About the University

History of the University

The University can trace its origins to:

  • the School of Medicine and Surgery, established in 1834
  • Armstrong College, founded in 1871 for the teaching of physical sciences

These two colleges formed one division of the federal University of Durham. The Durham Colleges formed the other division.

The Newcastle Colleges merged to form King's College in 1937. In 1963, when the federal University was dissolved, King's College became the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. The University's name changed to Newcastle University in 2006.

The first Chairs at the Colleges were not only in fundamental disciplines such as mathematics, chemistry, physics, arts and literature, but also in the regionally important applied sciences such as geology, mining, naval architecture, engineering and agriculture. Newcastle became known worldwide as a hub of industrial activity, with a strong civic university as its intellectual underpinning.

Haymarket and Newcastle University, 1948
Source: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

Vision and values

The combination of being globally ambitious and regionally rooted forms the basis for Newcastle University’s vision for the future.

We believe in, and strive for, world-class academic excellence – but excellence with a purpose.

We work on the supply side of knowledge creation and dissemination, and respond to the demand side of societal challenges. We are a large employer and a magnet for tens of thousands of young people, and form an integral part of civil society. That is the hallmark of a civic university.

The search for a combination of global excellence and local relevance is one replicated in many places in the world. We believe that our success as a civic university will in itself become an exportable commodity.

Martin Luther King honorary degree ceremony

Each year the University confers honorary degrees upon candidates worthy of such distinction.

Dr Martin Luther King has an honorary degree from Newcastle University. We have footage, transcripts and images from the ceremony which took place on 13 November 1967.