Law at the University of Edinburgh has been based at the beautiful Old College campus for over 300 years. Located at the heart of the city, this stunning 18th century building is iconic for both the University and the local community. Close to the highest courts in Scotland and the Scottish Parliament, it is ideally placed for those studying and working in the field of law and serves as inspiration for staff, students and visitors alike.
The Law School's home in Old College has been reimagined with a £35million refurbishment, which has created state-of-the-art facilities fit for a 21st century, world-class law school.
In November 2014, Edinburgh Law School launched one of the most ambitious projects ever seen in its 300-year history, the refurbishment of Old College.
The project, which was designed by LDN Architects, aimed to transform the building into a 21st century home for the School, whilst celebrating and preserving the heritage and history of Old College.
Work commenced in January 2015 and the major phase of the refurbishment completed in January 2019. During this time the building was completely reimagined. The layout was opened up so that each floor was connected the entire length of the building ensuring ease of circulation. A new central staircase was built connecting every level of the School for the first time in the building's history. Modern and flexible teaching spaces were installed and the famous octagonal lecture theatre (now known as The Usha Kasera Lecture Theatre) was restored to reveal its historic character and splendour. The Law Library was rebuilt in spectacular style, with the stunning Senate Room, octagonal bookcases reflecting the lecture theatre directly above and modern study spaces. Finally a social hub was created at the centre of the building to increase the sense of community for all at the School. The final phase of the project will commence in 2019, refurbishing the School's remaining premises on the southside of Old College.
The Law School is proud to have a home reflective of our world-class teaching and research, whilst realising the full potential of the beautiful Old College.
The Law School was officially reopened at a ceremony in the Quad on 13th September 2019. Staff and students past and present were joined by alumni, donors and friends of the Law School to celebrate the refurbishment. Speeches were given by: Prof Martin Hogg, Head of Edinburgh Law School; The Hon. Lady Sarah Wolffe, QC, Judge of the Court of Session and Law School alumna; Mr Christopher Muir, 3rd Year LLB student; Ms Anais Banag, Diploma in Professional Legal Studies student; and Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal of the University of Edinburgh. Watch the speeches in this video.
Old College is the most iconic building in the Edinburgh University estate; it is held in high regard by planners and Historic Scotland, and is recognised with an ‘A’ listing indicating that the building is of national/international importance. It was built between 1789 and 1827, with the iconic dome added later in 1887. It is the work of three of Scotland’s most talented and important architects of the Georgian and Late Victorian periods.
16 November 1789 – The Foundation Stone for Old College, a single building to house the whole of the University was laid in the Old Quad.
1791 – 1794
Highlights include the assembly of the great monolithic Roman Doric columns at the South Bridge entrance to Old College, and the completion of Adam’s octagonal lecture theatre, before the financial demands of the build-up to the Napoleonic Wars stopped work. Adam died in 1792 at the age of 63.
1815 – 1816
Following Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, money granted by parliament for the completion of Old College. William Henry Playfair, aged just 25 when he submitted his plans, was declared the winner of a competition to choose a new architect for Old College.
Iron gates at east entrance (South Bridge entrance ) added – Playfair’s final contribution to the building.
Dome of Old College erected over the South Bridge entrance by Robert Rowand Anderson at a cost of £3700 and paid for with a bequest from Robert Cox, a Gorgie lawyer.
1905 – 1967
Gradual migration of the remaining University departments, with the exception of the Law School, out of Old College.
Old Quad restored and a central lawn installed, a £1-million-pound anonymous donation finally allowing the vision of the Old College Trustees in the 1820s to be realised.
In the 225th anniversary year of the laying of the Foundation Stone of Old College, the Law School marked the beginning of a major refurbishment of its home with a grand recreation of the original procession held to lay the original Foundation Stone.
2015 - 2019
The refurbishment of the Law School's rooms in Old College is completed, providing state-of-the-art facilities, fit for a world-class Law School.