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.
Archaeology provides a unique perspective on the human past, on what it is to be human. As the only subject that deals with the entire human past in all its temporal and spatial dimensions, it is fundamental to our understanding of how we evolved and how our societies came into being. Archaeology can be defined as the study of the human past through material remains with a chronological range from the earliest hominids five million years ago to the present day. It is a discipline with its own methods and theory drawing on a rich archive of past work; research and teaching in archaeology are therefore multi - or interdisciplinary: a particular topic or theme may be approached from different perspectives, and with different methodologies. At Edinburgh the main focus is on the prehistory of Britain, temperate Europe, the Mediterranean and Near East with a range of specialisms in bioarchaeology, illustration and landscape archaeology.
Specific areas which may appeal to graduates of this degree include heritage organisations, broadcasting and other media, publishing, arts development, tourism, local or national government, research, management or education. Having a knowledge of culture and the creative arts is relevant to employers both in a national context and overseas, given Scotland’s links to many countries across the world. The ability to undertake original research through cultural fieldwork, emphasised in several of the courses on this programme, is a key skill within many modern professions.
The University of Edinburgh has a worldwide reputation for the quality of its teaching and research and the resources for the study of Scotland at this institution and within the city at large are second to none. Students have access to the University’s libraries and computing facilities, to the internationally-renowned School of Scottish Studies Archives, and to a range of audio and visual recording and editing technologies, while the National Museums Scotland, National Library of Scotland and National Archives of Scotland are all close at hand.
The main aims of the programme are to
- 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.
- demonstrate an ability to use, evaluate and criticise quantitative, spatial and visual evidence where relevant to their work.
- appreciate the material basis of archaeology, the contested nature of objects, the social relationships that are spun around them and the people who use and interpret them.