Undergraduate study - 2023 entry
Open to the world

MA Scottish Studies

UCAS code: Q501

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Scottish Studies

As Scotland's capital city and seat of the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh is the ideal place for Scottish Studies.

On this interdisciplinary programme, you will explore what we can learn from Scotland's past and present, and how we can help shape its future.

Based within the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, you will discover how literature, music and the visual arts have helped to shape Scottish identity. Ethnographical courses will explore heritage, the creative arts and cultural expression.

You will also consider the complex relationship between culture and politics, as you draw parallels with other countries. This takes advantage of the University of Edinburgh's excellent links with Scotland's key political, cultural and historical institutions.

You can tailor your degree by choosing courses from a wide range of disciplines across the University that share a common interest in the study of Scotland. For example, you can opt to study aspects of:

  • Celtic civilisation and Scottish Gaelic
  • history and archaeology
  • politics and sociology

Whichever combination of courses you choose, you will apply arts, humanities and social sciences approaches in your learning.

You will benefit from a close community of learners and teachers who are immersed in Scottish culture beyond the classroom.

A highlight of the programme is the chance to work with the rich range of materials in the School of Scottish Studies Archives. These materials include thousands of hours of recordings of songs, music, stories, rhyme and verse in Scots, Gaelic and English, as well as in dialects now extinct.

Year 1

You will study Scottish cultural history, tradition, heritage, politics and cultural expression.

You will choose a range of courses that relate to historical or contemporary Scotland, and have the option to study the Scottish Gaelic language.

You also have the option to study different subjects, or other countries' political systems, histories, languages and cultures.

Year 2

You will continue to study Scottish culture. Courses cover topics such as Scottish:

  • film, photography and television
  • intellectual history
  • philosophy

You can continue to study different subjects, or other countries' political systems, histories, languages and cultures.

Year 3

You will hone your research skills and study your chosen subjects in more detail. You will also embark on your dissertation.

Subjects offered at honours level include:

  • history
  • literature
  • ethnology
  • Celtic
  • sociology
  • politics
  • art history
  • architectural history

Year 4

You will continue to study the subjects that interest you most and will complete your honours dissertation.

You will also take part in a series of seminars on a range of themes you have covered in the Scottish Studies programme.

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 (2022/23)

Our facilities

On campus

When you are on campus, you can expect to spend most of your time in the University of Edinburgh's Central Area - in class, in the library, in the School of Scottish Studies Archives, or in one of the University’s many social spaces.

The Central Area is located on the edge of Edinburgh's historic Old Town, surrounded by lots of green space.

Take a virtual tour of the Central Area

Libraries, collections and centres

One of the University's most notable collections is the School of Scottish Studies Archives, an extensive collection relating to the culture and tradition of Scotland.

The Archives contain thousands of hours of recordings of songs, music, stories, rhyme and verse in Scots, Gaelic and English, as well as in dialects now extinct. There are also photographs and rarely-seen historic documents which capture exceptional and everyday aspects of Scottish culture and heritage.

The Archive's extensive Scottish Studies Library holds important Scottish ethnological, wider ethnological and Celtic material. You will also have access to the University’s rare books and manuscripts, such as the Carmichael-Watson Collection, the Donald MacKinnon Collection, and the David Laing Collection.

Events and activities

The Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) supports more than 300 student-led societies and clubs. It also promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.

An Comunn Ceilteach (The Highland Society) is the University’s oldest student society and organises the city’s largest annual cèilidh.

Passionate about music, literature, song and storytelling, we regularly hold events for staff, students and visiting guests to speak, perform or present research.

We also have a Traditional Artist in Residence, a performer from within the traditional arts in Scotland who works with staff and students on a range of projects and performances.

In the city

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city filled with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections. These include the National Library of Scotland, the National Museum of Scotland, and the National Records of Scotland.

In addition to the summer and winter festivals, the city has a lively year-round contemporary cultural scene. From sessions in traditional bars, to events in the Scottish Poetry Library and Scottish Storytelling Centre, there is always something going on.

Study abroad

If international travel restrictions allow, you may have opportunities to study abroad in this subject area.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Courses are taught through a combination of:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • small group tutorials

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through exams, coursework and contemporary forms of assessment including audio and video presentations.

Skills and experience

Graduating with a four-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh shows resilience, flexibility and high-level intellectual strength.

The skills you will be able to demonstrate to employers when you graduate include the ability to:

  • understand, analyse and articulate key concepts
  • work to varied briefs to deadline
  • work both independently and as part of a group.

When you graduate, you will understand the workings of a modern nation. You will be able to demonstrate a close understanding of the complex set of strands that have come together over time to create it. This includes 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

Further study

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, we typically offer Masters by Research programmes in:

  • Celtic Studies
  • Scottish Ethnology
  • History
  • Social and Political Science

We also offer interdisciplinary taught MSc programmes in subjects such as:

  • Comparative Literature
  • Film, Exhibition and Curation
  • Intermediality
  • Public Policy

Eventually, you may decide to conduct doctoral work, like several of our past students.

Careers advice

We have an excellent Careers Service. Throughout your time with us, we will encourage you to identify and hone your employability skills, including through peer initiatives such as Life After LLC (Literatures, Languages and Cultures) where you can draw inspiration from our graduates.

Be inspired by our alumni

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AABB-ABBB by end of S5 or AAAB-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: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: 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.


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
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at 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: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

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, PTE Academic, 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 Studies

Additional costs

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


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