Undergraduate study - 2019 entry

Subject area: Scottish Ethnology

Why choose Scottish Ethnology at the University of Edinburgh?

  • Undertaking a programme in Scottish ethnology at Edinburgh offers an opportunity to study the rich and diverse culture and tradition of Scotland, past and present, within a department that was previously voted Best Subject Area in the Edinburgh University Students' Association Teaching Awards.

  • Dedicated staff will encourage you to explore a wide range of topics within an environment that boasts some of the best resources in the world for study in this field.

  • You will graduate with a deep understanding of how culture works, and with the skills to succeed in a wide range of professions.

Study abroad

The programme is providing me with transferable skills which speak to me on a personal level. Every opportunity to explore ideas further is satisfying, as it gives further depth to a vast pool of knowledge that I would never have tapped into otherwise.

Roseanne Tye 3rd year MA (Hons) Scottish Ethnology
Roseanne Tye 3rd year MA (Hons) Scottish Ethnology

Ethnology is the discipline which studies the culture and traditions of developed societies, and is sometimes described as being at the intersection where history and anthropology meet. While commonly offered in universities across Europe, this is the UK's only full undergraduate programme of its kind.

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.

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, and 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 indeed influence contemporary culture and society in an increasingly globalised world.

Year 1

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.

Year 2

You will study oral and visual representations of Scotland through music, song, art, photography and film and you will receive practical training in ethnographic fieldwork techniques and ethics.

Year 3

You will choose from options such as Ethnological Fieldwork Methods, Traditional Narrative, Cultural Revivalism, Traditional Song, Scotland and Heritage, and Traditional Drama.

Year 4

You will undertake a dissertation and choose from options such as Custom, Belief and Community, Scottish Emigrant Traditions, The Supernatural World, Material Culture in Scotland, and Traditional Music.

Are there additional costs?

Your dissertation may involve some fieldwork, depending on your topic of study, and this may incur travel costs. However, if you prefer, you can select an archive-based project that is unlikely to have any additional costs.

Our facilities

Most of the teaching will take place at facilities located within the University's Central Area.

You will have access to the University's research, study and library facilities, specialist collections, including the School of Scottish Studies Archives, a unique and extensive collection of audio and visual material relating to the culture and tradition of Scotland, and the Archive’s extensive library holdings, including important Scottish ethnological, wider ethnological, and Celtic holdings.

Study abroad

There are opportunities to study abroad through Erasmus+ or the University's international exchange programme.

How will I learn?

Courses are taught through a combination of lectures and 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.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through coursework and exams. In Years 3 and 4 you will complete a dissertation and regular presentations, as well as a range of innovative assessment forms such as 'audio essays' in the manner of a radio broadcast.

Our graduates are highly valued as they bring to the workplace a wide range of key skills in research, analysis, communication and presentation as well as a strong understanding of culture and society. These are highly positive skills to possess in this rapidly changing world, and your qualification will serve you very well wherever the future takes you.

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 arm you very well for a career in many different sectors and professions.

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.