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 7 Collections and/or Records:

Graduation and Ordination Certificates of William Kerr Smith

 Fonds — Box: CLX-A-375
Identifier: Coll-1890
Scope and Contents Graduation certificate, on vellum, of William Kerr Smith, who graduated from Edinburgh University in 1771 with a Master's in Liberal Arts. A red wax seal in a metal case is appended to the certificate. It represents a castle surrounded with the words 'S.[IGILLUM] COMMUNITATIS. BURGI. DE EDENBURGH. AD. CAUSAS.', and was appended by the City of Edinburgh to confirm the authenticity of the diploma.This collection also includes William Smith's ordination certificate, as he became the Episcopal...
Dates: 1771-1772

Laureation Degrees (First Laureation Album), 1587-1809

 Item — Box: EUA IN1/ADS/STA/1/1
Identifier: EUA IN1/ADS/STA/1/1
Scope and Contents This album begins with the text of the 'sponsio' or confession of Faith (sometimes referred to as the National Covenant) of 1580, to which the graduates subscribed, and which continued to be subscribed to by Professors and Students for many years. The entries for laureations (or graduations) begin in August 1587, when Robert Rollock, the first Principal 'did laureat the first classe which had passed under his charge in the Colledge of Edinburgh, after every one of them had subscrybed the...
Dates: 1587-1809

Letter to Sir Donald Francis Tovey from Julius Rontgen, 27 February 1930

 Item
Identifier: Coll-411/1/1/L1607
Scope and Contents Letter, 27 February 1930, Bilthoven, Julius Rontgen to Donald Tovey. Discussing Rontgen's plans to be present at Edinburgh Universities graduation ceremony. Holograph signed.
Dates: 27 February 1930

Material around the Edinburgh University student history of Alan Owen MA., Dip.Ed., B.Ed

 Fonds
Identifier: Coll-1439
Scope and Contents The collection of material relating to life at University for Alan Owen and Anne Hyslop Gemmell is composed of: Cowan House, Hall of Residence for Men - Owen admitted 1939 - documents relating to Cowan House residency Inclusive Fee Regulation cards, General Council registration, and class cards for varied subjects between 1939-1948 - documents relating to both Owen and Anne Hyslop Gemmell ...
Dates: 1939-1948

Papers of Dr. Asta Winifred Russell Moller

 Fonds — Box: CLX-A-327
Identifier: Coll-1832
Scope and Contents The collection consists of the personal papers of Dr. Asta Moller, B Litt and D Phil (University of Oxford), MA (University of Edinburgh), who made a substantial contribution to knowledge by her researches into the history of the coal industry. The collection contains: Examination papers in Arts and Science - Danish 1 and 2, March 1916 Honours' class examination paper in Political Economy,...
Dates: 1916-1981

Papers of Sir William Kennedy Reid

 Fonds — Box: CLX-A-327
Identifier: Coll-1826
Scope and Contents This collection consists mostly of William Kennedy Reid's student records when he was studying Classics at the University of Edinburgh: correspondence, certificates, graduation booklets and leaflets, matriculation cards, two photographs, and three medals in their cases. Pass certificates and matriculation cards from the University of Edinburgh in Classics: Ancient History, Greek, Latin, Classical Archaeology,...
Dates: 1947-1994

University memorabilia collected by Robert Dean Wilson

 Fonds
Identifier: Coll-1530
Scope and Contents Collection of memorabilia is composed of:
  1. 2 x University of Edinburgh. Graduation of Ceremonial. McEwan Hall. Saturday 31 October 1964
  2. 1 x 'Student's Handbook' 1960-61. An SRC Publication. (Includes photographic illus. of David M. S. Steel, Senior President, SRC, on p.20)
  3. 1 x 'Student's Handbook' No. LXVII 1962-63
Dates: 1960-1964