In the summer of 1982, I completed my undergraduate astronomy degree at the University of Edinburgh and started a PhD in astronomy there. For various reasons, I also applied to be the editor of the university's Alternative Prospectus for the 1983–1984 academic year.
The Alternative Prospectus was an annual publication written by students and published by the Edinburgh University Student's Association, with the intention was to give an unvarnished view of life and the courses at the university, in contrast to the perhaps more upbeat & polished official prospectus.
That said, it was sent out to prospective students as part of the official university package. This still feels pretty remarkable to me & doubtless says something about the self-confidence of the organisation & the rather different relationship between it & students in those days.
I was selected for the job & worked on it for much of the 1982–1983 academic year, while also starting my PhD. I'm not sure my advisor was very impressed.
One novelty was that we conducted a university-wide survey of student opinions on their courses. The other was that I asked my middle brother Ian, a talented artist & illustrator even then at just 19, in his first year at the Maidstone College of Art, to come up to Edinburgh & provide artwork for the prospectus. What he came up with is remarkable for its coherent storyline, quality, & wit.
The result of our collaboration is in the images below, all 56 pages & the cover, probably the first time it has been available online, 40 years after it was published in the summer of 1983. The quality of the layout is a little shaky in places, but remember, this was 1983 & all the typeset copy & screened photos were cut & pasted (physically!) on to paper, with all the headers & lines inserted from plastic dry transfer sheets of Letraset (look it up, kids). And if you weren't careful during printing, those could move around a bit, as the title page below shows. Those were the days.
I scanned one of my last remaining physical copies on 16 December 2023, two days after Ian's funeral – he died from cancer on 28 November 2023 aged sixty.
This page is dedicated to his memory & as the introduction says below, all of the artwork is copyrighted to him.