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University Of Edinburgh | © dun_deagh/Flickr
University Of Edinburgh | © dun_deagh/Flickr
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A Brief History Of The University Of Edinburgh In 1 Minute

Picture of Tori Chalmers
Updated: 31 October 2016
Founded in 1582, the University Of Edinburgh opened its doors to the world in 1583. Steeped in prestige and entangled with history, this esteemed institution is one of Scotland’s ancient universities and the sixth oldest university in the English-speaking world.

Edinburgh University first begun as a college of law before expanding into a formally established college, under the Royal Charter of King James VI of Scotland on 14th April 1582. The institution has buildings sprawled out across the city, especially in the Old Town, with the first custom-built building being the Old College (now the School Of Law). Teviot Row happens to be the oldest purpose-built student union in the world, just as the English Literature department is the oldest in Britain. Interestingly, after Cambridge and Oxford, the university receives the third largest endowment in the United Kingdom.

King James' College, Edinburgh c.1647 | © WikiCommons
King James’ College, Edinburgh c.1647 | © WikiCommons

One of the countless reasons why Edinburgh was granted the world’s first UNESCO City Of Literature — and why it has the notable nickname ‘Athens of the North’ — is the group of fearless revolutionaries (like philosopher David Hume) who were key components in the university’s pioneering involvement during the Age Of Enlightenment.

Along with being an intellectual hub for the Scottish Enlightenment, The College Of Medicine And Veterinary Medicine is regarded as one of the best medical institutions in the world. From inventing the hypodermic syringe and finding a cure for scurvy to inventing the decompression chamber, discovering SARS, developing IV therapy, the Hepatitis B vaccine, and more, graduates have played a starring role in the field of medicine.

David Hume Statue | © WikiCommons
David Hume Statue | © WikiCommons

From naturalist Charles Darwin and mathematician Thomas Bayes to philosopher David Hume, inventor Alexander Graham Bell, surgeon Joseph Lister, physicist James Clerk Maxwell, three signatories of the American Declaration of Independence including James Wilson, and a myriad of famous writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott, and Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the University Of Edinburgh has served as an academic platform for some of the most prolific contributors in modern history.

With approximately 50,000 applications flying in at accelerated rates per year, Edinburgh’s beloved university attracts countless academic hopefuls, making it the fourth most popular university in the UK — and the second trickiest to gain entry.