Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Subject area: Scottish Ethnology

Why choose Scottish Ethnology at the University of Edinburgh?

  • We are the only institution in the world to offer undergraduate programmes in Scottish Ethnology. Involving a range of option courses, our four-year programmes are also very flexible. You can, for example, take one or more languages or explore other world cultures as part of your degree.

  • Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city whose resources for studying ethnology are exceptional. You will study close to the National Library, Museum and Records of Scotland, two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and great cinemas, theatres, and galleries.

  • You will be taught by experts who are immersed in Scottish culture beyond the classroom. As well as the seasonal festivals, the city has a lively year-round contemporary cultural scene. From traditional music sessions, to events in the Scottish Poetry Library and Scottish Storytelling Centre, there is always something going on - often involving your teachers. During your time with us, you will meet tradition-bearers, visit museums, and take part in events involving present-day customs in Scotland.

  • A highlight of our programmes 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.

Study abroad

Studying Scottish Ethnology and Archaeology at Edinburgh has been incredibly rewarding. I have been so surprised at how well both subjects tie into each other, and I doubt any other degree will help you better understand Scotland’s material and non-material culture and history.

The programme has opened my eyes to so many elements of our understanding of culture and heritage, while allowing me to consider my own identity and relationship with it. In particular, the scale and breadth of the School of Scottish Studies Archives has given me an opportunity I don’t think I would have anywhere else. There’s never been a dull moment, and I’ve been surprised at every turn.

Alasdair Year 3, MA (Hons) Scottish Ethnology and Archaeology
Alasdair Year 3, MA (Hons) Scottish Ethnology and Archaeology

Introducing Scottish Ethnology

How do we use and make sense of the past, and how can this understanding help us to shape our future?

The study of ethnology is common to universities across Europe but our undergraduate Scottish Ethnology programmes are unique. They provide a fascinating insight into the traditional and popular culture of Scotland while giving you a set of skills that you can apply to any culture.

You can take a single honours programme in Scottish Ethnology, or combine the study of Scottish Ethnology with one of a range of partner subjects, including:

  • Celtic
  • Archaeology
  • Scandinavian Studies

Focusing on Scotland, but also looking at comparative material from other countries, you will study the varying ways in which a modern European nation expresses itself culturally.

Our programmes explore how customs, beliefs, social organisation, language, music and song help to create and shape identity in the modern world.

The flexibility of the four-year degree means that, in choosing option courses, you can take one or more languages, or explore other world cultures.

In your honours years, you will develop your expertise in the aspects of ethnology that interest you most.

Working with a range of rich materials, including an unrivalled range of resources in the School of Scottish Studies Archives, you will develop the practical and intellectual skills to help navigate and influence contemporary culture and society.

Graduating in ethnology shows an openness to ideas and perspectives other than your own, an essential attribute in many careers and a global marketplace.

Read our feature on 70 years of the School of Scottish Studies Archives