The Chair of Nursing Studies was established in 1972.
In 1954, a proposal was made for a Nurse Tutor Course to be located entirely within the University setting. Funding was sought from the Rockefeller Foundation for the foundation a Nurse Training Unit. This was granted in 1956, following a visit from Mary Elizabeth Tennant, Assistant Director of the Rockefeller Foundation's International Health Division.
In 1956, Elsie Stephenson (1916-1967) was appointed as the first director of the newly founded unit, with a remit to develop nurse education and to establish a research base for the discipline. The unit was initially based in George Square but in 1957 moved to Chalmers Street and was renamed the Nursing Studies Unit.
In 1959, Audrey L. John achieved the first PhD in Nursing for her thesis 'A Study of the Psychiatric Nurse and his/her Role in the Care of the Mentally Sick'.
In a pioneering move, 1960 saw the first nursing registration programme integrated with a five-year Master of Arts. In the same year, a two-year programme in Advanced Nursing Education with Registered Nurse Teacher status was established.
In 1962, the first International School of Advanced Nursing Studies was founded at the Unit, with support from the World Health Organization, offering programmes to overseas students in nursing administration or education.
In 1963, the University of Edinburgh created a Faculty of Social Sciences, incorporating the renamed Department of Nursing Studies. In the same year lecturer Kathleen J. W. Wilson published the major nursing textbook Anatomy and Physiology (now in its 12th edition) in collaboration with Janet S. Ross. The first edition of the International Journal of Nursing Studies was also published with Elsie Stephenson as honorary editor.
In 1965, the Integrated Degree programme as replaced by the BSc Social Science (Nursing).