Celtic & Scottish Studies

What and how you'll study

Degree combinations, teaching methods, and a year-by-year guide to your learning.

Degree combinations

You can take Scottish Ethnology as a single honours subject, or jointly with one of a range of other subjects. 

If you’d like to take Scottish Ethnology as part of a joint honours degree, you can study any of the following combinations...

Scottish Ethnology & Celtic Scottish Ethnology & English Literature Scottish Ethnology & Scottish History
Scottish Ethnology & Scandinavian Studies Scottish Ethnology & Archaeology Scottish Ethnology & English Language

One of the most attractive characteristics of the MA degree at the University of Edinburgh is its flexibility, not only in terms of degree combinations, but because - in the first two (pre-honours) years - you’ll likely get to choose other outside subjects drawn from a broad list of disciplines. This may enable you to change the focus of your degree, if you discover that your outside subject is one that you want to take on into the final two (honours) years.

Teaching and assessment

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 with your learning, from your Personal Tutor to our web-based hub, Support for Success in LLC. The Main University Library is just across the square from us, as is the School of Scottish Studies Archives where resources include some 33,000 audio recordings, a photographic archive containing thousands of images from the 1930s onwards, films and videos, and a manuscript archive.


You’ll study Scottish Ethnology for four years, taking courses worth 120 credits each year.

Year one

In your first year, you’ll take compulsory courses in 'Conceptualising Scotland' and 'Creating Scotland'. These look at Scottish cultural history, heritage, cultural expression and representation, exploring literature, music and visual arts and how these relate to Scottish identity.

These compulsory courses count for 40 credits out of a total of 120 you must complete in your first year.

You’ll gain the rest of your credits from compulsory courses for your partner subject, if you are doing a joint degree, and outside courses. Outside courses are chosen from a wide range offered by the University of Edinburgh (see Degree Programme Tables for details), and single honours students take more of them.

These courses count for 80 credits.

Year two

You’ll take compulsory courses in 'Scotland and Orality' and 'Visualising Scotland'.  These examine oral and visual representations of Scotland through music, song, art, photography and film. You’ll also receive practical training in ethnographic fieldwork techniques and ethics.

These compulsory courses count for 40 credits out of a total of 120 you must complete in your second year.

As in first year, you’ll gain the rest of your credits from compulsory courses for your partner subject, if you are doing a joint degree. All students will also take outside courses (with single honours students taking more). These courses count for 80 credits.

Years three and four

These will be your ‘honours’ years, where you’ll specialise in the subjects which interest you most. There's a wide range of taught honours-level courses to choose from, from 'Cultural Revivalism' to 'Scottish Emigrant Traditions'. Degree Programme Tables give you lots of detail about these courses, and indeed courses in all four years of study. 

If you’re doing single honours, or a joint honours degree with a subject other than a European language, you’ll typically spend your third year in Edinburgh (though it’s possible to study elsewhere through the Erasmus+ scheme). If you’re doing the joint degree with Scandinavian Studies, you will spend your third year abroad.

You’ll be expected to engage with research by writing either a dissertation (approximately 10,000 words), or long essay (approximately 3,000 words), depending on your degree combination. A dissertation is your chance to focus on a subject that’s of particular interest to you and must involve independent research, but you’ll be supervised and directed by a member of staff.


Find out more and apply

If you’d like to study on any of our undergraduate programmes, you must apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. There’s lots of information about the application process on the University of Edinburgh website, including detailed entrance requirements and fees.

Go to the University of Edinburgh web page on how to apply for undergraduate study

Related links

Read our feature about Support for Success in LLC