ITS history lies in educating politically active and pioneering women, with suffragette Emily Wilding Davison and Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi among its alumni.

Now St Hugh's College, Oxford, is to welcome Dame Elish Angiolini, the former Lord Advocate of Scotland, as its principal.

Ms Angiolini will take up her new post in September after impressing the selection committee with her "leadership qualities and passion for the academic vision of the college".

She will now go on to influence wider policy decisions at Oxford University and the direction of St Hugh's, an all-female college until the 1980s ,which now prides itself on taking students from a mix of social backgrounds.

Ms Angiolini said: "Founded to give an excellent education to women otherwise excluded from Oxford, and now providing a focus for learning for women and men from all backgrounds, St Hugh's has an inspiring history and an exciting future.

"I am eagerly anticipating joining the college and aim both to support and celebrate its important work."

Ms Angiolini, 51, the first woman and the first solicitor to hold the Lord Advocate's post, stood down from her role last May after five years in the job.

During her tenure she focussed on securing better treatment for witnesses and the victims of crime while pushing for greater prosecution rate of victims of sexual offences.

In 2010, she returned to the court room to prosecute Marek Harcar, who was later found guilty of the rape and murder of businesswoman Moira Jones in a Glasgow park.

She became president of a trust set up in Ms Jones's name after being inspired by the response of the victim's family.

Ms Angiolini, who lives in Dunblane with her husband and two children, will be only the second principal of St Hugh's to have attended a state school, following her predecessor Andrew Dilnot, the economist and broadcaster.

Born in Govan to a working class family, she attended Notre Dame High School for Girls before studying law at Strathclyde University, where she is developing a course in advocacy studies as a visiting professor.

Dr John Iles, senior fellow at St Hugh's said: "Elish Angiolini stood out for her combination of leadership qualities and passion for the academic vision of the college.

"We believe that she is just the person further to develop St Hugh's as principal."

St Hugh's College, which was founded in 1886, also counts former Labour Cabinet minister Barbara Castle and Theresa May, the current Home Secretary, amongs its graduates.

Aung San Suu Kyi completed a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at St Hugh's in 1969 and is now an honorary fellow of the college.

Ms Wilding Davison, the suffragette who died after falling under the King George V's horse at Epsom in an apparent stunt on behalf of the Women's Social and Political Union, graduated from the college in 1893.