About Queen Margaret University

Queen Margaret University History in Short

Queen Margaret University (QMU) have a proud history of achievement and progress extending for well over a century.

Founded in 1875, QMU had always been driven by the highest ideals and purposes, focusing on contributing in practical ways to improving people’s lives and serving the community.

The institution now named Queen Margaret University was established as the Edinburgh School of Cookery in 1875.
This institution emerged in a period that was notable for real economic progress, but also characterised by many social and economic divisions and inequalities, and widespread poverty. The School was established as a voluntary effort to address two key problems facing society at the time:
(1) To provide educational opportunities for women. The institution’s founders were part of the U.K.-wide mid Victorian “Women’s Movement”, which was a campaign for better education and improved career opportunities for females. A main element of this campaign was directed at securing equality of opportunity for school girls, but another purpose was to open up post-school education at both university and technical levels. (One of the key leaders of the women’s movement was Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter, Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, and she became the School’s leading patron.)
(2) The need to bring about an improvement in diets, particularly the diets of working class families.

The original lectures took place (before huge audiences) in the Royal Museum in Edinburgh’s Chambers Street, but it was at first peripatetic in nature, in that teaching staff went out with mobile gas and paraffin cooking equipment to give programmes of public lectures and demonstrations all over Britain, from the Shetlands to the Channel Islands.
The first permanent site was in Shandwick Place, where the institution was based from 1877 to 1891. At this time the institution also operated a branch in Manchester to provide lectures to industrial communities throughout the north of England. As was intended by the founders, this branch eventually became independent and it is now a constituent part of Manchester Metropolitan University.

The main founders of the school were Christian Guthrie Wright and Louisa Stevenson (Louisa was sister of Flora Stevenson, the first female Chair of the Edinburgh School Board). In setting up the School of Cookery, they were backed by various interest groups, but particularly enlightened local medical practitioners and Church leaders.
In 1879 Guthrie Wright collaborated with the scientist Sir Thomas Dyke Acland and two “distinguished medical doctors” (probably Dr Henry Littlejohn – Edinburgh’s first Medical Officer of Health – and Dr Alexander Wood) to produce her School Cookery Book.

Adopting the Name Queen Margaret in 1972

The name was adopted in 1972. The need for a new title had arisen to ensure that the institution would no longer be associated solely with cookery.
The name Queen Margaret was chosen because the venerated 11th century queen was seen to personify our key values of serving the community and enhancing the quality of life. The institution was therefore now known as Queen Margaret College.

Today, QMU’s vision is to be a university of ideas and influence.

City of Edinburgh Location

Studying at a Scottish university can really set students up for their future career and make sure that they are fully prepared for the working world. Three key features of higher education in Scotland, which makes it a destination of choice, include the quality of education underpinned by world-class research, the tremendous breadth of learning on offer and a focus on employability.

QMU’s campus is located to the east of Edinburgh city centre by the coastal town of Musselburgh, in the county of East Lothian. Musselburgh has a population of around 22,000 and offers a theatre, sports centre with swimming pool, supermarkets and shops, a racecourse, golf courses, a harbour and beach, restaurants and bars, a public library and a peaceful riverside. The campus is only a short walk or bus ride from Fort Kinnaird, a large outdoor shopping complex offering high street chain stores, restaurants and a multiplex cinema. There are also several supermarkets in the immediate vicinity.

The campus is based next to Musselburgh train station where it is only a 6 minute train journey to Edinburgh City Centre.

The City of Edinburgh, Coast and Countryside

Edinburgh and the surrounding area is an ideal location for student years.
As a student at QMU you will have easy access to Scotland’s beautiful and vibrant capital city, Edinburgh, and also the stunning coast and countryside surrounding the campus.


Situated in the central belt of Scotland, south of the Firth of Forth Estuary, Edinburgh is easily accessible from all areas of the UK and beyond. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and continues to rank high in opinion polls (see Recent Edinburgh accolades below). It is a top tourist destination, particularly in the summer months when the city comes alive and plays host to the acclaimed Edinburgh Festivals.

With four universities and a large further education college, the city is highly populated by students and is very student friendly. Much of the culture and activity of the city is focused around student life, with students able to share some facilities — such as student unions and libraries — that each institution has to offer. Part-time job opportunities and graduate job opportunities are excellent and many students choose to remain in Edinburgh or the local area during holidays and after graduating.

Edinburgh is atmospheric and vibrant, with all you’d expect from a capital city: packed with shops, cinemas, theatres, restaurants, pubs, clubs, supermarkets, museums, tourist attractions, landmarks, art galleries, concert venues, parks and sports facilities etc. The city is also home to Edinburgh Castle. Dating back to the 12th century, the spectacular landmark sits in the city centre on the top of a dormant volcano. The city is also home to the Scottish Parliament.

Queen Margaret University (QMU) has climbed 15 places in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 to become the top modern university in Scotland.

The guide, which was published on Sunday 22 September sees QMU ranked 29th out of the 73 modern* universities across the UK as a whole. For the second year running, QMU has moved up the rankings in the Good University Guide, this year jumping 15 places to 82nd position.

In being named Scotland’s top modern university, QMU is now placed above Robert Gordon University, Glasgow Caledonian University, Abertay University, Edinburgh Napier University and the University of the West of Scotland.
QMU was also ranked top modern university in Scotland in the Complete University Guide 2020, which published in May.


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