To walk upon the grass : the impact of the University of St Andrews' Lady Literate in Arts, 1877-1892
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In 1877 the University of St Andrews initiated a unique qualification, the Lady Literate in Arts, which came into existence initially as the LA, the Literate in Arts, a higher certificate available to women only. Awarded by examination but as a result of a programme of distance learning, it was conceived and explicitly promoted as a degree-level qualification at a time when women had no access to matriculation at Scottish universities and little anywhere in the United Kingdom. From small beginnings it expanded both in numbers of candidates and in spread of subjects and it lasted until the early 1930s by which time over 36,000 examinations had been taken and more than 5,000 women had completed the course. The scheme had emerged in response to various needs and external pressures which shaped its character. The purpose of this thesis is to assess the nature and achievements of the LLA in its first fifteen years and to establish its place within the wider movement for female equality of status and opportunity which developed in the later decades of the nineteenth century. The conditions under which the university introduced the LLA, its reasons for doing so, the nature of the qualification, its progress and development in the years before 1892 when women were admitted to Scottish universities as undergraduates and the consequences for the university itself are all examined in detail. The geographical and social origins and the educational backgrounds of the candidates themselves are analysed along with their age structure, their uptake of LLA subjects and the completion rates for the award. All of these are considered against the background of the students' later careers and life experiences. This thesis aims to discover the extent to which the LLA was influential in shaping the lives of its participants and in advancing the broader case for female higher education. It seeks to establish for the first time the contribution that St Andrews LLA women made to society at large and to the wider movement for female emancipation.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy