Scotland: Land and People module (HY53002)

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Module code


This module will cover the following topics:

  • The main changes in landscape and land use over the past 10,000 years (but focusing on the last 2000);
  • The context (e.g. technological, social, cultural, economic, climatic, topographical) behind what changed and what stayed the same;
  • Some key influences on landscape perception, including the highland/lowland divide, which is both a physical barrier and a mental one;
  • The development of competing knowledge systems (particularly the advance of science) and their effect on both the way the land was used and how the land and the people on it were viewed. 


This module is assessed as follows:

  • Essay - 4,000 words (55%)
  • Assessed tasks - 2 short essays of c. 1,000 words (30%)
  • Module journal - c. 500 words every 2 weeks (15%)

Intended learning outcomes

This module focuses on critical engagement with the historiography of the relationship between the Scots and their land. Using primary sources, students will come to an understanding of the extent to which the judgements of contemporaries and of historians/archaeologists writing later can be influenced by a range of potential biases. This will help to generate the critical skills essential to the discipline.


  • An appreciation of the ways in which various and changing preconceptions have affected judgements on the way the land should look and be used in the past;
  • An understanding of the wider movements that affected the above, most particularly the move away from seeing ‘wild’ landscapes as barren and unproductive to being sublime and romantic;
  • The capacity to understand that attitudes and ideas in the past differed from our own, to avoid anachronism and to appreciate the role of the contingent in the past.
  • An ability to critically evaluate historiography


  • To explore the relationship between the people of Scotland and the land that sustained them;
  • To examine the changing and often contradictory ways in which people (both native and from elsewhere) have described the aesthetic, economic, social and cultural implications of the way that land was used;
  • To establish regional variations in both land use and perceptions of it;
  • To explore how people in the past explained physical evidence (ancient monuments, cairns, burial sites, etc.) from earlier times.


Dr Craig Gauld


All teaching will be carried out via the VLE. &I18;This flexible distance learning module requires c.15 hours per week of study for approximately 15 weeks.