Skip to main content

University of Edinburgh (Scottish University)

 Organization

Dates

  • 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 9 Collections and/or Records:

Interviews with distinguished British scientists, 1969-1971

 Series
Identifier: EUA CA16/2
Scope and Contents Interviews with: Sir William Lawrence Bragg ( 1890-1971), physicist (1 CD) Sir Harold Brewer Hartley ( 1878-1972 ), physical chemist (23 CDs) Sir Alfred Charles Bernard Lovell ( b1913), radio astronomer, pioneer of radar and radio telescopes (3 CDs) Lord John Boyd Orr ( 1880-1971), nutritional physiologist (1 CD) Sir Frederick Stratten Russell...
Dates: 1969-1971

Interviews with former staff of the Institute of Animal Genetics, 1969-1971

 Series
Identifier: EUA CA16/1
Scope and Contents Contains interviews with: Charlotte Auerbach, Alick Buchanan Smith, Lord Balerno, F.A.E. Crew, Frank Fraser Darling, Hugh Paterson Donald, Honor Fell and Alan William Greenwood. The interviewer in all cases is Margaret Deacon.
Dates: 1969-1971

Lecture notes and student memorabilia of Magnus Grimond

 Fonds — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Coll-1891
Scope and Contents This collection consists of miscellaneous undergraduate materials from 1978-82 belonging to Magnus Grimond, relating to his studies in law and history. Grimond studied at Edinburgh University between 1978 and 1982, although 1980/81 was spent at the University of Pennsylvania. Scots Law 1, 1978-79: course summary, reading and lecture notes and essays. Scottish Legal System, 1978-79, &...
Dates: 1978-1982

Papers of John Baillie, 1900-1964

 Sub-Fonds
Identifier: BAI 1
Scope and Contents school and university notes; awards and achievements; lectures, addresses and broadcasts; sermons and prayers; manuscripts of published works; papers relating to the World Council of Churches, British Council of Churches, General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and other organisations; personal and professional correspondence
Dates: 1900-1964

Papers of Professor Roger Davidson

 Fonds
Identifier: Coll-1497
Scope and Contents The collection of Papers of Professor Roger Davidson is composed of his material used in the preparation of two of his books: The Sexual State: sexuality and Scottish governance 1950-80 (Edinburgh: EUP, 2012), and Illicit and Unnatural Practices: The Law, Sex and Society in Scotland since 1900 (Edinburgh: EUP, 2019). See the box lists for more details.
Dates: 2000s-2010s (creation of notes and research material themselves); 1880s-1980s (date of source material)

Papers relating to Donald Macpherson Baillie, 1908-1961

 Series
Identifier: BAI 7
Scope and Contents The papers relating to Donald Macpherson Baillie consist of:
  1. articles, cuttings and ephemera
  2. career/employment resumés and references
  3. correspondence
  4. memorials and letters of condolence
Dates: 1908-1961

The Percy Johnson-Marshall Collection

 Fonds — Multiple Containers
Identifier: PJM
Scope and Contents The Percy Johnson-Marshall Collection consists of papers, plans, books, journals and photographs collected or created by him throughout the course of his career. These reflect both his employment situation, his involvement in professional organisations and educational bodies, his involvement in World Development issues and his general interest in architecture and planning. The collection contains material relating to: ...
Dates: 1931-1993

University of Edinburgh: teaching duties, 1959-1988

 Sub-Fonds
Identifier: PJM/EUT
Scope and Contents Papers relating to Percy Johnson-Marshall's teaching duties at the University of Edinburgh consists of: Chair of Urban Design and Regional Planning - personal letters of congratulation on Percy Johnson-Marshall's appointment, 1964 applications for the Robert Adam Chair of Architecture, 1968 Faculty of Social Science - reports and minutes, and papers relating to a "Seminar on...
Dates: 1959-1988

Untitled lecture given to members of staff of the University of Edinburgh, 1950

 File
Identifier: Coll-1310/3/1/3/7
Scope and Contents The lecture comprises of Thomson's advice to new and inexperienced lecturers, and covers topics such as the audibility and clarity of the lecturer; the importance of the lecturer believing in what they are saying; the importance of engaging with the audience; effective use of blackboards, notes, diagrams, examples and models; and the use of humour. Thomson's humour is clear throughout. The advice he offers is actually very unusual for this time – Lawn et all describe it as ...
Dates: 1950