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.
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:
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.
- 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.