Sorbonne University

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Sorbonne University
Sorbonne University Logo.svg
Motto Hic et ubique terrarum
Motto in English
Here and everywhere on Earth
Type Public
Established c. 1150 (first teachings)
1257 (royal charter)
1806 (public university)
2018 (reestablishment)
Budget €567 million
Students 54,000
Location Paris, France
Campus Latin Quarter
Nickname Sorbonne
Chapel of the main Sorbonne building

Sorbonne University (French: Sorbonne Université [sɔʁbɔn ynivɛʁsite]), shortened to the Sorbonne and formerly called the University of Paris, is a prestigious university in Paris. The Sorbonne is the oldest university in the Francophone world, and the third oldest university in Europe, after the University of Bologna and the University of Oxford.

The University of Paris (known as the Sorbonne) existed between the middle age (founded as a corporation of students and masters around 1150 and chartered by the king Louis IX of France in 1257) and the French revolution (1793) and again between the First French Empire in 1806 and its dissolution in 1970 after the May 1968 events.

The reestablishment of the university was decreed 21 April 2017,[1] and took place on the 1st January 2018.


Historical coat of arms of the University of Paris

Emerging around 1150 as a corporation associated with the cathedral school of Notre Dame de Paris, it was considered the second-oldest university in Europe.[2] Officially chartered in 1200 by King Philip II (Philippe-Auguste) of France and recognised in 1215 by Pope Innocent III, it was later often nicknamed after its theological College of Sorbonne founded by Robert de Sorbon and chartered by French King Saint Louis around 1257.[citation needed]

Internationally highly reputed for its academic performance in the humanities ever since the Middle Ages – notably in theology and philosophy – it introduced several academic standards and traditions that have endured ever since and spread internationally, such as doctoral degrees and student nations. Vast numbers of popes, scientists, intellectuals and royalty were educated at the University of Paris.

In 1793, during the French Revolution period, the University was closed and by Item-27 of the Revolutionary Convention, the college endowments and buildings were sold[3]. A new University of France replaced it in 1806 with four independent faculties: the Faculty of Humanities ("Faculté des Lettres"), the Faculty of Law (later including Economics), the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Theology (closed in 1885).

In 1970, following the May 1968 events, the university was divided into 13 autonomous universities. Three of the new universities took over three of the faculties and the majority of their professors: humanities by Paris-Sorbonne University, law and economics by Panthéon-Assas University, natural sciences by Pierre and Marie Curie University.[4] The faculty of medicine had no direct successor because teaching was organized in relation with different hospitals, which were separated between Paris Descartes University, which kept the historical buildings of the Paris Medicine Faculty, Pierre and Marie Curie University, and Paris Diderot University. Some of the other inheritors, like Panthéon-Sorbonne University, Paris Descartes University and Paris Diderot University chose to be multidisciplinary[5][6][7].

In 2010, the direct successors of the faculties of the University of Paris created the Sorbonne University group.

The following universities, members of the group, have decided to merge into Sorbonne University in 2018:

The following universities, members of the group, may decide to merge into Sorbonne University:



The University's central campus is the historic central Sorbonne building in the Latin Quarter. Before the 19th century, the Sorbonne occupied several buildings. The chapel was built in 1622 by the then-Provisor of the University of Paris, Cardinal Richelieu, during the reign of Louis XIII. In 1881, politician Jules Ferry decided to convert the Sorbonne into one single building. Under the supervision of Pierre Greard, Chief Officer of the Education Authority of Paris, Henri-Paul Nénot constructed the current building from 1883 to 1901 that reflects a basic architectural uniformity. The integration of the chapel into the whole was also Nénot’s work with the construction of a cour d'honneur. The Sorbonne building is generally reserved for undergraduate students in their third year and graduate students in certain academic disciplines. Only students in Semitic studies, regardless of level, take all their classes at the Sorbonne campus.

The Library of the Sorbonne is shared by several Parisian universities. It is open exclusively to undergraduate students in their third year and graduate students. With the former archives of the now-defunct University of Paris, 2,500,000 books, 400,000 of them ancient, 2,500 historical manuscripts, 18,000 doctoral dissertation papers, 17,750 past and current French and international periodicals and 7,100 historical printing plates, the Library of the Sorbonne is the largest university library in Paris.


The Jussieu campus has been totally refurbished in the 2010[8].

Maison de la Recherche[edit]

Inter-university Library of La Sorbonne

The Maison de la Recherche campus is the central building for doctoral studies that hosts the history and geography departments. It houses the Serpente Library that has 55,000 works and 292 past and current French and international periodicals. All doctoral dissertations since 1 January 1986 have been stored at the Serpente Library.

Clignancourt and Malesherbes[edit]

The two biggest campuses apart from the main Sorbonne building are the Clignancourt and Malesherbes centers. Undergraduate students in their first and second years of study in Philosophy, History, Geography, English and Spanish take their classes at the Clignancourt center. The Clignancourt Library contains 78,000 works, 210 French and international periodicals and 800 educational DVDs.

Undergraduate students in their first and second years of study in French literature, French language, Latin, Ancient Greek and Musicology take their classes at the Malesherbes center. All undergraduate students in these academic disciplines study in the central Sorbonne building in their third year. Undergraduate and graduate students in German studies, Slavic studies, Italic studies and Romanian studies, regardless of level, take all of their classes at the Malesherbes center. The Malesherbes center also hosts three research centers in Italian culture, the cultures and literature of central Europe and the Balkans and the Germanic, Nordic and Dutch centers. The Malesherbes Library contains 200,000 works specializing in the study of foreign languages and cultures and 1,200 past and current French and international periodicals. More than 50,000 doctoral dissertations are available for public viewing.

Institut d'Art et d'Archéologie[edit]

Undergraduate Art History and Archeology students take their classes at the Institut d'Art et d'Archéologie, located at the main entrance of the Jardin du Luxembourg. Constructed by architect Paul Bigot between 1925 and 1930, the Mesopotamian-style building was classified as a national historical building in 1996. It hosts the Michelet Library that contains 100,000 volumes of work on art history and archeology with 100 French and international periodicals. Only 10,000 of the art history and archeology works are open to students, the others requiring special authorization of usage. Graduate Art History and Archeology students take their courses at the Institut National de l'Histoire de l'Art in the Galerie Colbert, a partnered national institution of the University.

Other campuses in Paris[edit]

Both the Institut d'Urbanisme et d'Aménagement and the Institut d'Etudes hispanique in the Latin Quarter host third year and graduate students of Geography and Iberian and Latin American studies. The Marcel Bataillon Library houses the Institut d'Etudes hispaniques' collection of 25,000 works on Iberian and Latin-American culture. Catalan studies take place at the Centre d'Etudes catalanes in the Marais.

There are also Campus Pitié and Campus Saint-Antoine for medicine ; Campus Les Cordeliers, Campus Curie and Campus Raspail for sciences.

Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi[edit]

An exclusive international agreement between Paris-Sorbonne and the government of Abu Dhabi was signed on 19 February 2006, starting plans to bring Paris-Sorbonne University to Abu Dhabi. The Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi (PSUAD) was established on 30 May 2008 on Reem Island by a decree of the ruler of Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates. All programs are taught in the French language. An intensive French language programme is offered for one or two year(s) to students who do not meet the French language requirement for registration. The establishment of the university demonstrates the keenness of Abu Dhabi to create an international hub in culture and education, having also signed a contract with the Louvre in 2007 to create the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and with New York University in 2007 to create New York University Abu Dhabi. PSUAD is jointly governed by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) and by PSUAD's board of six members, three of whom are appointed by the home Paris-Sorbonne University, the other three appointed by the Abu Dhabi Executive Council. The President of PSUAD and Chairman of the Board is the President of the home Paris-Sorbonne University, currently Georges Molinié. Academic programs are offered at the undergraduate level only in the social sciences, humanities and fine arts.


Members have worked on several projects in order to strengthen the relations between them and potentially create a new international institution. The most famous projects are the "Sorbonne College" (Collège de la Sorbonne) for bachelor's degree teaching and the "Sorbonne Doctoral College" (Collège doctoral de la Sorbonne) for PhD candidates.

The Sorbonne College[edit]

Since 2014, the Sorbonne College for bachelor's degree (« Collège des Licences de la Sorbonne ») has been coordinating the academic projects inside Sorbonne University and with Panthéon-Assas University, the law school of the Sorbonne University Group which has not merged into the Sorbonnne University and remained independent. It also offers cross-institutional academic courses in many fields, allowing students to graduate from both institutions. For example, some cross-institutional bachelor's degrees (« double licences ») are proposed to students in :

  • Science and History (Sorbonne)
  • Science and Musicology (Sorbonne)
  • Science and Philosophy (Sorbonne)
  • Science and Chinese (Sorbonne)
  • Science and German (Sorbonne)
  • Law and History (Panthéon-Assas / Sorbonne)
  • Law and Art History (Panthéon-Assas / Sorbonne)
  • Law and Science (Panthéon-Assas / Sorbonne)
  • History and Media (Sorbonne / Panthéon-Assas)[9]

As it is the case in the Anglo-American university system, Sorbonne University proposes a major-minor system, that is currently being deployed at the University.[10]

Sorbonne University, in partnership with INSEAD, also offers all of its alumni and PhD students a professionalizing course in business management to complete their curriculum.

The Doctoral College[edit]

Sorbonne University's graduation ceremony, May 2011

Since 2010, every PhD student is being delivered an honorary diploma labeled Sorbonne University. This diploma highlights and gathers the skills of the doctors and researchers from the institutions that form Sorbonne University.

The Sorbonne Doctoral College, created in 2013, coordinates the activities of the 26 doctoral schools. Since 2014, it has developed cross-disciplinary PhDs between the different members of the Sorbonne University group.

Sorbonne University's doctoral schools
Fields Doctoral school Institution
Énergie, matière, univers Chimie physique & chimie analytique de Paris centre align="center" ]]
Physique et chimie des matériaux align="center" ]]
Chimie moléculaire de Paris centre align="center" ]]
Astronomie et astrophysique align="center" ]]
Sciences de la Terre et physique de l'univers align="center" ]]
Physique en Ile-de-France align="center" ]]
Modélisation et ingénierie Informatique, télécommunications & électronique align="center" ]]
Sciences mathématiques de Paris centre align="center" ]]
Sciences mécaniques, acoustique, électronique et robotique align="center" ]]
Terre vivante et environnement Sciences de l’environnement align="center" ]]
Géosciences, ressources naturelles et environnement align="center" ]]
Vie et santé Cerveau, cognition, comportement align="center" ]]
Santé publique & sciences de l’information biomédicale align="center" ]]
Physiologie, physiopathologie et thérapeutique align="center" ]]
Complexité du vivant align="center" ]]
Histoire-Géographie École doctorale de géographie de Paris align="center" ]]
Histoire de l’art et archéologie Paris-Sorbonne align="center" ]]
Histoire moderne et contemporaine align="center" ]]
Mondes anciens et médiévaux align="center" ]]
Langues, lettres et civilisations Littératures françaises et comparée align="center" ]]
Civilisations, cultures et sociétés align="center" ]]
Concepts et Language align="center" ]]

Since 2011, Sorbonne University celebrate its graduates in a formal ceremony where every PhD graduate wears a scholar uniform.[11]


To strengthen the influence of its research infrastructures on the international scale, Sorbonne University has developed several research programs aiming at reinforcing or exploring new fields of study. This innovative cross-disciplinary approach was embodied with the creation of four new academic positions gathering several establishments of the group:[12]

  • A Department of Digital Humanities, exploring the use of digital technologies in the social science
  • A Department of Polychromatic Studies of Societies, associating architecture, anthropology, chemical physics, literature and art history
  • A Department of Digital Health, exploring biomedical tools
  • A Department of 3D Craniofacial Reconstruction

Sorbonne University has also formed with academic institutions such as the China Scholarship Council or the Brazilian foundation FAPERJ several partnerships enabling bilateral research programs.


Sorbonne University historically has 4 faculties.

Humanities (Lettres)[edit]

Letters are the more ancient teachings of the Sorbonne University.


The faculty of science of Sorbonne University is a major pole of research in France.

It has more than 125 laboratories, most of them in association with the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS). Some of its most notable institutes and laboratories include the Institut Henri Poincaré, Institut d'astrophysique de Paris, Laboratoire d'informatique de Paris 6 (LIP6), Institut de mathématiques de Jussieu (shared with University Paris-Diderot) and the Laboratoire Kastler-Brossel (shared with École Normale Supérieure).


The faculty of Medicine is located in the teaching hospitals Pitié-Salpêtrière and Saint-Antoine (the latter itself being the successor to Saint-Antoine-des-Champs Abbey).


Sorbonne University's law faculty became independent in 1971 under the name Panthéon-Assas University. It is now providing the law reachings for the Sorbonne University as an independent university part of the Sorbonne University group and is expected to merge with it in the future.


Scientific collections[edit]

The Sorbonne University houses eight notable scientific collections that are open to researchers.[13] Some collections are open to the public as noted.

  • Minerals – over 1500 minerals on display in 24 cases, open to the public
  • Physics experiments models – models built by professors from the Sorbonne and UPMC in order to demonstrate different principles of physics
  • Zoology – teaching collection of stuffed specimens, skeletal mounts, fluid parts, anatomical casts and insect boxes
  • Paleontology – research collection of fossil invertebrates
  • G. Lippmann collection – Research collection of 46 photographic plates created by Gabriel Lippmann in his studies of photography and the physics of light
  • Charcot library – Research collection of the personal library of neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot
  • Paleobotany – Research collection of Fossil plants
  • Musée Dupuytren – moved from Cordeliers, will be open to the public occasionally, features wax anatomical items and preserved specimens illustrating diseases and malformations.

University rankings[edit]

Only the former universities have been ranked.

UPMC is often ranked as the best university in France [14]. In 2014 UPMC was ranked 35th in the world, 6th in Europe and 1st in France by the Academic Ranking of World Universities.[15] It was ranked 4th in the world in the field of mathematics by the same study. The 2013 QS World University Rankings[16] ranked the university 112th overall in the world and 3rd in France. In 2013, according to University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP),[17] Pierre and Marie Curie University is the 1st ranked university in France and 44th ranked university in the world. The UPMC is a member of Sorbonne Universités.[18]

Paris-Sorbone is ranked 222 in the world by the QS World University Rankings 2015. By faculty, it was ranked 9 in modern languages, 36 in arts and humanities (1st in France), and 127 in social sciences and management (5th in France).[19] By academic reputation, it was ranked 80 (2nd in France), according to the QS World University Rankings, and 2nd in overall highest international reputation of all academic institutions in France, according to the Times Higher Education 2015.[20][21] In 2014 Paris-Sorbonne ranked 227 in the world, according to the QS World University Rankings, 115 for Social Sciences and Management, 33 for Arts and Humanities.[21]

Notable people[edit]



Nobel prizes[edit]


The university counts 48 Nobel Prize winners, placing it in 13th position globally, and 1st outside of the English-speaking world. The Sorbonne has taught 11 French Presidents, almost 50 French heads of government, 2 Popes, as well as many other political and social figures. The Sorbonne has also educated leaders of Albania, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Gabon, Guinea, Irak, Jordan, Kosovo, Tunisia and Niger among others. List of Nobel Prize winners that had attended the University of Paris or one of its thirteen successors.

  1. [Ph.] Albert Fert (PhD) - 2007
  2. [Ph.] Alfred Kastler (DSc) - 1966
  3. [Ph.] Gabriel Lippmann (DSc) - 1908
  4. [Ph.] Georges Charpak (DSc) - 1992
  5. [Ph.] Henri Becquerel (DSc) - 1903
  6. [Ph.] Jean Perrin (DSc) - 1926
  7. [Ph.] Louis Néel (MSc) - 1970
  8. [Ph.] Louis de Broglie (DSc) - 1929
  9. [Ph.] [Ch.] Marie Curie[24] (DSc) - 1903, 1911
  10. [Ph.] Pierre Curie (DSc) - 1903
  11. [Ph.] Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (DSc) - 1991
  12. [Ph.] Serge Haroche (PhD, DSc) - 2012
  13. [Ch.] Frédéric Joliot-Curie (DSc) - 1935
  14. [Ch.] Gerhard Ertl (Attendee) - 2007
  15. [Ch.] Henri Moissan (DSc) - 1906
  16. [Ch.] Irène Joliot-Curie (DSc) - 1935
  17. [Ch.] Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff (Attendee) - 2007
  18. [Ch.] Paul Sabatier (DSc) - 1912
  19. [PM] André Frédéric Cournand (M.D) - 1956
  20. [PM] André Lwoff (M.D, DSc) - 1965
  21. [PM] Charles Nicolle (M.D) - 1928
  22. [PM] Charles Richet (M.D, DSc) - 1913
  23. [PM] François Jacob (M.D) - 1965
  24. [PM] Françoise Barré-Sinoussi (PhD) - 2008
  25. [PM] Jacques Monod (DSc) - 1965
  26. [PM] Jean Dausset (MD) - 1980
  27. [PM] Luc Montagnier (MD) - 2008
  28. [Ec.] Gérard Debreu (DSc) - 1983
  29. [Ec.] Maurice Allais (D.Eng.) - 1988
  30. [Pe.] Albert Schweitzer (PhD) - 1952
  31. [Pe.] Charles Albert Gobat (Attendee) - 1902
  32. [Pe.] Ferdinand Buisson (DLitt) - 1927
  33. [Pe.] Frédéric Passy (LLB) - 1901
  34. [Pe.] Léon Bourgeois (DCL) - 1920
  35. [Pe.] Léon Jouhaux (Attendee) - 1951
  36. [Pe.] Louis Renault (DCL) - 1907
  37. [Pe.] Paul-Henri-Benjamin d'Estournelles de Constant (LLB) - 1909
  38. [Pe.] René Cassin (DCL) - 1968
  39. [Li.] Giorgos Seferis (LLB) - 1963
  40. [Li.] Henri Bergson (B.A) - 1927
  41. [Li.] Jean-Paul Sartre (B.A) (refused the Prize) - 1964
  42. [Li.] Odysseus Elytis (Attendee) - 1979
  43. [Li.] Patrick Modiano (Attendee) - 2014
  44. [Li.] Romain Rolland (D Litt) - 1915


List of Nobel Prize winners that were affiliated with the University of Paris or one of its thirteen successors.

  1. [Ph.] George Smoot (Professor) - 2006
  2. [Ph.] Gabriel Lippmann (Professor) - 1908*
  3. [Ph.] Jean Perrin (Professor) - 1926*
  4. [Ph.] Louis de Broglie (Professor) - 1929*
  5. [Ph.][Ch.] Marie Curie[24] (Professor) - 1903*, 1911*
  6. [Ph.] Alfred Kastler (Researcher) - 1966
  7. [Ch.] Henri Moissan (Professor) - 1906*
  8. [Ch.] Irène Joliot-Curie (Professor) - 1935*
  9. [Ch.] Peter Debye[25] (Visiting Lecturer) - 1936
  10. [PM] Charles Richet (Professor) - 1913*
  11. [PM] Jules Bordet (Researcher) - 1919
  12. [PM] Roger Guillemin (Researcher) - 1977
  13. [PM] Jean Dausset (Professor) - 1980*
  14. [Pe.] Louis Renault (Professor) - 1907*
  15. [Li.] T.S. Eliot[26] (Visitor) - 1948


  1. ^ "Décret n° 2017-596 du 21 avril 2017 portant création de l'université Sorbonne Université". Journal officiel de la République française. 23 April 2017. 
  2. ^ Haskins, C. H.: The Rise of Universities, page 292. Henry Holt and Company, 1923.
  3. ^ Palmer, R.R. (1975). "27, The National Convention orders the sale of all college endowments". The School of The French Revolution : A Documentary History of the College of Louis-le-Grand and its Director, Jean-François Champagne, 1762-1814. Princeton: Princeton Legacy Library. p. 127. ISBN 978-0-69-161796-1. 
  4. ^ University World News, Merger of elite Paris universities gets the go-ahead
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ [Éléad, Les cursus sélectifs des grandes universités parisiennes , les doubles licences
  10. ^ (in French) « La Sorbonne université d’élite et de masse: entretien avec Barthélémy Jobert, président de l’université Paris Sorbonne », Le
  11. ^ (in French) « Sorbonne Universités célèbre ses docteurs... à l'américaine »,, 17 mai 2011
  12. ^ (in French) Presentation of Sorbonne University's new academic positions]
  13. ^ "Patrimoine scientifique" (in French). UPMC. Retrieved 5 July 2016. 
  14. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ "World University Rankings – 2013 – France Universities in Top 500 universities – Academic Ranking of World Universities – 2013 – Shanghai Ranking – 2013". Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  16. ^ "QS World University Rankings 2013". Top Universities. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  17. ^ "URAP – University Ranking by Academic Performance". 
  18. ^ Institutions – – Results of University Rankings Archived 15 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  19. ^ "QS World University Rankings Arts & Humanities 2013 Results". Retrieved 2016-11-13. 
  20. ^ "Cinq universités françaises parmi les plus réputées au monde". 2015-03-11. Retrieved 2016-11-13. 
  21. ^ a b "Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) Rankings". Top Universities. Retrieved 2016-11-13. 
  22. ^ [1]
  23. ^ "M. Michel Sapin : Assemblée Nationale". Retrieved 2016-11-13. 
  24. ^ a b "Marie Curie - Facts". Retrieved 2016-11-10. 
  25. ^ Courtens, Eric (2003). "Peter Debye — A Life for Science". In Gonzalo, Julio A.; Aragó López, Carmen. Great solid state physicists of the 20th century. River Edge, N.J.: World Scientific. pp. 144–145. ISBN 9789812795267. 
  26. ^ "T. S. (Thomas Stearns) Eliot: An Inventory of His Collection in the Manuscript Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center". Retrieved 2016-11-06. 


External links[edit]