Special Collections Twenty at 20: Lectures 1883-style

To mark this year’s 20th anniversary of Special Collections, the curators have selected some intriguing items for the Twenty at 20 series. Here is number two.

First university lecture timetable

Students managing their complicated lecture, seminar, tutorial, and laboratory schedules this semester via the Kāhu app will be surprised by the simplicity of the first lecture timetable after the University’s opening in May 1883. The timetable included 17 one-hour lectures for the entire week, delivered by three professors and a lecturer, in eight subjects, held in three teaching rooms.


1883 lecture timetable.1

The Special Collections copy of the first Auckland University College Regulations is fewer than 10 pages in length.1

As well as the lecture timetable, it details the fees (15 shillings per course and one guinea for the exam), lecture attendance expectations, office hours, members of the University Council, examination dates, course outlines and information about the entire teaching staff: Professors T.G. Tucker (Classics and English), A.P. Thomas (Natural Science) and F.D. Brown (Chemistry and Experimental Physics) and Mr. H.G.S. Smith (Law).

Mathematics was taught jointly by Thomas and Brown because the inaugural Professor of Mathematics, George F. Walker, drowned in a boating accident soon after arriving in Auckland.2

The lecture schedule, with morning and evening lectures, reflects the fact that many of the first group of 80 undergraduates were also working full time. Almost 140 years later, the subjects taught in 1883 are still to be found on the Kāhu app. Academic staff and students, however, will be relieved there are no real-time lectures from 8pm-9pm on a Friday night.

Ian Brailsford, Special Collections


1 Auckland University College (1883). Auckland University College: regulations, courses of lectures, etc. : second term. Printed by the Auckland Printing and Publishing Co.: Auckland. NZGC 378.95 A892

2 Sinclair, K. (1983). A History of the University of Auckland 1883-1983. Auckland University Press: Auckland, p.22.


  • Cathy Wright commented on 23/03/2022

    What an interesting contrast with how things are today!

  • Susan Carter commented on 04/04/2022

    Ian, your expertise in making an interesting narrative out of an artefact is terrific. Thanks for this–you make the UoA a more interesting place.

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