Facts and history

For 160 years, the Faculty of Arts has adapted to a changing job market and the changing needs of students.

The Faculty of Arts is one of the oldest and largest faculties at the University of Melbourne. It is home to the University’s first degree, the Bachelor of Arts, and has one of the University’s most successful graduate schools, the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, offering 18 professionally oriented masters programs and research degrees.

The Faculty boasts great intellectual breadth with a diversity of programs ranging from Indigenous Studies to Classics and modern world languages. It also offers applied programs in fields such as public policy, journalism, linguistics, arts management, cultural conservation and international development. It maintains strong connections with leading international universities through research and teaching collaborations and student exchange programs.

Arts has a vibrant engagement program, including educational outreach programs such as Ten Great Books and public lecture series.

The Faculty also nurtures relationships with government, not-for- profit and private organisations through student internship placements and research projects and actively engages with the broader community, alumni and its supporters, promoting lifelong learning and the enduring value of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

In 2020, the Faculty was recognised as one of the top twenty faculties in the world for Arts and Humanities and for Social Sciences and Management.1

1 QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2020

  • Student enrolments1

    7,687 Undergraduate

    4,216 Graduate

    561 Research Higher Degree

  • Academic workforce2

    378 academic staff

  • Research

    Spans almost 40 disciplines

    Two ARC Centres of Excellence

    20+ Research Centres and Groups

    Innovative Digital Studio

  • Rankings

    # 1 University in Australia3

    # 16 in the world for Arts and Humanities4

    # 17 in the world for Social Sciences and Management5

1. For full-year 2019
2. As of 31 March 2020
3. Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020
4. QS World University Rankings 2020
5. QS World University Rankings 2020

History of the Faculty of Arts

Professor Thomas Tucker
Doris McKellar. ‘Professor Thomas Tucker’,
c. 1914-18, Doris McKellar Collection,
University of Melbourne Archives, UMA/1/1116

In 1855, the Bachelor of Arts became the first degree offered by the fledgling University of Melbourne and teaching began with three professors and only sixteen students. 1903 saw the formal establishment of the Faculty of Arts with Thomas George Tucker, the Professor of Classical Philology appointed as its Dean.

World War 1 saw a proliferation of female students to the campus, many of them studying Arts. After the war the building now known as Old Arts (Building 149) was built adjacent to the Old Quadrangle. The study of languages flourished between the wars and in 1948 Babel (Building 139) was built.

In 1949 the School of Political Science was established. Its founding Professor, William McMahon Ball had a particular interest in Australia’s relationship with Asia and encouraged a more regional outlook within his department and the Faculty. This focus continues today with the work of the Asia Institute established in 2006.

The introduction of the Melbourne Curriculum, brought dramatic changes to the Faculty, including the launch of the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences in 2009. The landmark Arts West (Building 148), completed in 2016, demonstrates the continued dynamism and innovation of the Faculty of Arts.

The Faculty continues to offer courses in Classical Greek and Latin, alongside its new world-class Digital Studio dedicated to the digital humanities.

Outstanding facilities

The Faculty occupies a number of iconic buildings across the Parkville campus. These include the beautiful sandstone Old Arts (Building 149) and the spectacular, new, purpose-built Arts West (Building 148).

Arts West, winner of the 10th Annual Learning Environments Australasia (LEA) Awards (2017)