The Union of 1707

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Module code


The module will cover the following topics:

  • Anglo-Scottish relations in the long run, i.e. c.1603 to the present;
  • The contexts (geo-political, dynastic, economic, religious) in which the Union of 1707 was proposed;
  • The political processes by which the Union was achieved, both in London and Scotland, including an examination of the main players and parties, including opposition to the Union;
  • The historians and the Union, paying particular attention to nationalist and unionist interpretations: highlighted will be the works of William Ferguson, Paul Scott, Christopher Whatley, and Colin Kidd;
  • The contemporary protagonists – with a focus on Daniel Defoe, George Lockhart of Carnwath, and Sir John Clerk.


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

As well as being a study of the making of the Union of 1707 and its subsequent history, the module focuses on the variety of interpretations there are of the making and consequences of the Union of 1707 for Scotland. These interpretations are based on the approaches adopted by the various historians who have written on the subject as well as upon primary sources that in large part were created by the protagonists in the years preceding and immediately following 1707. Accordingly, students’ appreciation of the problems of writing ‘objective’ history will be enhanced, and their understanding of the complexity of the historical process.  Specifically students should:

  • Be able to demonstrate an understanding of the range of factors that led to the Union of 1707 and draw measured conclusions about which were more important;
  • Understand the ways in which Union has been viewed in Scotland since 1707 and be able to explain why in recent decades it has been challenged;
  • Be able to demonstrate an ability to engage with the arguments of the main historians of the Union, and be capable of justifying their favouring of one interpretation over another;
  • Have a knowledge of the writings of the main contemporary contributors to the Union debate, show an awareness of their biases (Jacobite, Whig, Presbyterian etc) and the strengths and weaknesses of their respective arguments;

Demonstrate an understanding that modern attitudes and approaches to the Union – and issues such as democracy, religious affiliation, nation and identity – differ from those of the past and therefore to avoid anachronism in interpreting past events.


  • To better understand Scotland’s historic relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom;
  • To examine the reasons why Scotland and England forged the Union of 1707 that has formed the backdrop to Anglo-Scottish relations for the past three centuries;
  • To ask how far the circumstances and considerations that led to the Union in 1707 are still relevant, and how much has changed;
  • To explore and engage with the contested historiography of the Union, from the writings of George Lockhart of Carnwath (1713) to present day historians;
  • To track and account for changing attitudes to the Union in Scotland, culminating in the independence referendum in Scotland in 2014.


Dr Craig Gauld


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