‘Learning by Doing’ Archival Trainee with University of St Andrews

If you have arrived at this page you are looking at last year's Traineeship Programme, and you need to go here instead please.


Full-time, fixed term work-based training placement of 51 weeks to start in September 2015

• Bursary of £14,500 per annum
• Skills focus: Traditional skills  
• Location: St Andrews University, Fife


This traineeship is one of 6 offered this year in archive services across Scotland as part of the Opening up Scotland’s Archives project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

For more information on the traineeship programme please download the Trainee Information Pack.

The Host Organisations

University of St Andrews. The Special Collections Division of the Library of the University of St Andrews manages and provides access to the University’s institutional archive and manuscript holdings, some 210,000 early and rare printed volumes and a world-renowned photographic collection. We support the teaching and research of the University and welcome everyone into our reading room to use the collections, which embody the unique heritage of the library and whose preservation and promotion is at the heart of the mission of the Division.

Currently in temporary accommodation on the North Haugh, we currently provide an interim reader facility in a converted church building in central St Andrews. We are also currently the focus of a major project to provide new, purpose-built accommodation. Our staff are passionate about our collections and enthusiastically engage in teaching and outreach activities. One of our current strategic goals is to extend the scope of our catalogues in all areas.

We are a division of the University Library which was founded in 1612 by royal gift. It is now responsible for delivering high-quality information in digital and print form to support the c8400 students and c890 academic and research staff who work within the University as well as the wider academic and local communities. The library also manages a digital repository and research data for the University.

Founded in the early 15th century, St Andrews is Scotland’s first university and the third oldest in the English speaking world. Today it is known around the world as the ‘Home of Golf’ and a vibrant academic town with a distinctively cosmopolitan feel where students and university staff account for more than 30% of the local population.  

The Role

You will receive a mixture of practical and theoretical training in palaeography (reading old handwriting) from the 18th century onwards. You will also be trained in cataloguing into CALM archival software. You will combine the two skills to describe a large series of papers within the University’s archive so that researchers are able to use them. You will assist in the development of interpretative tools and teaching aids for use with students of all ages. You will join a passionate and enthusiastic team working within the University Library’s Special Collections Division which also manages rare book and photographic collections as well as a busy reading room, and will be involved in the broad range of our activities.

Additional learning opportunities will be provided through participation in the ‘Professional Skills Curriculum’ offered by the University. Successful applicants will be expected to complete a 10 credit distance-learning module at SCQF level 8 with the University of Dundee.

What you will gain as a trainee

During the traineeship you will build a portfolio of skills, experience and training designed for you to take forward into future employment. At induction you will be provided with your training plan setting out the learning objectives and activities in more detail. The training programme is responsive to the individual trainee requirements and you will therefore have the opportunity to liaise with your trainer to establish an individual programme of support.

Through the University of Dundee you will also have the opportunity to undertake accredited distance learning modules. This may be used to count towards a future qualification in Archives or a related discipline.

As a trainee you will gain:

• Practical hands-on training supported by skilled professionals at your host archive service
• General workplace skills essential for a career in the cultural heritage sector
• Knowledge of the archival sector and related professions and practice in museums and libraries
• Real experience to add to your CV to help you find a job in the archive or wider heritage sector
• A network of trainees, supervisors, mentors and colleagues to support you through the year and help you explore ‘what next’

About you

Are you
• Passionate about learning new skills?
• Enthusiastic about taking on new challenges?
• Looking for a new career?
• Do you have an enquiring mind?
• Are you methodical and organised?
• Are you interested in the past and in helping others make discoveries?
If so, we’re looking for a trainee with the potential to develop a new career in the archive sector. We want to build on your practical skills and experience and show you the great opportunities that archives and their collections can offer.



• A good general education to Higher level, with at least Scottish Highers in English and Maths
• Commitment to and enthusiasm for a career in the archive sector, although no specific experience in the heritage sector is required.
• A methodical, investigative and highly organised approach (e.g. jigsaw- player, list-writer), with a good level of organisational and problem-solving skills, as well as self-motivation and attention to detail.
• Willingness to travel as required.
• The ability to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing.
• A reasonable level of experience of using standard word processing packages, basic databases, email systems and the internet.
• Physical fitness.
• The ability to work independently and as part of a team.


• Latin or a modern language to Scottish Higher level.
• Customer-service focus.
• A full, valid driving licence.
• Evidence of interest in historical sources.

The deadline for applications has now passed.

Interviews will be held between 27 and 31 July 2015.

In order to apply for a SCA traineeship you must be able to demonstrate that you have a right to work legally in the UK.