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.

Scottish Popular Culture 1500-1800 HIST4124

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will explore changes in popular culture in early modern Scotland arising from the Protestant Reformation. We will investigate the changing nature of popular piety, beliefs about magic and witches, festive practices and Scottish national identity and consider popular involvement in key events from the Reformation rebellion to the Jacobite risings.


1 x 1hr lecture and 1 x 1hr seminar per week for 10 weeks. This is one of the Honours options in History and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into History, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes.

Excluded Courses

Level 3 version of this course HIST3016, Early Modern Scottish Popular Culture.




Exam (2 hours) - 50%

Essay (2,500 words) - 40%

8 minute seminar presentation with handout or powerpoints - 10%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course will provide the opportunity for students to:


■ Consider the impact of the Protestant Reformation on popular culture in early modern Scotland, encompassing religious cultures, magical beliefs and practices, popular politics and national identity.

■ Examine modern approaches to the history of 'popular culture' and apply models of cultural change in a specific historical context.

■ Critically assess a range of secondary literature and primary sources and conduct independent research.

■ Develop proficiency in skills in oral presentation, group discussion and written argument.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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


■ Identify problems with the term 'popular culture' and provide appropriate definitions of 'popular' in the analysis of early modern culture.

■ Explain changes in Scottish popular culture in the period 1500-1800 drawing on models of cultural change and critical assessments of secondary literature and primary source evidence.

■ Show how the nature of the available sources can limit the study of early modern popular culture and explain how cultural historians deal with these problems.

■ Present clear and well-supported oral and written arguments.

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.