History of the University

The Armstrong Building in 1951

The University can trace its origins to a School of Medicine and Surgery (later the College of Medicine), established in 1834, and to 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 forming 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, and latterly, Newcastle University.

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 a brand name worldwide, known as a hub of industrial activity, with a strong civic university as its intellectual underpinning.

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

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

We work not only on the supply side of knowledge creation and dissemination, but also respond to the demand side of societal challenges. We are not only a large employer and a magnet for tens of thousands of young people, but an integral part of civil society. That is the hallmark of a civic university.

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

Martin Luther King honorary degree ceremony

Each year the University confers a number of 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.