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Philipps-Universität Marburg
Marburg, Germany


University description (as per official university website)

Introduction to Philipps-Universität

Philipps-Universität in Marburg is not only a German university steeped in tradition, it is also the oldest university in the world that was founded as a Protestant institution. It has been a place of research and teaching for nearly five centuries.

The text "Insights into Philipps-Universität" provides information about its past, present and future. The section entitled "Figures and Dates" contains statistics on the student numbers and staff. Since pictures sometimes say more than words, we invite you to take a virtual sightseeing tour through the university and thus the city of Marburg.

Furthermore, the section on awards offers information about the success of Philipps-Universität’s scientists (Nobel and Leibniz Prize winners, etc.) as well as their successful endeavors to provide the best possible service for the members of the university community. It goes without saying that Philipps-Universität also confers its own prizes and awards such as the Behring Prize, the Brothers Grimm Prize and many more.

Insights into Philipps-Universität

Philipps-Universität, which is almost 500 years old, is the oldest and most traditional university in the state of Hessen and considers itself to be a classical university offering a full range of courses with a modern approach. Its broad range of arts and humanities, and its experimentally challenging scientific work, constitute an ideal platform for interdisciplinary cooperation. The university relies on innovative teaching methods (with short course durations) and networked research, and offers students from all over the world a broad range of courses.

The university’s success in research is well above average. Especially in the humanities, Philipps-Universität offers a wide range of courses with a numerous opportunities for combining subjects. In addition to consolidating well-proven teaching methods, new forms of teaching and new subject areas are increasingly being developed, some of which culminate in Bachelors or Masters degrees.

While students at Marburg University experience first rate research and teaching, they also enjoy a peaceful environment. Anonymity and overcrowded lecture halls are uncommon at Philipps-Universität. Lecturers and students cherish Marburg mainly because of its attractive historic town center, its delightful landscape and its wide range of cultural activities. In the city of Marburg, which is located on the banks of the Lahn river and has a population of almost 80,000 inhabitants, practically everything revolves around the university with its almost 19,500 students and 3,20 employees. Those studying at Marburg can complete their studies in many subjects much quicker (saving up to two and a half terms) than is possible at other German universities. This was recently confirmed by the latest survey of the German Research Council.

The city in the country offers students good working conditions. The university buildings are located at two different sites. While the humanities and arts are concentrated in the town center, most of the science departments and the Department of Mathematics are located in the Lahn Hills, six kilometers from the city center. This is also where the university hospital and the new building of the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology as well as the biomedical research centre have been based for the last two decades.

Short course durations, outstanding research, qualified training for the next generation and intensive international networking – these highlights distinguish Philipps-Universität, which was founded by Landgrave Philipp in 1527, and is the oldest Protestant university still in existence. But Philipps-Universität offers much more than that: companies support our researchers in the domain of knowledge and technology transfer. And studying at Marburg is particularly easy for disabled people, especially for the visually impaired, due to a number of special aids. As a result, Marburg University has by far the greatest number of blind students. Recently, Philipps-Universität has also been concentrating on measures that provide an even more family-friendly work environment. These self-imposed commitments have been awarded the Family-Friendly University seal, which is very rare in Germany. And last but not least, Philipps-Universität also offers a wide range of leisure activities in the areas of sports, music and culture.


The University of Marburg is one of the most historic of German universities. It was founded in 1527 during the Reformation by the 23-year-old Landgrave Philipp the Magnanimous as the second Protestant university (the oldest Protestant university existed from 1526 to 1530 in Liegnitz in Silesia). On July 1, 1527, the universale studium Marburgense commenced with 11 professors and 84 students in the former monasteries of the city. The goal of the institution was to educate "learned, able, and God-fearing persons, preachers, and officials for Christian benefit and the good of the common land." In addition to the leading theological faculty, faculties for jurisprudence, medicine, and philosophy were also established from the beginning.

Throughout the first three centuries of the university's changeful history, the number of students vacillated between 30 and 300. In 1866, both the university and the city of Marburg experienced a renascence when the province of Hesse was annexed by Prussia and the Philipps-Universit„t became a royal Prussian university. Within twenty years, the number of students in Marburg quadrupled, while the university premises expanded to include the clinics and institutes for natural science and medicine in the north quarter of the city. The so-called Alte Universit„t (Old University) on Rudolphsplatz, designed in the neo-Gothic style, was completed in 1879 on the site of the former Dominican monastery. A decade later, the Aula was added with its wall paintings depicting the history of the city and university. Over 1000 students were registered in 1887, 2000 in 1909, and 3000 immediately following World War I.

Like most universities in Germany, the Philipps-University underwent a decisive expansion after 1960 as increasing numbers of secondary school graduates sought to pursue a university education. At the same time-if not in the same proportion-the teaching staff was augmented and new buildings erected, including the auditorium and lecture hall building, the humanities complex on the Lahn river, and the university library, as well as the central Mensa (cafeteria), the Studentendorf dormitory, and the Konrad-Biesalski-Haus as the first dormitory for disabled students in the Federal Republic of Germany. In addition, the new complex on the hills above Marburg (the Lahnberge), built to accommodate most of the natural science institutes and the university clinic, was established as a second center for the university.
The long list of significant scholars and scientists associated with the University of Marburg throughout its nearly 500-year history includes the following:

Denis Papin, the French naturalist and inventor,
Christian Wolff, der Aufklärer, the Enlightenment thinker whose lectures in all branches of knowledge drew many students to Marburg even from abroad,
the Renaissance man Johann Heinrich Jung,called Stilling, founder and member of the institute for political science,
the legal historian Friedrich Carl von Savigny,
the chemist Robert Bunsen,
the neo-Kantian philospher Hermann Cohen,
der physicist Karl-Ferdinand Braun, inventor of the Braun tube (oscilloscope),
der geophysicist Alfred Wegener, who developed the theory of continetal drift during his time in Marburg,
Emil von Behring, founder of serology and reicient of the first Nobel Prize for medicine (1901),
the existential philosopher Martin Heidegger and
the New Testament scholar Rudolf Bultmann, leading proponent of the demythologization of Christianity.
Among the numerous Marburger students who attained notoriety are the following:

the composer Heinrich Schütz,
Michail Lomonossow, Russian Renaissance man and founder of the univeristy of Moscow, who married a woman from Marburg in 1740,
the Brüder Grimm,
the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset,
the poets Boris Pasternak and Gottfried Benn,
the philologist Konrad Duden, pioneer of German unified orthography,
the chemist Otto Hahn,
the surgeon Ferdinand Sauerbruch,
the theologian Karl Barth, as well as
the statesman Wilhelm Liebknecht,
Rudolf Breitscheid and
Gustav W. Heinemann, friend of the later much-respected political economist Wilhelm Röpke.
One of the first woman admitted to the university in 1908 was Gertrud von Le Fort. Today, over 56 % of students in Marburg are female.
"I owe Marburg an der Lahn at least half of my hopes and perhaps all of my intellectual discipline," wrote Ortega y Gasset regarding his studies at the Philipps-University. Today, his words continue to motivate the alma mater philippina to develop and improve its scientific and scholarly profile.

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