The history of St Leonard’s College

Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

St Leonard’s College was founded in 1512 by Archbishop Alexander Stewart and Prior John Hepburn. It was intended for the education of novices of the Augustinian Order – and primarily of the Priory of St Andrews – in Arts and Theology. The newly founded College was administered by the Priory, and its organisation and discipline were of a monastic severity. From the beginning it included other students, and its members studies under the academic supervision of the University of St Andrews.

The College was located at the north-west corner of the Priory precinct. The buildings of the College were arranged around a courtyard and comprised a church, library, common hall, schools, chambers, and lodgings for staff.

In 1544 the college (now known as ”the College of St. Leonard”) acquired a substantial measure of autonomy. Its founded members comprised a Principal, two chaplains, four regents, and a variable number of scholars. The Principal, a Canon of the Priory, gave instruction in Theology, while the regents gave instruction in Arts. The College disassociated itself from the Priory in 1545. The great humanist George Buchanan (1506-82) was Principal of St Leonard’s College from 1566-70. ‌‌

In 1579 the Colleges of St Leonard and St Salvator (founded 1450) were reconstituted as colleges of arts and philosophy while teaching at St Mary’s College (founded 1538) focused on theology.‌ Declining student numbers and the poverty of the University led to the union of the two arts colleges, in 1747, as the United College of St Salvator and St Leonard.

St Leonard's College illustration

Despite the fact that the buildings of St Leonard’s College were in better condition, it was the St Salvator’s site that was chosen to be the seat of the new United College. In 1772 the buildings and gardens of St Leonard’s College passed into private hands, with the exception of the St Leonard’s Chapel, which was explicitly excluded from the sale and still remains a part of the University.

From that date St Leonard’s College existed in name only until 1974 when it was reconstituted as a home for the University’s postgraduate community. It encompasses all postgraduate students of the University of St Andrews, and supports all types of postgraduate activity across the institution. Since 2020, its home is in Old Burgh School.

Contact us

St Leonard's College
The Old Burgh School,
Abbey Walk
St Andrews
KY16 9LB

[email protected]

Phone:+44 (0)1334 46 2003

Upcoming events

Data management plans:writing workshop for first year reviews
Wednesday 15 May 2024, 9.30am to 11.30am
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Stretching and Meditation with Penny
Wednesday 15 May 2024, 5.30pm to 6.30pm
Muir(109), Old Burgh School
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PG Cafe
Thursday 16 May 2024, 2.30pm-4.00pm
Fairlie Social Area, Old Burgh School

Shut up and Write(Online)
Thursday 16 May 2024, 2.00pm-5.00pm [POSTPONED FOR 28 May 2024]
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Microsoft Word: Producing a Thesis
Thursday 23 May 2024, 2.00pm – 5.00pm
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PG Cafe
Thursday 23 May 2024, 2.30pm-4.00pm
Fairlie Social Area, Old Burgh School

Board Games Night
Friday 24 May 2024, 4.30pm
Fairlie Social Area, Old Burgh School

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Tuesday 21 May 2024, 1.00pm-5.00pm
Muir (109), Old Burgh School
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Monday 27 May 2024, 10.00am – 11.30pm
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Shut up and Write(Online)
Tuesday 28 May 2024, 12.30pm-3.30pm
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Data Management Plans: writing workshop for first year reviews (in-person)
Wednesday 5 June 2024, 9.30am – 11.30am
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Wednesday 22 May 2024, 11.00am – 12.30pm
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Microsoft Word: Producing a dissertation (MSkills)
Thursday 6 June 2024, 2.00pm to 5.00pm
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Software Carpentry 2 day workshop: Shell/Git/Python (GRADSkills)
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Adobe Photoshop – Introduction to Vector Graphics (in-person)
Thursday 27 June 2024, 1.00pm-5.00pm
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Tuesday 2 July 2024, 1.30pm-3.00pm
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Microsoft Access: Introduction to Databases (in-person)

Tuesday 9 July 2024, 9.30am – 4.00pm
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Microsoft Word: Advanced Document Management

Thursday 11 July 2024, 2.00pm – 4.30pm
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Microsoft Word: Controlling Document Design (in-person)
Tuesday 16 July 2024, 2.00pm – 4.30pm
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Microsoft Word:Producing a Thesis (in-person)
Thursday 18 July 2024, 2.00pm – 5.00pm
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