Age and Ideas of Adam Smith

Applications open in January 2024

The University of Glasgow provided the backdrop for many key moments in Adam Smith’s life. He studied here, learning from the influential thinkers of the time. He lectured here, sharing his perspectives and exploring new theories in the classroom. He wrote here, putting pen to paper and changing the economic landscape forever. As a Glasgow alumnus, Adam Smith remembered his time at the University with great fondness, saying it was ‘By far the most useful and therefore as by far the happiest and most honourable period of my life.’

The enduring legacy and continued relevancy of Smith’s work inspires us to imagine how we might change the world too. The Theory of Moral Sentiments laid the foundation on which Adam Smith’s most influential work, the Wealth of Nations, was born. These publications work in harmony, placing people at the heart of economics. The ongoing dialogue which Adam Smith’s work inspires is perhaps his most enduring legacy. Smith does not offer us all the answers, but he does equip us with the tools to uncover them for ourselves. Much has changed in the 300 years since Adam Smith’s birth. Smith argued that true understanding evolves over time, as we access new information and develop new connections. Today, we can look back at his work with a critical perspective and reach our own conclusions.

As part of the University’s 300th Anniversary celebrations, we are launching a special summer school course “Age and Ideas of Adam Smith” directed by Glasgow’s very own Lecturer in the Scottish Enlightenment, Dr Craig Smith.  This unique course gives you an opportunity to immerse yourself in Smith’s thought at the University where he studied and taught. 

The class aims to introduce you to the whole of Smith’s impressive body of work, ranging from moral philosophy and literary criticism to economics and political science. You will have the opportunity to read and discuss Smith’s work with some of the leading world experts on his thinking.

The intensive series of lectures and discussions is complemented by trips to locations in Scotland with strong associations with Smith, including his birthplace Kirkcaldy and his final resting place in Edinburgh.

What you will learn

This course aims to:

  • provide students with the opportunity to learn more about the work of Adam Smith
  • explore the context in which Smith’s ideas developed in the philosophy and political economy of the Enlightenment period
  • introduce students to the history and culture of Glasgow and Scotland
  • demonstrate the continued relevance of Smithian ideas

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

  • identify the key ideas in Adam Smith’s work
  • analyse Smith’s ideas in their historical context
  • evaluate Smith’s legacy for political economy and philosophy
  • apply Smithian ideas to contemporary social and political issues

Teaching pattern

The course will be a mixture of lectures, seminars, archive workshops and field trips to Smith related locations around Scotland.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

  • GPA of 3.0 (or equivalent)
  • you should be currently enrolled at an international higher education institution.

If your first language is not English, you must meet our minimum proficiency level:

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training) overall score of 6.0, with no sub test less than 5.5
  • we also accept equivalent scores in other recognised qualifications such as ibTOEFL, CAE, CPE and more.

This is a guide, for further information email