History of the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics

© Foto: Todor Andonov/LUH

With 28.000 students and 330 professors, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universität Hannover is the second largest university in Lower Saxony. Some 90 subjects are on offer. Leibniz Universität Hannover is a member of the TU9 German Institutes of Technology. The Faculty of Mathematics and Physics has 2.200 students, 50 professors and more 400 other staff.

The History of Leibniz Universität Hannover and our Faculty

  • 1831 Foundation of the Higher Trade School

    The history of the Leibniz Universität starts in 1831 with the founding of the Higher Trade School in the former Kingdom of Hannover. The first director was Karl Karmarsch. He regarded mathematics as a crucially important subject for technical studies, and designated the holder of the mathematics teaching position as Deputy Director. Between 1856 and 1858, two further teaching position for lower and higher mathematics were created.

    With the coming of the railways in 1842 the number of students rose sharply. The curriculum was radically altered, and the institution was turned into a polytechnic in 1847. Entrance requirements and the age of the polytechnic students were raised. Teaching became more theoretical, mathematical and specialised.

    View from the west onto the market place, in the background the Bornemann'sche Haus, around 1835.
  • On the Way to Becoming an Institute of Technology

    The number of subjects taught tripled between 1845 and 1853. The library built up by Karl Karmarsch could soon measure up to other similar institutions. Hannover was growing rapidly at that time. In 1866 Prussia annexed the Kingdom of Hannover. Prussian legislation brought essential elements of liberalisation.

    Although the transition to a Polytechnic had been relatively rapid, the further development of the college between 1854 and Karl Karmarsch’s retirement in 1875 was rather slow. Under his successor, the civil engineer and economist Wilhelm Launhardt, began the accelerated development of the college into an Institute of Technology. With the transition between 1876 and 1880, mathematics, which was previously only a teaching area, became a research field.

    Hannover Institute of Technology moved into the Welfenschloss, the former Royal Palace, on 6th October 1879
  • Physics Research Begins

    Physics research in Hanover began in 1853 under Gustav von Quintus Icilius, who gained his doctorate under Carl Friedrich Gauss in Göttingen. He was appointed as a lecturer in physics and mineralogy. He was later followed by professors in experimental physics and practical physics and photography.

    On April 14, 1909, the Prussian Ministry of Education opened the Technical University of Hannover to women as fully matriculated students.

    After the First World War, the Technical University received the right to train high school teacher of mathematics, physics and chemistry. In physics and mathematics, the degree of "Diplom" was created too. During this time, a further position for theoretical physics was established. The incumbent from 1941, Johannes Jensen, was later to receive a Nobel Prize.

    The Polytechnic (after 1860)
  • From the Institute of Technology to the Technical University

    After a general agreement had been passed in 1964 on the reorganisation of teaching in the sixth forms of Gymnasien, teacher training became the key issue of all further university expansion plans. Student numbers, which had remained almost constant at 4.000 to 5.000 until 1967, rocketed. In 1978/79 there were 18.000 students at the Institute of Technology.

    In 1968, the College of Education for Technical Schools was incorporated. In the same year, the Institute of Technology was renamed Technical University.

    Former Hannover College of Education, Bismarckstraße
  • The Establishment of the Physics Institutes

    The Institute of Meteorology was founded in 1949 outside the University at the College of Horticulture and Regional Culture Sarstedt. It moved to Herrenhausen in 1950 and was attached to the Department of Biology in the 1970s. In 1978 it was assigned to the Department of Physics.

    Reconstruction after the war saw the formation of three departments: Experimental Physics, Theoretical Physics and Applied Physics. From the latter, the Institute of Quantum Optics was founded in 1974. In 1978, the areas of spectroscopy and atomic precesses, together with the Insitute of Atomic and Molecular Physics (later Institute of Gravitational Physics), left the Department of Experimental Physics and were joined in 1996 by Plasma Physics. In 1962, Solid-State Physics set up its own institute.

    In 1957 radiation research began in Herrenhausen. This was initially a separate entity, with varying titles, e.g. the Centre for Radiation Protection and Radioecology in 1994, until it was assigned to the Faculty as the Institute of Radioecology and Radiation Protection in 2010.

  • The Nine Faculties

    In August 2005 the new university constitution came into force. Leibniz Universität was no longer divided into departments but into nine faculties. The faculties of Mathematics and Physics were combined. The Institute of Mathematics and Physics Education was founded roughly at the same time.

    Nowadays, the faculty consists of six institutes of mathematics, six physics and meteorological institutes and the joint Institute of education. There are 52 professors employed at the faculty.

    With the reorganization of the faculty, the Bachelor's and Master's degree programmes were introduced in 2005. The Diplom programmes and state exam programmes for the future teachers were phased out.

    We can now look back with pride on the research preformance in mathematics and physics, attained despite the comparatively poor research conditions the Leibniz Universität had to live with for so long as an Institute of Technology. We can thus speak of a series of fortunate chances and factors that provided the later university with two Nobel Prize winners.

    Welcome new students at Leibniz Universität Hannover (Photo: Moritz Küstner) Welcome new students at Leibniz Universität Hannover (Photo: Moritz Küstner) Welcome new students at Leibniz Universität Hannover (Photo: Moritz Küstner)
    Welcome event for new students at Leibniz Universität Hannover (Photo: Moritz Küstner)
Information about Persons and Research in the Faculty (German)


Incumbency Name
01.04.21 - Prof. Dr. Ulrich Derenthal
01.04.21 - Prof. Dr. Alexander Heisterkamp (Prodekan)
01.04.19 - 31.03.21Prof. Dr. Clemens Walther
01.04.19 - 31.03.21Prof. Dr. Ulrich Derenthal (Prodekan)
01.04.17 - 31.03.19Prof. Dr. Roger Bielawski
01.04.17 - 31.03.19Prof. Dr. Clemens Walther (Prodekan)
01.04.13 - 31.03.17Prof. Dr. Uwe Morgner
06.04.11 - 31.03.13Prof. Dr. Elmar Schrohe
01.04.09 - 31.03.11Prof. Dr. Rolf Haug
01.04.07 - 31.03.09Prof. Dr. Joachim Escher
01.04.05 - 31.03.07 Prof. Dr. Olaf Lechtenfeld