Heriot-Watt University

Scope and Content

Records of Heriot-Watt University 1966 -[present]

Administrative / Biographical History

Heriot-Watt is a research-led technological university, committed to excellence and relevance in teaching and research in a range of applied sciences, engineering and technology, textile design, management education and languages. Heriot-Watt University was granted its charter in June 1966, following the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Higher Education chaired by Lord Robbins. The University traces its origins back the School of Arts of Edinburgh, founded in 1821 and susequently evolved as the Watt Institution and School of Arts (1852-1885) and Heriot-Watt College (1885-1965).

In 1969, Midlothian Council gifted the University the Riccarton estate in southwest Edinburgh. This provided the vital spring board for Heriot-Watt University to expand on a new purpose built campus and develop leading edge strengths in teaching and research. An integral part of the campus is 60 acres of fully developed and occupied commercial Research Park. In addition to its Edinburgh campus the University also has a strong presence in Galashiels, at its Scottish Borders Campus, formerly The Scottish College of Textiles, which merged with the University in October 1998, and a small campus in Stromness, Orkney.


The collection is listed and arranged chronologically according to provenance.

Access Information

By appointment. Closure periods may apply to unpublished records less than 30 years old and other records containing personal information. Access to records in a fragile condition may be restricted.

Other Finding Aids

Printed and electronic Catalogues are available in the Searchroom.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents. Permission to publish material from the Archive must be sought in advance from the University Archivist. Responsibility for obtaining copyright clearance rests with the applicant

Custodial History

In 1978, a Historical Records Committee was set up to advise Court, the University's governing body, on the collection and preservation of records and related material concerning the University and its predecessor institutions. The University Archive was established in 1982 to take formal responsibility for the historic archives and collections. The Archive, Records Management and Museum Service actively develops the historic collections and selects key contemporary records for permanent preservation. This role is underpinned by an acquisition policy approved by Court, on the recommendation of the University Collections committee.


Accurals are on-going.

Related Material

Records of predecessor bodies; School of Arts and Watt Institution and School of Arts (GB 582 HWUA SA), and Heriot-Watt College (GB 582 HWUA HWC). Duplicate copies of some items are available for consultation in the Searchroom.


  • J.S. Boyle Heriot-Watt University: From Mechanics Institute to Technological University 1821-1973,Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, July 1973
  • Leslie A. Wallace 1921-1992: a History of Physics at Heriot-Watt University,Heriot-Watt University, 1993
  • Alex Anderson and Brian G Gowenlock Chemistry in Heriot-Watt 1821-1991Heriot-Watt University, 1998
  • Heriot-Watt University History forthcoming.