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Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague

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Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague

Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague[1] is a traditional centre of Czech scholarship. The Faculty provides lectures in the greatest number of fields of the humanities in the Czech Republic and is the only faculty in Europe at which all the languages spoken in the Member States of the European Union can be studied (in various forms). Thanks to its seven hundred leading teachers and scientific workers, this Faculty is the most important Czech educational institution oriented towards the humanities, which constantly presents new and innovative ideas and is thus a continuation of its centuries-old tradition.

The faculty is now one of the biggest and most important humanistic institutions in the Czech Republic - as proved by the following statistics (data from 2008):


The Faculty of Arts of the Charles University in Prague was established as a Faculty of Liberal Arts within the University on the basis of the founding document by the Emperor Charles IV of April 7, 1348. The emperor thus attempted to make the Kingdom of Bohemia the permanent centre of the Holy Roman Empire and placed great emphasis on the scholarship of the Prague metropolis, wishing to concentrate domestic and foreign scholars there. The University, of which this Faculty was an integral part from its very beginning, represented cultural advancement and substantial social progress in society; at that time, students first attended the Faculty of Liberal Arts to receive education primarily in rhetorics and philosophy. In 1366, Emperor Charles IV endowed the Masters of Liberal Arts with the first Prague college – the Collegium Carolinum.

The Faculty of Liberal Arts shaped the profile of the entire spectrum of advanced education, because most scholars at that time completed their study by studying at this Faculty, or it was crucial in determining the level of theoretical knowledge of students entering other faculties of the University. In Pre-Hussite times, the Faculty of Liberal Arts educated two thirds of all the students at the University and the extent of its influence was certainly the greatest. The privileges of the Faculty included the right to award Master’s or Doctoral titles, which authorized their bearers to teach at any university in Europe.

Following the Hussite wars, the Faculty of Liberal Arts became the nucleus of the University for two centuries. From the 17th century, the Faculty was known as the Faculty of Arts and, until the middle of the 19th century, fulfilled the role of a faculty whose program provided preparatory higher education for future students of other faculties, so that everyone had to pass through it. Consequently, its life and influence continued to have a substantial effect on the creation of the traditions of the University and of Czech scholarship.

From the 18th century, it was possible to study at the faculty (in addition to philosophy) aesthetic theory, pedagogy, mathematics, astronomy, natural sciences, engineering sciences, economy and history. These were followed in the 19th century by oriental studies, archaeology and religion, and philology - linguistic studies of languages such as the Czech language, Italian, French, English and Hebrew began to develop substantially. Following the liberalization of teaching in the second half of the 19th century, women were allowed to study at the faculty since 1897.

The important influence and formative character of the Faculty survived the division of the University into Czech and German parts in 1882 and the separation of the Faculty of Natural Sciences between 1920-1939. In 1939, the school was closed by the occupying forces of the Nazi Germany, brutal persecution of teachers and students followed. Following the end of the occupation oc Czechoslovakia in 1945, the Faculty of Arts flourished again for a few years; this was forcibly terminated in 1948 by the onset of the Communist coup. The prestige of the faculty rapidly decreased as a result of forced departure of dozens of excellent teachers and the introduction of Marxist-Leninist studies. In the 1960', the Faculty slowly began to open to prominent thinkers of the time, but all expectations were destroyed by the Soviet occupation in 1968, against which a student of the Faculty, Jan Palach, protested by setting himself on fire. Only after the end of the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia and the departure of its compromised representatives in 1989 was the Faculty newly established as one of the most prestigious university institutions of the Czech Republic. Thanks to its almost seven hundred year-old tradition, successful scientific and pedagogical activities and breadth of fields of study, the Faculty of Arts of the Charles University is an undoubted authority in Czech society and has an excellent reputation internationally.

Organization of study

Degree programmes

All study programmes comply with the Bologna system and are structured into the BA, MA and doctoral (Ph.D.) stages. Study programmes may be in single-subject or double-subject form, some are available in either single-subject or double-subject form. The standard length of study is 3–4 years in the BA programme and 2–3 years in the follow-up MA programme. After finishing their MA studies, graduates may apply for a doctoral study programme. The doctoral study programme which offers the award of Ph.D. requires completion of a doctoral programme, Ph.D. finals and dissertation defence.[6]

Other programmes

Beside the degree programmes, the Faculty offers a number of short-term courses or summer schools and long-lasting education to its students, visiting students or the general public.[7] For example, the East and Central European Studies Programme (ECES) is a semester-long programme with instruction in English, designed for international students of the Faculty of Arts. [8] The Faculty also organises the Summer School of Slavonic Studies.[9]


Historical sciences

Centre for Latin-American Studies, Czech Institute of Egyptology, Department of Auxiliary Historical Sciences and Archive Studies, Institute for Classical Archaeology, Institute of Czech History, Institute of Economic and Social History, Institute of Ethnology, Institute of General History, Institute of Prehistory and Early History


Department of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures, Department of the English Language and ELT Methodology, Institute for Greek and Latin Studies, Institute of Comparative Linguistics, Institute of Czech and Comparative Literature and Literary Theory, Institute of Czech Language and Theory of Communication, Institute of Czech Studies, Institute of East Asian Studies, Institute of Germanic Studies, Institute of Linguistics and Finno-Ugric Studies, Institute of Near Eastern and African Studies, Institute of Phonetics, Institute of Romance Studies, Institute of Slavonic and East European Studies, Institute of South and Central Asia, Institute of the Czech National Corpus, Institute of Theoretical and Computational Linguistics, Institute of Translation Studies

Philosophy, logic & theory and history of art

Department of Aesthetics, Department of Cultural Studies, Department of Film Studies, Department of Logic, Department of Musicology, Department of Theatre Studies, Institute of Art History, Institute of Philosophy and Religious Studies

Social sciences

Department of Adult Education and Personnel Management, Department of Education, Department of Psychology, Department of Social Work, Department of Sociology, Institute of Information Studies and Librarianship, Institute of Political Science, Institute of Psychology


Department of Physical Education, Language Centre, Resource Language Centre

Notable alumni and academics


The best known alumni who studied the Faculty of Arts include, for example, Jan Hus, the most important 15th-century Czech religious reformer, whose work was transitional between the medieval and the Reformation periods and anticipated the Lutheran Reformation by a full century. He was embroiled in the bitter controversy of the Western Schism (1378–1417) for his entire career, and he was convicted of heresy at the Council of Constance and burned at the stake.[10]

Bernard Bolzano, Bohemian mathematician and theologian who provided a more detailed proof for the binomial theorem in 1816 and suggested the means of distinguishing between finite and infinite classes.[11]

Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, chief founder and first president (1918–35) of Czechoslovakia.[12]

Jaroslav Goll who belongs with František Palacký to the most notable Czech historians.[13]

Bedřich Hrozný, Czech archaeologist and language scholar who deciphered Hittite cuneiform, opening a major path to the ancient history of the Near East.[14]

Josef Pekař, one of the most important Czech historians.

Jan Patočka is regarded as one of the most important central European philosophers of the 20th century. But he is perhaps better known today as a moral and intellectual authority behind the Charter 77 protest movement - and the signatory who paid the most dearly, with his life.[15]

Václav Černý, Czech literary historian, comparatist, specialist in romance and Czech studies, critic and theorist, translator and editor, one of the most important authority of Czech spiritual culture of the 20th century.[16]


Tomáš Halík, well known professor of sociology, priest and writer, member of the editorial boards of several Czech and foreign specialist journals, serves on number of expert bodies and scientific societies at home and abroad. In June 2002 he received the Andrew Elias Human Tolerance Award "for outstanding services towards propagating the values of tolerance and freedom of spirit and thought" and many other awards.[17]

Martin Hilský, one of the most prominent translators of Shakespeare's plays and poems into Czech, in 2002 he was awarded the Tom Stoppard Prize for his essays on Shakespeare, and an MBE (An Honorary Member of the British Empire) by Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II. for his lifelong achievement as translator, writer and teacher.[18]

Miroslav Verner, archeologist, Egyptologist and epigrapher with long-term archaeological experience in Egypt, member of the UNESCO committee for ancient Egyptian antiquities, of Deutsches Achäologisches Institut and of the directorial board of the International Association of Egyptologists.[19]

Jan Bouzek, archeologist and cultural anthropologist, specialized in the Early Greek, Etruscan and Black Sea archaeology, and a series of studies also in European prehistoric, Roman provincial and Far Eastern archaeology and art history, member of the Learned Society of the Czech Republic, involved in numerous excavations in his country, participated in several excavational and survey projects in the Mediterranean.[20]


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