Dr Alasdair Raffe (BA, MSc, PhD)

Senior Lecturer; Director of Teaching


I was born and brought up in Edinburgh. I studied Modern History and Politics at Oxford, where I became fascinated by the interactions between religious beliefs and political change in the early modern period. I completed my PhD - on Scottish religious controversies, 1679-1714 - at Edinburgh in 2007. Since then, I have published articles and books on various aspects of Scottish religion, politics and philosophy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

After my PhD, I was Research Associate in History at Durham University (2007-10), and then Lecturer in History at Northumbria University (2011-13). I returned to Edinburgh as a Chancellor’s Fellow in September 2013 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2019.

Responsibilities & affiliations

I am Vice President of the Scottish Church History Society and a council member of the Scottish History Society.

Undergraduate teaching


  • The History of Edinburgh: From Din Eidyn to Festival City
  • Themes in Scottish History since 1560


  • From Covenanting Revolution to Jacobite Rebellion: Scottish Politics, 1638-1747
  • The Scottish Enlightenment: Origins, Contexts and Ideas
  • Historical Skills and Methods I
  • Unions, Revolutions and Enlightenment: Developments in Political Thought in Early Modern Scotland
  • History Dissertation

Postgraduate teaching

  • Athens of the North: The Origins and Ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Current PhD students supervised

  • Brautigam, Tom - PhD - Leveller Networks and their Sectarian Dynamic - Joint Supervisor - Link
  • Comper, Katie - PhD - Church Discipline and the Godly Community, 1660-1685 - Joint Supervisor - Link
  • Coney, David - PhD - Music and Worship in the Chapel Royal of Scotland, 1603-1641 - Joint Supervisor - Link
  • Cudney, Ashlyn - PhD - Social Control and Disciplinary Bias: Bute, 1648-1700 - Primary Supervisor - Link
  • Jones, Kim - PhD - Visionary and Non-visionary Folk Healing Practices in Early Modern Scotland - Joint Supervisor
  • Pizzinat, Silvia - MScR - A Bioarchaeological Investigation of Gender and Violence in Scotland and England concerning the Witch-craze - Second Supervisor
  • Reilly, Jim - PhD - The Contested Memory of Presbyterian Religious Persecution in Early Modern Scotland' - Joint Supervisor - Link
  • Whitehead, Ellie - MScR - Facing Scotland's Demons: George Sinclair's Satans Invisible World Discovered (1685) - Joint Supervisor

Past PhD students supervised

  • Eyndhoven, Sarah van - PhD - 'Ane end to an auld song?' Macro and Micro Perspectives on Written Scots in Correspondence during the Union of Parliaments Debates - 2023
  • Fellows, Edward - PhD - Doubtful Disputations: Controversies in Philosophical Theology Circa 1700 - 2023
  • Lewis, Harry - PhD - The Jacobite Diaspora, the Stuart Court and the Greater Caribbean, 1688-c. 1750 - 2022
  • Feng, Dan - PhD - The Historical Consciousness of Eighteenth-Century Britain: Viscount Bolingbroke and Edmund Burke - 2022
  • Jones, Ciaran - PhD - Spiritual Roles in Early Modern Scotland - 2021
  • Loughlin, Clare - PhD - Anti-Catholicism and the Church of Scotland, c.1690-1745: Confronting and Contesting Popery - 2020
  • Fletcher, Charles - PhD - Justice and Society in Strathspey: The Regality Court of Grant, c. 1690-1748 - 2020
  • Rogers, Ben - PhD - Religious Comprehension and Toleration in Scotland, 1689-1712 - 2019


Research summary


  • Britain & Ireland
  • Europe
  • Scotland


  • Culture
  • Ideas
  • Medicine, Science & Technology
  • Politics
  • Religion
  • Society


  • Early Modern
  • Eighteenth Century

Research interests

My research focuses on religion, politics and ideas in early modern Scotland. I have written books about the nature of religious controversy in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Scotland, and about the reign of James VII and the Scottish revolution of 1688-90. I have co-edited three large primary source collections documenting special worship in early modern and modern England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

My articles have ranged widely across the religious debates, political changes and intellectual culture of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Scotland.

Watch a short video of Dr Raffe speaking about his research interests - Media Hopper

Current research activities

My current project examines the emergence of religious, intellectual and political pluralism in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Scotland. The Covenanting revolution of 1638-41, the collapse of the Covenanting regime in 1650-1, and the settlement following Charles II’s Restoration, initiated a set of interrelated transitions from conformity to diversity in religion, philosophy and politics. The research aims to reconstruct these processes of change, and to show how they interacted.

Among other topics, I am studying the emergence of political and religious parties, the appearance of religious heterodoxy in eighteenth-century Scotland, and the works of the physician and Latinist Archibald Pitcairne.


Scotland in Revolution, 1685–1690 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh U.P., 2018)

The Culture of Controversy: Religious Arguments in Scotland, 1660–1714 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2012)


Edited books

National Prayers: Special Worship since the Reformation: Volume 3: Worship for National and Royal Occasions in the United Kingdom, 1871–2016 (co-edited with Philip Williamson, Stephen Taylor and Natalie Mears) (Woodbridge: Boydell/Church of England Record Society, 2020)

National Prayers: Special Worship since the Reformation: Volume 2: General Fasts, Thanksgivings and Special Prayers in the British Isles, 1689–1870 (co-edited with Philip Williamson, Stephen Taylor and Natalie Mears) (Woodbridge: Boydell/Church of England Record Society, 2017)

National Prayers: Special Worship since the Reformation Volume 1: Special Prayers, Fasts and Thanksgivings in the British Isles, 1533–1688 (co-edited with Natalie Mears, Stephen Taylor and Philip Williamson, with Lucy Bates) (Woodbridge: Boydell/Church of England Record Society, 2013)


Articles and book chapters

‘University divinity and intellectual innovation in eighteenth-century Scotland: the case of John Simson (1667–1740)’, History of Universities, 26: 2 (Sep. 2023), 137–54

‘Wodrow’s news: correspondence and politics in early 18th-century Scotland’, Parliamentary History, 41 (2022), 135–49

‘Worship and devotion in multiconfessional Scotland, 1686–9’, in Allan I. Macinnes, Patricia Barton and Kieran German (eds.), Scottish Liturgical Traditions and Religious Politics: From Reformers to Jacobites, 1540–1764 (Edinburgh, 2021), 96–111

(co-written with Martha McGill) ‘The uses of providence in early modern Scotland’, in Julian Goodare and Martha McGill (eds.), The Supernatural in Early Modern Scotland (Manchester: Manchester U.P., 2020), 160–77

‘Who were the “Later Covenanters”?', in Chris R. Langley (ed.), The National Covenant in Scotland, 1638–1689 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2020), 197–214

‘Academic specialisation in the early modern Scottish universities’, in Bo Lindberg (ed.), Early Modern Academic Culture (Stockholm: Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, 2019), 177–88

‘John Glas and the development of religious pluralism in eighteenth-century Scotland’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 70 (2019), 527–45

‘The Hanoverian succession and the fragmentation of Scottish protestantism’, in Nigel Aston and Benjamin Bankhurst (eds.), Negotiating Toleration: Dissent and the Hanoverian Succession, 1714–1760 (Oxford: Oxford U.P., 2019), 147–67

‘Petitioning in the Scottish church courts, 1638–1707’, Parliaments, Estates and Representation, 38 (2018), 323–36

‘[English] Presbyterians’, in Andrew C. Thompson (ed.), The Oxford History of Protestant Dissenting Traditions: Volume II: The Long Eighteenth Century, c. 1689–c. 1828 (Oxford: Oxford U.P., 2018), 11–29

‘John Bull, Sister Peg and Anglo-Scottish relations in the eighteenth century’, in Gerard Carruthers and Colin Kidd (eds.), Literature and Union: Scottish Texts, British Contexts (Oxford: Oxford U.P., 2018), 41–59

‘Scotland’, in Jeremy Gregory (ed.), The Oxford History of Anglicanism: Volume II: Establishment and Empire, 1662–1829 (Oxford: Oxford U.P., 2017), 150–9

‘Confessions, Covenants and continuous Reformation in early modern Scotland’, Etudes Epistémè, 32 (2017), online at http://journals.openedition.org/episteme/1836

(co-written with Karin Bowie), ‘Politics, the people, and extra-institutional participation in Scotland, c. 1603–1712’, Journal of British Studies, 56 (2017), 797–815

‘Archibald Pitcairne and Scottish heterodoxy, c. 1688–1713’, Historical Journal, 60 (2017), 633–57

‘Preaching, reading and publishing the Word in protestant Scotland’, in Kevin Killeen, Helen Smith and Rachel Willie (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the Bible in Early Modern England, c. 1530–1700 (Oxford: Oxford U.P., 2015), 317–31

‘James VII’s multiconfessional experiment and the Scottish revolution of 1688–1690’, History, 100 (2015), 354–73

‘Intellectual change before the Enlightenment: Scotland, the Netherlands and the reception of Cartesian thought, 1650–1700’, Scottish Historical Review, 94 (2015), 24–47

‘Presbyterian politics and the restoration of Scottish episcopacy, 1660–1662’, in Neil Keeble (ed.), ‘Settling the Peace of the Church’: 1662 Revisited (Oxford: Oxford U.P., 2014), 144–67

‘Scottish state oaths and the revolution of 1688–90’, in Sharon Adams and Julian Goodare (eds.), Scotland in the Age of Two Revolutions (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2014), 173–91

‘Female authority and lay activism in Scottish presbyterianism, 1660–1740’, in Sarah Apetrei and Hannah Smith (eds.), Religion and Women in Britain, c. 1660–1760 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014), 61–78

‘The Restoration, the revolution and the failure of episcopacy in Scotland’, in Tim Harris and Stephen Taylor (eds.), The Final Crisis of the Stuart Monarchy: The Revolutions of 1688-91 in their British, Atlantic and European Contexts (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2013), 87–108

‘Scotland restored and reshaped: politics and religion, c. 1660–1712’, in T.M. Devine and Jenny Wormald (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Modern Scottish History (Oxford: Oxford U.P., 2012), 251–67

‘1707, 2007 and the unionist turn in Scottish history’, Historical Journal, 53 (2010), 1071–83

‘Presbyterians and episcopalians: the formation of confessional cultures in Scotland, 1660–1715’, English Historical Review, 125 (2010), 570–98

‘Presbyterianism, secularization, and Scottish politics after the revolution of 1688–1690’, Historical Journal, 53 (2010), 317–37

‘Nature’s scourges: the natural world and special prayers, fasts and thanksgivings, 1543–1866’, in Peter Clarke and Tony Claydon (eds.), God’s Bounty? The Churches and the Natural World, Studies in Church History, 46 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2010), 237–47

‘Episcopalian polemic, the London printing press and Anglo-Scottish divergence in the 1690s’, Journal of Scottish Historical Studies, 26 (2006), 23–41

'Propaganda, religious controversy and the Williamite revolution in Scotland’, Dutch Crossing, 29 (2005), 21–42


(co-written with Eleanor Harris), Episcopacy and Scottish Identity from 1689, The St Aidan’s Lectures 2014 (Clarkston: St Aidan’s Scottish Episcopal Church, 2014)