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The Enlightened City: The Tounis College 1583-2000

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

A dynamic exploration of the University of Edinburgh since its foundation in 1583. Led by experts on the university’s history, and including a visit to historic university buildings and collections, this course provides a unique opportunity for students to learn about the heritage of this world-class institution.

Please note, this course includes field trips.

Course Details

Content of Course

1. Historical Overview; The Tounis College, 1583 – 2000.

2. The expanding university - Humanities and Social Science.

3. Embracing the Modern World – Science, Engineering and Medicine.

4. Students, Alumni and Overseas Connections

5. Visit – the University’s core historic area, the University Library and the Centre for Research Collections.

Teaching method(s)

The course will be organised on a lecture / tutorial basis with students being encouraged to interact and give their views.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Understand and assess the historical factors which influenced the development of higher education in Scotland since the late 17th century;

  • Analyse the University of Edinburgh’s contribution to higher learning and society;

  • Identify the role played by key staff and students in the history of the university.


Core Readings


  • Anderson, R. D., 1995. Education and the Scottish People, 1750-1918. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • Anderson, R. D., Lynch, M., and Phillipson, N., 2003. The University of Edinburgh, An Illustrated History. Edinburgh: EUP.

  • Birse, R. M., 1994. Science at the University of Edinburgh, 1583-1993. Edinburgh: The Faculty of Science and Engineering, The University of Edinburgh.

  • Buchan, J., 2003. Capital of the Mind; how Edinburgh changed the world. London: John Murray.

  • Davie, G., 1961. The Democratic Intellect. Edinburgh: EUP.

  • Donaldson, G., ed., 1983. Four Centuries: Edinburgh University Life. Edinburgh: EUP.

  • Horn, D. B., 1967. A Short History of the University of Edinburgh, 1556-1889. Edinburgh: EUP.

  • Wintersgill, D., 2005. The Rectors of the University of Edinburgh, 1859-2000. Edinburgh: Dunedin Academic Press.

  • Withers, C., 2002. Science and Medicine in the Scottish Enlightenment. Edinburgh: Tuckwell Press.

  • Wright, D. F., and Badcock, G. D., 1996. Disruption to Diversity; Edinburgh Divinity 1846-1996. Edinburgh: T & T Clark.

Class Handouts

There will be a handout each session – normally copies of original source material related to the topic being discussed.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.