History of the College

Opening of Grant Institute 1932 - Platform Party

Opening of the Grant Institute, January 1932

Science has been studied at Edinburgh since the University was established as the 'Tounis College' in 1583.

From Natural Philosophy to Science and Engineering

In the sixteenth century science was taught as 'natural philosophy'.

The seventeenth century saw the institution of the University Chairs of Mathematics and Botany, followed the next century by Chairs of Natural History, Astronomy, Chemistry and Agriculture.

During the eighteenth century, the University was a key contributor to the Scottish Enlightenment and it educated many of the leading scientists of the time.

It was Edinburgh's professors who took a leading part in the formation of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1783. In 1785, Joseph Black, Professor of Chemistry and discoverer of carbon dioxide, founded the world's first Chemical Society.

The nineteenth century was a time of huge advances in scientific thinking and technological development. The first named degrees of Bachelor and Doctor of Science were instituted in 1864, and a separate 'Faculty of Science' was created in 1893 after three centuries of scientific advances at Edinburgh. Chairs in Engineering and Geology were also created.

In 1991 the Faculty of Science was renamed the Faculty of Science and Engineering, and in 2002 we became the College of Science and Engineering, one of three Colleges making up the University of Edinburgh.

(With thanks to Ronald M Birse.)


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