• 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 over the past five centuries 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
  • Tourism and Leisure

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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.

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
current student

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
MLitt Scottish History by Distance Learning (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 and Dr Patricia Whatley.

Modules run for 15 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:

  • 55% Essay (4,000 words)
  • 30% Assessed Tasks (2 short essays of c. 1000 words each)
  • 15% Module Journal (c. 500 words every 2 weeks)

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 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

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: 20

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.

Optional modules - Archives, Records Management

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

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


Fee statusFees for students starting 2017/18
Scottish and EU students £970 per 20 credit module or £485 for a 10 credit module/ plus £1,800 dissertation fee
Rest of UK students £970 per 20 credit module or £485 for a 10 credit module/ plus £1,800 dissertation fee
Overseas students (non-EU) £970 per 20 credit module or £485 for a 10 credit module/ plus £1,800 dissertation fee


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:

September 2017 entry – 21st July

January 2018 entry - 10th November

May 2018 entry – 16th March

Course Contact

Dr Craig Gauld

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