Among the Celtic languages taught at Edinburgh University in the department of Celtic and Scottish Studies, Scottish Gaelic, as an indigenous language of Scotland, receives the greatest emphasis. Early Irish and Medieval Welsh are also offered at Honours level. Since the establishment of the first Chair of Celtic in Scotland in 1882, the department has played a leading rôle both in research and in teaching. Celtic is a versatile academic discipline that includes both linguistic and literary scholarship, and in recent years an important socio-political dimension has emerged with particular focus on the modern Celtic languages, and especially on the situation of Scottish Gaelic in the devolved Scottish context. The study of Celtic develops the ability to engage in critical dialogue with literature and culture past and present, and to frame conceptually rigorous arguments in engaging with both texts and language.
In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise in 2008, 30% of the research in Celtic Studies at Edinburgh University was rated as 3*, internationally excellent, with a further 20% rated 4*, world-leading.
Ethnology is the discipline that studies the traditional and popular cultures of a community, region or nation. While related in some respects to both anthropology and cultural history, ethnology is now well established in its own right as an important contributor to the humanities and social sciences throughout Europe and beyond. Through close study of such cultural forms as folklore, music, song, oral narrative, custom and belief, this programme examines the development of cultural systems through time. The University of Edinburgh is the only institution in Scotland to offer an undergraduate degree in this discipline. The Scottish Ethnology programme aims to develop the analytic, critical, communication and creative skills of students by engaging with a broad range of cultural forms and ethnographic materials relating primarily, although by no means exclusively, to Scotland.
Located at the heart of the city, itself UNESCO's first World City of Literature, the University offers a rich array of unique resources which facilitate scholarship and learning. Excellent libraries are among the many factors that make the city an ideal place for the study of literature. As well as the wealth of resources in the main University Library, the National Library of Scotland, one of the finest bibliographical collections in Europe, is only five minutes’ walk from both departments. The Archives of the School of Scottish Studies are an outstanding research resource offering material from both the Gaelic and the Scots tradition collected over a period of over sixty years.
The Scottish Ethnology and Celtic programme is designed to
Encourage students to build a strong empirical knowledge base of the culture and tradition of Scotland and selected comparative regions or nations, grounded in the extensive sound, photographic, film and manuscript holdings of the School of Scottish Studies Archives, the Scottish Studies library and related resources.
- Offer students proficiency in Scottish Gaelic language and/or Early Irish and Medieval Welsh language as well as the study of their historical, literary, cultural, and political contexts.
- Provide students with a thorough grounding in the literature of Scottish Gaelic and/or or Early Irish and Medieval Welsh, enabling them to access a wide range of original material.
- Enable students to recognise and evaluate the social, historical and intellectual contexts by which literary texts are shaped.
- Engage students in the theoretical debates about language and literature in order to encourage critical engagement with texts.
- Understand developments at the forefront of both subjects and to participate in research-led study.
- Develop the independent critical, analytic and communicative skills which will fit students for a wide range of employment, further training and life-long learning.
- Develop students’ understanding of the historical and ongoing development of the discipline of ethnology in its international context.
- Engage students in theoretical debates relating to the key issues and concepts of ethnology.
- Encourage students to critically deconstruct and evaluate cultural forms and processes.
- Develop students’ investigative skills through the provision of training in archive- and field-based research techniques.