Undergraduate study - 2022 entry
Open to the world

MA Scottish Ethnology and English Literature

UCAS code: VQX3

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Scottish Ethnology and English Literature

This programme combines two related yet distinct approaches to the study of human cultural expression, past and present.

Drawing on world-leading resources such as the School of Scottish Studies Archives and the collections of the oldest department of English Literature in the world, it is the only full undergraduate programme of its kind in the UK.

Scottish Ethnology

Sometimes described as being at the intersection where history and anthropology meet, Ethnology is the discipline which studies the culture and traditions of developed societies.

Focusing on Scotland, but introducing comparative material from elsewhere, you will study the varying ways in which a modern European nation expresses itself culturally, through such forms as its customs, beliefs, social organisation, language, music and song.

This programme explores questions like:

  • How do these help to create and shape identity in the modern world?

  • How do we use and make sense of the past from within our present?

  • How can this understanding help us to shape our future?

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.

English Literature

Through the study of English Literature, the programme also develops your critical, analytic, linguistic and creative skills by engaging with a broad range of texts and a variety of approaches to reading.

You will acquire an understanding of the cultural contexts of writing in English from the late Middle Ages to the present.

By enhancing your literary and critical faculties, the programme prepares you to contribute to a society in which an understanding of texts of all kinds is crucially important.

One of the most attractive characteristics of this programme is its flexibility.

This means that in Years 1 and 2, you'll choose option courses drawn from a wide range of disciplines in addition to your core subjects of Scottish Ethnology and English Literature.

This not only gives you a broader education, but may enable you to change the focus of your programme in your honours years (Years 3 and 4).

Year 1

Scottish Ethnology

In Scottish Ethnology, you will study Scottish cultural history, heritage, cultural expression and representation.

Courses also look at literature, music and visual arts and how these are linked to Scottish identity.

English Literature

In English Literature, you will take two ‘Literary Studies’ courses which will introduce you to the essential skills needed for the critical close reading of the core literary genres of poetry, drama and prose.

You will read works of literature written in English from around the world, and encounter a range of ideas about the nature and purpose of literary study.

Option courses

In addition, you will choose from a wide range of courses offered by the University of Edinburgh.

These include - but are not limited to - courses in:

  • business

  • politics

  • social policy

  • informatics

  • economics

  • history (including art and architectural history)

  • classics

  • archaeology

  • philosophy

  • linguistics

  • languages

  • divinity

Year 2

Scottish Ethnology

You will study oral and visual representations of Scotland through music, song, art, photography and film.

You will also study the social, cultural and topographical features of Scotland and their influence upon each other over time.

English Literature

In English Literature, you will be introduced to the study of English Literature in its cultural and historical contexts, focusing on a selection of major periods.

These courses will explore the relationship between literary texts and the construction of national, international and imperial cultures.

Option courses

As in Year 1, you will have a choice from a wide range of option courses.

Year 3

In Year 3, you will choose from a range of specialist courses in both Scottish Ethnology and English Literature, enabling you to focus on different periods, topics and approaches, according to your area of interest.

Year 4

In Year 4, you will choose further specialist courses and will undertake your dissertation.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2021/22)

Our facilities

Teaching takes place in and around the University of Edinburgh's Central Area.

School of Scottish Studies Archives

As well as the University's excellent computing and audiovisual resources, support services and social spaces, you'll also have access to specialist collections such as the School of Scottish Studies Archives.

The Archives have a unique and extensive collection of audio and visual material relating to the culture and tradition of Scotland (including some 33,000 audio recordings).

The Archive's extensive library holdings include important Scottish ethnological, wider ethnological and Celtic holdings.

English Literature activities and events

We are the oldest department of English Literature in the UK, one of the longest established in the world, and proud to be based in the heart of the first UNESCO World City of Literature.

With multiple student societies for literature and drama enthusiasts, our large English Literature community has lots to offer, including:

  • reading and writers’ groups

  • poetry slams

  • creative writing magazines

  • guest seminars

  • a thriving Peer-Assisted Learning Scheme (LitPALS)

  • a fantastic Writer-in-Residence

Scottish Ethnology in Edinburgh city

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city filled with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections, including the:

  • National Library

  • National Museum

  • National Archives

  • National Galleries of Scotland

  • Scottish Poetry Library

  • Scottish Storytelling Centre

Study abroad

There are opportunities to study abroad in Year 3 through the University's international exchange programme.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Courses are taught through a combination of:

  • lectures

  • seminars

  • small group tutorials

Extensive use is also made of audio and visual resources, as well as readily accessible online materials.

Great care is taken in providing a welcoming learning environment with regular face-to-face access to tutors, lecturers and support staff.

In English Literature particularly, you will be expected to undertake substantial reading each week in preparation for classes.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through coursework and exams. In Years 3 and 4 you will complete a dissertation.

Scottish Ethnology and English Literature graduates are highly valued in the workplace for the skills they have gained in:

  • research

  • analysis

  • communication

  • presentation

  • 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.

Employment prospects are particularly high within:

  • education

  • journalism and the media

  • broadcasting (both radio and television)

  • museums and heritage

  • politics and policy development

  • the arts, cultural and tourism sectors

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.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAB-ABBB by end of S5 or AAAA-AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: English at B.
  • A Levels: English Literature or combined English at B.
  • IB: HL: English at 5

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

SQA, GCSE and IB

For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • SQA Standard Grade at 3
  • SQA Intermediate 1 at A
  • SQA Intermediate 2 at C
  • GCSE/IGSCE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate Grade C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic module overall 6.5 with 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition) 92 or above with 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced or Proficiency overall 176 with 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with a distinction in all four components.

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the degree you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA Scottish Ethnology and English Literature

Additional costs

Your dissertation may involve some fieldwork, depending on your topic of study, which may mean paying for travel costs.

However, if you prefer, you can select an archive-based project that is unlikely to have any additional costs.

There may be additional costs if you choose to study abroad in Year 3.

Funding

For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding