New books in the Library for Social and Political Science

Thanks to recommendations from members of staff and requests via RAB from students the Library is continually adding new books to its collections both online and in print. Here are just a (very) small number of the books that have been added to the Library’s collections in semester one, 2016/17 for the School of Social and Political Science and these demonstrate the wide range of subjects being taught, studied and researched within School.

–> Find these and more via DiscoverEd.

digital_sociologies_bookcoverThe new Northern Irish politics? by Jonathan Tonge (shelfmark: DA990.U46 Ton.)

International humanitarian law and the changing technology of war edited by Dan Saxon (shelfmark: KZ6471 Int.)

Routledge international handbook of social work education edited by Imogen Taylor, Marion Bogo, Michelle Lefevre and Barbra Teater (e-book).

Digital sociologies edited by Jessie Daniels, Karen Gregory, Tressie McMillan Cottom (shelfmark: HM851 Dig.) Read More

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Past Exam Papers Online

Exam time is approaching again and you may find it useful to look at recent past exam papers for your course.

Our Exam Papers Online web page provides on and off-campus access for staff and students of the University of Edinburgh to the collected degree examination papers of the University from 2004 onwards.

Following the links to the exam papers you require, you will be prompted for your EASE username and password. Remain within the same browser window and access should be seamless.

If you have any questions or comments about any aspect of Exams Online, please get in touch. Email:


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New Cambridge University Press E-Books Available


A further 173 e-books are available from Cambridge University Press, Edinburgh University Press and Boydell & Brewer across a wide variety of subject disciplines.  Please see the title list here.  The e-books are now available on DiscoverEd.

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November 1985

The November 1985 issues of Student are now live! This month: famine relief underpants party revealed to be a hoax; University urged to boycott South Africa; Scottish Mining Museum opens. Read more below…


7 November 1985: An Undergarment Hoax

  • An advert in the previous issue inviting students to an underpants party to raise money for Famine Relief in Africa is revealed as a hoax, along with much outrage from those who turned up sporting just their underwear…
  • Female contraception makes the headline as controversial anti-pill campaigner Victoria Gillick pulls out of debate at Edinburgh University.
  • Liz Lochhead, at the time writer in residence at Edinburgh University, inspires another piece looking at Scottishness and Feminism

Read the full issue


14 November 1985: Communists fight Conservatives

  • Heading this week’s issue was the great success of the Leukaemia Appeal, students traveled to Biggar to personally present the £1,500 cheque to Ian Botham.
  • Edinburgh Professor John Erickson, Head of the Department for Defence Studies, was selected by the BBC to act as a specialist advisor for their coverage of the Geneva Summit.
  • A political debate between the Revolutionary Communist Party and the Federation of Conservative Students escalated to the point where police were called to the Chaplaincy.

Read the full issue


21 November 1985: Apartheid Boycotts in EUSA shops 

  • Students call to remove more products of South Africa from university shop, the oranges seem to have caused particular uproar!
  • What’s up, Chuck? Student visits a lecture given by Chuck Jones creator of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.
  • Norman MacCaig, Scotland’s foremost poet at the time, celebrates his 75th birthday in this issue, with some philosophical insights on the writing of poetry and the poets “role” in society.
  • Donald Trelford, previous editor of the Observer, gave the Kenneth Allsop Memorial Lecture. Trelford has since become famous for something else – being, at the age of 76 and 6 months, the oldest new father.

Read the full issue


28 November 1985: Miners and Monarchs in the spotlight

  • Victoria Gillick is forced to take another bitter pill as police were called to escort her to a debate at Edinburgh University.
  • André Brink, prominent South African author, was interviewed by Student after giving a lecture on “Writers in a Closed Society.”
  • The Scottish Mining Museum plunges into industrial history with the opening of the Lady Victoria Colliery. The museum will focus on the Victorian era and the human experience of the miners.
  • “Defence of the Realm” premiered in Edinburgh this month, Student interviewed the executive producer, producer and one of the stars asking how closely the film mirrors contemporary Britain.

Read the full issue

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PhD Theses Conservation

My name is Nicole and I am excited to be in my fourth week as the new digitisation project conservator working on conserving the PhD theses before digitisation. The PhDs I am working on range from 1750–1961 and are mostly bound. The volumes vary in size and material. The earlier volumes are bound in leather and hand written, while the later volumes are bound in book cloth and typed.

At present my time is split between two locations for conserving the PhDs: the Library Annex and the Main Library conservation studio.

So far I have mainly been working on the medical PhDs which include some beautiful and what must have been very time consuming drawings. The volumes also house many photographs and x-rays, including the x-ray of a shilling swallowed by a patient!

My current conservation work focuses on the volumes which had been flagged up by the survey carried out prior to my arrival. The treatments I have undertaken so far include surface cleaning, consolidation of red rot using Klucel G in IMS, inner joint repair to reattach loose or detached boards, minor paper repairs and reattaching damaged spines to volumes using a hollow made from archival paper.

Detached spine on bound volume

Detached spine on bound volume

The aim of the conservation work is to stabilise the volumes for digitisation and to ensure the text and imagery are visible. On occasion rehousing is needed, made out of archival board.

Thesis to be rehoused

Thesis to be rehoused


Keep an eye out for updates on this project!

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ProQuest e-resources trials extended!

The Library currently has trial access to several fantastic databases from ProQuest and I’m happy to let you know our access to these databases has recently been extended until the end of December 2016.

The databases included are:

  • Women’s Magazine Archive I and II
  • British Periodicals III and IV
  • Los Angeles Times Historical Archive, 1881-1992
  • News, Policy and Politics Magazine Archive
  • Luthers Werke
  • Historic Literary Criticism.

You can access all of these trial databases via the E-resources trials page. Access is available both on and off-campus.

Trial access ends on 31st December 2016.

womens-magazine-archive Read More

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Student newspaper digitisation project returns!

The Student newspaper digitisation project is back! Over the next six months we’ll be digitising back issues from the late 1980s and early 1990s and making them available online at the redesigned project site:


In 2014, the Library ran a pilot project to digitise copies of The Student newspaper from the academic year 1984 / 1985. The papers were released in real-time, exactly 30 years after they were first published, and provided an interesting insight into life as a student in Edinburgh in the mid 1980s.

Now, thanks to a generous grant from the Alumni Innovation Initiative, we are able to continue the project, starting from the point at which the pilot ended in summer 1985. Second Year History student Olivia Nolan will be working with us part time from November until April – we’re delighted to have her on board!

The original project blog has been updated and content will continue to be added as we digitise the back copies. As well as all the issues from the 1984/85 pilot, October 1985 is online now:

As before, we’d be really keen to hear from you about your experiences of living in Edinburgh and studying or working at the University in the 1980s. We’ll be posting on the Centre for Research Collections’ Facebook page and tweeting from its Twitter account using the hashtag #studentarchive. Please join in!

If you would like more information about the project, please email

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Scanning Scanty Moustaches: some medical theses from the turn of the century

A large proportion of the earliest thesis we have digitised from the turn of the century are medical thesis. However, they little resemble the modern medical thesis being produced today. They are full of the personality of the students who wrote them and the people they studied. Sometimes it feels like we are hearing voices that no one has listened to for a very long time.

For example, one student named Donald Sutherland Murray undertook a study of an outbreak of alopecia he witnessed in the small town of 9000 people where he was practicing medicine. His study presents a cross section of the town, his patients ranged in age from 8 to 65, and were students, joiners, bakers, apprentice engineers and domestic servants. His thesis also includes beautiful portraits, such as the one below of a joiner, ages 35 with a ‘scanty moustache’. This thesis may no longer be relevant for the treatment of alopecia, but it provides information about people’s lives that would not have survived had they not suffered from alopecia.
scanty-moustacheIt is also important to remember that the people who produced the hundreds of volumes that pass through our hands and scanners every week were human beings who probably wept and had many sleepless nights in behalf of the work we are digitising. Sometimes it is rewarding to try to find out more about these individuals. A few months ago I came across a medical thesis from 1906 written by a woman called Sheila M. Ross. It is entitled Acute hallucinatory insanity – a type of the confusional insanities, with clinical notes. As female authors from this period are relatively unusual, I sought to find out a little more about Dr. Ross. I haven’t manages to find masses of information, but I did discover that she was awarded a medal from the School of Medicine in 1899 for Systemic Anatomy. The medal, along with a few others from the same time period, were sold for £170 by the auction house Dix Noonan Web. I have also found a record of her graduation in the July 1904 edition of the British Medical Journal. Of a graduating class of about 130, 7 were women, Sheila M. Ross, Aimee E. Mills, Margaret H. Robinson, Isabelle Logie, Amy M Mackintosh, Eslpeth M. McMillan, Margaret CW Young and Mildred ML Cather.


Much of the early thesis collection are MD’s, however, their value lies not just within the realm of medicine. Murray’s thesis contains a snapshot of life in a small town at the turn of the century, and is unique in that it is the only thesis on alopecia we have come across thus far. Ross’s thesis contains information about the prevalence of mental illness in Scotland and elsewhere, but it can also be used to learn more about the history of women’s participation in the University, and the School of Medicine in particular.

D.S. Murray’s thesis is being processed in the current block and should be available on Edinburgh Research Archive in the next few weeks. Once it has been uploaded a link will be added to this post. 

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Thesis scanning project: six months in!


Friday 28 October marked the end of the first quarter of the Library’s PhD digitisation project, with over 3,000 theses scanned to date.

After a challenging first few months, the project is now very much up to speed and the team have exceeded initial scanning and processing targets. At the end of the first quarter, 706 unique and 2,464 duplicate theses had been scanned, 29% and 27% respectively of the in-house target for the whole project. Added to this, several thousand theses are due to be outsourced, with options being explored for their digitisation.

The team has focussed on the twentieth century collection, which is largely typed (and therefore can be OCR-ed), A4 in size and single sided, although, as you will see from the team’s project posts to date, content and structure vary significantly. Following scanning and processing, the theses are uploaded to a bulk import section in ERA and then transferred to their relevant School by the Scholarly Communications team.

A few highlights since the project began:

  • We welcomed two new members to the team: Pete joined the digitisation team in August and Nicole began working as the Project Conservator earlier this month.
  • We purchased a second Kodak document scanner, allowing us to double the speed at which we are able to destructively scan duplicate theses. On just one day in September, 46 duplicate theses were scanned (still a team record)!
  • In August the team took on responsibility for the thesis scanning service, which allows readers to pay a fee for the completion of a rush order:
  • We have come across some very interesting and diverse images in the thesis collection, and hope to provide a small exhibition of these images in the main library in 2017. More details to follow!

If you would like to learn more about the project, or to arrange a tour of the set up, please do get in touch.

Gavin Willshaw | Digital Curator and PhD Digitisation Project Manager | | @gwillshaw

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The Association For Historical And Fine Art Photography Conference 2016. “Photography delivers the curatorial message”.

This year’s conference was hosted by The Imperial War Museum London. Diane Lees Director-General of the Imperial War Museums opened this year’s conference with the idea that “Photography delivers the curatorial message”. The presentations that followed certainly backed that statement up and demonstrated the complexity of support that photography brings to the curatorial message. Of particular note during a varied day of talks an emphasis on photogrammetry emerged as opposed to 3D scanning. The presentations that left an impression on me are discussed below but abstracts of all the conference talks can be found here:



The Drexel Digital Museum: Interpreting the digital historic fashion object.

This was a very engaging presentation by Daniel Caufield-Sriklad. He highlighted that there needs to be a different approach to digital interpretation as opposed to physical museum interpretation. Within his presentation he demonstrated how the Drexel Digital museum web site pulled in many different sources of information relating to the one physical object in the collection. Each object entry online could contain still photographs of the object and dedicated detailed shots. The entry would also contain moving image sequences and sound recordings relating to that object. In addition the object entry would also contain Giga Pan Process capturing 720 images per object and stitched those together to give a detailed 360 degree view of the object. These images “can be displayed at 1:1 scale, rotated 360 degrees, and zoomed into details far beyond what can be perceived by the unaided human eye”. 3D Motion capture was also used to create a 3D model to demonstrate the garment during movement using digital draping technology. HTML 5 was used to deliver their site. The overall approach provides multiple layers of interpretation in one central space.


The Strines Journal: Practice-led research into Historic Photographic Processes

Tony Richards from John Rylands Library Manchester gave an illuminating talk on his journey of trying to reproduce historic photographic processing. This included a lot of research into early wet processing formulas and their execution in studio practice. It revealed that published practice was misleading at times and it took a lot of cross referencing of published early formulas to finally achieve any kind of results similar to the early photographic collections that we hold in our museums. This work has brought the early photographic process to life again through in depth practice and research. Definitely an expert view in relation to our early photographic collections.

Digitising, Geo referencing and Transcribing 1100 Tithe maps

Scott Waby from The National Library of Wales delivered an engaging and well-paced talk on the progress of the project. It is an ambitious project to layer the Welsh national historical collection of maps on top of current map data for Wales. Scott and his team built a large curved magnetic wall to facilitate pin sharp capture of large maps in the collection. They had noticed that focus was falling off towards the edges of the map capture and so devised the curved wall to maintain the same focal length across the entire map whilst keeping the camera in a fixed position.


Day Two Workshops

 Tate Britians move to Digital X-Ray
An opportunity to view Tate’s new digital x-ray system launched in January this year, replacing old x-ray set with a more powerful one and specially designed art table.

Fascinating insight into the digital x-ray world. At a cost of £93k Tate Britain have established a digital x-ray work flow. The results of which have uncovered the working process of artist like Picasso, Rene Magritte and Reynolds to name a few. This appeared labour intensive with all six staff having to vacate the studio each time an x-ray is triggered. The capture area is around A3 size so the larger works require multiple exposures which are then stitched together and for the medium sized Reynolds painting that was demonstrated final image was around 1.45 Gb. This in itself adds another cost in terms of processing images. The set up included a tripod to mount the X-Ray generator for use in the field. This also included guidelines and markers to calibrate safe distances before triggering the x-ray.

All round a challenge to implement requiring government inspectors to assure no health risk and a sizeable space away from people. Obviously the final images are a huge boon to conservators and people marketing and studying these historic processes.


Metamorfoze Preservation Imaging Guidelines and its daily use 

Hans van Dormolen & Tony Harris

This was a practical real world walk through of studio implementation of the Metamorphose   guidelines approved by unanimous vote at 2D + 3D Practices and Prophecies conference 2014 Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. Metamorphose guidelines are now law in the Netherlands if you are photographing national collections. The guidelines were written over a seven year period of research by Hans van Dormolen a researcher at UK Government Art Collection.

The walk through consisted of a standard copy stand set up with lights and camera in a static position photographing a large version x-rite colour chart. The main opening point driven home by Hans was “Gain Modulation”. Put simply the lights and camera and distance from object all have to remain static in order to maintain a consistent gain modulation. Readings are taken from the digital image of the chart using capture one sampling tool focussing on the reading shown in the green band. These readings are then checked against the Metamorphose guidelines and adjustments are made to the lights until the required readings are achieved. This took 6-7 adjustments to the lights. There is a small tolerance allowed within the guidelines. Once the initial target square patch E5 on the x-rite reads at 242 the setting is achieved and reading continues on J6, F5, I6, K6, G5 etc. following the guidelines.

Hans noted that each x-rite chart has a batch number and advised that more recent charts would aid accuracy. Also clean your chart from dust. After numerous studio tests Hans also noted that a black background was preferable for placing your chart on for optimum colour accuracy.

The walk through diverged at this point into discussion around uniform illumination and how one could check this by photographing a white sheet of paper and using Photoshop’s histogram palette, using the illumination drop down menu and referring those readings to the Metamorphose guidelines. Uniform illumination can also be checked using the threshold tool again in Photoshop and noting the values at the point where black begins to enter the image and the point where white almost leaves the image.

The workshop never completed the task of calibrating for colour accuracy in the two and a half hour slot allocated with it has to be said the experts driving. It’s a complicated task to image using the guidelines and would only be useful in a real world setting where lighting and object distance were static so that gain modulation was static. However this could be achieved on projects that have same size objects like our recent glass plate negative project.


The Imperial War Museum was an astonishing museum in many ways, it had very clever use of moving images that merged with physical collections in an immersive way. However I was struck by just how much energy and physical effort and ingenuity human beings put into killing each other. Tremendously sad.


Malcolm Brown Deputy Photographer Library & University Collections Digital Imaging Unit





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exam-papers-2016 Past Exam Papers Online Exam time is approaching again and you may find it useful to look at recent...
featured-image The Association For Historical And Fine Art Photography Conference 2016. “Photography delivers the curatorial message”. This year’s conference was hosted by The Imperial War Museum London. Diane Lees Director-General of...


banner-the-student Student newspaper digitisation project returns! The Student newspaper digitisation project is back! Over the next six months we’ll be digitising...
Collection: ECA Rare Books; Persons: ; Event: N/A; Place: China; Category: Travel; Military; Description: The album is large, measuring 69 cm, in a fairly elaborate embossed and gilt-tooled leather binding, with æChinaÆ tooled in gilt on the front; it contains 59 mounted images on 56 leaves; at least thirteen leaves are missing. The subject matter includes: studio portraits of Chinese people; images of China recording Lord ElginÆs military campaign of 1860 in the Second Opium War; views of Hong Kong, Shanghai, Macao, including a number of multi-plate panoramas, one of them hand-tinted.  The photographs are captioned, neatly, by hand, on the album leaves.  The pictures of Lord ElginÆs campaign are accurately dated, August û October 1860, but of the rest only one is dated (Fol. 10 ôConsular Church, Cantonö, 1863). Very few are in any way signed: those which are have æS. DuttonÆ or æDutton and MichaelsÆ written on the negatives, often in such a way that it is not particularly obvious on the print. However, many of the photographs can be attributed from external sources: those of ElginÆs campaign are the work of Felice Beato, who travelled with the army, probably on a semi-official basis, and who was given access to the sites of battles immediately afterwards. Most of the portraits of Chinese people are the work of ôMr. M. Millerö, who ran a photographic studio in Hong Kong between 1861 and 1864.  He may also be responsible for some of the landscape views, particularly the multi-plate panoramas. However, he was taught this technique by Beato himself, and C. Worswick observes that the two photographersÆ images of this type are often indistinguishable. Beato worked with an artist, Charles Wirgman, in Japan between 1864 and 1867, to produce very high quality tinted versions of his prints. On the basis of the presence of a combination of Beato and MillerÆs work it can be concluded that the album probably dates from the mid-1860s. Some of the photographs are Panoramas and Portraits: 1860’s China Following on from a visit from the Confucius Institute in September, it was agreed we...


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