The university’s main campus covers 455 hectares (1,120 acres) of land, with the Thames River running through the eastern portion. Western administers a wide variety of academic programs between 12 faculties and professional schools and three affiliated university colleges.
The university was founded on 7 March 1878 by Bishop Isaac Hellmuth of the Anglican Diocese of Huron as “The Western University of London Ontario.” It incorporated Huron University College, which had been founded in 1863. The first four faculties were Arts, Divinity, Law and Medicine. The Western University of London was eventually made non-denominational in 1908.
Western has consistently ranked as one of world’s top universities. According to the 2012 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) rankings, the university ranked 201–300 in the world and top 10 in Canada. The 2011 QS World University Rankings ranked the university 157th in the world, making it seventh in Canada. Several of Western’s programs were also ranked in individual rankings. Social sciences at Western was ranked 96th in the world in the 2010 QS World University Rankings.
In 2012, the ARWU similarly ranked social science at Western 76–100 in the world. Western Law School was also ranked ninth nationally in Maclean’s 2012 rankings for common law schools in Canada. Western’s Ivey Business School has also ranked well internationally.