Undergraduate study - 2020 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2019/2020

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 (Honours)
Programme title: Scottish Ethnology and English Literature
UCAS code: VQX3
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.

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:

  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. Develop students’ investigative skills through the provision of training in archive- and field-based research techniques.
  5. 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.
  6. Understand developments at the forefront of both subjects and to participate in research-led study.
  7. Develop the independent critical, analytic and communicative skills which will fit students for a wide range of employment, further training and life-long learning.
  8. 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).
  9. Recognise and understand the significance of literary form, both specific (e.g. comedy, tragedy) and general (e.g. conceptions of narrative, poetic structure).
Enable students to recognise and evaluate the social, historical and intellectual contexts by which literary texts are shaped.

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 English Literature 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 approaches to reading. By enhancing the 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.

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 principal 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. The history, development and central theories of the core ethnological sub-themes of social organisation, oral narrative, material culture and custom and belief.
  6. Key issues relating to the performance, transmission and representation of culture.
  7. The theory and practice of ethnological investigative methods and techniques.
  8. The empirical base for the study of Scottish cultural tradition in its international context.
  9. Current research and emerging issues, at the very forefront of both subjects
  10. The ways in which language is used in literary texts and deployed in critical discourse;
  11. A wide variety of literary genres in English, and a critical understanding of their formal structures;
  12. The significance of issues such as class, nation and gender in the production and understanding of literary texts;
  13. The significance of historical and cultural contexts to our understanding of literary works

Teaching/learning methods and strategies.

For both Scottish Ethnology and English Literature, 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 Literature, 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 Literature 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 the traditional arts;
  3. demonstrate well-developed skills in the analysis and interpretation of a range of cultural and material forms;
  4. work independently to plan, undertake and complete a variety of assignments in a scholarly and literate fashion;
  5. evaluate and critique other scholars’ deployment of methods of literary and critical analysis;
  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. demonstrate their creative, reflective and imaginative thinking in extended pieces of independent scholarly writing.
  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 Literature 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. able to demonstrate and exercise independence of mind and creativity in thought.
  5. able to assess and respond to the ideas of others, constructing cogent arguments through critical reasoning and the application of linguistic, literary, historical and social concepts.

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 Literature 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 advances listening and interview skills.
  4. Articulate a knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories relating to English Studies

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 Literature 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

  • IT skills – the ability to use computers for word-processing, information storage, searching and retrieving information from the world wide web, and using presentational packages such as PowerPoint; and
  • library skills – the ability to use libraries for the recovery of information, and related research skills, including the ability to discriminate between different sources of information, suggested readings, and so on.
  • Archival skills – the ability to conduct original research using both physical and online archival collections

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 126740
Year 227730
Year 311890
Year 411890

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

Lectures

Seminars

Oral Presentation

In Year 4

Seminars

Lectures

Dissertation

Oral Presentation

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 132860
Year 243750
Year 368230
Year 454442

Career opportunities

There are a variety of careers open to Scottish Ethnology and English Literature 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 programmes, and the department of Celtic and Scottish Studies, can be found at: http://www.celtscot.ed.ac.uk/. Further information about English Literature can be found at http://www.englit.ed.ac.uk/