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A short History of the Faculty

The Faculty of Medicine belongs, along with the Faculties of Arts, Law and Theology, to the first chairs that were founded at the University of Cologne. Despite having a rich tradition, the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Cologne welcomes the challenge of constant change. It is therefore not surprising that the new reformed curriculum at the Faculty of Medicine in Cologne enjoys an international reputation.

Ancient Picture of the Lindenburg

The old University, the new University, and the City of Cologne

In 1388 Pope Urban VI signed the deed of foundation in Perugia. After Prague (1348), Vienna (1365) and Heidelberg (1386), Cologne was the fourth university to be established in the German Empire during the Late Middle Ages. While many universities relied on powerful rulers for their establishment, it was the city of Cologne’s citizens who founded the university (Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensen, was declared a Roman Colony in 50 AD during the reign of the Emperor Claudius of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty – before this it was known as Oppidum Ubiorum – i.e. Settlement of the Ubii)

The Faculty of Medicine at the University of Cologne was one of the first faculties to be founded by the "universitas" – i.e. the affiliated teachers and students in Cologne. By the end of the 18th century, after a long eventful period, it had a formidable reputation. Students and scholars from well-known faculties were enrolled and ca. 60 students were taught by 13 teachers, of whom eight were full professors. Under the direction of the dean, the subject “childhood diseases” was introduced to the otherwise conservative repertoire of courses – a subject not common in the German speaking countries at that time. In addition to this, within the framework of the three-year curriculum, students also studied Materia Medica, chemistry, pathology, medical practice, anatomy, physiology, surgery, obstetrics and specialist lectures as well as forensic pathology and natural history. Later, the University of Cologne’s Faculty of Medicine was praised by Goethe for its “outstanding curriculum.”

In 1798, the university was closed by decree by the French occupying powers and replaced by "L'université de Cologne organiseé en école centrale", which was located in the former church buildings on Marzellen Street.

1919 saw the reestablishment of the university along with the Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences, followed by the reestablishment of the Faculty of Medicine amongst others (which was originally the “Academy for Practical Medicine” founded in 1904) by the city council. It was not until 1954 that the state of North Rhine-Westphalia became the funding body of the university.