One of the oldest Russian institutions of higher education, Moscow University was established in 1755. In 1940 it was named after Academician Mikhail Lomonosov (1711-1765), an outstanding Russian scientist, who greatly contributed to the establishment of the university in Moscow.

Mikhail Lomonosov was one of the intellectual titans of XVIII century. The great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin described him as a person of formidable willpower and keen scientific mind, whose lifelong passion was learning. Lomonosov’s interests ranged from history, rhetoric, art and poetry to mechanics, chemistry, mineralogy. His activity is a manifestation of the enormous potential of the Russian scientific community whose representatives occupied the leading positions in the world at the time. It was Michail Lomonosov who suggested, in his letter to Count Shuvalov, the idea of establishing a university in Moscow. An influential courtier and the favorite of Empress Elizaveta Petrovna, Count Shuvalov was the patron of the arts and science; he supported Lomonosov’s plans for a new university and presented them to the Empress.

According to Lomonosov’s plan, there were originally three faculties. First all the students acquired a comprehensive knowledge in the field of science and humanities at the Faculty of Philosophy; then they could specialize and continue at the faculty of philosophy or join either the Law Faculty or The Faculty of Medicine. Lectures were delivered either in Latin, the language of educated people at that time, or in Russian. Unlike European Universities, Moscow University did not have the Faculty of Theology, since in Russia there were special theological education establishments.

Moscow University played an outstanding role in popularizing science and learning in Russia making the lectures of its professors open to the public. Book publishing in Russia started in 1756, when a printing house and a bookshop were opened in campus; printing one of the first Russian newspapers “Moskovskie Vedomosti” (Moscow Gazette) started there. The first literary periodical in Moscow “Poleznoe Uveselene” (Useful Entertainment) was also printed at the University printing house since 1760. N.I.Novikov, one of the outstanding figures of the Enlightenment in Russia, was at the head of the University publishers from 1779 to 1789.

For over a century, since 1756, the University library was the only one opened for the general public in Moscow.

Professors of Moscow University greatly contributed to establish new cultural centres in Moscow and Russia, the grammar school and later a university in Kazan. The Academy of the Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, the Maly Theatre in Moscow, to name just a few. In XIX century the first scientific societies appeared at the University, those uniting naturalists, historians and philologists.

University saw a number of outstanding figures among the students, professors of Moscow University: philosophers N.N.Popovsky, D.S. Anichkov, medical doctor S.Z.Zybelin, architects V.I.Bazhenov and I.E.Starov, biologists K.F.Rulie, I.M. Setchenov, K.A.Timiriazev; mathematicians A.N.Kolmogorov, physicists P.L.Kapitsa, I.V.Kurchatov. Their work greatly contributed to Moscow University’s becoming the educational, scientific and cultural centre of Russia.

In June 1992 the President of the Russian Federation issued a decree, which established the status of Moscow University as a self-governing institution of higher education. In November 1998, after a wide-ranging discussion, the Charter of Moscow University was approved.

The Charter proclaims democracy, openness and self-government to be the main principles in the life of Moscow University; the main goal is freedom to teach and to study as well as to develop oneself as a personality. The basic division within the University is a department (laboratory) whose professors, instructors and staff make decisions collectively.

Moscow State University comprises 29 faculties and over 350 departments, 15 research institutes, 4 museums, the Science Park, the Botanical Gardens. The Library, the University Publishing House and printing shop, a recreational centre and a boarding school for talented children 9 faculties have been recently established, along with 47 new departments and 22 research laboratories. Research has recently started in 30 new interdisciplinary areas. At the moment the University Computer Centre represents more computing power than any other educational institution in Russia. There have been major changes in the curricula, with over 200 new academic programmes added.

The curricula of all MSU faculties are based on the combination of academic instruction with student’s research work and the combination of thorough theoretical knowledge with special skills. Having acquired theoretical knowledge in the first and the second year, undergraduates choose an area to specialize in. At the same time they choose a field for their independent research work, joining special seminars; the results of research are usually presented at the meetings of students’ scientific societies or at scientific conferences, the most interesting results are published. At the end of the final semester the results of each student’s independent research are submitted in the form of final paper, which is publicly presented by the student at the meeting of the department.

All the history of the University is the evidence of the outstanding role its alumni have played promoting the ideas of freedom, common good, humanity, and truth.

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