Skip to main content
A group of alumni and staff from the Masters of Landscape Architecture programme standing in a garden

The University of Edinburgh’s Masters in Landscape Architecture (MLA) has turned sixty this year. This anniversary was celebrated in the enchanting garden of John Byrom, the second director of the MLA, and co-organised by Seamus Filor, director from 1995 until 2007. This garden party is already a tradition, and this year has counted more than thirty graduates, plus former and current staff members.

When Sir Robert Matthews was appointed Forbes Professor of Architecture at the University of Edinburgh in 1958, he introduced two-year vocational postgraduate programmes in Landscape Architecture. The course began in 1962, run by Frank Clark, assisted by Laurie Fricker. When Fricker left to join the School of Architecture at Portsmouth, his post was filled by annual visiting American academics, Ron Lovinger, Michael Laurie and David Streatfield. (All graduates from Ian McHarg’s graduate programme at Pennsylvania University).

Clark sadly died in 1972. John Byrom was appointed Director of Landscape Studies and Seamus Filor as lecturer. A further post was split between visiting local practitioners. Initially these were Ian Temple, the late Peter Daniel and Ed Hilliard. Over time, Peter Lyle, Archie Young, David Jenkins and Bob Ferguson have been part of the team. Tess Canfield covered for Seamus Filor’s sabbatical to Jeddah (1981-82).

Horticulture was taught at the Royal Botanical Gardens by Eddie Kemp, Jim Marshall, George Anderson and David Rae. (This continued at ECA.)

People gathered by a stone archway Image: May Cruickshank

On John’s retiral in 1995, the MLA Programme was transferred to the Edinburgh College of Art/Heriot Watt University, taking Seamus Filor, Peter Daniel, David Jenkins and Bob Ferguson as staff. The late Bill Tucker, Marcy Eaton and Sally Butler joined from the ECA staff. Over time Felicity Steers, Patricia Alston, Janet Benton and Paul Morsley played part-time roles. Filor retired in 2007 and Sally Butler took over the leadership.

In 2011, the ECA amalgamated with the University of Edinburgh. Kenny Fraser directed the MLA from 2014 -2017 and Elinor Scarth from 2017-2020. The current Director of the MLA programme is Dr Francisca Lima.

The two-year full-time Landscape programme began as a Diploma and was converted to M Phil. in 1979 and MLA in 1989. It received full recognition for exemption from their External Examinations from the Landscape Institute in 1973. Over its first sixty years the Edinburgh course has trained some 550 graduates, practising worldwide.

The MLA 60th anniversary party happened on the 3rd of September 2022 in John Byrom’s garden.

Related programmes