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#13 Overall Influence

University of Edinburgh

Public research university in Edinburgh, Scotland
By James Barham, PhD

In spite of dating back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the University of Edinburgh is only the fourth-oldest university in Scotland (after St. Andrews, Glasgow, and Aberdeen), hence the sixth-oldest in the English-speaking world (with Oxford and Cambridge, of course, in first and second positions).

As the city of Edinburgh itself grew in importance, however, its university also came to dominate its Scottish rivals. That is why, for such a relatively “young” university, Edinburgh is associated with a quite remarkable list of intellectual luminaries, including the following, including, during the seventeenth century, the well-known Presbyterian theologian, Samuel Rutherford.

During the following eighteenth-century – the Scottish Enlightenment – Edinburgh was home to a veritable galaxy of celebrated thinkers, including:

  • Philosophers, David Hume, Adam Smith, & Adam Ferguson
  • Theologian and mathematician, Thomas Bayes
  • Theologian, educator, and signer of the US Declaration of Independence, John Witherspoon
  • Physician and US Declaration of Independence—signer, Benjamin Rush
  • Lawyer, US Declaration of Independence – signer, and US Supreme Court Justice, James Wilson
  • Physicist, Joseph Black
  • Geologist, James Hutton
  • Celebrated author of the Life of Johnson, James Boswell

During the Victoria era, two of the most-influential scientists of all time, the naturalist Charles Darwin and the physicist James Clerk Maxwell, both studied here. Other nineteenth-century, Edinburgh-connected scientists include the botanist Robert Brown (the first person to observe what is now called “Brownian motion”); the physician Joseph Lister (a pioneer of antiseptic surgery); and Alexander Graham Bell (the inventor of the telephone).

We may also mention:

  • Philosopher, James Frederick Ferrier
  • Novelists Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, & Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Playwright, J.M. Barrie
  • Neoclassical architect, William Henry Playfair
  • Satirist and cultural critic, Thomas Carlyle

As for the twentieth century, among 19 Nobel Prize – winners who have been associated with the University of Edinburgh, we may mention:

  • Max Born and Peter Higg–physics
  • Peter Mitchell–chemistry
  • Hermann Muller, Alexander Fleming, and May-Britt Moser–physiology or medicine

There have been four Edinburgh-connected Turing Award – winners, namely:

  • Robin Milner
  • Alan Kay
  • Leslie Valiant
  • Geoffrey Hinton

Scientific breakthroughs that have occurred here include the first cloning of a mammal (the sheep Dolly) and the first genetically engineered hepatitis B vaccine. Edinburgh scientists also helped design the world’s first industrial-assembly robotic system.

From Wikipedia

The University of Edinburgh is a public research university in Edinburgh, Scotland. Granted a royal charter by King James VI in 1582 and officially opened in 1583, it is one of Scotland's four ancient universities and the sixth-oldest university in continuous operation in the English-speaking world. The university played an important role in Edinburgh becoming a chief intellectual centre during the Scottish Enlightenment and contributed to the city being nicknamed the "Athens of the North".

Source: Wikipedia

What is University of Edinburgh known for?

Our answer to this is to show you the disciplines in which a school's faculty and alumni have had the highest historical influence. A school may be influential in a discipline even if they do not offer degrees in that area. We've organized two lists to show where they are influential and offer corresponding degrees, and where they are influential through scholarship although they don't offer degrees in the disciplines.

Top areas of influence with degrees offered

#8 World Rank
Philosophy
#5 World Rank
Biology
#9 World Rank
Literature
#7 World Rank
Medical
#36 World Rank
Mathematics
#19 World Rank
Computer Science
#14 World Rank
Economics
#13 World Rank
History
#30 World Rank
Engineering
#27 World Rank
Physics
#23 World Rank
Chemistry
#19 World Rank
Education
#11 World Rank
Religious Studies
#40 World Rank
Business
#32 World Rank
Law
#33 World Rank
Psychology
#20 World Rank
Communications
#32 World Rank
Political Science
#12 World Rank
Earth Sciences
#18 World Rank
Anthropology
#40 World Rank
Sociology
#15 World Rank
Nursing
#71 World Rank
Criminal Justice
#69 World Rank
Social Work

Influential People

Who are University of Edinburgh's Most influential alumni?

University of Edinburgh 's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Biology, Medical, and Philosophy

Bruce Chatwin

Bruce Chatwin

English novelist

George Kelly

George Kelly

American psychologist and therapist

Robert Stephenson

Robert Stephenson

British railway engineer

Henry Home, Lord Kames

Henry Home, Lord Kames

Scottish lawyer and writer

David Baulcombe

David Baulcombe

British geneticist

Rodney Huddleston

British linguist

A. S. Neill

A. S. Neill

Scottish educator and theorist

John Rae

Canadian economist

Henry Widdowson

British linguist

Thomas Graham

Thomas Graham

Chemist

Thomas Addison

Thomas Addison

19th-century English physician and scientist

Edward Victor Appleton

Edward Victor Appleton

English physicist