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University of Edinburgh (Scottish University)



  • Existence: 1583-present

The University of Edinburgh was established by Royal Charter in 1582. It was originally called Tounis College, when part of a legacy left by Robert Reid, Bishop of Orkney in 1558 had established a college of which the Town Council had gained control to establish a College of Law on the South side of Edinburgh. The inception of the University took place in 1583. In 1617 when King James VI of Scotland (I of England) visited the College it was decreed that the College should change its name to King James' College, although the College continued to use the older title. The first change in the corporate body of the University was not until 1935 when the first merger took place. This was between the Faculty of Divinity of the University of Edinburgh and New College. This was due to the re-union of the Church of Scotland in 1932.The next merger was in 1951 when the Royal (Dick) Veterinary School was reconstituted as part of the University of Edinburgh. The Royal (Dick) Veterinary School achieved full faculty status in 1964. In 1998 Moray House Institute of Education became the Faculty of Education.
The first classes of the university were held in Hamilton House known as the Duke's Lodge. In 1582 a site that included St Mary in the Fields was acquired. Many new buildings and extensions were made to the site of Hamilton House after 1616. Two prominent stages of building for the University were those undertaken by Robert Adam and William Playfair. In 1869 the site next to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary was acquired. Building on this project was completed by the end of the 19th century. The University today is situated around these areas in the centre of Edinburgh and Kings Buildings and there are also campuses at Holyrood and elsewhere.
Teaching began in 1583 under Robert Rollock, with a four year course in arts to gain a masters of arts. When Rollock was appointed as the first principal of the University, there were four Philosophy regents and one regent of Humanity, whilst Rollock specialized in Divinity. Until the beginning of the 18th century the University remained essentially an Arts College, with a Divinity School attached. Throughout the 17th century the Chairs of Divinity, Oriental Languages, Ecclesiastical History and Mathematics had been created. By the end of the 17th century there was also regular teaching in Medicine, and sporadic teaching in Law. The University was at the centre of European Enlightenment in the 18th century. By 1722 a Faculty of Law had been established. The first medical Chair had been established in 1685 and was closely followed in the first half of the 18th century by six more. Four more medical Chairs were created in the 19th century. New Chairs in other Faculties were not established after 1760 until the latter half of the 19th century when they followed in rapid succession, continuing in the 20th century, which include those produced by the mergers with New College, the Royal (Dick) Veterinary School and Moray House Institute of Education.
The University was governed by the town council until the Universities (Scotland) Act of 1858, when it received self governing status. The archaic teaching and management system of regents was abolished in 1708. The 1858 act dramatically changed the constitution of the University. A University Court and General Council were introduced which decided on matters and management pertaining to the whole University. The Senatus Academicus was already in place before 1858and this managed academic matters, but answered to the Court and Council. This system is still used.
The University of Edinburgh provides validation for a Master of Fine Arts that has run jointly with Edinburgh College of Art since 1943. A joint chair, the Hood Chair of Mining Engineering was established in 1923 with Heriot-Watt College which became Heriot-Watt University.
In 2002, the structure of the university was altered substantially, with the abolition of Faculties and the creation of the College of Humanities & Social Science, the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine and the College of Science & Engineering. Departments were replaced by Schools within each Faculty.

Found in 10 Collections and/or Records:

George Square redevelopment, 1960-1973

Identifier: PJM/PJMA/EUD/B/6
Scope and Contents George Square redevelopment consists of: general correspondence, (1969-1973) Civic Trust Award, (1969) reports, (1960-1973) general photographs, (1965-1967) plans: faculties of Arts and Social Sciences, (1964-1966) plans: landscape and streetscape, (1964-1965) plans: faculty of science, (1963) ...
Dates: 1960-1973

University of Edinburgh CDA: Faculty of Medicine, 1973-1977

Identifier: PJM/PJMA/EUD/B/4.2
Scope and Contents The contents of this original file entitled "University of Edinburgh CDA: Faculty of Medicine" consists of general correspondence, sub-committee papers and minutes relating to construction of the medical library for the Faculty of Medicine, as part of the implementation of the University of Edinburgh Comprehensive Development Area (1962) . Papers include correspondence concerning the case for and against the demolition of 10-14 George Square and papers of the North George Square Medical Project...
Dates: 1973-1977

University of Edinburgh Comprehensive Development Area: Buccleuch Place survey - preliminary survey of accommodation as used May 1969, 1969

Identifier: PJM/PJMA/EUD/B/13.2
Scope and Contents I copy of an architectural plan (59cm x 83cm) by Percy Johnson-Marshall & Associates showing a key to all the properties in Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh which are owned by the University of Edinburgh. The key is colour coded in felt-tip pen, but no legend is present.
Dates: 1969

University of Edinburgh Comprehensive Development Area: Old College Redevelopment, 1949-1977

Identifier: PJM/PJMA/EUD/B/12
Scope and Contents University of Edinburgh Comprehensive Development Area: Old College Redevelopment consists of:
  1. reports and photographs, (1964-1977)
  2. plans, (1949-1977)
Dates: 1949-1977

University of Edinburgh Comprehensive Development Area: Old College Redevelopment: plans, 1949-1977

 Archival Record
Identifier: PJM/PJMA/EUD/B/12.2
Scope and Contents Old College Redevelopment: plans consists of:
  1. plans: The Old College - South Bridge, (c1960)
  2. plans: Old College surface treatment, (1977)
  3. plans: water colours of Old College, (1949)
Dates: 1949-1977

University of Edinburgh Comprehensive Development Area: Old College Redevelopment: reports and photographs, 1964-1977

Identifier: PJM/PJMA/EUD/B/12.1
Scope and Contents Three reports concerning redevelopment of the University of Edinburgh Old College. The earliest by Ian G Lindsay & Partners (1964) outlines the history of Old College and provides plans and outline proposals for future use. Two from the late 1970s are by Percy Johnson-Marshall & Associates and report on a proposed scheme to resurface to quad of Old College. One report consists of annotated photographs of an architectural model. An individual black and white photographic print (12cm x...
Dates: 1964-1977

University of Edinburgh Comprehensive Development Area: Old College surface treatment, 1977

Identifier: PJM/PJMA/EUD/B/12.2.2
Scope and Contents 6 copy plans (63cm x 127cm) by Percy Johnson-Marshall & Associates showing ideas for the surface treatment of the quadrangle at the University of Edinburgh Old College. The plans are all copied from 1 base plan at 1:100 scale, of which there is a paper blank. A series of different ideas are shown on the remainder of the plans through hand written additions and coloured letratone. 4 of the plans are transparencies.
Dates: 1977

University of Edinburgh Comprehensive Development Area: plans of miscellaneous areas, 1960-1970

 Archival Record
Identifier: PJM/PJMA/EUD/B/14.2
Scope and Contents plans of miscellaneous areas consists of:
  1. plans: post graduate school of medicine (Pfizer Foundation), (14 November 1960
  2. plans: maths and physics site - High School Yards, (c1970)
Dates: 1960-1970

University of Edinburgh Comprehensive Development Area: Proposed alterations for various houses in Buccleuch Place, 1951-1972

Identifier: PJM/PJMA/EUD/B/13.1
Scope and Contents 37 copy architectural plans (45cm x 68cm) by the University of Edinburgh Works Department showing planned alterations for various houses in Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh to convert them from houses to teaching space. Some of the plans have hand additions in red pencil.
Dates: 1951-1972