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Coordinates: 55°00′22″N 7°19′23″W / 55.006°N 7.323°W / 55.006; -7.323

Magee College
View in 2005
Established 1865
Chancellor James Nesbitt
Provost Prof. Deirdre Heenan
Vice-Chancellor Prof. Richard Barnett
Location Derry, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, UK
Affiliations EUA, UUK, UI
Website Magee campus

Magee College is a campus of the University of Ulster located in Derry~Londonderry, Northern Ireland, and is named after the College founded by Martha Magee in 1845. The college was a Presbyterian Christian arts and theological college. In 1984, it became part of the University of Ulster. Located only a short walk along the River Foyle away from the city walls, the campus consists of a mixture of historical and new buildings and modern and traditional facilities. Its teaching strengths include business, computing, nursing, Irish language and literature, social sciences, law, psychology, peace and conflict studies and the performing arts.


Magee offers a large number of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes through the University of Ulster's six faculties: [1]

  1. Arts
  2. Art, Design & Built Environment
  3. Computing and Engineering
  4. Life and Health Sciences
  5. Social Sciences
  6. Ulster Business School

Within each faculty there are a number of schools offering programmes for their relative disciplines. The schools based on the Magee campus are:

  1. Arts – School of Creative Arts, School of Irish Language and Literature
  2. Computing and Engineering – School of Computing and Intelligent Systems
  3. Life and Health Sciences – School of Nursing, School of Psychology
  4. Social Sciences – School of Policy Studies, Graduate School of Professional Legal Education, School of Sociology and Applied Social Studies
  5. Ulster Business School – Marketing and Business

Programmes taught at Magee include business studies, drama, education, computer science, computer games, robotics, electronics, modern languages, music, nursing, psychology, and social sciences.


Research activities include several research centres.

Magee is the location for the Intelligent Systems Research Centre (ISRC) dedicated to the creation of intelligent computational systems through research in neural networks, fuzzy systems, artificial intelligence and cognitive robotics. Other research areas include ambient intelligence, wireless sensor networks, robot vision, brain computer interfacing and serious games. [2]

Magee is home to the Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages (AICH) which focuses on cultural studies related to Ireland and the Irish Diaspora. [3] and the Institute of Ulster Scots Studies, founded in 2001, which looks at the history and heritage of the Ulster-Scots. [4]

It also houses International Conflict Research (INCORE), a joint venture between the United Nations University and the University of Ulster. Established in 1993, it aims to address issues of the conflict in Northern Ireland and seek to promote conflict resolution internationally. [5]


The Magee Campus gained its name from Martha Magee, the widow of a Presbyterian minister, who, in 1845, bequeathed £20,000 to the Presbyterian Church of Ireland to found a college for theology and the arts. [6] [7] [8] It opened in 1865 primarily as a theological college, but accepted students from all denominations to study a variety of subjects.[6] It was a college of the Royal University of Ireland from 1880 and later became associated with the Trinity College, Dublin when the Royal University was dissolved in 1909 and replaced by the National University of Ireland.[6][citation needed].

World War 2: Royal Navy

During World War II, the college was taken over by The Admiralty for Royal Navy operational use, becoming with Ebrington Barracks a major facility in the Battle of the Atlantic.[9] Current archaeological research suggests that beneath the lawns of the college, the Admiralty installed a major control bunker, which from 1941 together with similar bunkers in Derby House, Liverpool,[10] and Whitehall was used to control 1million Allid personnel and fight the Nazi U-boat threat.

Post war

In 1953, Magee Theological College separated from the remainder of the college, eventually moving to Belfast in a 1978 merger that formed Union Theological College. [6] [7] [11] Also in 1953, Magee College broke its links with Dublin and became Magee University College. It was hoped that this university college would become Northern Ireland's second university after Queen's University of Belfast, but in the 1960s, the Stormont Parliament, made a controversial decision to pass it over in favour of a new university in Coleraine, a decision which was one of the pivotal points in the history of The Troubles.[6] Instead it was incorporated into the two-campus New University of Ulster in 1969.[6] The next fourteen years saw the college halve in size, while development focused on the main Coleraine campus.[6] In 1984, the New University merged with the Ulster Polytechnic, and Magee became the early focus of development of a new four-campus university, the University of Ulster.[6] Student and faculty numbers recovered and grew rapidly over the next ten to fifteen years, accompanied by numerous construction projects[6] Magee has grown from just 273 students in 1984 to over 4,000 undergraduates today. In 2009, the University of Ulster's Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard Barnett identified Magee as the only campus the University had earmarked for the expansion of student numbers. The University has been lobbying the Northern Ireland Executive for an additional 1,000 full-time undergraduate places.


The main building was built with Scottish freestone, and opened in 1865.


  • 1845 – Foundation endowment from Martha Magee.[6]
  • 1865 – Magee College opened.[6]
  • 1880 – Magee College joined the new Royal University of Ireland.[6]
  • 1909 – Royal University dissolved.[citation needed]Government funding greatly reduced.[6] Magee College became an autonomous university college, with students completing their degrees at Trinity College, Dublin.[6]
  • 1953 – Magee University College received major government grant funding for the first time.[6]
  • 1969 – Magee University College merged with the New University of Ulster.[6]
  • 1978 – Magee Theological College closed, merging with Assembly's College to form Union Theological College in Belfast.[11]
  • 1984 – New University merged with the Ulster Polytechnic, Jordanstown, to form the University of Ulster.

Professor Jim Allen replaced Professor Tom Fraser as Provost of Magee in 2006[12]

2011 – Professor Deirdre Heenan appointed Provost of the Magee campus in June 2011, following the retirement of Professor Allen.

Historical notes

  • Florence Nightingale visited Magee College on 31 May 1867.[13]
  • The Magee College bequest is mentioned on the founder's graveyard memorial in Lurgan, County Armagh, Northern Ireland, where her husband was a minister.[8]


The central feature of the campus is the original 1865 building. This is surrounded by Victorian red brick houses, and several modern buildings in red brick and glass, constructed since the formation of the University of Ulster.

The campus is used for education, but also as a convention centre. For example, Magee hosted the 2006 Tomo-Dachi convention.

Timeline of recent construction[6]
  • 1988 – Phase I building
  • 1989 – Carrickmore House, extension of main building
  • 1990 – Phase II library building
  • 1991 – Refurbished main building
  • 1992 – Extension of 3/4 College Avenue
  • 1993 – Strand Road student residence
  • 1995 – Phase III buildings (sports complex and informatics), Duncreggan Road student residences, floodlit all-weather sports ground

Tip O'Neill Chair

Based at Magee, the Tip O'Neill Chair in Peace Studies was established in commemoration of the former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Thomas "Tip" O'Neill, Jr. a well-known supporter of the Northern Ireland Peace Process. The chair was inaugurated by the former President of the United States, Bill Clinton in 1995. Currently funded by The Ireland Funds the chair has been held by the Nobel Peace Laureate, John Hume since 2003. Under the tenure of Professor Hume Magee has hosted a series of guest lectures involving key national and international policy-makers .

  • Mitchell Reiss, United States Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, 2006
  • John Kerry, United States Senator, 2006
  • Garret Fitzgerald, former Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland, 2005
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton, United States Senator, 2004
  • Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, 2004
  • Romano Prodi, EU Commission President, 2004
  • Pat Cox, MEP and President of the European Parliament, 2004
  • Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland and President of the European Council, 2003
  • Bill Clinton, former President of the United States, 2003
  • Michel Rocard, former Prime Minister of France, 2003

Notable alumni

Year of matriculation is given, if known.

  • Gregory Campbell, 1982[14]
  • Mark Durkan, Deputy First Minister of the Northern Ireland Executive, c.1980s[15]
  • Brian Keenan, c.1985[citation needed]
  • Dill Macky, 1866, founder of The Scots College school in Sydney[16]

Honorary graduates

Notable figures have received honorary degrees in graduations hosted by Magee.

  • Gary Lightbody, Musician, 2012[17]
  • Rt Hon Lord Ashdown (Paddy Ashdown), former Liberal Democrat Leader and former UN High Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 2006[18]
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton, United States Senator, 2004[19]
  • Fiona Shaw, actor, 2004[20]
  • Stephen Rea, actor, 2004[21]
  • Amanda Burton, actor, 2002[22]
  • Bill Clinton, then President of the United States, 1995[6]


  1. UU Faculties [1]. Retrieved on 2 July 2009.
  2. ISRC Website The Intelligent Systems Research Centre About. Retrieved on 2 July 2009.
  3. Research Institutes Recruitment website Research Institutes – Academy for Cultural Hertitages. Retrieved on 21 November 2006.
  4. Institute of Ulster Scots Studies website The Institute of Ulster Scots Studies Introduction. Retrieved on 21 November 2006.
  5. INCORE Website INCORE: About. Retrieved on 21 November 2006.
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 6.17 History of Magee College at UU Library website. Retrieved on 28 August 2006.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Union Theological College website, History. Retrieved on 28 August 2006.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Epitaph, 1845. Martha Magee's memorial at a cemetery in Lurgan reads, “The Rev Wm. Magee Minister of the Presbyterian Church Lurgan, died 9 June 1800. At the demise of Mrs Martha Magee, about £60,000 to the Irish Presbyterian Church including £20,000 for the establishment of a college." History from Headstones retrieved on 31 August 2006.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Presbyterian Church in Ireland Press Release, 2003 Presbyterian College Celebrates 150 Years. Retrieved on 28 August 2006.
  12. retrieved on 6 February 2008.
  13. UU website Magee Campus Guide. Retrieved on 28 August 2006.
  14. Northern Ireland Assembly Biography of Gregory Campbell. Retrieved on 31 August 2006.
  15. Mark Durkan's Biography at the Northern Ireland Assembly. Retrieved on 31 August 2006.
  16. Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Dill Macky, William Marcus (1849–1913). Retrieved on 28 August 2006.
  17. UU Press Office, 2012. [2] 26 January 2012. Retrieved on 3 June 2013.
  18. UU Press Office, 2006. [3] 22 March 2006. Retrieved on 22 November 2006.
  19. UU Press Office, 2004. "UU to Confer Honorary Degree on Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton" 23 August 2004. Retrieved on 31 August 2006.
  20. UU Press Office, 2004. [4] 15 December 2004. Retrieved on 22 November 2006.
  21. UU Press Office, 2004. [5] 15 December 2004. Retrieved on 22 November 2006.
  22. UU Press Office, 2002. "Derry-born Actress Amanda Burton Returns for UU Honour" 9 July 2002. Retrieved on 31 August 2006.

20. Heenan Appointed Provost of Magee Campus

External links

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