#2 Overall Influence

University of London

Federal research university in London, England
By James Barham, PhD

An institution of higher education named University College London (UCL) was founded in the UK’s largest metropolis and capital city in 1826. A mere three years later, in 1829, a second, similar institution named King’s College London (KCL) opened its doors. Then, a mere decade after the founding of UCL, a third institution known simply as University of London (UL) was founded in 1836 by the merger of UCL and KCL.

Both UCL and KCL continued to operate, each with its own distinctive identity, under the UL administrative umbrella, and have continued to do so until today. However, over the years many other institutions have joined what has now become a vast educational conglomerate (resembling in this respect the University of Paris). Altogether, UL at present comprises some 17 semi-autonomous universities, colleges, schools, and institutes.

Among these, perhaps the most notable are, in addition to UCL and KCL, the following:

  • Heythrop College
  • Birkbeck University of London
  • Royal Academy of Music
  • Courtauld Institute of Art
  • SOAS University of London (formerly, the School of Oriental and African Studies)
  • School of Advanced Study
  • London School of Economics and Political Science
  • London Business School
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • University of London Institute in Paris

In its origins, UL was closely associated with the progressive moral and political philosophy of Jeremy Bentham known as “utilitarianism.” In line with this pedigree, it was the first university in the UK to admit students regardless of their religious affiliation, as well as the first to admit women (in 1878). As a curious side note, when Bentham died in 1832, he bequeathed his body to a physician friend of his, who had it stuffed. In 1850, the doctor donated the mummy to UCL, where it may be viewed to this day, dressed in Bentham’s own clothes and sitting in his own chair, between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm, M–F.

Among the many notable alumni of UL, one may mention the following:

  • Philosophers, John Stuart Mill, Alfred North Whitehead, Karl Popper, Alasdair MacIntyre, Bernard Williams, Peter Singer, & Roger Scruton
  • Intellectual historian, Frances Yates
  • Anthropologist, Mary Douglas
  • Economists, William Stanley Jevons & Amartya Sen
  • Poets, A.E. Housman, T.S. Eliot, & Rabindranath Tagore
  • Novelists, Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf, H.G. Wells, & Mario Vargas Llosa
  • Composer, Gustav Holst
  • Inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell
  • Physicists Otto Hahn, Abdus Salam, & Peter Higgs
  • Physician and inventor of vaccination, Edward Jenner
  • Biologists T.H. Huxley, Alexander Fleming (the discoverer of penicillin), & Francis Crick (co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule)

In addition, the politicians, statesmen, and heads of government and state—both from the UK and throughout the world—who have been affiliated with UL are far too numerous to tell about in any detail. We will only mention two outstanding UL-connected political personalities: the revered Indian independence leader, Mohandas K. Gandhi, and the renowned Burmese democracy activist, Aung San Suu Kyi.

All in all, a very impressive 74 Nobel Prizes are associated with UL alumni and faculty.

From Wikipedia

The University of London is a federal public research university located in London, England, United Kingdom. The university was established by royal charter in 1836, as a degree-awarding examination board for students holding certificates from University College London and King's College London and "other such other Institutions, corporate or unincorporated, as shall be established for the purpose of Education, whether within the Metropolis or elsewhere within our United Kingdom", allowing it to be one of three institutions to claim the title of the third-oldest university in England, and moved to a federal structure in 1900. It is now incorporated by its fourth royal charter and governed by the University of London Act 2018. It was the first university in the United Kingdom to introduce examinations for women in 1869 and, a decade later, the first to admit women to degrees. In 1913, it appointed Caroline Spurgeon as only the second woman professor at a British university, and in 1948 was the first British university to appoint a woman as its vice chancellor . The university's member institutions house the oldest teaching hospitals in England.

Source: Wikipedia

What is University of London known for?

Our answer to this is to show you the disciplines in which a school's faculty and alumni have had the highest historical influence. A school may be influential in a discipline even if they do not offer degrees in that area. We've organized two lists to show where they are influential and offer corresponding degrees, and where they are influential through scholarship although they don't offer degrees in the disciplines.

Top areas of influence with degrees offered

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Political Science
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Computer Science
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Religious Studies
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Earth Sciences
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Criminal Justice
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Social Work

Influential People

Who are University of London's Most influential alumni?

University of London 's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Economics, Earth Sciences, and Nursing

Salvador Moncada

Salvador Moncada

British pharmacologist

Andrew Keen

Andrew Keen

American journalist

Gina Miller

Gina Miller

Guyanese-British business owner and activist

Thomas Jessell

American biochemist

Silvanus P. Thompson

Silvanus P. Thompson

British academic physicist

Andrew Hodges

Mathematician and popular science author

Nuruddin Farah

Nuruddin Farah

Somali writer

Brian May

Brian May

English musician and astrophysicist

Grace Alele-Williams


Ulli Beier

German editor

Neil Turok

Neil Turok

South African cosmologist

Alex Wilkie

Alex Wilkie

Mathematician, model theorist