Undergraduate study | Scottish Ethnology
Develop practical and comparative skills at the only institution in the world to offer undergraduate degrees in Scottish Ethnology.
Why study Scottish Ethnology in Edinburgh?
How do we use and make sense of the past from within our present, and how can this understanding help us to shape our future? Scottish Ethnology provides a fascinating insight into the traditional and popular culture of Scotland, while giving you a set of ethnographical skills that you can apply to any culture. Sometimes described as the meeting point between history and anthropology, the discipline plays an important role in the humanities and social sciences throughout Europe and beyond.
Our programme draws on Scotland’s diversity (urban and rural, Lowland and Highland, Scots and Gaelic), but also introduces comparative material from elsewhere. It puts folklore and folklife in a Scottish and international context, examining the various ways in which a modern European nation expresses itself through its customs, beliefs, social organisation, language, music and song.
Working with a range of rich materials, from traditional archives to modern media and digital data, you will develop the practical and intellectual tools to help navigate and influence contemporary culture and society in an increasingly globalised world. You’ll have access to an unrivalled range of resources in the School of Scottish Studies Archives, including recordings of songs, music, stories, rhyme and verse in Scots, Gaelic and English, as well as in dialects now extinct.
On campus and in the city
We are based in the historic heart of a world-leading festival city, close to the National Library of Scotland, National Museum of Scotland and St Cecilia's Hall, the University's Concert Room and Music Museum.
The Main University Library is just across the square from us, as is the School of Scottish Studies Archives. From ancient manuscripts to contemporary recordings, these give you access to thousands of audio, visual and written resources that capture exceptional and everyday aspects of Scottish culture and heritage.
In addition to the summer and winter festivals, Edinburgh has a lively year-round contemporary cultural scene. From traditional music sessions to events in the Scottish Storytelling Centre, there is always something going on - often involving your teachers.
During your time with us, you will meet tradition-bearers, visit museums, and take part in events involving present-day customs in Scotland.
Studying Scottish Ethnology and Archaeology at Edinburgh has been incredibly rewarding. I have been so surprised at how well both subjects tie into each other, and I doubt any other degree will help you better understand Scotland’s material and non-material culture and history. The programme has opened my eyes to so many elements of our understanding of culture and heritage, while allowing me to consider my own identity and relationship with it. In particular, the scale and breadth of the School of Scottish Studies Archives has given me an opportunity I don’t think I would have anywhere else. There’s never been a dull moment, and I’ve been surprised at every turn.
- You’ll complete a four-year Master of Arts (MA) honours degree. You can take Scottish Ethnology as a single honours degree, or jointly with one of a range of other subjects. Each year, your courses will give you 120 credits.
Years 1 & 2
- Our programmes are very flexible. In your first two years, you'll get to choose option courses from a wide range of subjects alongside Scottish Ethnology and any partner subject. This gives you a broad knowledge base and transferable skills. It may also enable you to change the focus of your degree going into your final two (honours) years, which is when you start to specialise.
Years 3 & 4
- On most programmes, you’ll typically spend your third year in Edinburgh - though it’s possible to study elsewhere through the University’s Study Abroad programme. If you’re doing a joint degree with Scandinavian Studies, you will spend your third year abroad.
- You will learn how to undertake your own research to the level of completing a dissertation or long essay in your final year. This is your chance to focus on a topic, period or discipline that’s of particular interest to you. We have an extensive range of honours courses to choose from.
Teaching, assessment and support
- Scottish Ethnology is taught by an award-winning group of staff who are immersed in Scottish culture beyond the classroom.
- Courses are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and small group tutorials. As part of your learning, you'll visit museums, take part in events, and have training in ethnographic fieldwork techniques and ethics.
- You’ll be assessed through a combination of exams and coursework, with assessed oral presentations a feature of honours-level study. If you're studying abroad in your third year (optional for everyone, and compulsory for the joint degree with Scandinavian Studies), you will either be assessed by your host university or will submit written assignments to us, depending on your placement.
- There are lots of support systems to help you, from your Personal Tutor to our web-based hub, Support for Success in LLC.
In the 2022 to 2023 academic year, you can take Scottish Ethnology as a single honours degree, or study any of the following joint honours degree combinations...
|Scottish Ethnology and Celtic||Scottish Ethnology and Scottish History||Scottish Ethnology and Archaeology|
|Scottish Ethnology and English Literature||Scottish Ethnology and English Language||Scottish Ethnology and Scandinavian Studies|
Applications for 2022 entry are now closed. If you are holding an offer to start studying with us in September 2022, check out our Offer Holder Hub for Celtic, Scottish Ethnology and Scottish Studies.
Keen to get a head start for 2023?
There’s lots of information about our undergraduate Scottish Ethnology programmes on the University of Edinburgh Degree Finder. For example, you can find out about entrance requirements, English language requirements, fees, and funding opportunities.
If you’d like to study on any of our undergraduate programmes, you must apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.
Applications for 2023 entry open in September 2022.
Ethnology graduates are highly valued in the workplace for the skills they have gained in research, analysis, communication and presentation, as well as a strong understanding of culture and society.
Your enhanced ability to think for yourself, to distil complex issues down to their central points, and to understand the reasons for societal change, will give you the edge in careers across different sectors.
Recent graduates have developed successful careers in areas such as teaching, museums and heritage, arts and cultural management, tourism, broadcasting, the media and policy development.
There are also opportunities to continue studying at postgraduate level, with the honours years in particular developing the research skills you’ll need if you choose this path.
Being encouraged to undertake independent fieldwork from very early on in the undergraduate programme had a massive impact. The sense of being thought capable of making a valuable contribution to the Archive, even as a lowly second year, was very empowering. I also valued the freedom we were given to explore the Archives, and to come up with our own essay topics and projects. It gave me a real excitement about the subject area and all the possibilities for research.
Thinking of joining us this year or next? Explore what it's like to study and live in Edinburgh.
- Take a Virtual Visit - Celtic and Scottish Studies
- Look inside 50 George Square
- Join us for an Open Day or Online Information Session
Talk to a current student
QS World Rankings by Subject 2022
The University of Edinburgh is ranked 3rd in the UK for Arts & Humanities.
Globally, we’re in the World Top 10 at number nine.
The Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings are based on the results of major global surveys of employers and academics, along with research citations.
They are International Ranking Expert Group (IREG) approved.
Other ways to take Scottish Ethnology at Edinburgh
If you're not on one of our degree programmes, you can still take Scottish Ethnology courses with us!
As an undergraduate student of most subjects at the University of Edinburgh, you can take Scottish Ethnology as an outside subject in one or both of Years 1 and 2 of your programme, depending on your timetable.