Meet our Principal

Professor Chris Breward outlines the vision for ECA and highlights our creative, vibrant learning environment.

Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) is a place of experimentation and community, where the needs of students and staff are met and harnessed through close collaboration. Comprising five schools, 3,000 students and just under 300 staff, we can trace our history back to the mid-18th century Trustees Drawing Academy of Edinburgh. The Reid School of Music, founded in 1839, is one of the oldest Music departments in a British university and History of Art established the UK’s first Professorial Chair in the discipline. Prior to the merger of ECA with the University of Edinburgh in 2011, our Architecture and Landscape Architecture programmes had been successfully aligned for six years.

Our vibrant community is made up of students at undergraduate, taught postgraduate and postgraduate research levels, and academic, support and technical staff. Many of us are practicing professionals – artists, designers, curators, composers, musicians and architects – contributing to an industry-focused studio, performance and workshop culture. Equally important is the strength of our galleries, collections and library, which underpin our text-based, seminar and lecture modes of teaching. We provide a wide range of learning environments, including one-to-one, small group teaching and critiques, and an exciting context for evolving new practices and forms of teaching and research.

ECA is ambitious and outward-looking. We enjoy increasing levels of research and knowledge exchange income, which enable us to engage in high-level collaborative projects with internal and external partners, including national and international public bodies, charities and industry. We are well placed to benefit from the increased profile and expanded activities that cross-disciplinary working in a global ecology of practices, the University context and the culturally rich city of Edinburgh bring. We provide an accessible public platform for our work through publication, events, performances and exhibitions, including many aligned with the globally-renowned Edinburgh Festivals.