Our history

Two visitors exploring the University's Cloisters

A history of changing the world

1451: The University of Glasgow is established, making it the fourth oldest university in the UK.

1737: Adam Smith, the father of modern economics and author of The Wealth of Nations, enters the University at the age of 14.

1881: Eminent Glasgow Professor of Natural Philosophy, William Thomson, later Lord Kelvin, creates one of the first houses in the world to be fully lit by electricity on the University campus.

1892: Queen Margaret College, the only college for the higher education of women in Scotland, achieves its aim of amalgamation with the University.

1896: The world’s first hospital x-ray department is opened at Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary by graduate John McIntyre.

1914: John Logie Baird, the pioneer of television, begins his studies at the University.

1949: Glasgow graduate John Boyd Orr is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his scientific research into nutrition and his work with the United Nations.

1958: The world’s first ultrasound images of a foetus are published by Glasgow Professor Ian Donald. Ultrasound is now used in many fields of medical diagnostics beyond obstetrics.

1995: The West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study, led by Glasgow Professor James Shepherd, shows that statins reduce the risk of heart attack. The life-saving drugs are now used around the world.

2003: Glasgow graduate Emma Richards becomes the first British woman to sail solo around the world.

2010: Glasgow becomes the first university in the UK to openly offer Intellectual Property (IP) to businesses for free through our Easy Access IP initiative.

2015: Glasgow is in the top 100 in both the QS World University Rankings and Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

Over the last five centuries and more, we’ve constantly worked to push the boundaries of what’s possible. We’ve fostered the talents of seven Nobel laureates, two Prime Ministers and Scotland’s inaugural First Minister. We’ve welcomed Albert Einstein to give a lecture on the origins of the general theory of relativity. Scotland’s first female medical graduates completed their degrees here in 1894 and the world’s first ultrasound images of a foetus were published by Glasgow Professor Ian Donald in 1958. In 1840 we became the first university in the UK to appoint a Professor of Engineering, and in 1957, the first in Scotland to have an electronic computer.

All of this means that if you choose to work or study here, you’ll be walking in the footsteps of some of the world’s most renowned innovators, from scientist Lord Kelvin and economist Adam Smith, to the pioneer of television John Logie Baird.