Study inspired by our history and heritage

The University of Manchester actively encourages students and researchers from all disciplines to learn about the University’s history and community by studying and researching our past as part of their course or programme.

The University has world-class collections of archives and artefacts related to its history and encompassing a huge range of topics and issues. Through our past, it is possible for students to understand their Manchester education and better appreciate a diverse range of contemporary world issues.

We have archives and artefacts relating to:

  • the major scientific and medical breakthroughs that occurred at the University;
  • the advances that have been made here in understanding the world;
  • how Manchester and the University has tackled significant and still relevant issues such as inequality and intolerance.

We believe that understanding aspects of the University’s history within their wider contexts provides our students with a broader and better informed view of the issues and problems they address in their studies.

For example, learning how yesterday’s scientists applied innovative thinking to make significant breakthroughs has inspired our students to think differently about their own studies. Similarly, learning about how and why staff and students were compelled to change the world through campaigning can motivate students to think differently about their own approach to society and their future employment.

In addition to these benefits, we provide our students with the opportunity to learn new skills such as handling archives and artefacts and how to use and recreate experiments and scientific equipment from the past.

Past student work

Students have studied a diverse range of topics from the University’s history as part of their course to enhance their skills and understanding of their subject. Some examples include:

  • Ernest Rutherford and the splitting of the atom in 1917.
  • Arthur Lewis as Britain’s first black professor and his Nobel prize winning work in economics.
  • Christabel Pankhurst as the first woman to graduate from the University in Law in 1906 and her work in the women’s suffrage movement.
  • Learning how to handle artefacts and create collection management plans at the Museum of Medicine and Health.

If you’re a current student and would like to study or research part of the University’s history, please contact