Fifty years of our Royal Charter
  1. A brief history of City
  2. 50 facts about City
  3. Past prospectus covers
Fifty years of our Royal Charter

A brief history of City

City has a long tradition of providing high quality education relevant to business and the professions.

We are proud of our Victorian heritage and our roots that go back to the founding of the Inns of Court School of Law (1852), St Bartholomew’s College of Nursing and Midwifery (1877) and the Northampton Institute (1894).

The Northampton Institute had the objective of promoting ‘the industrial skill, general knowledge, health and wellbeing of young men and women belonging to the poorer classes’ and had a long established history of meeting the nation’s needs for engineers and optometrists.

It became a College of Advanced Technology (CAT) after the Second World War and consolidated its strengths in engineering.

The Institute becomes the University

In 1966 the Institute was granted a Royal Charter and City University London came into existence, with the objective to ‘advance knowledge, wisdom and understanding by teaching, research and professional training, particularly in science and technology’. The Charter can still be seen today in our College Building. City’s academic offer was dominated by science, engineering, mathematics and optometry.

Diversifying and growing

From this position, through entrepreneurial activity, we developed our academic profile between the 1970s and the 1990s and changed the size, shape and balance of our subjects. City’s academic structure changed significantly and we moved to a broad multi-disciplinary institution which included professional law, the business school and social sciences.

Informatics, actuarial science, music and journalism emerged in the late 1970s, the latter capitalising on our proximity to Fleet Street. The acquisition of speech and language therapy, the incorporation of St Bartholomew’s College of Nursing and Midwifery and the Charterhouse College of Radiography in 1995 further changed our shape.

New opportunities

City exploited new markets, such as the development of mutually beneficial validation relationships with high profile partners including Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (1992) and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (1992).

During our early years as a University our outlook became more international and we began focusing on our contribution to London’s reputation as an international city. The largest transformation was in the postgraduate student population which increased from 26% to 43% between 1976 and 1996.


City is known for both our commitment to academic excellence and our focus on business and the professions. Forty per cent of our total academic staff were assessed as producing research of world-leading or internationally excellent quality in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.

City is placed 88th in the 2016 Times Higher Education 150 Under 50 ranking of the world’s best ‘young’ universities. We educate over 18,000 students through some 80 undergraduate courses and over 150 postgraduate taught courses. In 2015 we achieved our highest ever score in the National Student Survey, with an overall satisfaction rating of 87%.

In September 2016 we became a federal College of the University of London, marking a new period in our history.