The Scottish Enlightenment: Ideas and Influences

This is the core class taken by all students from the Principia Consortium at the University of Glasgow. It aims to introduce students to the rich intellectual and cultural heritage of Scotland and its lasting influence on world culture.  

The University of Glasgow has a strong intellectual history. In the 18th century, Glasgow was a leading centre of the Enlightenment and home to world‐famous figures such as Adam Smith. In this course, leading scholars expose students to the groundbreaking ideas of Smith and other pioneering intellectuals of the Scottish Enlightenment. We also consider the lasting influence, global impact and contemporary relevance of Enlightenment ideas and ideals.

The course is worth 20 credits and is compulsory for all Principia students. It is designed to complement the different choices available to Consortium students by offering a single course that reflects their various multi‐disciplinary interests while also satisfying the requirements of Honours programmes at home. Each lecture is delivered by an expert in their field and introduces a key area of Enlightenment thought:

'I would recommend the programme to any honors student at a Consortium school, as it may be the most invaluable experience of your undergraduate degree.'
McDaniel College (Semester 1)

  • The Enlightenment in Scotland
  • Philosophy
  • Political and Economic Thought
  • History
  • Medicine
  • Science and Natural History
  • Aesthetics
  • Literature and Culture
  • Religion
  • The Scottish Enlightenment and America

Class Trip

Picture of former Principia students in Alloway

The course also includes a trip which enables students to experience Scotland's Enlightenment past.

For further information, please see the course catalogue entry (includes link to class handbook) or email the class convener Dr. Ronnie Young.