The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies Bicentenary

Lecture marks 200 years of veterinary science

Professor David Argyle delivers William Dick Memorial Lecture in celebration of school bicentenary.

Professor Argyle standing at lectern talking

A talk celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies gave an insight into the history of the School and the profession.

The William Dick Lecture was delivered by Professor David Argyle, Vice Principal and Head of the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.

During his lecture, entitled ‘Glancing back but looking forward: 200 years of veterinary science building a future for global impact’, Professor Argyle reflected on the history of veterinary medicine and the School before highlighting its potential for growth.

Glancing back

Professor Argyle shared photography from the School's archives throughout the lecture and highlighted its close affiliation with the University of Edinburgh Medical School, which will celebrate its 300th anniversary in 2026.

The lecture acknowledged William Dick, founder of the School. Born the son of a farrier in 1793, Dick had a love of horses and science, particularly anatomy.

he attended comparative anatomy lectures at Edinburgh Medical School under the tutorage of renowned anatomist Dr John Barclay before studying veterinary medicine at the Royal Veterinary College in 1817, completing the course in three months. 

He founded the Vet School in 1823 and gave lectures at Edinburgh Convening Rooms at Waterloo Place to share his knowledge with others with an interest in veterinary medicine. 

He later commissioned a building to house teaching in Clyde Street, which opened in 1833.  The School then moved to new premises at Summerhall in 1916, and relocated to Easter Bush Campus in 2011. 

 Among Dick's students were the founders of veterinary schools in Glasgow, Liverpool, Ireland, Canada, the US, and Australia.

Looking forward

Since its establishment in 1823, the R(D)SVS has grown to be a world leader in teaching, research, and clinical practice.

At the lecture, Professor Argyle, who was appointed the William Dick Chair of Veterinary Clinical studies in 2011 and was Dean of Veterinary Medicine and Head of School from 2011 to 2023, highlighted how veterinary medicine had transitioned over the past 200 years, from the study of comparative anatomy to comparative medicine and now to comparative One Health.

The professor shared his thoughts on why he felt the School will continue to thrive. He highlighted its unwavering commitment to nurturing talent, both in its education of the veterinary surgeons of tomorrow and by advancing knowledge in veterinary medicine.

Professor Argyle congratulated the School for its focus on growing its world-class research base and further developing international collaborations, and acknowledged Easter Bush Campus as the greatest concentration of animal bioscience in Europe.

He remarked on the School's success in delivering research-led training and clinical practice and its role in enabling animal health and welfare benefits locally, nationally and around the world.

Professor Lisa Boden presenting Professor David Argyle with a gift
Professor Lisa Boden (left) presented Professor David Argyle (right) with a gift at the end of the lecture

Bicentenary event

The William Dick Memorial Lecture was held as part of the School's bicentenary celebrations and was attended by over 150 staff, students, alumni, and guests.

Following the lecture, Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal of the University of the Edinburgh, paid tribute to Professor Argyle and thanked him for 12 years of distinguished leadership of R(D)SVS. Professor Lisa Boden, Head of School and Dean of Veterinary Medicine, then presented Professor Argyle with crystal tumblers and a framed photograph of the School.

Related links

History of the R(D)SVS

R(D)SVS Bicentenary events 

About the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is a one-of-a-kind centre of excellence in clinical activity, teaching and research. Our purpose-built campus, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Pentland Hills Regional Park, is home to more than 800 staff and almost 1400 students, all of whom contribute to our exceptional community ethos.

The School comprises:

The Roslin Institute

The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

The Roslin Innovation Centre

The Hospital for Small Animals

Equine Veterinary Services

Farm Animal Services

Easter Bush Pathology

The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education

We represent the largest concentration of animal science-related expertise in Europe, impacting local, regional, national and international communities in terms of economic growth, the provision of clinical services and the advancement of scientific knowledge.