The University is a non-military building that becomes available in the early game. Its primary purprose is to generate Book Knowledge which is required to research most Library technologies and to build late game wonders and units. Universities must be built within cities, and only one university per city may be built.

The University requires the first level of Science — Archaeology — to be researched before it can be erected. While it also creates knowledge which is vital for the survival of your civilisation, it also impacts on your happiness by creating a one-time increase in dissent. The amount of happiness lost as a result depends on how high your Knowledge technology levels are. Aside from that, the University also hosts research for three other fields: Tax, Construction and Medicine. These upgrades are vital as they are required for many other upgrades elsewhere. The Construction upgrades are vital as they are needed to create rifled units in the Industrial Era.