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University of Edinburgh (Scottish University)



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 7 Collections and/or Records:

University of Edinburgh, King's Buildings Development: buildings plans, 1951-1978

Identifier: PJM/PJMA/EUD/D/5
Scope and Contents The University of Edinburgh, King's Buildings Development: buildings plans consists of: plans: proposed car park plans, (1971 plans: College of Agriculture, (1954-1974) plans: King's Buildings Centre, (1964-1973) plans: Maths / Physics Institute, (1965-1975) plans: zoology building, (1959-1973 plans: department of animal...
Dates: 1951-1978

University of Edinburgh, King's Buildings Development: department of engineering, 1957-1978

Identifier: PJM/PJMA/EUD/D/5.7
Scope and Contents

University of Edinburgh, King's Buildings Development: department of engineering consists of:

  1. plans: engineering laboratories extension, (1957)
  2. plans engineering laboratories extension II, (1964-1965)
  3. engineering growth plans, (1973)
Dates: 1957-1978

University of Edinburgh, King's Buildings Development: engineering growth plans, 1973

Identifier: PJM/PJMA/EUD/D/5.7.3
Scope and Contents

2 copy architectural plans (59cm x 85cm) by the architects Kneale and Russell showing expected growth of the Engineering Building at the University of Edinburgh Kings Buildings. The plans include a layout plan and elevations at 1:500 scale. Some dimensions are overwritten in red on the plan.

Dates: 1973

University of Edinburgh, King's Buildings Development: engineering laboratories extension, 1957

Identifier: PJM/PJMA/EUD/D/5.7.1
Scope and Contents

2 copy architectural plans (73cm x 107cm) by the architect Robert Joseph Gardner-Medwin and Kingham Knight Associates for an extension to the engineering laboratories at the University of Edinburgh King's Buildings. There is a topographic site plan at 1/32" to 1' scale and a "Layout study showing botany and natural resources in relation to engineering extensions".

Dates: 1957

University of Edinburgh, King's Buildings Development: engineering laboratories extension II, 1964-1965

Identifier: PJM/PJMA/EUD/D/5.7.2
Scope and Contents

5 copy plans (41cm x 59cm) by the architect Robert Joseph Gardner-Medwin with Kingham Knight Associates showing a planned extension for the engineering laboratories at the University of Edinburgh King's Buildings. The plans include 2 copies of a layout plan at 1:500 scale, one overdrawn in felt-tip pen with alternative possible buildings. A layout of the extensions is at 1/32" to 1' scale. There are also floor plans, elevations and sections at 1/8" to 1' scale.

Dates: 1964-1965

University of Edinburgh, King's Buildings Development: King's Buildings centre - phase 2, 1972-1973

Identifier: PJM/PJMA/EUD/D/5.3.5
Scope and Contents

Plan (59cm x 85cm) of a site survey of the University of Edinburgh King's Buildings Centre - phase 2. This shows man-holes, levels and exploratory holes at 1:100 scale. There is some hand annotation. The survey was undertaken by Ove Arup & Partners.

Dates: 1972-1973