Postgraduate taught 

Scottish History MSc/PgDip

Thomas Paine as an Enlightenment Revolutionary (later 18th century and beyond) HIST5109

  • Academic Session: 2019-20
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

This course studies the career of Thomas Paine in America, Britain and France: his reputation as a radical reformer, his most important writings (1776-1797) and his impact, reputation and apparent marginalisation on both sides of the Atlantic. The course is designed to be sufficiently flexible to meet the specialist interests of individual students, whilst analysing three different cultural and political environments.


10 weekly 2-hour tutorials

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level.

Excluded Courses






Written work will amount to 5,000 words, in the form of one essay of 3,500 words (70%) and one shorter seminar presentation report of 1,500 words (30%).

Course Aims

This courses aims to:

■ introduce students to the study of the late Enlightenments;

■ examine the dissemination and reception of ideas through print (print history, review journals, newspapers and other forms of dissemination);

■ develop an understanding of the nature of 'public opinion' and public space in the late eighteenth century, especially in the three geographic areas where Paine worked (the American colonies, Britain and France);

■ develop bibliographical and analytical skills appropriate for detailed study of texts (including the OPTION to use French-language material where appropriate and possible);

■ develop students' skills in analysing popular and polemical writings.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ develop specialist knowledge and understanding of the big eighteenth-century revolutions, the Enlightenment culture which influenced the way they evolved;

■ develop a critical understanding of primary sources and secondary materials relevant to the defined historical problem;

■ evaluate alternative historical interpretations;

■ attain a level of expertise and knowledge which will enable further research at an advanced level.

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.