Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search results

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 12 Collections and/or Records:

Canals, Sluices, c1780-c1808

 Item
Identifier: Coll-204/22
Scope and Contents Volume contains manuscript notes on hydroengineering.

Engineering notes of Dr. Russell A. Leather, Edinburgh University student, graduating 1952

 Fonds
Identifier: Coll-1421
Scope and Contents The content of the 1st and 2nd year engineering note-books (laboratory books) of Dr. Russell A. Leather reflect the wide approach in studies which covered mechanical devices, steel structures and electrical technology. The books include graphwork, drawings, and photographs of late-1940s laboratory equipment at Kings Buildings (1948-1949). Photographs feature the 'Riehle' testing machine', the 'Adie' cement testing machine, a torsion testing machine, the 'Ambler' compression machine, the 'Olsen'...

Explanation of Symbols, c1780-c1803

 Item
Identifier: Coll-204/18
Scope and Contents Volume contains manuscript notes on the symbology of mathematics and engineering, followed by miscellanea on dymanics ('wheel carriages' being a special topic). There are some minor diagrams, and some of the terms are glossed with Russian.

Joint Advisory Committee on Engineering curriculum with Heriot-Watt College Minute Book, 1901-1913

 Item
Identifier: GB 0237 EUA IN1/ACA/SCI/1/10
Scope and Contents Includes letters and reports looking at the division of engineering teaching between the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt College. Those present at meetings included Arthur Pillans Laurie, Alexander Crum Brown, James Gordon MacGregor, and James Geikie.

Material relating to Thomas Archibald Campbell Brownlie B.Sc. (Engineering), Edinburgh 1935

 Fonds
Identifier: Coll-1329
Scope and Contents Material from Edinburgh University period, 1930s: - 6"-ruler - 'The Pupil's Own' - University of Glasgow - Prelim' Exam' Papers on Arts, Science, Medicine - 1932 - Edinburgh University note-books - 1934 largely - Strength of materials; Field work lectures; Field work; Hydraulics; Drawing - Class certificates - Edinburgh University, 1932-35 - Dynamics;...

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

 Sub-Series
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...

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

 Archival Record
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)

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

 File
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.

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

 File
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".

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

 File
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.