The Faculty began in 1948 with temporary and make-shift buildings on the old site in Eleyele, a skeleton staff, and a handful of students reading for the B.A. General Degree, under the scheme of Special Relationship with the University of London. The original departments were Classics, English (which, from 1954, included a sub-department of Phonetics), Geography, History, Mathematics and Religious Studies. In 1950, Classics, Geography and Mathematics secured recognition for Honours Degree courses under the Special Relationship scheme. Two years later, the same privilege was extended to English and History.
In 1953, the Faculty moved to its first pern1anent buildings on the present campus, and continued to occupy these buildings, located between the Administration Block and Niger Road, until 1960. In 1955 the newly-created Department of Economics and Social Studies was assigned temporarily to the Faculty as the nucleus of a future Faculty of the Social Sciences. The establishment in 1958 of a Lectureship in French and German regularized a situation of several years' standing whereby provision had been made for the teaching of French and Gern1an reading skills to Science students by a temporary lecturer (the incumbent was, in fact, a woman). The new lecturer in French and German, despite the title, was in fact, just a Lecteur-Lektor. This was done, presumably, to avoid this cumbrous appellation that the somewhat misleading English designation "Lecturer" was used. By 1960, the number of posts in this category had risen to three, two of them financed from outside sources. The work of this trio was to lay the foundation on which a full department was subsequently to arise, namely the Department formerly called Department of Modem Languages. The same department has since been renamed Department of European Studies to reflect its wider concern with life and living in Europe, in addition to the languages-politics, history, economy, etc.
In January 1960, the Faculty moved to its present buildings. The old Arts Block had long since proved too small for the Faculty's growing needs. This old block was now occupied by the Faculty of the Social Sciences, established in the same year around the nucleus of the five-year old Department of Economics. While the latter now severed its temporary link with the Faculty of Arts, a new sub-department of Geology was created within the Geography Department. Two posts in another new field, Arabic Studies, were created, financed by outside sources as a preliminary to the establishment of a full new department.
With the coming of University autonomy in 1962, the old Special relationship courses were radically and systematically modified. A new Ibadan B.A. Degree structure and programme was devised and the General Degree was abolished. The Faculty now offered two kinds of degrees. Single School and Combined School, both being Honours Degrees, but providing also in either case for the award of a Pass Degree. The new structure was designed to meet the need for graduates with a broad educational background, combined with specialisation in one or two areas. In addition, Arts Studies, without losing their essential universality, were now more directly related to Africa and more closely centred on the local environment. In the underlying philosophy, the African man of culture whom the Faculty sought to produce was seen as neither "an African familiar with Machiavelli and unfamiliar with Ibn Khaldun" nor merely "a man of African culture", but a judicious blend of the two.
The new philosophy was reflected in the creation of a number of new departments and teaching-support units: in 1962 came Arabic and Islamic Studies, Linguistics and Nigerian (now African) Languages (based on the old sub-departments of Phonetics), and Modern Languages, but now called, as earlier stated, (European Studies). Mathematics and the sub-department of Geology at last moved to their more natural homes in the Faculty of Science, in the following year (1963). The School of Drama (subsequently the Department of Theatre Arts) was founded around a nucleus of drama specialists hitherto based in the English Department. At the same time serious attention began to be given to the development of Postgraduate Studies and the next decades were to witness a progressively increasing output of M.A.'s, Ph.D.'s and Postgraduate Diploma holders.
These developments naturally entailed a great increase in staff and student numbers. The new Arts Block, only three years old in 1963, was already beginning to burst at the seams. In the next few years, with the creation of new teaching-support units and a new Department of Philosophy, the problem of space became more and more acute. The Reading Centre was created in 1965. Two years later, another important unit, the Central Language Laboratory, was established. The new Department of Philosophy, planned since 1968, was finally established in 1973. Although Geography was transferred to the Faculty of the Social Sciences in 1966, and both Arabic and Theatre Arts were re-housed in the old Arts Block in 1971, the problem of space ultimately led to the construction of the Faculty New Annex, which, though yet to be completed even in 1998, was put into use in 1989/90. By that year, the problem of space had outgrown this new addition. The revised Senate regulation which required a student to obtain not less than 120 units for the award of the B.A. degree came into force in 1997.
Consequently, departments had to expand their curricula to enable their students to meet the new requirement. With new courses now mounted, classroom facilities became and still remain inadequate, and the inadequacy was one of the reasons for NUC to deny full accreditation for most of the programmes being mn in the Faculty.
As may be inferred from the above, since 1968-72, the Faculty's Curriculum Committee had been devoting considerable thought to the question of a further modification of the degree programme. The result was the adoption of a system of instruction by courses as opposed to subjects. All subjects taught in the Faculty were broken down into a number of components of homogeneous subject-matter, and these components or courses were assigned unit values related to the number of lectures, tutorials and practical given in each. This new course-system was devised as a means of allowing greater flexibility to both students and staff and at the same time avoiding wasteful duplication of teaching in different departments. It is intended to give students the opportunity to read for a particular honours degree in one or two subject-areas, while at the same time, exposing them to a broader liberal education through the flexible choice of various courses. The first steps in the operation of the new system were taken in October 1972, exactly ten years after the introduction of the first Ibadan degree programme in Arts. Students are now to specialise either in one of the following disciplines:
- Commmunication and Language Arts
- Islamic Studies
- Religious Studies
- Theatre Arts
- Yoruba Studies
or in a combination of two disciplines (which may include, in addition to the above, Political Science or Sociology). All students are, however, required, whatever their specialisation, to take courses in other subject areas. This evolution has become a continuous process, culminating in 1997/98, in the present courses and progranm1es listed in this prospectus by respective departments.
The University opened a campus in Jos in 1972. In the new campus, the Faculty offered preliminary courses in the arts disciplines. These courses were carefully designed to give students a very broad base as a preliminary to the three-year degree programme. While specialising in two or three subjects of their choice, students were required at the same time to take three compulsory courses: namely Background to African Culture, the Use of English, and The History of Thought. When the Jos Campus became the autonomous University of Jos in 1975, the courses were replaced in Ibadan by General Studies (GES) which all Faculty students must take and pass to be awarded a degree.
Like the proverbial mustard seed growing into a mighty tree, the student population of the Faculty has risen from 40 (initially 17 in January 1948) in 1948/49 to 757; in 1972/73 to the present size of 2,600. The total staff strength of 8 in 1948 (all non-African as they were called then) to 92 in 1972/73, to 123 in 1997/98, all Nigerians, except 10. Currently, we have 164 on the teaching staff, all Nigerians, except 5.