History MA/MA(SocSci)

The Picts And The Formation Of Alba HIST4161

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

Short Description

This course examines the social and political structure of the Picts and seek to understand their eclipse and evaluate their overall contribution to Scotland's history. The approach will be interdisciplinary, embracing art history, archaeology and history, and will aim to introduce you to a critical understanding of sculpture, excavated remains, material culture and written sources as evidence for the Picts.


Course is taught twice weekly


50%: Exam, in which you answer two questions in two hours.

40%: Essay, a sustained piece of writing exploring a particular topic or point of debate (2,000 words, approx.)

10%: Seminars on issues of current scholarly debate (6% for the oral presentation of the seminar paper, 4% for overall seminar participation). 

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 aims of the Honours course are:

■ To provide a strong grounding in the methods of, and approaches to, modern archaeology, and to demonstrate their application across a wide chronological, geographical and cultural range;

■ To develop a critical understanding of human activity in past societies and its effects;

■ To foster an understanding of the complexity of the relationship between social, political, cultural, economic and environmental processes and the role of material culture at different temporal and spatial scales;

■ To offer a range of opportunities and contexts for students to develop essential skills of analysis, research, presentation and communication, as well as IT skills and qualities of teamwork and initiative.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

Having completed this course students should be able to demonstrate:


■ a critical understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of key archaeological, cultural and historical sources as evidence for early medieval society, embracing the latest research (assessed primarily through the examination);

■ the potential of an interdisciplinary approach to the study of early medieval society (assessed particularly through the essay, which explores a particular topic or point of debate from an interdisciplinary perspective);

■ insights into questions of ethnic identity in Pictish society, the 'disappearance' of the Picts, and the emergence of a 'new' identity come centred on Alba, (assessed through the seminar presentation and discussion and through the examination);

■ an ability to place these issues in their appropriate social and cultural context as revealed by a critical study of archaeological, artistic, literary and historical sources (assessed through all the assessed work: the seminar presentation, the essay and the examination).

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.