Beginnings of Scotland: medieval texts and modern histories HIST4296

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

Throughout this course the question is asked: how as historians should we seek to understand Scotland's beginnings? This takes the portrayal of Scotland's beginning in general histories as its starting point, and examines contemporary medieval sources for key moments. It focuses on how the representation of Scotland's beginnings developed throughout the Middle Ages in different contexts, leading to an understanding of many dimensions of how text behaves when it relates to a topic of fundamental significance. The course finishes with alternative approaches, and considers the potential of comparative perspectives.


10 x 2-hour sessions over ten weeks - seven workshops and three lectures (including activities). This is one of the honours options in History and may not run every year. The options that are running this year are available on My Campus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into History or Scottish History, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses





'Portfolio' = Learning journal reflecting on workshops 1 to 4 (to be completed by end of week 6) (1350 words) (30%)

'Project Output' = Reflective analysis of workshops 5 and 6 (to be completed by end of week 11) (900 words) (20%)

'Written Assignment' = Essay (2250 words) (to be completed by end of week 13) (50%)

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will 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

■ Develop critical skills of analysing texts and ideas and the ability to summarise results

■ Analyse key events and figures in the narrative of Scotland's beginnings in light of contemporary sources

■ Examine how text behaves in different contexts

■ Introduce alternative approaches based on non-narrative sources

■ Evaluate the textual development of Scotland's beginnings in the Middle Ages and their legacies in modern history books, and be aware of medieval and modern parallels

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Reflect critically on the study of Scotland's beginnings through analysing medieval texts

■ Recognise the different contexts and genres of texts and how this contributes to our understanding of the transmission of ideas relating to Scotland's beginnings

■ Summarise the analysis of a key text's revision in different manuscript contexts

■ Examine alternative approaches based on non-narrative sources

■ Undertake an independent analysis of how a key element in the narrative of Scotland's beginnings developed from medieval texts to modern history books taking account of cultural/political contexts, as appropriate.

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.