College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences


Find out more about the history of the Gifford Lectures

Playfair Library
For over a century, the Gifford Lectures have enabled a distinguished international field of scholars to contribute to the advancement of theological and philosophical thought.

They were established under the will of Adam Lord Gifford, a Senator of the College of Justice, who died in 1887 and is buried in the old Calton cemetery in Edinburgh.

The lectures began in 1888 and have been delivered almost continuously since that time.

The prestige of the Gifford series derives in part from the world-renowned lecturers and from the diversity of intellectual disciplines they represent.

Initially, presenters were appointed for a period of two years and could be reappointed for two additional periods of two years each, but for no more than six years in a given city. In this manner the subject was to be examined and promoted by different minds.

Now there are different arrangements. Annually, there are six themed Gifford Lectures given by an invited speaker over a period of two weeks and there are additional one-off lectures given by other invited speakers.

Details of previous lectures can be found in our archive section.

Stanley L Jaki, a Gifford Lecturer in 1974-76, marked the Centenary of the Gifford Lectures by publishing 'Lord Gifford and his Lectures: A Centenary Retrospect' (ISBN 0 7073 0465 2) in 1986.