The University of St Andrews School of Medicine (formerly the Bute Medical School) is the school of medicine at the University of St Andrews in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland and the oldest medical school in Scotland.Medicine was the third subject to be taught at the University of St Andrews, at St Salvator’s College and later the United College of St Salvator and St Leonard. Bishop Kennedy founded St Salvator’s College in 1450, confirmed by a Papal Bull in 1458.
From the 17th to the 19th centuries, medical degrees from St Andrews were awarded by an early version of distance learning. The university awarded the degree of MD to individuals who were usually already established in medical practice, the first being conferred in 1696. This degree was awarded on the basis of a testimonial written by a supervisor, and a fee was paid to the university. The whole process was conducted through the post, and the candidate did not have to visit the university. Recipients of the MD at this time include the French Revolutionary, Jean-Paul Marat (1743–1793), who obtained his MD in 1775 for an essay on gonorrhea, and Edward Jenner (1749–1823), who developed the first smallpox vaccine, and was awarded the MD in 1792.
In 1721, whilst Chancellor of the University, James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos established the Chandos Chair of Medicine and Anatomy, to fund the appointment of a Professor of Medicine and Anatomy at the university, and Thomas Simson was appointed as the first Chandos Professor. The Chandos Chair still exists, although it has now become a chair of physiology.
In the early 19th century, examinations were introduced. Students had to visit St Andrews to sit them, but there was no teaching at the university.
In 1897, as Rector of the University of St Andrews, the 3rd Marquess of Bute, in addition to his provident restorations of other university buildings, initiated the construction of the current Bute Medical Buildings, south of St Mary’s College, completed in 1899. The buildings, much added to and modified, especially after a gift from Andrew Carnegie, built labs to the north (now the Carnegie Building). These provided for the establishment of a regular medical school, which both taught and examined medical students. The 3rd Marquess of Bute also provided for the establishment of a new chair of medicine—the Bute Chair of Medicine.
In 1898, the University of St Andrews created the University College Dundee. Together, the Bute Medical School and clinical facilities at University College Dundee formed a conjoint medical school. Medical students could either undertake their pre-clinical teaching at the Bute Medical School in St Andrews or go straight to Dundee for their pre-clinical years, and then the two groups combined to complete their clinical training in Dundee. Students were awarded the degree of MB ChB by the University of St Andrews.
In 1954, University College Dundee changed its name to Queen’s College, but remained part of the University of St Andrews.
In August 1967, following recommendations by the Robbins Report, the Universities (Scotland) Act 1966 came into force. This granted independent university status to the University of Dundee, separating Queen’s College from the University of St Andrews. In many respects, the medical school at the University of Dundee inherited the medical traditions of St Andrews University.
As the clinical medical school (along with other parts of the University of St Andrews including the Law faculty) had been based in Dundee, this left St Andrews with no clinical medical school or teaching hospital. The Universities (Scotland) Act 1966 also removed the University of St Andrews’s right to award undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in medicine, including the MB ChB and MD. However, the right to award the MD (St Andrews) has since been restored.
In order to continue to be able to teach medicine, St Andrews therefore established a new link with the English Victoria University of Manchester, in 1970 which was at that time seeking to enlarge its medical school. Students completed a three-year BSc in medical science at St Andrews, and could optionally complete an extra intercalated year for the award of BSc Hons at St Andrews, before completing their clinical training at the University of Manchester, with the final MB ChB awarded by Manchester.
For a brief period there was the option of completing clinical training at Keele University Medical School in Stoke-on-Trent, and around twenty St Andrews graduates each year between 2002–2006 have gone to Keele University. This option no longer exists.
Major changes to the curriculum were made in 2000 with increased emphasis on psychology and cellular biology, with the introduction of a two-year course in cellular and molecular medicine and a three-year course in behavioural sciences. Further curriculum changes took place in 2004, with a reduction in the amount of teaching but the introduction of a research project into the final year, allowing for an honours degree to be attained after three years’ study, and therefore since September 2005, the Bute Medical School has offered a Bachelor of Science with honours in Medicine (BSc Hons Medicine).
The School of Medicine building was opened in 2010. Located in the heart of the science campus, the design fosters interdisciplinary collaboration between medics and scientists and is superbly equipped for teaching, research and conference use. The 300-seat lecture theatre, two 50-seat Seminar Rooms and thirteen 12-seat tutorial rooms provide an excellent learning and self-study facility. All are equipped with the most modern interactive display systems and are grouped round the cafe on the ground floor.