University of Edinburgh School of Law

University of Edinburgh School of Law

The University of Edinburgh School of Law, founded in 1707, is a school within the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, dedicated to research and teaching in law. Known today as Edinburgh Law School, it is located in Old College, on South Bridge, and stands on the original site of the University. The School is near George Square and the University's central campus, not far from Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile, and also finds itself at the heart of the Scottish legal system, with Parliament House, home to the High Court of Justiciary, and the Court of Session nearby.

According to the "Guardian" University Guide 2009, Edinburgh's School of Law was ranked eighth in the UK and first in Scotland. []


In 1707, Queen Anne established the Chair of Public Law and the Law of Nature and Nations in the University of Edinburgh, to which Charles Erskine (or Areskine) was appointed: this was the formal start of the Faculty of Law. By 1722 the University had four Professors of Law, and classes - in Civil Law, Scots Law and History - were usually given in their respective homes or offices. Numbers grew with the expansion of the legal profession in the nineteenth century, and by 1830 there were over 200 students attending the Scots Law class alone. Scholarship amongst the academics at Edinburgh continued to grow in reputation, with the work of Muirhead, Lorimer and Rankine achieving international renown.

The Faculty of Law had moved to Old College, built in 1789, and in 1862 the new degree of LL.B. (Bachelor of Laws) was introduced, following the Universities (Scotland) Act 1858. The degree was only open to graduates, usually those who had studied for the M.A.(Arts) at a Scottish University or the B.A. at Oxford or Cambridge. Students of the LL.B. had to attend courses and be examined in Civil Law, Conveyancing, Public Law, Constitutional Law and History, and Medical Jurisprudence; Edinburgh was the only University to offer this degree for some time. In 1909 the first women were enrolled on the Law course. By 1966, the LL.B. had become a full-time undergraduate course, although many would continue to study for an Arts degree beforehand. In 1981, Edinburgh first offered the Diploma in Legal Practice, for LL.B. students wishing to enter the legal profession.

Today, the School of Law is associated both with traditional Scots law and with innovation across a wide range of subjects. The School retains a reputation for scholarship in topics such as Roman Law but is also known as a centre for research in topics such as European law, criminology, commercial law, intellectual property and information technology law, labour law, European private law, medical law and ethics, international law, comparative law, and human rights law. In 2007 the School celebrated its Tercentenary year, marked by a series of events and of lectures by world-renowned legal experts.

Famous graduates

Notable alumni of Edinburgh University's Law School include:

* Sir Walter Scott
* Robert Louis Stevenson
* Former Lord Chancellor The Rt Hon Lord Mackay of Clashfern
* Former Judge of the European Court of First Instance The Rt Hon Sir David Edward QC
* Lord of Appeal in Ordinary The Rt Hon Lord Hope of Craighead
* Former Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament The Rt Hon Lord Steel
* Scotland's two most senior judges Lord Hamilton and Lord Gill
* Former Deputy First Minister of Scotland The Rt Hon Lord Wallace QC
* Secretary of State for International Development The Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP
* Former Foreign Secretary The Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Rifkind QC MP
* Former Chairman of the Conservative Party The Rt Hon Michael Ancram QC MP
* Former Scottish Conservative leader David McLetchie MSP
* International rugby player Simon Taylor


Throughout its history the School (or Faculty) of Law has accommodated some of the finest legal scholars in Europe. James Muirhead's work on Roman Law garnered international praise, Professor Erskine's "Principles" (1754) became a standard text in Scots Law, as did those of Professor George Joseph Bell. Current members of academic staff at the School include the eminent legal theorist Professor Sir Neil MacCormick, the academic and author Professor Alexander McCall Smith, former European Court of First Instance Judge Sir David Edward QC, Scottish Law Commissioners Professor George Gretton and Professor Gerry Maher QC, Emeritus Professor Robert Black QC (expert on the Scots law of evidence and closely involved with the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial), former Scottish Law Commissioner Professor Kenneth Reid, Emeritus Professor J. Kenyon Mason, Honorary Fellow and Lord Lyon King of Arms David Sellar, Visiting Professor Alan Watson and Professor Hector MacQueen.

Academic alumni

Notable alumni include Keith Ewing, Peter Goodrich, and David Garland.

tudent activity

Students of the School of Law are represented by the Law Students' Council. The University of Edinburgh Law Society, known as LawSoc, provides a programme of social events. In addition, there is a Steering Group for postgraduate (particularly doctoral level) students, as well as a Mature Law Students' Society. The University Mooting Society is active, with two internal competitions and several external competitions running during each academic session, giving students the opportunity to develop the skills of oral legal argument. For graduate-level students there are a number of subject-specific discussion groups which meet on a regular basis.

Courses offered

"Undergraduate level"

* LLB (Offered as an Honours Degree (including joint Honours degree options); and as an Accelerated Ordinary Degree for Graduates)

"Postgraduate level"

* LLM in Law
* LLM in European Law
* LLM in Commercial Law
* LLM in International Law
* MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice
* LLM in Innovation, Technology and the Law (also available as Distance Learning Degree)
* LLM in Medical Law and Ethics (available as Distance Learning Degree)
* LLM in Intellectual Property Law (available as Distance Learning Degree)
* LLM in Information Technology Law (available as Distance Learning Degree)
* LLM in Legal Research
* LLM by Research in History and Philosophy of Law
* LLM by Research

* PhD

"Legal Training"

* Diploma in Legal Practice
* Professional Competence Course

Research centres

* The Centre for Law and Society
* The Centre for Legal History
* "SCRIPT" (formerly The AHRC Centre for Studies in Intellectual Property and Technology Law)
* The Europa Institute
* The Scottish Centre for International Law
* The Joseph Bell Centre for Forensic Statistics and Legal Reasoning
* The Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime
* The Centre for Commercial Law

External links

* [ Edinburgh Law School] Official Site
* [ Distance Learning Site]
* [ Edinburgh Law School Tercentenary 2007]
* [ Podcasts]
* [ List of alumni]

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