Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

The Gaelic Kingdom of Alba and the Formation of Scotland AD 800-1100 (PGT) ARCH5111

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This is an interdisciplinary course which will examine emergence and development of the Kingdom of Alba between AD 800 and AD 1100. A restructuration of 'The Picts and the Formation of Alba', this course will integrate evidence from archaeology, history, literature and onomastic to discuss the broader contexts of the early medieval Scotland. Emphasis will be put on the fragmentary nature of the evidence, and the methodology necessary to best work through the sources available. The main themes addressed in the course are politics, beliefs, daily life but also craftsmanship, art, and texts. The beginning of social institutions, emergence of central royal authority and ecclesiastical structures will be at the core of the discussions. One of the key-approaches of this course is its interdisciplinarity, and how to use evidence from various sources to develop a strong and nuanced understanding of this complex period. Students will be encouraged to develop their own ideas and approach to the material.


Two lectures or one lecture and one seminar/workshop per week 15 lectures and 5 seminars over 10 weeks (20 sessions).

Requirements of Entry

Must have undergraduate degree in Archaeology or Celtic (medieval or modern) or Celtic Civilisation or History.

Excluded Courses

ARCH4073 - The Gaelic Kingdom of Alba (Hons)




Essay 1 (1500 words) 30%

Essay 2 (2500 words) 50%

Oral Presentation (20 minutes) and poster during seminar 20%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Provide Masters' students with an understanding of the origins of early medieval Scotland, looking at themes of politics, art, belief and daily life through the study of archaeological, textual and historical evidence.

■ Enable critical assessment of the existing evidence. Students will acquire a strong appreciation of the interdisciplinary nature of the field, while learning how to situate early medieval Scotland (9th to 12th c.) within its wider European context.

■ Enable students to develop the capacity to discuss a topic in depth, with attention to current debates and critical issues, and to communicate complex issues both in writing and orally to a small group. 

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Acquire a critical understanding of the archaeological, literary and historical sources as evidence of the societies between AD 800 and 1100.

■ Investigate the benefits of an interdisciplinary approach to build insights into early medieval societies.

■ Bring these insights to bear on the emergence and development of the Kingdom of Alba.

■ Expand critical analysis of source material through group discussion in seminars.

■ Develop oral and IT skills through presentations to seminar group.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.