A History of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Adelaide 1876-2012
The Bachelor of Arts (BA) was the first recognised degree at the University of Adelaide. Although informal classes for some subjects were held at the University between 1873 and 1875, the first official University lecture was a Latin lecture at 10 am on Monday 28 March 1876.
This was followed by lectures in Greek, English and Mental Philosophy. By 1878, the first BA student, Thomas Ainslie Caterer, completed his studies for the BA degree and in 1879 became the first graduate of the University of Adelaide.
Even though the BA was the first degree it was not until eight years later in 1887 that the Faculty of Arts was inaugurated (after the Faculty of Law in 1884, a Board of Studies in Music in 1885 and the Faculty of Medicine in 1885). Following the creation of a separate science degree in 1882 many scientific subjects were removed from the BA.
For the next five years the subjects were Latin, Greek, Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, Logic, English, History, and Comparative Philology. Later other subjects such as French, German and Political Economy were added toward the end of the nineteenth century. In 1897 the Elder Conservatorium of Music was created as the first music school of its type in Australia, although at that time it was not part of the Faculty of Arts.
In the first 50 years of the University’s existence, less than ten BA students graduated each year. At the start of the 21st century this figure had climbed to over 300 BA graduates per year but what is interesting is that by 2010 the number of BA graduates was equalled by the number of graduates from separate named degrees within the Faculty plus 70 Music graduates.
In addition, during the first decade of the twenty-first century, there were over 60 coursework postgraduates plus more than 40 research postgraduates graduating each year.