCL staff and students have full access to the main libraries of the University of London—the Senate House Library and the libraries of the Institutes of the School of Advanced Study—which are located close to the main UCL campus in Bloomsbury.[119] These libraries contain over 3.7 million books and focus on the arts, humanities and social sciences.[118] The British Library, which contains around 14 million books, is also located close to the main UCL campus.

Since 2004, UCL Library Services has been collecting the scholarly work of UCL researchers to make it freely available on the internet via an open access repository known as UCL Eprints.[120][121] The intention is that material curated by UCL Eprints will remain accessible indefinitely.[120]

Museums and collections

UCL's Special Collections contains UCL's collection of historical or culturally significant works. It is one of the foremost university collections of

  • University College London

External links

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See also

State/Government Individual Office
 Council of Europe Terry Davis Secretary General (2004–2009)
 Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades President (2013–)
 Czechoslovakia Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk First President (1918–1935)
East India Company George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland Governor-General of India (1836-1842) and UCL founding father
 Israel Chaim Herzog President (1983–1993)
 Japan Itō Hirobumi (伊藤 博文) First and four-time Prime Minister (1885–1888, 1892–1896, 1898, 1900–1901)
 Japan Junichiro Koizumi (小泉純一郎) Prime Minister (2001–2006)
 Kenya Jomo Kenyatta First Prime Minister and President (1963–1978)
 Mauritius Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam First Prime Minister (1968–1982) and Governor-General (1983–1985)
 Nigeria Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa First Prime Minister (1960-1966)
Republic of China Wu Tingfang (伍廷芳) Premier (1917)
 Romania Mihai-Răzvan Ungureanu Prime Minister (2012)
 Trinidad and Tobago Sir Ellis Clarke Governor-General (1972–1976) and President (1976–1987)
 Turks and Caicos Islands Martin Bourke Governor (1993–1996)
 United Kingdom John Russell, 1st Earl Russell Prime Minister (1846-1852, 1865-1866) and UCL founding father

Heads of state, government and international organisations

– statisticians including Kirstine Smith (credited with the creation of optimal design of experiments).[213]

– sports people including David Gower (former captain of the England cricket team),[210] Patrick Head (co-founder of the Williams Formula One team)[211] and Christine Ohuruogu (Olympic and World 400 metres gold medalist);[212] and

– politicians including Mahatma Gandhi (leader of the Indian independence movement),[196] Jomo Kenyatta (first Prime Minister, first President and "Father of the Nation" of Kenya),[207] Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam (first Prime Minister and "Father of the Nation" of Mauritius),[208] Chaim Herzog (President of Israel), Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (first Prime Minister of Nigeria), Itō Hirobumi (first Prime Minister of Japan), Junichiro Koizumi (former Prime Minister of Japan),[209] Wu Tingfang (Acting Premier during the early years of the Republic of China), Sir Stafford Cripps (British Chancellor of the Exchequer 1947–1950), and at least eight serving members of the United Kingdom parliament, including current Secretary of State for Wales David Jones;

– lawyers including a Lord Chancellor (Lord Goldsmith[206] and Baroness Scotland), Singapore (Tan Boon Teik and Chao Hick Tin), Hong Kong (Thomas Chisholm Anstey) and Gambia (Hassan Bubacar Jallow);

– journalists and commentators including A. A. Gill (columnist), three former editors of The Economist, most notably Walter Bagehot, two editors of The Times Literary Supplement, Jonathan Dimbleby (television and radio current affairs presenter),[203] Tom Dyckhoff (architecture critic and TV presenter,[204] and former ITN Home Affairs Correspondent Sarah Cullen;

– entertainers, musicians, composers and filmmakers including Ken Adam (designer famous for set designs for the James Bond films), Ricky Gervais (comedian and actor),[196] Gustav Holst (composer), all of the members of the band Coldplay (Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman and Will Champion),[201] Christopher Nolan (director of films including The Dark Knight saga),[202] Franny Armstrong (director), Tim Rice-Oxley and Richard Hughes (members of the band Keane) and Jonathan Ross (television presenter);

– engineers and scientists including Alexander Graham Bell (inventor of the telephone),[196] Colin Chapman (founder of Lotus Cars),[198] Francis Crick (co-discoverer of the structure of DNA),[199] John Ambrose Fleming (inventor of the vacuum tube), Jaroslav Heyrovský (father of the electroanalytical method), Charles Kuen Kao (pioneer of the use of fibre optics in telecommunications)[200] and Joseph Lister (pioneer of antiseptic surgery);

– business people including Lord Digby Jones (Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry (2001–2006))[197] and Edwin Waterhouse (a founding partner of what is now the professional services firm PwC);

– authors including Edith Clara Batho, Raymond Briggs,[195] Robert Browning, G. K. Chesterton,[196] David Crystal, Stella Gibbons, Clive Sansom, Marie Stopes,[196] Helen MacInnes, Rabindranath Tagore and Demetrius Vikelas (who was also the first President of the International Olympic Committee);

– artists including Sir William Coldstream (realist painter), Wyndham Lewis (Vorticist painter), Antony Gormley (sculptor), Augustus John (painter, draughtsman and etcher),[194] Gerry Judah (artist and designer), Ben Nicholson (abstract painter) and Sir Eduardo Paolozzi (sculptor and artist);

Notable UCL alumni include:

Notable alumni

All five of the naturally occurring noble gases were discovered at UCL by Professor of Chemistry Sir William Ramsay, after whom Ramsay Hall is named.[193]

Notable former UCL faculty and staff include population geneticist), Edward Teller ("Father of the Hydrogen Bomb") and David Kemp (the first scientist to demonstrate the existence of the otoacustic emissions).

Notable faculty and staff

Nobel Prizes have been awarded to at least 32 UCL academics and students (18 of which were in Physiology & Medicine), as well as three Fields Medals.[188][189]

UCL alumni include Mahatma Gandhi, leader of Indian independence movement; Jomo Kenyatta, founding father of the Kenya, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, first Prime Minister and Governor-General of Mauritius; Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone; and Francis Crick, one of the co-discoverers of the structure of DNA. Notable former UCL staff include Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, "Father of the Nation" of Czechoslovakia; Peter Higgs, proposer of the Higgs mechanism which predicted the existence of the Higgs boson; and Sir William Ramsay, the discoverer of all five of the naturally occurring noble gases.

Notable people

UCL students are eligible to apply for places in the University of London intercollegiate halls of residence.[187] The halls are: Canterbury Hall, Commonwealth Hall, College Hall, Connaught Hall, Hughes Parry Hall and International Hall near Russell Square in Bloomsbury; Lillian Penson Hall (postgraduates only) in Paddington; and Nutford House in Marble Arch. Some students are also selected to live in International Students House.

All first-year undergraduate students and overseas first-year postgraduates at UCL are guaranteed university accommodation.[185] The majority of second- and third-year undergraduate students and graduate students find their own accommodation in the private sector; graduate students may apply for accommodation but places are limited. UCL's student housing includes: Arthur Tattersall House (115–131 Gower Street); Astor College (99 Charlotte Street); Campbell House East and West (Taviton Street); Frances Gardner House and Langton Close (Gray's Inn Road); Goldsmid House (Gillingham Street); Ifor Evans & Max Rayne Student Residences (109 Camden Road); James Lighthill House (Pentonville Road); John Dodgson House (Bidborough Street); John Tovell House (89 & 93–7 Gower Street); Prankerd House (195 North Gower Street); Ramsay Hall and Ian Baker House Student Residences (Maple Street); and Schafer House Student Residence (Drummond Street). There is limited UCL accommodation available for married students and those with children at Bernard Johnson House, Hawkridge, Neil Sharp House and the University of London's Lilian Penson Hall.[186]

Frances Gardner House

Student housing

As part of the protests against the UK Government's plans to increase student fees, around 200 students occupied the Jeremy Bentham Room and part of the Slade School of Fine Art for over two weeks during November and December 2010.[183][184] The university successfully obtained a court order to evict the students but stated that it did not intend to enforce the order if possible.[184]

Student campaigns at UCL have included: UCLU Free Education Campaign (a campaign for the return of free and non-marketised higher education); the London Living wage Campaign (a campaign for a basic minimum wage for all UCL staff); Disarm UCL (a campaign which successfully persuaded UCL to not invest in defence companies); and Save UCL (this name has been used by two campaigns: one in 2006 which opposed a merger between UCL and Imperial College London in 2006, and a more recent one against education cuts).

Student campaigns

The King's' mascot, Reggie the Lion, went missing in the 1990s and was recovered after being found dumped in a field. It was restored at the cost of around £15,000 and then placed on display in the students' union.[180] It is in a glass case and filled with concrete to prevent theft, particularly by UCL students who once castrated it. In turn, King's' students are also believed to have once stolen Phineas, a UCL mascot.[181] It is often claimed that King's' students played football with the embalmed head of Jeremy Bentham. Although the head was indeed stolen, the football story is a myth or legend which is unsupported by official UCL documentation about Bentham available next to his display case (his Auto Icon) in the UCL cloisters. The head is now kept in the UCL vaults.[182]

UCL has a long-running, mostly friendly, rivalry with King's College London (King's), which has historically been known as "Rags".[179] UCL is often referred to by students from King's as the "Godless Scum of Gower Street", in reference to a comment made at the founding of King's, which was based on Christian principles. UCL students in turn refer to King's as "Strand Polytechnic".

UCL's traditional rivalry with King's College is nowadays most noticeable at the annual varsity rugby game

Rivalry with King's College London

UCL sports facilities include a fitness centre at the main UCL campus in Bloomsbury, a sports centre in Somers Town and a 90-acre athletics ground in Shenley.[178]

UCL clubs compete in inter-university fixtures in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) competition in a range of sports, including basketball, cricket, fencing, football, hockey, netball, rugby union and tennis. In the 2012/13 season, UCL finished in 38th position in the final BUCS rankings of 148 participating higher education institutions.[177]

UCL Union runs over 50 sports clubs, including UCL Boat Club (Men's and Women's clubs), UCL Cross Country and Athletics Club and UCL Rugby Club (Men's and Women's as well as Medical School clubs).[176]


There are currently over 150 clubs and societies under the umbrella of the UCL Union, including: Pi Media (responsible for Pi Magazine and Pi Newspaper, UCL's official student publications);[174] UCL Union Debating Society, UCL's oldest and the third oldest student society in the UK; UCL Union Film Society, one of the country's oldest film societies with past members including Christopher Nolan; University College London Dramatic Society; and The Cheese Grater (a student magazine containing a mix of news investigations and humorous items).[175]

Founded in 1893, the UCL Union has a credible claim to be the oldest students' union in England.[31] UCL Union operates both as the representative voice for UCL students, and as a provider of a wide range of services. It is democratically controlled through General Meetings and referendums, and is run by elected student officers. The Union has provided a prominent platform for political campaigning of all kinds in recent years. It also supports a range of services, including numerous clubs and societies, sports facilities, an advice service, and a number of bars, cafes and shops.[173] The union is also responsible for the organisation of a number of events, including, amongst others, the college's annual summer ball.

The main UCL Union building situated on Gordon Street

UCL Union

In 2013/14, 12,330 UCL students were from outside the UK (43% of the total number of students in that year), of whom 5,504 were from Asia, 3,679 from the European Union ex. the United Kingdom, 1,195 from North America, 516 from the Middle East, 398 from Africa, 254 from Central and South America, and 166 from Australasia.[172]

In the 2013/14 academic year UCL had a total of 28,859 students, of whom 15,640 were undergraduate and 13,219 were postgraduate.[3] In that year 87% of UCL's students were full-time and 13% part-time,[3] and 54% were female and 46% male.[171]

Student body

Performers at the 2014 UCL summer ball

Student life

UCL was ranked 20th in the world in the 2011 300 Best World Universities human competitiveness ranking produced by Human Resources & Labor Review.[164] In a ranking of universities' international reputations produced by The Guardian in 2009, UCL placed 3rd in the UK (behind Oxford and Cambridge).[165] In 2011, UCL was ranked 12th in the world (and 4th in Europe) in a survey of business leaders at top companies carried out by The New York Times.[166] In a separate survey of recruiters at major international companies conducted for The New York Times in 2012, UCL was ranked 16th in the world (and 8th in Europe).[167] UCL is ranked 14th in the world (and 4th in Europe) in the 2014 Global Employability University Survey, a ranking of graduate employability jointly produced by the French human resources consulting firm Emerging Associates and the German polling and research institute Trendence.[168] In a ranking of the universities most frequently searched for on Google published in September 2014, UCL ranked 12th in the world (and 3rd in Europe).[169][170]

UCL is consistently one of the top multi-faculty universities in UK university rankings and ranks joint 9th in the 2015 Times Higher Education Table of Tables of the UK's three main domestic university league tables.[161] UCL is ranked first in the UK for its staff/student ratio in The Times Good University Guide, The Sunday Times University Guide and The Guardian University Guide.[5] In the 2013 Guardian University Guide subject tables, UCL is ranked first in six subject areas (out of a total of 46): Archaeology and Forensics, Architecture, Art and Design, Civil Engineering, English, and Psychology.[162] In the 2013 Complete University Guide subject tables, UCL is ranked in the top 10 in 28 subjects, and is ranked first for Building.[163]

In the 2015 U.S. News & World Report Best Global Universities, UCL is ranked 21st in the world (and 4th in Europe).[160] In the subject tables it is ranked 19th in the world for Biology and Biochemistry, 85th in the world for Chemistry, 15th in the world for Clinical Medicine, 33rd in the world for Computer Science, 54th in the world for Economics and Business, joint 48th in the world for Geosciences, 25th in the world for Immunology, 90th in the world for Materials Science, joint 40th in the world for Microbiology, 23rd in the world for Molecular Biology and Genetics, 2nd in the world for Neuroscience and Behavior, 6th in the world for Pharmacology and Toxicology, 57th in the world for Physics, 10th in the world for Psychiatry/Psychology, 13th in the world for Social Sciences and Public Health and 33rd in the world for Space Science.[160]

In the 2014/15 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, UCL is ranked 22nd in the world (and 5th in Europe).[10] In the subject tables it is ranked 8th in the world (and 3rd in Europe) for Arts and Humanities,[153] 8th in the world (and 4th in Europe) for Clinical, Pre-Clinical and Health,[154] 53rd in the world (and 14th in Europe) for Engineering and Technology,[155] 17th in the world (and 5th in Europe) for Life Sciences,[156] 38th in the world (and 12th in Europe) for Physical Sciences[157] and 13th in the world (and 4th in Europe) for Social Sciences.[158] In the 2014 Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings, UCL is ranked 25th in the world (and 6th in Europe).[159]

In the 2014 QS World University Rankings, UCL is ranked joint 5th in the world (and joint 3rd in Europe). In the 2013 subject tables it was ranked 8th in the world (and 3rd in Europe) for Arts and Humanities,[148] joint 52nd in the world (and 17th in Europe) for Engineering & Technology,[149] 16th in the world (and 5th in Europe) for Life Sciences and Medicine,[150] 38th in the world (and 12th in Europe) for Natural Sciences[151] and 22nd in the world (and 6th in Europe) for Social Sciences & Management.[152]

UCL is consistently ranked as one of the world's leading universities. In the 2014 Academic Ranking of World Universities, UCL is ranked 20th in the world (and 4th in Europe).[9] In the subject tables it is ranked 17th in the world (and 4th in Europe) for Clinical Medicine & Pharmacy,[143] joint 76th-100th in the world (and joint 13th in Europe) for Engineering, Technology and Computer Sciences,[144] 18th in the world (and 3rd in Europe) for Life & Agricultural Sciences,[145] joint 51st to 75th in the world (and joint 14th in Europe) for Natural Sciences and Mathematics[146] and 45th in the world (and 7th in Europe) for Social Sciences.[147]

(2014, national)
(2014, world)
(2014/15, national)
(2014/15, world)
(2014/15, national)
(2014/15, world)
THE Reputation[139]
(2014, national)
THE Reputation[139]
(2014, world)
(2015, national)
The Guardian[141]
(2015, national)
Times/Sunday Times[142]
(2015, national)

Rankings and reputation

  • Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology: one of the leading collections of Egyptian and Sudanese archaeology in the world. Open to the public on a regular basis.[127]
  • Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy: a diverse Natural History collection covering the whole of the animal kingdom. Includes rare dodo and quagga skeletons. A teaching and research collection, it is named after Robert Edmund Grant, UCL's first professor of comparative anatomy and zoology from 1828, now mainly noted for having tutored the undergraduate Charles Robert Darwin at the University of Edinburgh in the 1826–1827 session. Open at limited fixed times and by appointment.[128]
  • Geology Collections: founded around 1855. Primarily a teaching resource and may be visited by appointment.[129]
  • Art Collections: these date from 1847 when a collection of sculpture models and drawings of the Neo-classical artist John Flaxman was presented to UCL. There are over 10,000 pieces dating from the 15th century onwards including drawings by Turner, etchings by Rembrandt, and works by many leading 20th century British artists. The works on paper are displayed in the Strang Print Room, which has limited regular opening times. The other works may be viewed by appointment.[130]
  • Institute of Archaeology Collections: Items include prehistoric ceramics and stone artefacts from many parts of the world, the Petrie collection of Palestinian artefacts, and Classical Greek and Roman ceramics. Visits by appointment only.[131]
  • Ethnography Collections: This collection exemplifying Material Culture, holds an enormous variety of objects, textiles and artefacts from all over the world. Visits by appointment only.[132]
  • Galton Collection: The scientific instruments, papers and personal memorabilia of Sir Francis Galton. Housed in the department of biology. Visits by appointment only.[133]
  • Science Collections: Diverse collections primarily accumulated in the course of UCL's own work, including the operating table on which the first anaesthetic was administered. Items may be a viewed by appointment.[134]
  • The Flaxman Gallery: a series of plaster casts of full-size details of sculptures by the Neo-classical sculptor John Flaxman, is located inside the Main Library under the central dome of the UCL Main Building.[135]

UCL is responsible for several museums and collections in a wide range of fields across the arts and sciences, including:[126]

The Flaxman Gallery

UCL's most significant works are housed in the Strong Rooms. The special collection includes first editions of Isaac Newton's Principia, Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species and James Joyce's Ulysses . The earliest book in the collection is The crafte to lyve well and to dye well, printed in 1505.[125]

[124] Collections are often displayed in a series of glass cabinets in the Cloisters of the UCL Main Building.[123]

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