• For Entry: January | May | September
  • Duration: 12 months - 5 years
  • School: Humanities
  • Study Mode: Part Time+Distance Learning

Deepen your understanding of Scotland's history and heritage from home. This course gives you skills and access to research in Scottish historical studies.

TEF Gold - Teaching Excellence Framework

Delivered in an interactive online environment, this course is designed to provide students who cannot attend a fulltime postgraduate degree course in Scottish History with an opportunity to develop research skills and an understanding of the major topics and historiography of Scottish history.

This course builds upon the current expertise within the History programme at Dundee to provide an integrated programme of study including research skills, a critical understanding of the principal theories and concepts of Scottish History and historiography, and the chance through independent research to make a contribution to the development of Scottish history.

The central aim of this course is to examine the many different interpretations of Scottish history and you will be encouraged to think critically about the various ways in which historians have viewed the development of Scotland and to consider some of the ways in which Scottish history has been portrayed in a popular context.

You will learn about:

  • Debates and Issues in Scottish History from the sixteenth century to the present
  • How to use the main sources available to historians of Scotland
  • The Union of 1603 and the Covenanters
  • The Scottish Reformation: Politics and Society
  • The Union of 1707
  • Jacobite risings
  • Scottish Identity and Culture
  • ‘The ‘Highland Question’: Clearance and Improvement
  • Health and welfare in the Highlands
  • The Industrial Revolution
  • Landscape and Environment
  • Scotland and Empire
  • Scotland and Atlantic Slavery
  • Witchcraft and witch-hunting in Scotland
  • Kingship and Scotland in the 13th Century

Who should study this course?

This course is aimed at:

  • Anyone with a good undergraduate degree wishing to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of Scottish history. The University can consider applications from people with experience, but no first degree
  • Graduates in History or related disciplines wishing to gain additional knowledge and skills to further their employment prospects
  • History graduates considering PhD research

Individual modules can be taken as non-accredited modules for interest or personal development. Students can also exit early with a Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma award.

Rachel Jaquiery

The MLitt in Scottish History is a thoroughly enjoyable programme. It provides an excellent overview as well as the opportunity to consider areas of particular interest in greater depth. In addition, it enables graduates from other disciplines to gain a firm grounding in the study of history.

New Zealand

Rachel Jaquiery
Recent graduate

Cynthia Pow

The Distance Learning MLitt offers a fantastic opportunity to step back into Scottish history from wherever you are in the world. With a wide range of fascinating modules, a flexible approach to learning and excellent support from tutors, this is the perfect way to study Scottish history in real depth.

Cynthia Pow
Current PhD student and MLitt Graduate (2015)

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

The University of Dundee has been given a Gold award – the highest possible rating – in the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Read more about the Teaching Excellence Framework

TEF Gold - Teaching Excellence Framework

How you will be taught

The programme is delivered through online distance learning. You study from home and can be based anywhere in the world.

You will have a tutor who is an expert in their field and will work through the modules with other students so you won’t feel isolated. Module authors and tutors include Dr. Alan Macdonald, Professor Graeme Morton, Dr Patricia Whatley, Dr. Allan Kennedy and Dr. Michael Morris

Modules run for 14 weeks, and pathways can take between 1 and 5 years. We suggest that students account for 15 hours per week of work for each module undertaken. Most of the student cohort will be studying part-time alongside employment and other commitments.

How you will be assessed

Coursework (100%) consisting of, per module:

  • Final Assignment 50% (Usually an essay of 4,000 words)
  • Assessed Task 1 20%
  • Assessed Task 1 20%
  • Discussion Board Participation 10%

Tutors will provide regular support and feedback from the assessed tasks and module journal as the module progresses.

To complete the MLitt students are also required to write an 18,000 word dissertation.

What you will study

Core Modules

Credit rating: 20

The module aims:

  • To enable students to grasp the major themes in Scottish history
  • To offer an analysis of the social, political and cultural development of Scotland
  • To promote an understanding of Scotland’s changing relationship with the other kingdoms in the British Isles

This module provides a study of the major debates and interpretations of the economic, social and political development of Scotland. The major themes covered in the module are:

  • The Union of 1603 and the Covenanters
  • The Scottish Reformation: Politics and Society
  • The Union of 1707
  • Jacobite risings
  • Scottish Identity and Culture
  • ‘The ‘Highland Question’: Clearance and Improvement
  • The Industrial Revolution
  • Landscape and Environment
  • Scotland and Empire
  • Tourism and Leisure
  • Health and Welfare in the Highlands 

Optional modules

You’ll need to take 100 credits from a range of options including:

Credit rating: 20

This module explores the relationship between Scotland and Atlantic slavery (17c- 1838). Students will acquire a solid understanding of the social, economic and cultural impact of Scottish involvement in- and opposition to- Atlantic slavery; an appreciation of how slavery is recorded and represented through a variety of historical, cultural and artistic forms; and a comprehensive knowledge of the key issues in the current debate over the place of slavery in Scottish national narratives.

Weekly topics might include:

  • The slave trade and Scotland
  • Capitalism and Slavery- economics of plantation and industry
  • 'Collective amnesia' in historiography?
  • Black presence in Scotland
  • Legal challenges- Spens, Montgomery, Knight.
  • 1790s and slave revolutions
  • Political challenge: Abolition 1787-1807
  • Robert Burns & Jamaica
  • Political challenge: Emancipation 1819-1838
  • Compensation & Reparations for Slavery
  • Case study - Glasgow's memory of slavery
  • Case study - Dundee & the North East

Credit rating: 20

This module provides an in-depth examination of how historians conduct their research.

Major topics to be studied will include:

  • Victorian Romanticism and Jacobitism
  • The Scottish Chiefs and the National tale
  • Building Monuments to Wallace and Bruce
  • National Identity under the Union State
  • National Identity ‘Out of Place’
  • ‘Our’ National Identity formed by Others
  • Returning Nationalists & Charismatic Leadership
  • Home Rule
  • Beginnings of the SNP
  • Mobilizing Civil Society
  • The Settled Will
  • The Road to Independence

Credit rating: 20

Through wide-ranging study of both magical beliefs and witch persecutions, this module aims to explore the role and significance of witchcraft in early modern Scotland (c.1560-c.1730). Upon completion of the module, students will have acquired a solid understanding of popular and elite understandings of witchcraft, an appreciation of why witchcraft was viewed as socio-political threat, and a comprehensive knowledge of how the authorities and society more broadly responded to the challenge of witchcraft.


Weekly topics might include:

  • The magical realm
  • The demonic pact
  • Magic, sex and gender
  • Identifying the witch
  • Trying the witch
  • Patterns of witch-hunting
  • The great witch-hunt
  • Witch-hunting after 1662
  • The growth of scepticism
  • 1736 and beyond

Credit rating: 20

The module will cover the following topics:

  • The Highland Clearances: origins, famine and emigration
  • The Highland Land War and land reform
  • Government intervention in the Highlands: land, politics and health
  • The role of the Poor Law
  • The Highland and Islands Medical service

Credit rating: 20

The module will cover the following broad topics:

  • The personal reign of Mary Queen of Scots: triumph and failure
  • The Scottish Reformation: popular revolution or elite coup d’état?
  • Making the Reformation: from revolt to national church
  • Scotland, England and Europe
  • Child monarchs and regency government

Credit rating: 20

This module will cover the following topics:


  • The Scottish military experience and empire (The Scottish Soldier / Scotland and the Boer War / The Royal Navy and Scotland)
  • Scotland and the Great War (Men and Women’s experience of service / War and the Home Front / Memorialising the War)
  • A Scottish Empire? (Scotland and the Imperial Economy / Emigration and Empire / Writing the Empire)
  • War, Empire and Scottish Society (The church, missionaries and empire / Civic imperialism: the city and empire / Internal colonialism? The Highlands and empire)

Credit rating: 20

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. 

Credit rating:

The module aims:

  • To gain an understanding of the development and nature of Scotland’s monarchy and government in the important period immediately before the disruption of the Wars of Independence.
  • To assess the adequacy of the frequently-used description of this period as Scotland’s ‘golden age’.
  • To enquire into the extent to which Scotland could be said to have developed a ‘national identity’ before the end of the reign of Alexander III (1249 – 86).
  • To place these issues in an international context, and particularly that of Anglo-Scottish relations.
  • To consider how historiographical traditions may have distorted our understanding of this period.

The module will cover the following broad areas:

  • Scotland’s distinct and distinctive kingship.
  • The growth of government.
  • Was there an ‘Anglo-Norman Era’ in Scottish history?
  • Was the 13th century a ‘golden age’? Economy and society.
  • Questions of identity.
  • History and mythology: aspects of the historiography of medieval Scotland.



Credit rating: 20

The major themes covered in the module are:

  • The Revolution of 1688 and the Three Kingdoms
  • Jacobite Society in England, Ireland and the Diaspora
  • Jacobite Society in Scotland
  • The Ideology of Jacobitism
  • Jacobite Politics in England, Ireland and the Diaspora
  • The Union of 1707 and Jacobite Politics in Scotland
  • The Jacobites and the European Great Powers
  • 1715: the Great Jacobite Rising
  • 1745: Prince Charles’s Bliadhna an Fheachd
  • The Disintegration of the Jacobite Cause
  • Scotland’s Jacobite Afterlife

Optional modules - Archives, Records Management

You can also take up to 40 credits worth of modules from the Centre for Archives and Information Studies

In the Scottish Palaeography and Diplomatic module we shall study the different styles of handwriting to be found in Scottish documents from the early 1500s up to the 18th century, and will also consider the form of many different classes of document. These will include those relating to conveyancing and the recording of title, inheritance and legal dispute. This module has a strongly practical emphasis and aims to ensure that you become confident in reading the different styles of handwriting which have been used in Scotland and that you feel equipped to try to read any document you might be faced with.

  • Becoming familiar with the handwriting used in Scotland between 1500 and 1800
  • Recognising particular letter forms and abbreviations common in handwritten Scots documents
  • Discovering the form of common types of documents used in Scotland to do with conveyancing, registration, wills and settlements and legal processes
  • Learning more about Scottish peculiarities in personal names, reckonings of time, numbers, coinage and weights and measures
  • Practising the reading and interpretation of real sources for local and family history with close help from a personal tutor

Module code


Number of credits

20 SCQF credits (10 ECTS credits) on Level 5, SHE M (SCQF 11)


Rachel HartMorag Fyfe-Lucas

This module explores many of the sources that inform research about family and local history in Scotland.  It introduces the context of the local administrative and legal framework in Scotland and the functions of local authorities which generated these records. It helps you discover how these records can be used to pursue interests in local history and family history.

After an introduction to the network of archives in Scotland and the location of sources, the module will explore the use of the following sources for family and local history

  • Local administration records
  • Local financial and fiscal records
  • Local education, health and welfare records
  • Church and civil courts and police records
  • Deeds
  • Legal records relating to land, property and inheritance
  • Maps, plans, and other records of buildings, roads, ships and harbours
  • Trade and business records
  • Records of estates, families and clubs and societies

Number of credits

20 SCQF credits (10 ECTS credits) on Level 5, SHE M (SCQF 11)


Elspeth Reid

In the Public History module we study a wide range of historical activity as practised in the public sphere. We discuss what 'history' is, how it differs from 'public history', and its uses and abuses in public policy areas.  We look at the wide range of heritage offerings which allow the public not only to consume the past but also to participate in the creation of historical understanding, including engagement with archives.  We consider the current state of popular historical publishing, both fiction and non-fiction, as well as history in the media: on radio, TV and film.  By the end you should have a greater appreciation of the complexities of transmitting history to non-specialist audiences and how the public itself shapes and influences history in the wider world.  This module aims to enhance, stimulate and challenge your own use of history, whether in professional practice or as personal leisure activity.

  • What is history? Academic versus public history; ahistoricism: the use and abuse of history in the wider world.
  • History and public policy responsibilities; historical education and citizenship; past pain and present politics - repatriations, reparations, apologies and pardons.
  • Heritage and its organisations in the UK; heritage interpretation by and for the public; public history in the archive; social media and history.
  • How popular historical writing is commissioned, created and sold; the importance of 'story'; genre in fiction and non-fiction; hooks and books; on reviewing a book; historical magazines.
  • History on radio, TV and film; on being interviewed; the archivist and archival world in the media

Number of credits

20 SCQF credits (10 ECTS credits) on Level 5, SHE M (SCQF 11)


Caroline Shenton

Students can choose to graduate at 120 credits with a PGDip or complete the Research Proposal and Dissertation module.

Credit rating: 60

The module aims:

  • To enable students to plan and execute a significant project of research.
  • To allow students to apply their knowledge and understanding to a particular research topic.
  • To allow students to develop original and creative responses to problems and issues.
  • To allow students to identify, conceptualise and define new problems and issues.

The student will write an 18,000 word dissertation after completing 60 credits of dissertation study. The dissertation may be on any topic of the student’s choosing as long as the topic is related to Scottish History. Choice of the topic will also be influenced by the sources that students may access.

You can also study modules on a standalone basis or graduate with a PGCert (60 credits).

Students who take this course will gain a solid foundation from which they can proceed to doctoral research.

However, due to the non-vocational nature of a History degree many students also enter jobs unrelated to their course of study. For these students this course provides them with an opportunity to further develop their written presentation skills, as well as the ability to work independently and plan independent research and study.

For those wishing to use their studies more directly, for example in heritage, museum or archivist work, the job market is competitive, and the MLitt will provide students with a chance to further their knowledge and understanding of History and to demonstrate advanced research skills necessary for work in archives or heritage.

Learn more about careers related to the Humanities on our Careers Service website.

Students will normally be expected to have a good undergraduate degree (2:1 or similar standard) in History or a related discipline. The University can consider applications from people with experience, but no first degree.

 EU and International qualifications

English Language Requirement

IELTS Overall 6.5
Listening 6.0
Reading 6.0
Writing 6.5
Speaking 6.5

 Equivalent grades from other test providers


The fees (in pounds sterling) are below. Fees do not require to be paid in full at the beginning of study and are paid per module as study progresses, making it feasible for most students, who may or may not, be sponsored by their employers.

Fees for students starting 2019/20
Diploma £5,820
Certificate £2,910
Individual 20 credit module £970
Dissertation £1,800

Fees will be amended periodically.

For further information on fees, see our Policy for Payment of Fees and Refunds.

You must be IT literate and be able to engage with a Distance-Learning programme that is delivered online.

Please download and complete the Scottish History (Distance Learning) Application Form, then send your completed form with supporting documentation to scottish-history@dundee.ac.uk

Application deadlines:

May 2019 entry - 22 March

September 2019 entry - 19 July

January 2020 entry - 8 November

May 2020 entry - 20 March

Course Contact

Dr Craig Gauld

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