Gaelic MA

Bardachd Cogaidh 1930-1950 GAELIC4002

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

The course will examine the beginnings of modernity and anti-Imperialism in Gaelic poetry, in the context of other cultural currents in the first half of the 20th century such as the Celtic Twilight and the Scottish Renaissance movement, before concentrating on the groundbreaking contributions of Somhairle MacGill-Eain (Sorley Maclean) and George Campbell Hay in the late 1930s and the 1940s. The work of these two innovative poets will be studied in relation to contemporary socio-political currents (the Spanish Civil War, Socialism and anti-Fascism, anti-British Imperialism, Scottish Nationalism) and in the context of contemporary literary developments in Scotland and Europe. Through student presentations the corpus of Gaelic WW2 war poetry will be examined, ranging from MacGill-Eain, Hay and other soldier poets to the work of civilian poets, notably women on the Home Front.


1x1hr lectures, 1x1hr seminars per week over 10 weeks as scheduled in MyCampus. This is one of the Honours options in Gaelic and may not run every year. The options running this session are available on MyCampus.

Excluded Courses





Written textual analysis (1,100 words) - 20%

Essay (2,200 words) - 40%

Examination (90 minutes duration) - 40%

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

The course aims to:

■ develop independent and critical thinking, and investigative and analytical skills, in the study of written and oral texts 

■ deepen previous understanding of the development of Gaelic poetry in the 20th century

■ reflect on the issues faced by young people (and older) thrown into the extreme experience of war, and on the role and adequacy of poetry or song as a response to extremes of fear, separation, exhilaration or trauma

■ develop effective and confident communication skills through written critical analysis and through oral class presentation and discussion.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ discuss in some detail the published works of Sorley MacLean and George Campbell Hay and trace the development of each man's poetic career; analysing the themes, poetics and poetic personae of both poets

■ identify the main influences operating on each poet's work from within and outwith the Gaelic tradition

■ give an account of both poets' political philosophies and of the socio-political contexts to which they responded

■ identify the principle innovatory features of each man's work .

■ based on their own research and presentations by their peers, outline the range of WW2 Gaelic poetry and song produced by soldiers and civilians, including women, and give examples of specific voices found in the corpus (e.g. lament, incitory, panegyric, philosophical, humorous, protest, humanitarian, spiritual).

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.