Postgraduate Students


Edinburgh offers an outstanding combination of research resources and expertise for the study of Intellectual History at postgraduate level.

The School

Our historic building combines study spaces with exhibition areas, including collections of documents, many which have been digitised.

We have our own library known as the Student Research Room, which is a large airy space used both for study and to house the School’s book collections, including late antique and medieval history, modern conflict, American, European and Scottish history, and economic and social history.

  • Brown and Forrest Collection of Late Antique and Medieval History
  • Centre for Modern Conflict Book Collection
  • The Compton Collection of American History
  • The Jim McMillan Collection of European History
  • Michael Flinn Collection of Economic and Social History
  • Scottish History Book Collection

Many of our students are also members of cross-School research groups which aim to stimulate inter-disciplinary, collaborative research, and widen awareness of individual scholarship.

The University

The University’s collections are unique in their depth and diversity and have many resources for research in Intellectual History.

They span more than 500,000 rare books, scientific and cultural artefacts from around the world, historically significant musical instrument collections, specialist museum collections, and manuscripts. Highlights of particular interest to intellectual historians include:

  • a page from the final draft of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, as well as two copies of the first edition;
  • the original library of the Enlightenment economist and philosopher Adam Smith (1723-1790), including his copy of the first edition of Copernicus’ ‘De revolutionibus’ (1543); 
  • a remarkable body of student theses going back to the early seventeenth century;
  • original Sir Isaac Newton diagrams in David Gregory manuscripts of 1692;
  • the special collections of New College Library, including a first edition of John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536) and a complete set of the Acta Sanctorum, a sixty-eight volume collection of saints’ lives begun in 1643;
  • the library of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, comprising 560 books, mostly 17th century continental medical works, some with manuscript notes.

The City

Edinburgh’s rich historical resources and archives feature prominently in our teaching and the History subject area enjoys close ties with various museums and galleries in Edinburgh. Many of our graduate students find these local repositories invaluable, as they mean most MSc students can complete their degrees without the need for extensive research trips.