Undergraduate study - 2021 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2019/2020

MA Honours in Scottish Ethnology and English Language

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. This information is created when new programmes are established and is only updated periodically as programmes are formally reviewed. It is therefore only accurate on the date of last revision.
Awarding institution: The University of Edinburgh
Teaching institution: The University of Edinburgh
Programme accredited by:
Final award: MA (Hons)
Programme title: Scottish Ethnology and English Language
UCAS code: VQ93
Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s): Languages and Related Studies
Postholder with overall responsibility for QA: Andrew Marsham
Date of production/revision: May 2012

External summary

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.

The programme offers a comprehensively broad and challengingly deep training in the academic study of the English language. It aims to develop serious academic interest in and specialist knowledge of all well-understood aspects of the English language both historically and currently, and at all relevant levels of structure and analysis. In so doing, it offers opportunities to develop intellectual and methodological capacities in rigorous, exact and strongly-theorised analysis.

In so doing, it offers opportunities to develop intellectual and methodological capacities in rigorous, exact and strongly-theorised analysis. English language is a subject which is both historical and descriptive, and both text-focused and theoretical. In these several respects, the subject can be seen as encompassing and reflecting the traditions of both philology and linguistic theory. The University of Edinburgh’s linguistics and phonetics equipment, for use experimentally and in fieldwork, is among the best in the world. Students can also study Scots language which has its own rich linguistic and literary tradition.

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 English Language programme is designed to:

  1. Develop students’ understanding of the historical and ongoing development of the discipline of ethnology in its international context.
  2. Engage students in theoretical debates relating to the key issues and concepts of ethnology.
  3. Encourage students to critically deconstruct and evaluate cultural forms and processes.
  4. Engage students in the theoretical debates about language and literature in order to encourage critical engagement with texts.
  5. Understand developments at the forefront of both subjects and to participate in research-led study.
  6. Develop the independent critical, analytic and communicative skills which will fit students for a wide range of employment, further training and life-long learning.
  7. The relevance of linguistic theoretical concepts and methods to the study of knowledge and skills but also gives them a specialist understanding of, and interest in, their native language historically and currently.
  8. Knowledge of all aspects of the linguistic history and structure of English.
  9. Skills in interpretation and judgement when presented with primary textual data.
  10. Understanding of the formal, analytic and symbolic procedures appropriate to the linguistic analysis of English.
  11. Awareness of variation and variety in English both in time and space, and in society at large.

Educational aims of programme

This programme provides in-depth study of the discipline of ethnology, focusing specifically on Scotland but set within an international context. The central aims are to engage with the question of how to study the cultural development of a nation, and the role of tradition within the development of modern societies. The role of the past within the present serves as a backdrop to the specific study of key manifestations of cultural tradition, such as social organisation, folkloristics, custom, belief, orality, music and song. The approach is principally from an arts and humanities perspective, but drawing where appropriate on social science approaches and methodologies. Initially, the focus is upon the contemporary cultural landscape, leading to a diachronic investigation of the factors which came together to create this, thus providing historical depth.

The programme aims to develop the critical, analytic, linguistic and creative skills of students by engaging with a broad range of texts and a variety of theoretical approaches.  By enhancing the linguistic, literary, and critical faculties of individual students, the programme prepares them to contribute to a society in which an understanding of texts of all kinds is crucially important.

In their Honours years students will be able to choose from a wide range of courses reflecting the interests and research expertise of their lecturers.

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

  1. The principle theoretical orientations and schools of thought within the discipline of ethnology
  2. The principal folklore genres and classification systems
  3. The concept of ethnography as process and product
  4. The concept of tradition
  5. Key methods and concepts of linguistic, literary, and historical analysis in both subjects
  6. Current research and emerging issues, at the very forefront of both subjects
  7. the relevance of linguistic theoretical concepts and methods in the study of English

Teaching/learning methods and strategies.

For both Scottish Ethnology and English Language, acquisition of 1, 2, 6, and 7 is through classes, tutorials and regular coursework.  Additional support is provided through access to the facilities for language learning in the Language and Humanities Centre and to recommended materials on the Web.

Acquisition of 3-5 and 8-10 is through a combination of lectures/classes and tutorials in Years 1 and 2, and subsequently developed through small-group teaching in Years 3 and 4.

In both Scottish Ethnology and English Language, courses are taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials and seminars.

Throughout, students are encouraged to undertake independent readings to supplement and consolidate what is being taught/learnt and to broaden their individual knowledge and understanding of the subject.

Assessment

Testing of the knowledge base is through a combination of written examinations, assessed coursework in the form of exercises, presentations, and/or essays, oral and aural examinations, and a dissertation.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in research and enquiry

Scottish Ethnology and English Language graduates will be able to:

  1. research, develop and draw on a strong empirical knowledge base of Scottish culture and tradition, past and present, and in an international context;
  2. contribute positively and authoritatively to ongoing debates relating to the social and political context of cultural representation in Scotland and beyond and of the value of traditional arts;
  3. identify and solve problems;
  4. work independently to plan, undertake and complete a variety of assignments in a scholarly and literate fashion;
  5. understand and applying phonemic, phonetic and syntactic representations of linguistic form;
  6. formulate questions and structure an argument to express resolutions to these questions critically and analytically;
  7. examine self-reflexively the intellectual practices that they are using;
  8. recognise the problematic and difficult character of truth, explanation and ‘facts’.
  9. Interpret and compare a wide range of texts

These intellectual skills are developed through the teaching and learning programme.  Each course, whatever the format of the teaching, involves discussion of key issues, practice in applying concepts both orally and in writing, analysis and interpretation of material, and feedback sessions on work produced.

Great emphasis is placed, in the various methods of assessment used, on the student’s ability to demonstrate the above skills (1-8) through the production of cogent and coherent written and oral responses to problems and tasks set.  Students also submit a dissertation in their final year which is an ideal vehicle for demonstrating these skills (and especially 4), although they are constantly demonstrated also throughout their other work.

The overall structure of the four-year degree programme is designed to ensure that students engage with a variety of linguistic, literary, historical, and generic material and a variety of critical methodologies, and that they participate in the practice of detailed analysis. Although some elements of the curriculum are mandatory, the core and option courses allow students to make their degree as broad or as focused as they desire.  As such, the degree programme overall encourages students to develop their own areas of research and enquiry.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy

Graduates in Scottish Ethnology and English Language will be:

  1. able to work independently and be self-reliant;
  2. open to new ideas, methods and ways of thinking;
  3. intellectually curious and able to sustain intellectual interest;
  4. assimilate a body of fact and lore concerning English likely to be relevant to the teaching of English at all levels and in all settings.
  5. Develop an informed appreciation of popular notions concerning English and its standards.

1-5 are all fostered throughout the curriculum. 1 is learned through the extensive independent study and self-discipline required in both language learning and the Humanities and Social Sciences. 2, 3, 4 and 5 are also developed throughout the programme. Formative and summative assessment is used to develop, consolidate and evaluate these skills. All five are particularly developed by the Dissertation.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

Graduates in Scottish Ethnology and English Language will be able to:

  1. process, structure and communicate ideas effectively and at an advanced level of proficiency, both orally and in written form, using a variety of resources/media;
  2. communicate clearly and accurately, constructing cogent arguments;
  3. participate constructively in group discussions, assessing and responding effectively to the ideas of others;  and exercise advanced listening and interview skills
  4. Be able to take part in a debate, to be able to argue their point forcefully and to disagree with others while showing respect for their opinions and without causing or taking offence.

All courses require regular written work, on which feedback is provided, so that students develop not only their understanding but also their powers of written expression, while tutorials and tutorial presentations allow development of oral expression, participation in groups and communication with others.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal effectiveness

Graduates in Scottish Ethnology and English Language will be able to:

  1. work autonomously, setting their own goals, and organising their own learning;
  2. manage their time and priorities, working to self-imposed and external deadlines, particularly with reference to the planning and execution of essays, presentations and other writing and project work;
  3. collaborate effectively and productively with and in relation to others in the presentation of ideas and information, and the collective negotiation of solutions;
  4. adapt and transfer the critical methods of their discipline to a variety of working environments;
  5. respond flexibly, adaptably and proactively to changing surroundings;
  6. exercise sensitivity to ambiguity and multiplicity of meanings;
  7. make decisions with confidence, based on their understanding and personal/intellectual autonomy;
  8. work with, manage, and lead others in ways that value equality and diversity, and encourage their contribution to the organisation and the wider community.

Essays, dissertations, exam-essays and exams test students’ ability to work to a specific deadline (and there are penalties for failing to do so).  Sit-down exams, in particular, test students’ ability to fulfil tasks under pressure of limited time.  Presentations develop students’ skills in explaining and elaborating a topic in front of an audience and in participating in discussion with others. The diversity and inclusivity of our curricula enables those who take this degree to develop further skills in all these areas.

Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

Information technology skills: use of email, word processing, and internet applications. There is a requirement that all essays are word-processed, with footnotes and bibliography and full scholarly apparatus that acknowledges the students’ use of library and other resources.

Language skills are assessed by class and home exercises, tests and degree examinations (including oral and aural examination). Likewise IT and library skills are fostered throughout the degree programme and are tested in coursework and examinations, especially the dissertation or equivalent courses.

Programme structure and features

Full details of the degree programme, structure and courses can be found at:

http://www.drps.ed.ac.uk

Courses are taught through a combination of lectures and tutorials. 

Progression Requirements: Students are normally expected to have gained 120 credits from each year of study. 

Students who do not progress into Honours may graduate after three years of full-time study, or a longer prescribed period of part-time study, with a B.A. in Humanities and Social Science.

Teaching and learning methods and strategies

Teaching and Learning strategies employed at the University of Edinburgh consist of a variety of different methods appropriate to the programme aims.  The graduate attributes listed above are met through a teaching and learning framework (detailed below) which is appropriate to the level and content of the course.

Teaching and Learning Activities

In Year 1

Lectures

Tutorials

Language Workshops

In Year 2

Lectures

Tutorials

Language Workshops

In Year 3

Lectures

Seminars

Workshops

In Year 4

Seminars

Lectures

Workshops

Teaching and learning workload

You will learn through a mixture of scheduled teaching and independent study. Some programmes also offer work placements.

At Edinburgh we use a range of teaching and learning methods including lectures, tutorials, practical laboratory sessions, technical workshops and studio critiques.

The typical workload for a student on this programme is outlined in the table below, however the actual time you spend on each type of activity will depend on what courses you choose to study.

The typical workload for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearTime in scheduled teaching (%)Time in independant study (%)Time on placement (%)
Year 122780
Year 226740
Year 313870
Year 410900

Assessment methods and strategies

Assessment

Courses can be assessed by a diverse range of methods and often takes the form of formative work which provided the student with on-going feedback as well as summative assessment which is submitted for assessment.

In Year 1

Written Examinations

Coursework Essays

Oral Examinations

In Year 2

Written Examinations

Coursework Essays

Oral Examinations

In Year 3

Written Examinations

Coursework Essays

Dissertation

In Year 4

Written Examinations

Coursework Essays

Dissertation

Assessment method balance

You will be assessed through a variety of methods. These might include written or practical exams or coursework such as essays, projects, group work or presentations.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme are outlined below, however the balance between written exams, practical exams and coursework will vary depending on what courses you choose to study.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearAssessment by written exams (%)Assessment by practical exams (%)Assessment by coursework (%)
Year 152048
Year 262038
Year 329764
Year 429764

Career opportunities

There are a variety of careers open to Scottish Ethnology and English Language graduates. You can choose to work in publishing, teaching, arts administration or a media-related career like PR, media production or advertising. Previous graduates have also gone on to work in the finance or business sectors. There are opportunities for postgraduate study at the University of Edinburgh or you may choose to continue studying at another university.

Other items

  1. All students are assigned a Personal Tutor on admission to the degree programme, who oversees the course of the student’s degree programme, offers advice on academic matters and should be the student’s first point of contact for course-related worries or concerns.
  2. The School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures has a student support office, where students can go for advice on degree transfers, course changes, authorised interruption of studies, confirmation letters and general support. Information can be found at: http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/literatures-languages-cultures/current-students/undergraduate-support
  3. Student opinion is actively sought through participation in Staff-Student Liaison Committees, through the election of class- and tutorial-representatives, and by the wide circulation and review of detailed student questionnaires each semester.
  4. More detailed information on this programme, and the department of Celtic and Scottish Studies, can be found at: http://www.celtscot.ed.ac.uk/
Further information about English Language can be found at: http://www.lel.ed.ac.uk/lel_students/undergraduate/index.php