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.
English Literature is a versatile academic discipline characterised by the rigorous and critical study of the production, reception and interpretation of written texts, both literary and non-literary; and with the nature, history and potential of the English language. The study of English develops a flexible and responsive openness of mind, conceptual sophistication in argument, and the ability to engage in dialogue with past and present cultures and values.
The University of Edinburgh is proud to house the oldest Department of English Literature in the world, having offered courses on ‘rhetoric and belles lettres’ for over 200 years. The Department’s position as one of the premier departments in the country was confirmed in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise when it was placed amongst the top three in the United Kingdom Located at the heart of the city, itself UNESCO's first World City of Literature, the Department offers a rich array of unique resources which facilitate scholarship and learning.
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 English Literature programme is designed to:
Enable students to recognise and evaluate the social, historical and intellectual contexts by which literary texts are shaped.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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’ knowledge and understanding of the history of literary development in English from the fourteenth century to the present, by ensuring that all students study a range of texts from the following periods: renaissance; romantic; modern; medieval; eighteenth-century; Victorian; contemporary (post-1945).
- Recognise and understand the significance of literary form, both specific (e.g. comedy, tragedy) and general (e.g. conceptions of narrative, poetic structure).