University College London (UCL) is a public research university in London, England, and a constituent college of the federal University of London. It is the largest postgraduate institution in the UK by enrollment and is regarded as one of the world’s leading multidisciplinary research universities.
Established in 1826 as London University by founders inspired by the radical ideas of Jeremy Bentham, UCL was the first university institution to be established in London, and the first in England to be entirely secular and to admit students regardless of their religion. UCL also makes the contested claims of being the third-oldest university in England and the first to admit women. In 1836 UCL became one of the two founding colleges of the University of London, which was granted a royal charter in the same year. It has grown through mergers, including with the Institute of Neurology (in 1997), the Royal Free Hospital Medical School (in 1998), the Eastman Dental Institute (in 1999), the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (in 1999), the School of Pharmacy (in 2012) and the Institute of Education (in 2014).
UCL has its main campus in the Bloomsbury area of central London, with a number of institutes and teaching hospitals elsewhere in central London and a satellite campus in Doha, Qatar.
UCL ranks highly in national and international league tables and its graduates rank among the most employable in the world. UCL alumni include the “Father of the Nation” of each of India, Kenya and Mauritius, the founders of Ghana, modern Japan and Nigeria, the inventor of the telephone, and one of the co-discoverers of the structure of DNA. UCL academics discovered five of the naturally occurring noble gases, co-discovered hormones, invented the vacuum tube, and made several foundational advances in modern statistics. There are at least 29 Nobel Prize winners and 3 Fields medalists amongst UCL’s alumni and current and former staff. UCL is a member of numerous academic organisations, including the Russell Group, and is part of UCL Partners, the world’s largest academic health science centre, and the ‘golden triangle’ of research-intensive English universities.
UCL was founded on 11 February 1826 under the name London University, as an alternative to the Anglican universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
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.
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).
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.
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 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.
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.
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 a comprehensive university with teaching and research across the full range of the arts, humanities, social sciences, physical, biological and medical sciences, engineering and the built environment, although it does not currently have a veterinary, music, drama or nursing school. UCL is currently organised into the following 11 constituent faculties:
UCL is organised into 11 constituent faculties, within which there are over 100 departments, institutes and research centres. The faculty are:
- Faculty of Arts and Humanities
- Faculty of Brain Sciences
- Faculty of the Built Environment (The Bartlett)
- Faculty of Engineering Sciences
- Faculty of Laws
- Faculty of Life Sciences
- Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences
- Faculty of Medical Sciences
- Faculty of Population Health Sciences
- Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences
- Institute of Education.
The undergraduate entry requirement is A*AA–ABB (depending on the degree).
The graduate entry requirement is a first or second class honours degree, depending on the graduate degree programme chosen.
The student can find out more about entry requirements at UCL online.
High-quality research is key in undergraduate teaching – the most up-to-date research discoveries, developments and ideas are incorporated into programmes.
Over 100 UCL undergraduate degree programmes include study abroad as an integral part of the curriculum.
Achievement of first class or upper second class honours by 89% of undergraduate students (2015).
Careers Tagged is a digital careers library, providing links to a wide range of useful websites and other e-resources for career planning.
Resources will provide general labour market information, detailed profiles of different job roles (including case studies of graduates working in those roles), sector specific directories of employers and vacancy sources plus information on qualifications and training.
The students can also link directly to a range of career planning help sheets for UCL students / graduates, an interactive career planning questionnaire, graduate labour market .
They also stock a range of free take away employer directories, work experience / internship and sector specific guides.
An optional internship or a compulsory placement as part of their course can bring the students many benefits, such as providing evidence of previous work experience to potential employers, enabling the students to explore a field of work / industry sector, enabling them to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses and to build confidence, developing transferable skills such as team-work and commercial awareness, understanding how theory and research relate to practice in an work context, providing them with opportunities to network with industry contacts, providing them with an opportunity to earn money.