Hospitality, tourism and events management may seem like a modern field of study, but the School has been pioneering research and teaching in this area for over 60 years.

Leading the way for over half a century

We chart the School’s story from the early days that established hospitality, tourism and events as an academic field, to its unshakeable top-ranking status in today’s league tables.

Our founder

Professor Rik Medlik, Head of School 1967-1977

'Pioneer': perhaps an overused term to describe visionary people in many fields of endeavor, but there is no other who has a more legitimate claim to this title than the late Rik Medlik, the School’s first appointed Head of School from 1967 to 1977.

After fleeing the communist government that seized power over his native Czechoslovakia, Medlik sought refuge in the UK, graduated as a Bachelor of Commerce and dedicated his life to studies in the service sector.

He recognised that Britain could have a prosperous future in the hotel and tourism industry at a time when the country solely saw itself as the manufacturing workshop of the world.

Medlik pioneered tourism and hospitality as subjects of serious study. He was responsible for the first degree programmes in the field in 1966 and the first research degrees in 1971 – all inaugurated at the University of Surrey.

He wrote the first books on the subject, established the first academic journals and created the first tourism professional body.

It’s clear to see the origins of the School lie almost entirely with Rik Medlik, which is why in 2013, the School named its state-of-the-art building after its visionary ‘father’.

The School: a timeline of progression


BSc degree in Hotel & Catering Administration receives approval as the first such degree in the UK.


Rik Medlik appointed Professor of Hotel Management; the first such appointment in the UK.


Tourism introduced as a subject of study on the BSc degree in Hotel & Catering Administration.


First research students recruited for PhD and MPhil programmes.


First major textbook on hotel and catering published: Profile of the Hotel & Catering Industry, written by Professor Medlik.


First PhD in Tourism awarded.


First Postgraduate Diploma and MSc course in Tourism introduced.


First major textbook on tourism published: Tourism Past, Present and Future, by AJ Burkart and Professor Medlik.


Postgraduate MSc in Tourism Planning and Development introduced.


Postgraduate MSc in International Hotel Management introduced.


Postgraduate MSc in Tourism Marketing introduced.


Postgraduate MSc in Tourism & Hospitality Education introduced.


Recognised by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) for its promotion of responsible and sustainable tourism.


Undergraduate programmes reorganised and extended to include:

  • BSc (Hons) degree in International Hospitality Management
  • BSc (Hons) degree in International Tourism Management
  • BSc (Hons) degree in International Hospitality & Tourism Management


Postgraduate MSc in Event Management introduced.


Receives the Tourism Society Award for outstanding contribution to the development of tourism in the UK.


Graduation of the School’s 10,000th student.

A success story

Consistently topping the UK university league tables and ranked in the world’s top four since 1980, the School’s exemplary record speaks for itself.

We are proud that the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management is the UK’s premier institution for hospitality, tourism and events studies, with a worldwide reputation for excellence and dynamism in teaching and research.

Contact us

  • Phone: +44 (0)1483 686300
  • Fax: +44 (0)1483 686346

Find us

School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
University of Surrey