The University of Zurich was founded on April 29, 1833, when the existing colleges of theology, the Carolinum founded by Huldrych Zwingli in 1525, law and medicine were merged with a new faculty of Philosophy. It was the first university in Europe to be founded by the state rather than a monarch or church.
Aerial view (1953)
In the University's early years, the 1839 appointment of the German theologian David Friedrich Strauss to its Chair of Theology caused a major controversy, since Strauss argued that the miracles in the Christian New Testament were mythical retellings of normal events as supernatural happenings. Eventually, the authorities offered Strauss a pension before he had a chance to start his duties.
The university allowed women to attend philosophy lectures from 1847, and admitted the first female doctoral student in 1866. The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine was added in 1901, the second-oldest such faculty in the world. In 1914, the university moved to new premises designed by the architect Karl Moser on Rämistrasse 71.
The university is scattered all over the city of Zürich. The main campuses are located in the city centre, Irchelpark and Oerlikon. Members of the university can use several libraries, including the ETH-library, and the Zurich Central Library, with over 5 million volumes.
In 1962, the faculty of science proposed to establish the Irchelpark campus on the Strickhofareal. The first stage the construction of the university buildings was begun in 1973, and the campus was inaugurated in 1979. The construction of the second stage lasted from 1978 to 1983. The campus also houses the anthropological museum Anthropologisches Museum, and the cantonal Staatsarchiv Zürich.
The Institute and Museum for the History of Medicine is part of the university. The University includes 13 museums: the Anatomical Collection, the Archaeological Collection, the Botanical Museum, the Museum of Wax Moulages, the Science Exploratorium, the Museum of Veterinary History, the Zürich Herbaria, the Museum of Anthropology, the Botanical Garden, the Ethnographic Museum, the Paleontological Museum, the Veterinary Anatomy Collection and the Zoological Museum.
Main building by Karl Moser as seen from the south
In the fields of bioscience and finance, there is a close-knit collaboration between the University of Zurich and the ETH (Federal Institute for Technology, just across the road).
According to GWTS Leiden Ranking, University of Zurich ranked 37th in the world in social sciences and humanities. According to URAP Center Ranking, which has been publishing rankings since 2010 for each subject, political science at the University of Zurich was placed 16th best in the world. According to ARWU, the University of Zurich was placed 31st globally in political sciences in 2019 and 27th globally in political sciences in 2020.
The university's Department of Economics is especially strong and was ranked first in the German-speaking area by the Handelsblatt in 2017. In 2009 the faculty of Business Administration was ranked third in the German-speaking area.
Irchel Campus, newer and more remotely located buildings of the University of Zurich
Statue at the entrance
Bachelor courses are taught in Swiss Standard German ("Hochdeutsch"), but use of English is increasing in many faculties. The only bachelors program taught entirely in English is the "English Language and Literature" program. All Master courses at the Faculty of Science are held in English. Master courses in Economics and Finance are mainly held in English, while the Master of Science in Quantitative Finance is held completely in English.
The university's Academic Sports Association (ASVZ) offers a wide range of sports facilities to students of the university.