The constitution of the University is laid down in a series of Acts of Parliament enacted between 1858 and 1966. Under these the University Court is the supreme governing body having responsibilities for the finances, appointment of staff and general managerial functions. Its twenty-five members come from within the University, the local community and beyond. The Court is chaired by the Rector, elected by the matriculated students of the University.
The Senatus Academicus is the supreme academic body under the presidency of the Principal. It consists of all professors, heads of school, a number of elected non-professorial members of staff, and four student members. Much of the Senate's business is delegated to a smaller body, the Academic Council.
The University is divided into four Faculties - Arts, Divinity, Science, Medicine - each one governed by a Faculty Council comprising all permanent members of academic staff in each school in the Faculty (members of cross faculty schools may attend either or both Faculty Councils). These Faculty Councils, in association with the Senatus Academicus, are ultimately responsible inter alia for the approval of new undergraduate and postgraduate courses and for overseeing monitoring of the progress of students. The Deans of Faculties and other Faculty officers, including those responsible for postgraduate matters, are elected by the Faculty Councils. The Faculty Councils meet once annually, towards the end of each academic year.
The routine business of the Faculty is conducted throughout the year by the Teaching, Learning and Assessment (TLA) Committee, a standing committee reporting to Senate, and by the Faculty Business Committees. The Faculty Business Committees, comprising the Faculty officers and any other co-opted members, meet in advance of each TLA committee to dispatch routine affairs and review issues arising from the implementation of policy or course proposals, highlighting issues which may need discussion in the wider forum of the TLA.
As of January 2002, the former Executive is now replaced by a wider Senior Management Group, consisting of the former Executive together with (inter alia) Deans and some Directors of Units.
The Group meets regularly and has formed itself into Task Groups, some of which are standing and some of which are transient. Task Groups make recommendations about actions to be taken and link into existing management structures such as Court and Academic Council committees etc. Membership of Task Groups is not exclusive to members of the Management Group, but may be expanded to include colleagues from throughout the University (including the student body) as deemed appropriate for a particular task. Task Groups are not a forum for strategic discussion: that continues to take place but at a different level. Task Groups are primarily action groups.
There is ample scope for student participation in University government, at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. All matriculated students of the University have the right to vote in the election of a Rector who holds office for a three-year period and chairs the University Court. The Rector appoints an Assessor who is also a member of the University Court and is usually a student.
In addition, the University Court has in recent years co-opted to its membership the President of the SRC (Student Representative Council). There are student representatives on the Senate and the Academic Council. Students also have representatives on a wide range of University committees. The SRC itself exists to represent students on all matters and is the recognised channel of communication between students and the University authorities.