Philology has had a long tradition in Serbian educational system, including high education. The Faculty of Philology can therefore be considered to be one of the oldest Serbian faculties, although it started functioning as an independent institution as late as 1960. when it developed from the Faculty of Philosophy and was established as an independent scientific and educational institution.

Philology studies began in Velika škola (Advanced School), which was founded in 1808 in Belgrade when Serbs were engaged in liberation wars and uprisings so as to create a nation state. However, historical circumstances, uprisings and struggle against Ottoman occupation were not favorable for science and education.

Velika škola was opened by probably the best-educated Serb of his time – Dositej Obradović, who was the first modern Serbian educator, during which occasion he gave a speech on the importance of science. One of the first professors was Sima Milutinović, the first Serbian romantic poet, and one of the famous students was Vuk Karadžić, the codifier of modern Serbian, or to be more precise, the common language of the majority of South Slavs. Apart from a Serbian course, Velika škola also offered German courses.

Velika škola was reopened under the new name of Licej (Lyceum) in 1838 in Kragujevac, which was the capital of the liberated part of Serbia. This year is taken to be the founding year of Belgrade University, because it was moved to Belgrade in 1841. In 1841 Licej was restructured to comprise two sections (colleges) – the School of Law and the Faculty of Philosophy, and the Department of Science and Technology was added in 1852. Apart from German, French was taught at Licej as of 1839, and in late 1852 the Philosophy Department formed the extramural German and the Department of Serbian History and Literature.

Reorganization of Licej and its transformation into the Advanced School (Velika škola) took place in 1863 the same year when Serbian educational system received one of its most celebrated donations – a majestic edifice on the then Great Market (today known as Studentski trg), bequeathed by Captain Miša Anastasijević. In the fall of the same year first students were enrolled. Apart from the Rectorate, which is located at Captain Miša’s Edifice, our oldest Department, the Serbian Language Department, is also situated there.

The foundation of Velika škola was an incentive for philology disciplines to develop, to open Serbian science and culture to Europe and the rest of the world after five centuries of oppression and the overall rule of the Ottoman culture. Many new disciplines were founded and the number of teachers and students increased. Slavic Philology and History of World Literature Department was founded, whereas in 1876 Serbian and Slavic Literatures Department developed from it.

The founding of Belgrade University in 1905 gave fresh impetus to philology, which further developed at the Faculty of Philosophy until 1960 when the Faculty of Philology was founded.

However, the First and Second World Wars seriously impeded the rising trend of Serbian higher education, and they had the same impact on Serbian science and culture in general. Serbia was directly involved in these horrendous wars and suffered great human and material losses. Many distinguished professors and students, intellectuals educated throughout Europe and who returned to Belgrade University, died in combat at various fronts fighting for the freedom and independence of Serbia.

Among the most distinguished professors and founders of various disciplines of philology were the following: Đura Daničić, Professor at Licej, a great figure of Serbian philology and a codifier of standard Serbian, learned philologist and statesman Stojan Novaković, Romance scholar and Serbian literature historian Jovan Skerlić, the distinguished brothers Pavle and Bogdan Popović, Radovan Košutić, the founder of Slavic studies in Serbia, Aleksandar Belić, a linguist and Serbian language expert, Germanists Miloš Trivunac and Milan Đuričin, Henrik Barić, the founder of Albanian studies Fehim Barjaktarević, the founder of Oriental studies in Serbia, Vladeta Popović, founder of the English Department.

Many eminent philologists from foreign countries contributed with their work and knowledge to the Faculty of Philology. The Russian Slavist Platon Kulikovsky, who was a visiting professor at Velika škola between 1877 and 1882, was the founder of Russian studies in Serbia; Englishman David Law started teaching English language and literature classes in 1907 and paved the way for the English Department (founded in 1929). Bruno Gujon from Italy worked at the faculty from 1912 to 1914 and paved the way for Italian studies.

Having become a separate institution from the Faculty of Philosophy in 1960, the Faculty of Philology started working independently in the same academic year. The Faculty building suffered great damages during the Second World War, particularly in 1944, during the liberation of Belgrade, while many department libraries were lost forever in fire. When it became independent, the Faculty of Philology had eleven departments and about 3,500 students. It started with the following departments:
  1. Serbo-Croatian Language, which dates from the Licej Slavic Philology Department (1845) and Serbian History and Literature Department (1852).
  2. Yugoslav Literature shares the same roots, founded as an independent Department for Serbian and Slavic Literatures at Velika škola in 1876.
  3. Yugoslav and General Literature
  4. Slavic Studies, traditionally associated with Slavic philology studies (1845) and was founded in 1847 when Russian Language and Literature Department was established.
  5. French Language and Literature, department institutionalized in 1896, although French was taught at Licej as of 1839.
  6. Italian Language and Literature, which was founded in 1930, or to be more precise in 1929, when Italian Language and Literature Seminar was opened.
  7. German Language and Literature, whose separate unit, the Extramural German Department was founded at Licej in 1852, although German was introduced into higher education in 1839.
  8. English Language and Literature, which became independent in 1929 when this department was founded
  9. General Literature
  10. Oriental Philology
  11. Albanian Studies
Independent development of the Faculty undoubtedly contributed to the introduction of new disciplines that aroused enough interest. New courses were introduced, curricula were extended, and new departments and chairs were founded, e.g. Romanian Language and Literature (1963), Spanish Language and Literature (1971), Arabic and Turkish Language and Literature Departments (1960) , Chinese Language and Literature (1974), Japanese Language and Literature (1985), Scandinavian Languages (Swedish, Danish, Norwegian in 1986, starting with Norwegian Lectorate in 1979), Lectorates for Dutch (1987), Ukrainian (1989), Hebrew (1990), Library Science Department (1963), General Linguistics Department (1990), Hungarian Studies Department (1994), Greek Language and Literature Department (1995) etc.
  1. Romance Studies Department, comprising:
    • Chair of French Language and Literature
    • Chair of Romanian Language and Literature
    • Lectorate for Latin
  2. Iberian Studies Department:
    • Chair of Spanish Language and Hispanic Literatures
    • Lectorate for Portuguese
    • Lectorate for Catalonian
  3. Italian Studies Department
  4. Oriental Studies Department:
    • Chair of Oriental Philology
    • Chair of Arabic Language and Literature
    • Chair of Turkish Language and Literature
    • Chair of Chinese Language and Literature
    • Chair of Japanese Language and Literature
    • Lectorate for Hebrew
    • Lectorate for Korean
    • Lectorate for Persian
    • Lectorate for Sanskrit
  5. Library Science and IT Department
  6. General Linguistics Department
  7. Central and South-East Europe Studies Division, comprising:
    • Chair of Albanian Language and Literature
    • Chair of Hungarian Language and Literature
    • Chair of Greek Language and Literature
  8. Social Sciences and Humanities Seminar is a special unit organizing courses in philosophy, culturology, social ecology and psychology for students from other departments
The Faculty opened four extramural Departments in Kragujevac – departments for Serbian Language and Literature, English Language and Literature, French Language and Literature and German Language and Literature. In 2001 Spanish Language and Hispanic Literatures and Department was opened.

Along with the increase of disciplines studied, it was necessary to focus on professional training and scientific development, and various centers, institutes and journals were founded at the Faculty. The Faculty hosts the following Centers: Publishing
The Faculty publishes the following periodicals: Prilozi za književnost, jezik, istoriju i folklor (as of 1921), Anali Filološkog fakulteta (1961) and Filološki pregled (as of 1997).
In 1961 Monografije Filološkog fakulteta was launched, where more than 80 doctoral theses and other monographs by the Faculty staff were published.
As part of the International Center for Slavic Studies activities, dozens of special publications were published, and Međunarodni sastanak slavista u Vukove dane has been published for more than 30 years, where papers from annual conferences of slavists are published.
The Faculty has its own specialized bookstore, co-owned by the Narodna knjiga. Its address is Knez Mihajlova 40.
Students occasionally start their own journals and magazines, such as Znak, usually financed by the Faculty within its means.

Department Libraries
Department Libraries are probably the best evidence of our scientific and educational activities. Every department has a library run by qualified personnel. In the course of time many valuable and unique collections were built up. For example, the library which belongs to the Oriental Studies Department has the largest stock of its kind in the Balkans (more than 34,000 items). Priceless are the funds of the Serbian Language and South Slavic Languages Department (more than 155,000 items), and the Faculty is planning to launch Virtuelna Srbija Project (initiated by our students) whose aim would be to make the most rare and most valuable books available on CD. At the beginning of the year 2000 the stock of all libraries comprised about 600,000 items (compared to 430,000 in 1988). The entire library stock will be electronically catalogued this year.

Some department libraries have collections donated by our distinguished professors and eminent public figures, such as V. Jagić, P. Popović, V. Gligorić, V. Nedić, M. Ibrovac, 0. Radović, F. Barjaktarević, D. Razić, R. Lalić. D. Perović, Đ. Živanović, D. Mirkovića etc.

Memorial Foundations and Funds
Many people bequeathed their funds to the Faculty of Philology, and the Faculty itself established memorial funds named after its eminent professors. These funds are used to provide financial awards for best students. Some funds, and particularly the modest ones, have limited financial resources but are still active. While expecting better times, they will continue to share the destiny of the Faculty.

Memorial foundations: Memorial funds: International Cooperation
Since its foundation the Faculty of Philology has been putting a lot of effort to establish best possible cooperation with foreign universities and faculties. Many eminent professors and scientists were visiting lectures at the Faculty, and even more of them gave occasional lectures. Today the Faculty cooperates with Humboldt-Universität (Berlin, Germany), University of Granada (Spain), Chuo University (Tokyo, Japan), Hankuk University (Seoul, South Korea), Moscow State University, Faculty of Philology, Saint Petersburg University (Russia), Taras Shevchenko University (Kiev, Ukraine), Jinan University (China), Brno University (Czech Republic), University of Lisbon (Portugal), University of Valencia (Spain).

Similar cooperation agreements are to be signed with the Faculty of Philosophy in Srpsko Sarajevo, with Sorbonne (Paris III) and the University of Banská Bystrica (Slovakia).

ProjectsDuring these forty years of independent activity, the Faculty of Philology and its most eminent academics have taken part in various projects financed from state funds for scientific and technological development. Among most interesting projects are those concerning folk literature (led by Professor N. Milošević-Đorđević), Serbian Culture and Literature in European Context (M. Sibinović), Serbian Medieval Fiction (Professor Đorđe Trifunović), Serbian Contrastive Studies (Professor Predrag Piper), Poetics of Serbian Literature (Professor N. Petković), Standard Serbian (Professors M. Radovanović and Ž. Stanojčić), Comparative Studies in Serbian Literature (Professor N. Stipčević), Literary Theory in the 20th Century and Issues in Serbian Literature. Many teaching staff members of the Faculty of Philology have taken part in projects that are carried out at other faculties.