The University of London was founded by Royal Charter on 28 November 1836 and is the third oldest university in England. The two founding Colleges of the University, UCL (founded 1826) and King’s College London (founded 1829), both predate the University, as do many other of the University’s constituent institutions. The University of London was initially established to act as an examining body for its Colleges and other ‘approved institutions’. It acted solely in this capacity until 1858.
The University awarded its first degrees back in 1839 to 29 students and in 1858, the University opened its degrees to any (male) student, regardless of their location. Towards the end of the 19th century, the University became more than just an examining body and was established as a federal ‘Teaching University’. The University of London Act was passed in 1898, after which the University monitored course content and academic quality in the Colleges through centrally-located faculties and Boards of Studies.
The University’s Statutes distinguished between the examination ‘Internal’ students – those drawn from the Colleges, or ‘Schools’ of the University – and ‘External’ students. In 1878 London became the first university in the UK to admit women to its degrees. In 1880, four women passed the BA examination and in 1881 two women obtained a BSc. By 1895, over 10 per cent of the graduates were women and by 1900 the proportion had increased to 30 per cent. By 1908, the University of London had over 4000 registered students, exceeding the universities of both Oxford and Cambridge, becoming the largest university in the UK and the fifth largest in the world.
What can you find in these records?
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, students who attended other institutions took University of London examinations as external students. Included in these lists, therefore, are students who attended the predecessor institutions of universities such as Birmingham, Bristol, Durham, Dundee, Heriot-Watt, Southampton, Exeter, Newcastle, Nottingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, Bangor, Aberystwyth, Surrey, Queen’s University Belfast, and University College Dublin.
University of London General Register parts I and II (published 1890, 1899)
- Part I includes graduates who died before 31 December 1890 and those who were undergraduates up until 31 March 1883 but had not passed an examination up until 31 December 1890.
- Part II contains graduates who died, 1 January 1891-30 March 1899, and those who were undergraduates, 31 March 1883-31 March 1893, but had not passed an examination by 31 March 1899.
University of London General Register part III (published 1901)
- Details of graduates and undergraduates up until 31 March 1901 (except those listed in parts I-II).
- Names of Chancellors, officials, and teachers up until 1901.
A guide to the symbols and abbreviations of the General Registers is available here.
University of London Graduate Lists 1836-1937
- Lists of University of London graduates (excluding deceased graduates) up until 30 June 1930, and 1931 graduates.
- Lists of University of London graduates in 1932-34.
- Lists of University of London graduates in 1935-37.
Military Service 1914-18,1939-45
- Lists of personnel in the armed forces who were associated with the University of London are also included in this collection.
Examination registers 1838-1889
- The University archive also includes manuscript volumes, which give details of matriculation and degree candidates in the nineteenth century.