St Andrews University is famous for its prestigious school of humanities which has been top of the field from pioneering activism to modern news reporting. Explore the influential people that put St Andrews on the map!

After reading the information below, use our humanities quiz to see what you can remember.

Sue Innes was a feminist campaigner, journalist, and academic who helped establish St Andrews as a centre for second-wave feminism.

She was a student here from 1970 to 1974 and founded the Women’s Liberation Movement (WLM) and was the head of the University magazine Aien. After graduation, Innes moved to Edinburgh, where she worked as a journalist, appearing on BBC Scotland and reporting in Parliament. She later received her doctorate from the University of Edinburgh and became the foremost advocate for women’s rights before passing away in 2005 at the age of 57. 

Willa Muir (1890-1970) was a leading voice in the inclusion of women in University life. As a member of the Women Student’s Debating Society, she regularly and convincingly argued her progressive views on women’s role in society.

She rose through the ranks of the society, becoming president in the 1910-1911 academic year. One of the motions carried in her year as chair was “a University training is desirable for women who are not going to take up a profession” which increased women’s vocal desire for education.

Katherine Whitehorn CBE (1928-2021), was a renowned journalist and author. In 1982, she was elected as rector of the University of St Andrews – the first female to hold this role in any Scottish university.

Whitehorn was the first woman to have a column in The Observer and was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2014 for her services to journalism.

Whitehorn as Rector at the Pier

General Władysław Sikorski was the Polish prime minister in exile and commander-in-chief of its armed forces during WW2.

Sikorski led the reorganisation of Polish forces after the fall of France and oversaw the construction of costal defences along Scotland’s east coast. He was greatly fond of the town and the University, receiving an honorary degree from the institution and gifting it a collection of rare historic Polish coins. He died in mysterious circumstances after a plane crash off Gibraltar in 1943, and has a stone statue in St Andrews.

Sergeant John Ripley VC was a resident of St Andrews in the early 20th century and was the oldest recipient of the Victoria Cross in World War One.

Ripley was born in Keith, Banffshire. He trained to become a slater and later moved to St Andrews. When in St Andrews, he was a volunteer soldier in the Blach Watch, and in the early stages of WWI was a recruiting Seargent for the regiment. He was later sent to fight in France and won his Victoria Cross on the 9th of May 1915 at the Battle of Aubers Ridge, where he was credited with exceptional bravery and leadership in the face of enemy fire.

Sergeant Ripley in 1915