Alumni Services

New book builds student support

‘Building Knowledge’, a new book that uncovers the architectural history of the University, launches this Friday with the aim of using proceeds to fund student scholarships.

Building Knowledge book

Published by Historic Environment Scotland in association with the University, the book brings to life the fascinating history of the University through its celebrated buildings, which continue to be treasured by students, residents and visitors.


Archive material which has not been published before as well as stunning new photography tell the story of the first college buildings through to the magnificence of Robert Adam’s Old College and beyond.

The legacy of satellite campuses and incorporated institutions such as Moray House Institute of Education, selected medical research institutes, accommodation halls and Edinburgh College of Art is included, too.


Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, who will host the launch at St Cecilia’s Hall, is enamoured of the quality of the book.

He said: “Attractive, well-designed and carefully stewarded buildings make our students, staff and the public happy. This book will add to the general understanding of our buildings and should add further to the pleasure that they offer. I encourage you to buy and read this book. Then climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat and admire our University buildings scattered across the city.”

Sense of pride

Publication of the book has been made possible thanks to the generous support of alumnus and University benefactor Hugh Langmuir, who, as an undergraduate student of History in the early 1970s, saw major architectural changes occur around the University’s campuses.

He said: “This book reasserts the importance of the historical buildings not only to the University’s tradition and identity as an ancient seat of learning but also in contributing a vital sense of pride and confidence in the institution as an academic powerhouse playing on a world stage.

“I hope that it will also contribute to a better appreciation of that past while also fostering a spirit of optimism about the future, which will help shape the expansion and modernisation of the University’s buildings to accom­modate an aesthetically attractive, thriving and globally competitive organisation fit for the 21st century.”

The book has been authored by architectural historians Nick Haynes and Clive B Fenton, an Edinburgh alumnus. Nick feels that the books has broad appeal:

"The aim was to produce an attractive, highly-illustrated and accessible book," he says. "We wanted to describe the development of the University’s estate from its modest beginnings in 1582 to the five campuses and almost 800 buildings of the present day. The book is intended to appeal to a broad range of readers, from those with a general interest in the history and built environment of Edinburgh to staff, students and alumni of the University wanting to know more about their departmental building, hall of residence, or the great ceremonial spaces."

Future students

The publication of 'Building Knowledge' will also support future students, as a portion of its proceeds will go towards the O'Shea Global Scholars Initiative.

The Initiative aims to increase local and global access to an Edinburgh education, as well as opportunities to develop a global perspective once here, through a range of scholarships, advancing Professor O’Shea’s work in expanding access to the University during his 15 years as Principal.

Related links

Buy the book at the University Gift Shop

The O'Shea Global Scholars Initiative