Theology and Religious Studies Discovery Day 2023

Our Theology and Religious Studies Discovery Day was held at New College on 13 June 2023.

Colour photos of school pupils and teachers sat in the Assembly Hall watching the student panel from the 2023 Discovery Day

The Discovery Day for Higher and Advanced Higher RMPS pupils and their teachers is now an annual (and highly anticipated) event in the School of Divinity’s calendar. This year we were thrilled to welcome schools from across Scotland, both in person and online, to our 2023 Discovery Day – our biggest one so far!

Colour image of three old books from the New College Special Collections

Our Discovery Day is a great way to introduce pupils to the wide and exciting range of topics and approaches available within Theology and Religious Studies. The day also allows us to discuss the value of studying these subjects and to showcase what it’s like to study them at university. Pupils attend taster lectures, and they engage in discussion about subjects that spark their interest and stir their passions.

This year, we began our day with a welcome from the Head of School, Professor Helen Bond, in our beautiful, historic Rainy Hall. After that, pupils headed to either the Elizabeth Templeton Lecture Theatre or the Martin Hall to see academics delivering a variety of taster lectures on topics as diverse as: ‘Theology against Hitler: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’; ‘Are you accusing me? Scotland and Witchcraft’; 'Creating and solving human problems in engaged Buddhism'; ‘Theology in Peace, Justice and Environment’; and ‘Faith and climate change’. For the first time, we offered a taster session on learning an ancient language – Syriac – and this was received very enthusiastically by everyone who took part.

During their lunch break, pupils were able to view artefacts and treasures from the New College Library Special Collections. Our Scottish and University Collections Archivist, Kirsty Stewart, curated fascinating range of items, including: a Qur’an which was transcribed in Kashmir in 1722 C.E.; a Syriac psalter; a letterbook belonging to the geologist Hugh Miller (1802-1856); photographs of student helpers in the New College Library from 1893; devotional aids for Highland Sailors and Soldiers in HM’s Service in World War I (c.1914-1918); and an early printed text - “A Discovery of Witchcraft”, from 1665. Pupils were also taken on tours of New College by current students and were given an insight into some of our fascinating (and sometimes quirky) history.

They day ended with two final taster lectures, including a talk on ‘Studying religion: thinking beyond boundaries & cultures’ by Professor Mona Siddiqui, and pupils discussed what they had learned over the course of the day.

This year’s Discovery Day was full of good conversations and new discoveries. We can’t wait for our next Discovery Day in June 2024. Join our mailing list for news about our plans!

I enjoyed the mini-lectures, I think they were paced well and offered an interesting insight into [Theology and Religious Studies]. I also enjoyed the venue, it was great being immersed in the Uni experience

I didn't now before the wide range of topics and specialties covered in the School, and their relevance linked with their subjects

I enjoyed the different topics we covered and seeing how they related to the modern and ancient worlds

New College Library Special Collections

The New College Library Special Collections include manuscripts and archives, rare books, theses, photographs and objects. The collections relate to New College, the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh, and the religious life of Scotland and the wider world. A substantial proportion of New College Library’s collections were presented by the Church of Scotland on permanent loan to the University of Edinburgh in 1962. In total they have over 1 km of historic material, available for consultation in the Funk Reading Room at New College Library.

Find out more about New College Collections


School of Divinity Schools Outreach

Dr Linden Bicket - Schools Outreach Officer