Undergraduate study | Scottish Studies
Explore our modern European nation, with its rich and fascinating heritage, from a variety of perspectives in a highly flexible, interdisciplinary degree.
Why study Scottish Studies in Edinburgh?
The capital city of Scotland - a UNESCO World Heritage Site and seat of the Scottish Parliament - is the ideal place to study the nation. On our programme you will explore what we can learn from Scotland's past and present, and how we can help shape its future.
Based within an award-winning department in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, you’ll engage with a wide range of disciplines across the University of Edinburgh that share a common interest in the study of Scotland. You can, for example, draw on courses from Celtic, history, politics, sociology and archaeology, and study these alongside ethnology, heritage, the creative arts and cultural expression.
You’ll apply arts, humanities and social sciences approaches in your learning, discovering how literature, music and visual arts have helped to shape Scottish identity. You will also consider the complex relationship between culture and politics, as you draw parallels with other countries and capitalise on the University's excellent links with Scotland’s key political, cultural and historical institutions.
You'll benefit from small class sizes, teachers who are immersed in Scottish culture beyond the classroom, and excellent resources. These include the internationally-acclaimed School of Scottish Studies Archives, comprising thousands of hours of recordings of songs, music, stories, rhyme and verse in Scots, Gaelic and English, as well as in dialects now extinct.
I literally love what I am studying, and I cannot be happier with my choice. The subjects' offer is huge, and the materials provided are really interesting. I warmly recommend Scottish Studies to everyone who is interested in understanding Scotland and is passionate about it.
Scottish Studies is a single honours, four-year Master of Arts (MA) degree drawing on a variety of subject areas and disciplines across the University of Edinburgh. The programme is very flexible, giving you a broad knowledge base and transferable skills.
Years 1 & 2
- In your first two years, you'll study a mix of core courses in Scottish Studies, your choice of courses on history, literature, language, or civilisation, and further option courses chosen from a wide range of subjects. These can be related or unrelated to Scotland - it's up to you.
Years 3 & 4
- You’ll typically spend your third year in Edinburgh - though it’s possible to study elsewhere through the University’s Study Abroad programme.
- You will learn how to undertake your own research to the level of completing a dissertation 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.
- You'll be part of a close-knit teaching and learning community in one of the University of Edinburgh's largest and most diverse Schools. You’ll typically be based at the heart of the University, in the city’s historic centre, close to the National Library of Scotland, National Museum of Scotland, Scottish Storytelling Centre, and Scottish Parliament.
- 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, thousands of photographs from the 1930s onwards, films, videos, and manuscripts. We are also a short walk from St Cecilia's Hall, the University's Concert Room and Music Museum.
Teaching and learning
- Our approach to learning and teaching is active, inclusive and question driven to help you gain skills for life after university.
- Across your courses, you’ll typically be taught in a combination of lectures, tutorials and seminars. On some courses, you will have seminars instead of lectures, especially in your honours years.
- You will also be expected to study independently and in small groups, and to read widely.
Assessment and support
- You’ll be assessed through a combination of coursework and exams.
- Coursework may take a range of forms to give you the opportunity to practice different skills.
- Depending on what you do and where you go, Year 3 may include being assessed, in part, by a host university.
- As well as the teaching and other staff you will meet day-to-day, there are lots of ways to get help with your learning, including through the University’s Institute for Academic Development and Edinburgh University Students' Association
Scottish Studies is a single honours degree. There’s lots of information about the programme on the University of Edinburgh Degree Finder. For example, you can find out about:
- the courses you will take each year
- entrance requirements
- English language requirements
- fees and funding opportunities
If you’d like to study on this undergraduate programme, you must apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. Applications for entry in September 2024 are now open.
Skills and experience
Graduating with a four-year honours degree from the University of Edinburgh shows resilience, flexibility and high-level intellectual strength. For instance, you will demonstrate that you have the ability to understand, analyse and articulate key concepts, and to work to varied briefs to deadline independently and as part of a group.
As a Scottish Studies graduate, you'll understand the workings of a modern nation and will be able to demonstrate a close understanding of the complex set of strands that have come together over time to create it, such as the links between politics, culture and society.
Opportunities at home and away
The focus we place on comparative work, and on studying a range of subjects and disciplines throughout your degree, gives you the Intercultural Competence valued by employers around the globe.
You can, for example, opt to develop language skills, do courses that involve fieldwork, or learn about the cultures of Asia, Europe or the Middle East.
A number of the themes covered in our programme align with Scotland's Curriculum for Excellence for teaching children and young people aged 3-18. The traditional arts (e.g. music, song and storytelling) have many other applications too, for example in working with older people, in community education and outreach, and in healthcare.
As well as these sectors, graduates have gone on to careers in:
- Publishing, culture, heritage and the arts
- Journalism, broadcasting and media
- Politics, policy work, diplomacy, civil service and law
- Leisure, tourism and travel
- Business, finance and commerce
- Communications, marketing, advertising and public relations
The enhanced research skills you will develop on a four-year programme, particularly in your honours years, are a valuable asset if you wish to continue studying at postgraduate level. At the University of Edinburgh, for example, you can take a Masters by Research in Celtic Studies, Scottish Ethnology or History, or an interdisciplinary taught Masters programme such as Comparative Literature, Film, Exhibition and Curation, or Intermediality. Eventually, you may decide to conduct doctoral work on Scottish Ethnology, like several of our past students.
Scottish Studies is a very fascinating degree with many areas of interest. As it is a multi-disciplinary programme, you can also explore other subject areas in the University. I would recommend doing this, as it gives you a broader outlook on the subject matter. I would advise students to utilise the School of Scottish Studies Archives on George Square, which features the archive and a library. It is a lovely resource and one I have made great use of.
Get to know us better
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 2023
The University of Edinburgh is ranked 3rd in the UK for Modern Languages.
We are also 3rd in the UK in the broad subject area of Arts & Humanities.
Globally, we’re in the World Top 10 for Modern Languages (7) and Arts & Humanities (10).
The Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings are based on research citations and the results of major global surveys of employers and academics.
They are International Ranking Expert Group (IREG) approved.