University of Manchester
#37 Overall Influence

University of Manchester

Public research university in Manchester, England

Influence Rankings by Discipline

How’s this school influential?

#20 World Rank
Computer Science
#20 World Rank
Chemistry
#24 World Rank
Economics
#24 World Rank
Physics
#26 World Rank
Engineering
#35 World Rank
Mathematics
#40 World Rank
Earth Sciences
#40 World Rank
Anthropology
#41 World Rank
Biology
#53 World Rank
Religious Studies
#56 World Rank
Business
#60 World Rank
Communications
#73 World Rank
Sociology
#74 World Rank
Literature
#78 World Rank
Philosophy
#80 World Rank
Medical
#83 World Rank
History
#94 World Rank
Political Science
#107 World Rank
Nursing
#147 World Rank
Psychology
#177 World Rank
Law
#183 World Rank
Social Work
#316 World Rank
Criminal Justice

Influential People

Who are University of Manchester's Most influential alumni?

University of Manchester's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Computer Science, Chemistry, and Economics. University of Manchester’s most academically influential people include J. J. Thomson, James Chadwick, and Andre Geim.

J. J. Thomson
J. J. Thomson

British physicist

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James Chadwick
James Chadwick

English physicist

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Andre Geim
Andre Geim

Russian-born Dutch-British physicist

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John Polanyi
John Polanyi

Hungarian-Canadian chemist

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Michael Smith
Michael Smith

Canadian Nobel laureate in chemistry

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John Cockcroft
John Cockcroft

British physicist

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Alasdair MacIntyre
Alasdair MacIntyre

Scottish philosopher

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Melvin Calvin
Melvin Calvin

American chemist

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Victor Turner

British cultural anthropologist

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James Lovelock
James Lovelock

English scientist, environmentalist and futurist

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James Prescott Joule
James Prescott Joule

English physicist and brewer

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John Turton Randall

British physicist

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About This School

How does this school stack up?

By James Barham, PhD

With more than 40,000 students, Manchester is the largest single-site university in the United Kingdom. While it traces its roots back to the Manchester Mechanics’ Institute founded in 1824, the present university was formed by the merger of University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) and Victoria University of Manchester in 2004.

Manchester can boast of some 25 Nobel laureates (including four who are on staff today) among its faculty and students, including such great physicists as J.J. Thomson, Ernest Rutherford, Niels Bohr, and Hans Bethe. In fact, it was at Victoria University of Manchester, in 1911, that Rutherford performed one of the most celebrated experiments in the history of science.

In order to investigate the structure of the atom, Rutherford and his assistants repeatedly fired “alpha particles” (hydrogen nuclei) at a sheet of gold foil. While most of the particles went straight through the sheet, a small number of them were scattered at different angles, including a few that were reflected 180° backwards. Rutherford correctly interpreted this to mean that the atom consists of a small kernel (nucleus) surrounded by a large expanse of empty space—the “Rutherford model” of the atom. He later said that these results were so unexpected, he could not have been more surprised if he had fired a gun at a piece of tissue paper and the bullet had bounced back at him!

Besides such historical breakthroughs as Rutherford’s famous gold-foil experiment, Manchester can also boast a number of more-recent cutting-edge achievements in science in technology. For example, the first working, stored-program computer, named “the Baby,” was created here in 1948 by Frederic C. Williams and Tom Kilburn. The Baby was based on a cathode-ray tube digital storage system devised by Williams.

Another noteworthy representative of Manchester’s scientific prowess is Herschel Smith, an organic chemist who developed a new means of synthesizing novel steroid compounds (hormones) while at Manchester. After taking his patented inventions to the US in 1961, Smith went to work for Wyeth Laboratories, where he was instrumental in developing the first marketable birth-control pill. His inventions while at Manchester also led to the development of important drugs for treating endocrine disorders.

Of the 25 Nobel laureates with ties to Manchester—in addition to Thomson, Rutherford, Bohr, and Bethe, already mentioned—we may note:

  • James Chadwick, Charles T.R. Wilson, Lawrence Bragg, & André Geim—physics
  • John Polanyi & Melvin Calvin—chemistry
  • John Hicks & Joseph Stiglitz—economics

While Manchester is best known for the high caliber of its offerings in the natural sciences—especially in the Schools of Physics and Astronomy, of Biological Sciences, and of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Civil Engineering—the School of Social Sciences has an excellent reputation, as well. The latter is particularly strong in the fields of sociology and economics, especially development economics, as witnessed by the Brooks World Poverty Institute (BWPI), which was founded at the University of Manchester in 2005. The BWPI’s inaugural chair was Joseph Stiglitz.

Other distinguished individuals associated with Manchester include:

  • Philosopher, Alasdair MacIntyre
  • Novelists, Anthony Burgess
  • Architect, Norman Foster
  • Comedians, Rik Mayall, Ben Elton, Jennifer Saunders, & Milo Yiannopoulos
  • Actors, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rob James-Collier, Toby Jones, Jonathan Ke Quan, & Armeena Khan