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A Brief History of Radiography Courses in Edinburgh

In 1926 a classroom was provided for teaching radiographers and radiologists within the new X-ray Department of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. The student radiographers paid no fees and had no systematic lecture programme but were employed in the hospital as dark-room technicians or medical electricians during the day. They studied on their own and received lectures in the evenings, before presenting themselves to sit the examination for Membership of the Society of Radiographers.

In 1936 four teaching hospitals in Scotland, including the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, were recognised as Schools of Radiography and undertook training on a formalised pattern of lectures and supervised practical work over a two-year period.

From 1926, students trained in both Diagnostic and Therapeutic Radiography, but in 1948 the Diploma was separated into two distinct qualifications. The practical training for the radiotherapy students was undertaken mainly in the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.

In 1936 there was an intake of three students but by 1962 the intake had increased to 20 Diagnostic and six Therapy students.

In 1972 the Schools moved to new premises.

In 1982 training was extended to three years with an increased practical content.

In 1992 the Edinburgh School of Diagnostic Radiography and the Edinburgh School of Radiotherapy transferred from the Lothian Health Board to the Queen Margaret Corstorphine Campus. The Division of Radiography was now part of the Department of Podiatry and Radiography. This year saw the final cohort of students to register for the Diploma Course as the of Radiographers initiated the development of Radiography as a degree course in the future.

In 1993 the first students enrolled for BSc courses in Diagnostic or Therapeutic Radiography at QMC, Edinburgh.

In 1994 the Department of Podiatry and Radiography moved to QMC Leith Campus on Duke Street.

In 1995 the first Radiography degree students graduated from QMC (20 Diagnostic, 3 Therapeutic).

In 1996 the option of a fourth year of study was introduced which would lead to an honours classification.

In 1997 eight students graduated with honours - 7 BSc (Hons) Diagnostic, 1 BSc (Hons) Therapeutic.

In 1999 Queen Margaret was awarded University status and the Department of Podiatry and Radiography became part of the Faculty of Health Sciences.

From September 1999 all new students enrolled on a four year course leading to an honours classification.

In January 2003 the academic organisation of Queen Margaret University was changed to include Schools within the Faculty structure. Radiography became a separate subject area within the School of Health Sciences in the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences.

In 2003 a programme to produce 30 graduates after three years (15 after two years) who would be eligible for the NHS workforce was proposed and subsequently accepted and funded by the Scottish Executive as a three-year initiative. This programme is a fast track way of supplying Therapeutic Radiographers for the workforce in the United Kingdom. This pre-registration programme leads to a PgDip/MSc in Radiotherapy and Oncology.

On 16 January 2007, the Privy Council granted full university title to Queen Margaret, making the institution Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. The Faculty structure was also removed.

October 2007 saw our new students, current students and staff of Corstorphine and Leith unite in a newly built university campus in Musselburgh. Radiography was provided with two dedicated specialist rooms to facilitate teaching and learning of the clinical and imaging aspects of radiography. A fully-functional diagnostic imaging facility mirrors basic equipment used clinically including a Siemens X-ray unit with a rise-and-fall, floating-top table, floor-mounted tube and erect bucky device. This is equipped with an automatic exposure device and programmable generator.  A Fuji computed radiography (CR) system is available with a selection of image receptors, two high resolution workstations and a film printer. There is a simulated radiotherapy treatment bed with setup lateral and sagittal lasers, and a variety of immobilisation equipment which matches standard clinical equipment. A 3D planning system with printer facility is also available.

January 2012 saw the admission of the first MSc Diagnostic Radiography (pre-registration) students in Scotland. Recent changes in defined areas of professional responsibility and social policy relating to health care have created increasing demands on Diagnostic Radiographers who need to be able to formulate standards and imaging strategies as well as assume a greater degree of autonomy. To practise effectively, the Diagnostic Radiographer needs to be able to analyse and evaluate the needs of health care delivery and to be aware of the roles and skills of other health care professionals. This fast track programme was developed to optimise a critical approach to decision-making in the context of current practice and patient care in imaging.

In September 2016 a postgraduate post registration programme, MSc Medical Imaging, will be introduced to QMU. There are various pathways within this programme with named awards for CT, MRI, US and Clinical Reporting. This versatile programme was developed in conjunction with the managers and employers in our clinical sites to meet the needs of radiographers requiring personal development and radiography departments requiring specialist staff.


last modified 18/07/16 Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh EH21 6UU - Tel: +44 (0)131 474 0000
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