In 1962, the Government of Western Australia earmarked an area of land in Bull Creek to be the site of a future, second state university. Integral to the planning of the creation of Western Australia's second university was the planning for the School of Veterinary Science, which was to be the first professional faculty of the new university.It was decided that the new university would be named after Sir Walter Murdoch, a prominent local author, philosopher, and an Emeritus Professor at the University of Western Australia. When asked if he minded a new university in Western Australia being named in his honour, he was quoted as saying, "No, but it had better be a good one."
Murdoch University was formally constituted on the 25th of July 1973. It was opened with an inauguration ceremony on the 17th of September 1974. This date was chosen as it was Sir Walter Murdoch's 100th birthday. The Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, attended the ceremony as the guest of honour. Lectures began in 1975, with 510 students enrolled for undergraduate programs.At the time, the young university was notable for its admissions policy of taking into consideration eligibility factors other than the school leaving exam results of students. Other universities later came to adopt this more holistic perspective of student eligibility for entrance into university education.