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Papers of Professor Sir D. Neil MacCormick

Identifier: Coll-1049

Scope and Contents

The Neil MacCormick papers represent the work carried out by Neil MacCormick during his time in office as MEP, 1999-2004. and consist of reports, policy formulation documents, meeting documents, comments and contributions, press releases, newsletters, lectures, conference material, copy news articles and correspondence, including lobbying letters.

The collection contains material relating to:

Legislative Work;
Policy Shaping;
Rights Implementation;
Constitutive Work;
Self-managerial Work;
The Convention on the Future of Europe;
Parliamentary Questions and Answers;
Parliamentary Immunity;
The Echelon System.


  • Creation: 1985-2003


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Access to some of the information in this collection is subject to legal restrictions and terms of donor agreement. Please contact the repository in advance.

Biographical / Historical

Professor Sir Donald Neil MacCormick (1941-2009) was a renowned legal philosopher, an internationally acknowledged authority on the legal theory of the European Union and a prominent figure in both Scottish and European politics. For 36 years, from 1972, he was professor of Public Law and the Law of Nature and Nations at the University of Edinburgh. He held office as Member of the European Parliament for the SNP from 1999-2004 and much of his work during his term in office related to constitutional and legal affairs and to the Convention. His mandate coincided with the re-establishment in 1999 of Scottish Parliament and a lot of his work concerned the proper representation of regions and sub-state nations in Europe, with special regard to the principle of subsidiarity.

MacCormick was born on 27 May 1941 in Glasgow. He was one of four Children of Margaret Miller and John MacCormick, a leading light of Scottish Nationalism and one of the founders of the SNP. In 1963, following his schooling at the High School of Glasgow, he graduated MA with 1st class honours in Philosophy and English from the University of Glasgow. He was to benefit from a Snell Exhibition and went on to continue his studies at Balliol College at the University of Oxford where he graduated with 1st class honours in law in 1965. It was during his time at Oxford that MacCormick developed an interest in legal philosophy having come under the influence of Herbert Hart.

In 1972, at the very young age of 31, MacCormick was appointed to the Regius chair of Public Law and the Law of Nature at Edinburgh, he held this post until his retirement in 2007. He was additionally Leverhulme research Professor at Edinburgh from 1997-1999 and from 2004-2008, and held the position of Dean of the Law Faculty from 1973-1976.

A Scottish Nationalist, MacCormick stood for the UK Parliament in five elections between 1979 and 1997, eventually becoming a member of the European Parliament between 1999 and 2004. During his time in office as MEP Professor MacCormick was a member of the Convention on the Future of Europe from 2002-2003, drafting the proposed Constitutional Treaty for the European Union. On three consecutive years he was voted Scottish Euro MP of the year at the Scottish Politicians of the Year Awards. In 2007 he was appointed as special adviser to the First Minister on European and External Affairs.

Throughout his career MacCormick was in demand as a Visiting Professor and was awarded seven honorary Doctorates and Foreign Membership of the Finnish Academy of Sciences. He was a longstanding member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and in 2004 was recipient of the Society's Royal Gold Medal for Outstanding Achievement. In 1999 he was appointed Honorary Queens Counsel (England and Wales) and in 2001 he received his knighthood for services to scholarship in law.

Professor Sir Neil Donald MacCormick died from cancer on 5th April 2009.


36 boxes

Other Finding Aids

A more detailed catalogue (covering E.2004.27 only) in PDF format is available on request.

Custodial History

This collection was created as a result of the activities of Professor Sir D Neil MacCormick during exercise of office as Member of the European Parliament on behalf of the Scottish National Party, 1999-2004. The material was listed by the administrative offices of Sir D Neil MacCormick prior to transfer to The University of Edinburgh Library.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Bulk acquired October 2004 (E.2004.27) with a later accrual in June 2006 (E.2006.15).


An additional tranche of 48 boxes (previously held by the School of Law, University of Edinburgh) was donated in 2011. It was accessioned in 2014 under the number E.2014.55. This material has not been catalogued yet and is not included in this description, but a handlist is available on request.

Papers of Professor Sir D. Neil MacCormick, 1985-2003
Aline Brodin
October 2023
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379