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).
In 1967, Elsie Stephenson died at the tragically early age of 51. The Elsie Stephenson Fund was set up with the purpose of 'increasing opportunities for some of the best brains in Britain to develop their gifts to the full in Nursing and to encourage the Nursing profession to make appropriate use of all the tools and skills relevant to it'.
In 1968, Dr Margaret Scott Wright was appointed as Stephenson's successor.
Dr Margaret Scott Wright succeeds as Director of the Nursing Studies Unit. Edwina, Countess Mountbatten Trust set up to support undergraduate students to observe nursing practices in different parts of the world. 1971 Dr Margaret Scott Wright becomes the first Chair of Nursing Studies in Europe. The Scottish Home and Health Department give financial support for the establishment of the first Nursing Research Unit in a European university. Dr Lisbeth Hockey is appointed as its first director. The Unit carries out research and has an educational responsibility to teach nurses research methods. 1973 Inaugural Elsie Stephenson Memorial Lecture: The Canadian Scene, Professor Helen Carpenter, University of Toronto. 1975 Certificated courses in nurse teaching and administration are replaced by Masters degrees in Nursing Education and Nursing Administration. An exchange programme with the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing is developed.