Scottish Nationalism: Historical Perspectives (Special Subject) - HY40003

Quick Facts

  • Level 4
  • 60 Credits
  • Year Long
  • 12 places
  • History - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 75% Examination 25%
  • Special Subject module. This module has been updated for 2015/16 (previously did not run in 2014/15). This module has been cancelled for 2015/16.

Module Details

This Special Study module will guide you through the sources indicative of the Scottish national movement from the mid-eighteenth century until the present day.

Contextualised by political development within Great Britain, this module will critically examine the intellectual foundations and political reach of Scotland's nationalist movement (defined in its broadest sense).  The discussion will take you into practical issues of source creation and source survival, contrasting campaigning and cultural materials with state-created documents in a national without its own parliament.  Students will gain understanding of the complexities of nationalist narratives, including imperial and post-imperial political context to these narratives, intertwined with British state building and patriotism.

The module will explore the following issues:

  • Jacobitism and Nationalism, c.1745-c.1950
  • Administrative Devolution
  • Nationalist organisations and campaigning since 1850
  • Home Rule and Home Rule all round, c.1880-c.1920
  • Pacifism and Scottish Nationalism: Boer War to Trident
  • The "Claim of Right" (1950) and the Constitutional Convention (1989)
  • Develotion Referenda of 1979 and 1997
  • Scottish electoral politics since 1832
  • SNP's electoral breakthrough (1968-1974)
  • The Kilbrandon Commission (1969-1973)
  • Liberalism and nationalism since c.1770
  • Scottish nationalism and neo-nationalism in international context


Professor Graeme Morton


This module will be taught by direct contact for a total of three hours a week, broken down into one 2-hour seminars and one 1-hour seminars.


This module is assessed as follows:

Semester 1

  • Presentation 1 (15%)
  • Essay, 2,500 words (15%)

Semester 2

  • Presentation 2 (15%)
  • Research Essay 5,000 words (30%)
  • Three-hour Examination (25%)


Sample Readings

  • J. Mitchell, R. Johns & L. Bennie, The Scottish National Party, (Oxford, 2011)
  • G. Morton, "Returning Nationalists, Returning Scotland" in M. Varriccio (ed.), Back to Caledonia, (Edinburgh, 2012)
  • J. Kennedy, Liberal Nationalisms: Empire, State and Civil Society in Scotland and Quebec, (Montreal, 2013)
  • J. Mitchell, Governing Scotland: The Invention of Administrative Devolution, (Basingstoke, 2003)

Access the online reading list system

Module Aims

This Special Study module will cover the following topics:

  • Neo-Jacobitism,
  • National symbol, icons and commemoration
  • Re-writing The Wallace for modern Scotland
  • The concepts of "inferiorism" and "national tale"
  • The Boards of Control, the Scottish Office and administrative devolution since 1707
  • The concepts of civil society, neo-nationalism, and ethnic identity
  • Unionist-nationalism
  • Home Rule
  • Nationalism and the rise and fall of empire
  • Nationalism and the Scottish Diaspora
  • Uneven economic development
  • Instrumental and essentialist nationalism
  • Nationalist campaigning
  • Cultural nationalism
  • Electoral nationalism