Edinburgh Seven to be honoured with degrees

Seven pioneering students who broke down barriers for women in medicine are finally to be awarded posthumous degrees, 150 years after beginning their studies.

The group – known as the Edinburgh Seven – were the first female medical students admitted to a UK university when they enrolled in 1869.


The women faced a great deal of resistance from their male counterparts during their studies and were ultimately prevented from graduating and qualifying as doctors.

Their campaign against this treatment gained national attention and many supporters, including Charles Darwin. It resulted in legislation in 1877 to ensure women could study at university.

Degree ceremony

Mary Anderson, Emily Bovell, Matilda Chaplin, Helen Evans, Sophia Jex-Blake, Edith Pechey and Isabel Thorne will be awarded the posthumous MBChB on Saturday July 6.

The Principal, Professor Peter Mathieson, will lead the ceremony, which will also be attended by the current Head of the Medical School, Professor Moira Whyte.

“We are pleased to commemorate the historic achievements of the Edinburgh Seven in this 150th anniversary year of them joining the University of Edinburgh. These honorary degrees recognise not just their academic achievements, but the significant contribution these women made to widening access to a university education for generations to follow.”

Professor Peter MathiesonPrincipal and Vice- Chancellor

Related links

Study medicine at the University of Edinburgh

Widening Participation

Equality and Diversity