Celebrating 175 years

Moray House memories

Former students share stories about their time at Moray House.

Video: Moray House 175 Graduation Video
Moray House alumni recall their time here.

Ibrahim, MSc Outdoor Environmental and Sustainability Education, 2019

I am Ibrahim Salem from Egypt. I graduated in 2019 from the MSc programme in Outdoor Environmental and Sustainability Education.

To me, what lesson stayed with me above all else in my time at the University of Edinburgh is how every staff member went above and beyond to give us the best learning experience we could ever dream of. In addition to the perfect teaching, our professors Pete Higgins, Robbie Nicol, Simon Beams and Ramsey Affifi, among others, would take out from their personal time and join us on residential courses, spending days away from their families, sharing our food and accommodation, even driving us to the field trips and course location to save us some money that would be spent on a driver. The level of dedication and passion our lecturers showed about what they teach [and] the relationships they built with us gave my experience at Edinburgh a whole different, holistic dimension: highly transformative and exceptionally educative.

Moreover, it was very interesting to be taught by teachers who are also worldwide highly respected authors and researchers in the field of our study. Hats off to our good-willed, inspiring teachers at the University of Edinburgh, forever grateful.   

Christine, 1958

A man in robes holding his diploma
Christine's husband, Andrew, on his graduation day in 1962

I graduated from Art College in 1958 and attended Moray House to do my teacher training later that year. In those days we only did two terms.

Later, I was asked to come back as a lecturer for primary students when Brenda Marks , who was the painter Robin Philipson's wife, was on sick leave. She managed back for a short while before her death, when I was invited back for a term.

I also lectured for some time at Dunfermline College at the Cramond campus. This was an uphill struggle! I do remember on a visit from Prince Phillip, he, in his usual candid manner, said, “What do you do with this lot?" 

I  was unsuccessful when I applied for the job but had also been offered a part-time job in a newly built special education school for physically disabled children, Graysmill, a  partially residential school. I had already taught part-time in special education as well as being peripatetic in many primary schools. Later, I taught full-time at Graysmill for thirty happy years, going back to do my Special Education certificate at Moray House during this time. My husband later went to do his teacher training, taking our first born to the Moray House nursery , which was a great bonus!

Three of my grandchildren followed me to Art college; one now lectures at Herriot Watt Galashiels.

Brandlyn, TESOL, 2011

I have many memories in Moray House. I studied TESOL and graduated in 2011. Aside from studying with so many students from different countries and cultures, I made wonderful friendships that helped me get through the hardest times of my life. Now, I teach English in America to refugees from multiple countries. I could not have done this without the education I received from the Moray House School of Education and Sport and the wonderful professors I had!

Morag, BEd Primary Education, 1984

The first photo shows a reunion of myself and three friends 40 years after we graduated from Moray House in 1984.

I studied for a BEd in Primary Education from 1980-84 at Moray House College of Education, as it was then known. The BEd degree was a joint degree with the University of Edinburgh, with classes held both at Moray House and at George Square. One of my courses was in computing science and the current Thomsons Land held the large ‘mainframe’ computer in the first floor, east wing. Around 1983 the college purchased several new Apple Mackintosh personal computers - highly innovative at that time.

I used to go swimming at lunchtime in the lovely pool which was situated in Dalhousie Land (now the library) and I was also a member of the MH sub-aqua club run by John Arrowsmith, with regular trips to dive at St Abbs, Dunbar and Loch Long. I got to know the lifeguard at that time who worked at Moray House pool and soon became good friends. We’ve been married now for many years and have two daughters who also love swimming!

Patersons Land had the library on the ground floor and the canteen on the top floor, but the biggest change is the PLG1 lecture hall. In the 1980’s this was a large resource centre with a wide range of materials and resources that students could borrow whilst on placement. For example, I remember borrowing a skeleton to use with my class for a topic on the body! If you look closely at the old wooden signs on the entrance floor in Charteris you can still make out the subjects taught on each level. 

Where the current Levels Cafe and the postgrad accommodation is now, it was once known as Chessels Land and this was used for art classes, technology and science classes. The wonderful art lecturer Morris Grassie encouraged us with our own attempts at art but also took us on outings to the various Edinburgh galleries to explore art through new eyes. 

After qualifying as a primary teacher I did an additional qualification in primary PE based at St Leonards Land (before it was extended and refurbished) and often played squash in the courts situated on the ground floor underneath the current swimming pool. 

It was almost like coming home when I started as a teaching fellow in 2010 here at Moray House, but have had the greatest pleasure in working with some of the most wonderful teachers in the past 14 years.

I am still in touch with several friends from my BEd days and am happy to report that retirement now beckons. 


Ruzigar Seyid and his wife posing in front of Paterson's Land

In 2017, I was studying at the University of Warwick and my wife and I visited Edinburgh in July of 2018. Three years later, my wife Chinara Gurbanova started her MSc in Inclusive Education at MHSES while I started working at MHSES RKEI office. We loved it there and we have wonderful memories together with our daughter, who was just 2 years old. 

Lorna, 1972

In the English Department, Dr Low had great enthusiasm for his subject. He organised a theatre outing to St Andrews and then the opportunity to visit The Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford upon Avon during the summer months. As I had summer employment arranged this latter trip was not possible. However, Dr Low's enjoyment of Shakespeare was infectious and made a lasting impression and I have enjoyed several trips there since.  Also, I recall Mrs Ball, who offered  support in tutorials.

Patrick, MSc Education, 2001

I graduated with an MSc in Education in 2001 having studied part-time, concentrating mostly on ELT but also with a few modules on Counselling.

My advisor at that time was Mr Carver, a lovely gentleman who was always positive and encouraging.

What remained under the radar at that time was that I was a newly recovering alcoholic attempting to reboot my life personally and professionally.

A flexible method of fee payment allowed me to pay in instalments. The modules were challenging and interesting and very relevant to my professional field.

I rebooted my career and returned overseas, working again in Saudi Arabia and UAE and became an IELTS examiner and faculty member of UAE universities.

I have remained in recovery from alcoholism, attending 12-step groups and, a day at a time, I shall celebrate 30 years continuous sobriety next month.

I am hugely grateful to Moray House for the excellent opportunities that they facilitated and now, in retirement, I look towards building upon the introduction to counselling those early modules afforded me, with a view to working with other addicts in recovery.

It seems entirely fitting that Moray House and I shall both celebrate significant birthdays.

Many thanks and happy birthday.


Photos of students on a ski trip

I found some photos from the MAPE ski trip 20 years ago in 2004. Led by Bob Brewer, Shirley Gray and the late Andy Maile. Great memories from my student days at MHSES.

Giulia, 2014

I attended in 2014 and just this summer went back, and it was extremely touching. I actually wrote something for the occasion, in my travel journal, and I wouldn't mind sharing it. 

"They say one always goes back to the old places where life was loved. And, although this place brings back bittersweet memories, this is where I truly learned how to read, how to study, how to think. Where I learned to question everything I thought I knew and where I was redirected. I'm in debt forever with this place, which gave me the hard-worked tools to be a real educator and to fulfil my professional passion: teaching languages. As I think this, some tears fall, because not long ago yet another step towards my dream job had to be detained, after - yet again - sacrifice and struggle. But then I find myself thinking that, precisely, one of the most important things this place taught me is to stop advancing this train of thought. That is to say, thinking that, for not ending up in a useful job, in something "useful" - the learning would be less valuable."

Rosana, TESOL, 2007

I was a teacher of English … and I wanted to take up a post-graduate course to grow professionally. One of my best teachers sent some e-mails to me to contact British Universities. The one that offered post-graduate study that suited my needs was Moray House. I started to attend my first module, “Language Studies”, as a distance learning student.

The tutors enriched my work with their motivating comments, suggestions and teaching.  Learning through a distant modality does not give students the possibility of attending lessons.  However, the written interaction I had with my tutors provided me with the content, opinions and feedback that supported my work and allowed me to go on and ahead.

The graduation ceremony was one of the most unforgettable days in my life. My mother and my elder daughter (who is living in Aberdeen now) went to Scotland with me for the occasion. All of us, students and our families, entered Mc Ewan Hall while listening to an organ concert.  The view of the Hall was wonderful! Lights, stage, the paintings on the walls, the balconies, all magnificent.

My studies at Edinburgh supported my teaching work in the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary levels of the bilingual school where I worked for twenty-five years. Now I am retired, but with the intention of giving support and help to teachers of the community where I am living now. 

My bond with Edinburgh and particularly with Scotland is two-fold: Professionally, because I was able to get the instruments for self-realization as a teacher, and personally because I have two grandchildren who were born in Aberdeen. On my visit to the family last year, I went to Edinburgh again for a long weekend, taking photos of the front of Mc Ewan Hall and Moray House and walking up and down the Royal Mile, remembering all those happy moments as a student at the University so deeply kept in my heart.

Jiawei, MSc Education, 2014

Studying for my MSc in Education in 2013-2014 was a formative experience that sparked my passion for teaching and research.

One fond memory was meeting my dear friend Sharon on the first day while selecting courses. We were the only ones taking a 3-1 split between semesters. That small connection sparked a lasting friendship. We both became frontline teachers and stay in touch despite living in different cities.

The academic foundation from Moray House empowered me to integrate research into my high school teaching. I often reflect on my learnings when assessing student work. Though only a one-year program, it left an indelible impact on my life and career.

Moray House will always hold a special place for me as it nurtured my intellectual curiosity and love of learning. Thank you for including me in your anniversary celebrations. I look forward to commemorating this milestone with fellow alumni.

Alice, MSc TESOL (2014), PhD (2023)

Student posing with her family after graduation

Moray House has been more than just an institution to me; it has been the cornerstone of my journey from my 20s into my 30s.

In 2013, I left my home country to pursue my Master’s degree at Moray House. Little did I know then how profoundly this institution would shape the course of my life. Over the past decade, I have experienced significant life events: teaching professionally, exploring entrepreneurship, finding my life partner, embracing parenthood, and completing my PhD at Moray House. Throughout this transformative period, Moray House remained a constant beacon of learning and a wellspring of inspiration and encouragement.

Today, as I reflect on my 10-year relationship with Moray House, I can't help but reminisce about the incredible journey I embarked upon. The education and mentorship I received here were instrumental in my personal and professional growth. The friendships formed w

ithin these walls, the long study sessions, and the countless conversations with faculty and fellow students have left an indelible mark on my heart. It is a privilege to witness Moray House's 175th anniversary, a testament to its unwavering commitment to education, innovation, and the betterment of individuals and society.

Linda, BEd (Hons), 2006

I remember my time at Moray House fondly.

I was a mature student returning to study after a very long time and was a bit nervous about being able to complete a degree course. One thing I took away from the course is that you are never too old to learn something new, particularly when it is something you are passionate about.

During my time at Moray House, I made friendships that have been long-lasting. We still meet up regularly and remember our days at Moray House with affection.

I particularly enjoyed the Environment Studies trip we went on to the Cairngorms. The beauty of our country was quite captivating and we learned a lot of new skills.

I found out I was pregnant in my fourth year and the due date was 26th July - our graduation ceremony was 12th July! There were numerous jokes about sitting me at the end of a row etc just in case! My beautiful daughter, who is now 17 and visiting prospective universities herself over the next few weeks, was actually in my graduation photo, although unseen!

I am currently a Depute Headteacher in a primary school and have completed the Into Headship course with University of Edinburgh. Hopefully I will move into a Headteacher position soon.

Ayad, Linguistics and English Language Teaching, 1978

Three men standing outside a Moray House building

Unforgettable nice memories of the period I spent in Scotland (1977-78), and of my academic year in Moray House: 

The interaction with the academic staff was very enriching. After so many years, I still remember my professors, among whom Pr. D. Carver, Pr. L. Dickinson, Pr. Green, to name some of them, who were all very kind and highly competent. 

I very much enjoyed living in Scotland and with Scottish people, especially that, on the geographical and human levels, it was not different from life and people in the Moroccan Atlas Mountains. 

Pam, Demonstration School student, 1953

I went to school here in 1953. It was a wonderful school, we had all the trainee teachers sitting in on our lessons. My class was the very last class before the school closed and it became just a training college. I’ve tried for years to try and find the words to our school song but have had no success. Maybe someone knows all the words  

Talat, TESOL, 1991

A farewell party for passing out MA TESOL students was arranged by the course director, Professor Leslie Dickinson, at the Halls of Residence. All students planned for various activities and I was assigned to dance with Dr Z N Patel on an Indian song. Dr Patel had no Indian costumes to wear. So, I asked Mujib, a PhD student at UOE with whom I was sharing the rented apartment, to lend his shalwar qameez and Jinnah cap to Dr Patel.

The funniest moment was that neither he nor I knew how to dance but we kept dancing and all the students and teachers were very much amused and clapped a lot and thanked us to entertain them.

Another moment that still cherished in my mind is getting a chance to wave to Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles and Lady Diana when they were passing by Hollywood Road during their summer trip to Edinburgh.

I wrote an assignment on Materials Development for ELT and it was submitted to Dr Rosy Douglas. I had opted for Collaborative Assessment, and following the marking scheme gave me an ‘A’. I submitted my own assessed grade sealed in an envelope.

Dr Rosy Douglas distributed the assessed assignments to all but to me she said, “Come with me”. I trudging behind her, being extremely scared of her, crossed the road. She entered a coffee house and asked me to take a seat. I did. She then placed the checked assignment before me and I was shocked to see she had given me a grade ‘A’ following a very detailed feedback. She praised me a lot, paid for cookies and coffee for me and asked me to continue working on Materials Development. Due to Dr Douglas, I have worked a lot in this field and am still working. I think she is still teaching there. Thanks to her who inspired me very much as a great teacher trainer.