University of Aberdeen, a coeducational institution in Aberdeen, Scotland, formed from the union of two universities, King’s College in Old Aberdeen and Marischal College in New Aberdeen.
The modern university traces its origin to the founding of a university in 1494-1495 by William Elphinstone, bishop of Aberdeen, under a bull of 1494 issued by Pope Alexander VI at the request of King James IV of Scotland. It was called the College of St. Mary when it opened in 1505, and later King’s College. It was chartered to include faculties of arts, law, theology, and medicine, and was the first university in Britain to offer a course in medicine. Elphinstone was its chancellor, and the historian Hector Boece ( Boethius) was its first principal.
A second university, Marischal College, was founded in 1583, about a mile from King’s, by George Keith, 5th Earl Marischal, under a charter approved by the Scottish Parliament. Of the many attempts to unite it with King’s College, the most notable was that of King Charles I, who issued a charter in 1641 incorporating the two schools as a single university. They separated, however, after the Restoration and remained apart until 1860 when, under the Universities (Scottish) Act of 1858, they were united as the University of Aberdeen.
The university has faculties in arts, law, medicine, divinity, and science, the latter including pure science, forestry, engineering, and agriculture. Associated schools are the North of Scotland College of Agriculture and Robert Gordon’s Technical College. The university library includes a fine series of early manuscripts and works on classical antiquity and Celtic history. Annual enrollment averages about 2,200 students.