Non-Collegiate records of the University of St Andrews

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 227 UYUY
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Physical Description
      To be established. The material can be used in accordance with its physical characteristics. The archive includes folded and flattened vellum and papers, some with seals attached, bound volumes and loose papers, rolled maps and plans, boxed modern files and photographs.

Scope and Content

These records were created by the University in the performance of its role as an institution of higher education from the fifteenth century to date. They relate to all aspects of its work but exclude the records of the individual colleges of the University which are listed separately. The records include some semi-current material which is held under records management procedures and is not available for access until archived.

Administrative / Biographical History

The University of St Andrews was the first university in Scotland. In 1410 a school of higher studies was established and on 28 February 1412 the society of masters and scholars received formal incorporation through a charter of Henry Wardlaw, Bishop of St Andrews. Full university status was conferred on 28 August 1413 by a series of bulls of Pope Benedict XIII.

Early congregations and faculty meetings were held in the priory and other ecclesiastical buildings in the town. In 1419 the University acquired its first building, the so-called Chapel and College of St John the Evangelist in South Street. In 1430 Bishop Wardlaw founded a Pedagogy for the Faculty of Arts on an adjacent site. This absorbed St John's College and, in turn, the Pedagogy was absorbed by St Mary's College, founded by James Beaton in 1538. In 1450 James Kennedy, Bishop of St Andrews, founded St Salvator's College in North Street, the first fully organised and endowed collegiate society within the University. In 1512 St Leonard's College, associated with the Cathedral Priory, was founded by the Archbishop and Prior of St Andrews. These three colleges provided both a place of residence and of much of the teaching within the early university. In 1747 St Salvator's College and St Leonard's College amalgamated to form the United College of St Salvator and St Leonard, based on the North Street site, which was largely rebuilt by the 1840s. The University built new buildings in and redeveloped areas of the town centre during the twentieth century, notable buildings including St Salvator's Hall, the Buchanan building and the University Library. University College, Dundee was founded in 1881, based in premises on Perth Road, and became affiliated to the University of St Andrews in 1897. That part of the University based in Dundee became Queen's College in 1953 and then the University of Dundee by Royal charter in 1967. During the 1960s the University of St Andrews began to expand to the west of the town onto the area known as the North Haugh, outside the boundaries of the medieval burgh. This has a science site and halls of residence.

The original bulls established that the University should have Faculties of Theology, Canon and Civil Law, Arts, Medicine and other lawful faculties, with power to grant Doctorates and Masterships in these faculties, and to present candidates for licence. The Faculties of Arts and Theology were those of continuous major importance at St Andrews. Most students studied for four years in Arts and belonged to one of the colleges where they were taught by the same Regent throughout their course. They were expected to have already studied Grammar, and took Logic and Rhetoric in their early days at University. They then progressed to Physics, Metaphysics and the Ethics of Aristotle. Lectures were mainly concerned with expounding set books. After two and a half years students generally proceeded to a bachelor's degree. The licence was awarded at the end of the fourth year and came to be synonymous with the award of a mastership. Not all students graduated. Under the 'New Foundation' of 1579 St Salvator's (the Old College) and St Leonard's Colleges became predominantly 'colleges of Philosophy' or Arts and St Mary's College (the New College) became a college of Theology.

The practice of regenting was gradually superceded by the professorial system and was finally abolished in 1747. The first Professorships were supported by collegiate endowments and until 1953, although teaching in the University, most Professors held their chairs in one or other of the colleges. Endowed professorships of Divinity or Systematic Theology and Biblical Criticism date from 1580. Continuous provision has been made for instruction in Logic and Metaphysics, Moral Philosophy and Natural Philosophy since 1450, with formal chairs from 1747. Six chairs derive from the post-Reformation reorganisation of the university, three with teaching from 1574: Greek (formal chair from 1702), Hebrew and Oriental Languages (formal chair from 1688) and Mathematics (Regius chair from 1668); three with teaching from 1579: Humanity (chair from 1747), Ecclesiastical History (chair from 1707) and Physiology (chair from 1721). Chairs of Chemistry, Natural History and English Literature were founded between 1747 and 1897. Chairs of Anatomy, Botany, Modern History, Practical Theology and Christian Ethics, Geology, Political Economy, French, German and Astronomy were established between 1898 and 1953. Many of these were re-founded for St Andrews after the establishment of Queen's College, Dundee in 1953. Many other chairs have been established since this date and many personal chairs have been created since 1969 which cease to exist when their holders demit office.

Degrees of Bachelor and Doctor of Science were instituted in 1876. A conjoint school of Medicine was established at Dundee in 1898. After the foundation of the University of Dundee in 1967 it was no longer permitted to grant degrees in medicine at St Andrews and the last medical graduation took place in 1972. However, pre-clinical medical training continues within the Faculty of Science. After 1897 the University had four faculties: Arts, Divinity, Science, including Engineering (formed in 1897) and Medicine (organised in 1862). The Faculty of Law was re-established in 1955. Faculties of Applied Science (1955) and Social Science (1960) were added. With the foundation of the University of Dundee in 1967 the Faculties of Medicine, Law, Applied Science and Social Science ceased to exist within the University of St Andrews. Women students had been affiliated with the University since 1877 through the Ladies Literate in Arts scheme and were admitted to full courses of study from 1892. Higher degrees of D.Phil, D.Litt and D.Sc were available in all subjects after 1889. A doctorate of Medicine was available from 1907 and the Ph.D from 1920.

The original constitution of the university was modelled on that of Orleans and Paris. The Chancellor exercised general supervision over the University and conferred degrees. All members of the academic society participated in the election of its administrative head, the Rector. Students belonged to one of the colleges and through the college endowments an adequate teaching staff was secured and maintained. The Faculties controlled teaching and the admission to degrees. In 1579 the New Foundation assigned greater powers of supervision over the whole University to the Chancellor and over the colleges to the Rector. The office of Chancellor was held ex officio by the Archbishops of St Andrews almost continuously until 1689. The Rectorship came to be held virtually in rotation among the three college heads and the professor of Divinity. The Senatus Academicus (made up of all Principals, Professors and Regents of the University) is first mentioned in 1642 and became the dominant administrative body after 1690. It exercised many of the powers formerly vested in the Faculties and the General Congregation of the University and the Rector's prime role was as President of Senatus. It claimed the right to appoint the Chancellor after the abolition of the episcopacy in 1689.

Various Royal Commissions from 1826 onwards led to the Universities (Scotland) Act of 1858. This maintained the constitutional and financial autonomy of the colleges and reserved the control of courses of study, examinations and discipline to the Senatus, but created a University Court with extensive powers of supervision over the older bodies. The President of Court was the Rector, now chosen for a three year term from outwith the University by the matriculated students. The Presidency of Senatus was held by the senior of the two college Principals who acted, in effect, as Principal of the University. The Act also introduced a General Council composed mainly of graduates of the University which meets twice yearly to receive reports on the University and which has the right to elect the Chancellor who acts as its President.

Under the Universities (Scotland) Act of 1889 the University Court acquired general financial and administrative control over the University and, in particular, over the property of the colleges and all appointments other than those in the patronage of the Crown. It was also able to make minor changes by Ordinance to the University constitution. The President of Senatus was to be the Principal of the United College, de facto Principal of the University. Senatus retained the government of academic matters. In 1997 the Senatus agreed to the creation of a smaller executive body, Academic Council, which is responsible for all business of Senatus and to which it reports.

University College, Dundee was formed in 1881 and was affiliated and partially incorporated into the University of St Andrews in 1897. The University of St Andrews Act of 1953 dissolved the corporate status of the United College, St Mary's College and University College, Dundee. It also reorganised the University Court to receive the property and endowments of the dissolved governing bodies of the Dundee college. It reconstituted the two St Andrews Colleges as unincorporated societies, forming a third society out of teachers and students of all parts of the University in Dundee as Queen's College. In 1967 Queen's College was created the University of Dundee by Royal Charter.


These muniments are the core record of the life of the University. The arrangement is generally chronological within record series. They have been arranged in accordance with a classification scheme imposed since 1961 and are described in the following sub-groups:

  • UYUY100-199 Privileges, Lands and Buildings:
  • UYUY100-115 Titles
  • UYUY120-133 Papers relating to lands and buildings
  • UYUY138-139 Maps, plans and models
  • UYUY150-174 Transcripts of relevant documents including chartularies
  • UYUY175-199 Celebrations, ceremonials, corporate activities
  • UYUY200-299 Officers and Staff:
  • UYUY210-215 Chancellors
  • UYUY220-226 Rectors
  • UYUY230-239 Academic staff: principals & professors
  • UYUY245-254 Academic staff: lecturers and assistants
  • UYUY255-256 Academic staff: examinerships
  • UYUY258-259 Academic staff: testimonials
  • UYUY260-264 Administrative and support staff: Librarians
  • UYUY265-269 Administrative and support staff: Secretaries
  • UYUY270-273 Administrative and support staff: Quaestors and factors
  • UYUY274-276 Administrative and support staff: Beadles
  • UYUY277-279 Administrative and support staff: Porters
  • UYUY280-295 Other officers
  • UYUY300-399 Students and Graduates:
  • UYUY301-313 Matriculation and admission of students and graduation
  • UYUY314 Special students
  • UYUY315-323 Class records
  • UYUY324-334 Examinations
  • UYUY335-339 Non-Graduate alumni
  • UYUY340-348 Graduation
  • UYUY349 Appointments Committee
  • UYUY350-374 MD Degree papers
  • UYUY375-399 Special external educational projections and examinations including LLA
  • UYUY400-499 Faculties, Senatus and Rectorial Court:
  • UYUY400-405 Faculties, general
  • UYUY406-409 Faculty of Divinity
  • UYUY410-414 Faculty of Arts
  • UYUY415-419 Faculty of Medicine
  • UYUY420-424 Faculty of Science
  • UYUY425-429 Faculty of Law
  • UYUY430-434 Faculty of Applied Science
  • UYUY435-439 Faculty of Social Science
  • UYUY450-490 Senatus Academicus and its committees
  • UYUY490-499 Rectorial Court proceedings
  • UYUY500-599 University Court:
  • UYUY505-529 Court papers including minutes
  • UYUY530-559 Court committee papers
  • UYUY560-564 College Council: St Andrews
  • UYUY565-570 College Council: Dundee
  • UYUY600-699 General Council:
  • UYUY605-614 General Council: Registers
  • UYUY615-629 General Council: Executive papers including minutes
  • UYUY630-645 General Council: Financial
  • UYUY665-674 General Council: Miscellaneous
  • UYUY675-699 Alumnus Association, Commemoration Day Association etc.
  • UYUY7P General Administration: Personnel records
  • UYUY7Q General Administration: Quaestorial records:
  • UYUY7Q1 Quaestor's secretarial archives
  • UYUY7Q2 Financial, general, to c. 1890
  • UYUY7Q3 Financial, general, c. 1890-1962
  • UYUY7Q4 Financial, general, 1962-[ongoing]
  • UYUY7Q5 Financial, special funds, to 1962
  • UYUY7Q6 Financial, special funds, 1962-[ongoing]
  • UYUY7Res General Administration: Student Residence records:
  • UYUY7Res1 Student residence, secretarial and general
  • UYUY7Res2 Student residence, financial
  • UYUY7Res3 Individual student residences, St Andrews
  • UYUY7Res4 Individual student residences, Dundee
  • UYUY7Sec General Administration: Secretarial archives
  • UYUY7Sec1a Secretary's incoming correspondence, general
  • UYUY7Sec1b Secretary's outgoing correspondence, general
  • UYUY7Sec2 Secretary's Letter books
  • UYUY7Sec2/1 Special secretarial groups: court and senate papers
  • UYUY7Sec3 Miscellaneous: Library returns, administrative forms etc
  • UYUY7Sec4 Secretary's legal activities
  • UYUY7Sec5 Registrar's activities
  • UYUY7Sec6 Secretary's financial records
  • UYUY7Sec7 Records of sub-departments of secretariat
  • UYUY800-899 Relations with outside bodies:
  • UYUY800-809 Law Cases
  • UYUY810-835 Relations with Government including visitations, commissions, Acts of Parliament
  • UYUY844-849 External trusts
  • UYUY850-851 St Leonard's and St Andrews parishes and the University
  • UYUY852-853 Literary and Philosophical Society
  • UYUY854-855 Provincial Committee for the training of teachers
  • UYUY858-869 Other outside bodies
  • UYUY875-880 Papers of University officials
  • UYUY875 Papers of Principals of the University
  • UYUY876 Papers of Vice-Principals of the University
  • UYUY877 Papers of the Executive of the University
  • UYUY878 Papers of other officials
  • UYUY900-920 Student papers:
  • UYUY900-909 Official student organisations
  • UYUY911 Student societies
  • UYUY975 Miscellaneous university organisations
  • UYM Miscellaneous material

Access Information

By appointment with the Archivist. Access to unpublished records less than 30 years old and other records containing confidential information may be restricted.


Description compiled by Rachel Hart, Archives Hub Project Archivist.

Other Finding Aids

Hand list and slip index are available for parts of the collection.

Alternative Form Available

On occasion an original item may be wanting and a surviving transcript or earlier inventory entry can be substituted. There are transcripts made in the 1890s of some of the early charter and tenurial material. Some of the printed material is available elsewhere.

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist.Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 227 procedures.

Custodial History

Retained in the custody of the University of St Andrews.



Related Material

Material relating to the component colleges of the University of St Andrews can be found at GB 227 UYSS, GB 227 UYSL, GB 227 UYSM, GB 227 UYUC and GB 227 UYUDC. Similarly, the records of the University Library can be found at GB 227 UYLY.


RG Cant, The University of St Andrews: A Short History, (3rd ed., St Andrews, 1992), JM Anderson (ed.), Early Records of the University of St Andrews 1413-1579, (Edinburgh: Scottish Historical Society, 1926), AI Dunlop, Acta Facultatis Artium Universitatis Sanctiandree, 1413-1588, (Edinburgh, 1964), Votiva Tabella: A memorial volume of St Andrews University in connection with its quincentenary festival, (St Andrews, 1911), James Robb, 'Student life in St Andrews before 1450, in Scottish Historical Review, 1912, vol. 9, pp.347-360, Evidence, oral and documentary, taken and received by the Commissioners for visiting the Universities of Scotland, vol. III, St Andrews, (London, 1837), JM Anderson (ed.), University of St Andrews, Matriculation Roll, 1747-1897 (Edinburgh, 1905), RN Smart, 'Literate Ladies - A Fifty Year Experiment', in St Andrews University Alumnus Chronicle, 1968 (no. 59), pp, 21-31, JSG Blair, History of Medicine in the University of St Andrews, (Edinburgh. 1987), WC Dickinson, Two Students at St Andrews, 1711-1716 (Edinburgh, 1952), PRS Lang (ed.), Duncan Dewar, a student of St Andrews 100 years ago, his accounts, (Glasgow, 1926).

Additional Information

This material is largely original.

Geographical Names