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Course Times & Enrolment

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Course Summary

In this introduction to the practice of storytelling and its place in Scottish cultural heritage you will learn how to breathe life into a story from a professional storyteller. With two day trips to the Scottish Storytelling Centre, participate in guided walks from its storytelling experts, you will also experience storytelling in the landscape.

Please note, students will be expected to take short walks during this course (visits to the Scottish Storytelling Centre).

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment


Content of Course

You will learn from a professional storyteller how to engage an audience, how to use voice, dramatic gesture and animation and how to breathe life into a story. Warm up exercises to engage imagination, vocal dexterity and gesture. First in the large group and then in small groups, we will create time for peer support and the five days will culminate in a sharing of stories.

You will also experience storytelling in the landscape, with guided walks organised in collaboration with the Scottish Storytelling Centre. The first trip will begin with a visit of the Scottish Storytelling Centre on the Royal Mile, then on to the Canongate to explore a sense of place in literature and storytelling. The second day trip involves visiting story-rich Arthur’s Seat and learning about stories in the landscape. This will include walking on moderately steep ground but the distances are short. Participants should wear good walking footwear and waterproof clothing.

In this way the week aims to combine food for head, heart and body, giving an all-round storytelling course. The workshop will conclude with a storytelling ceilidh and here everyone will have the opportunity to share a story.

Day 1

1. An introduction to storytelling; kindling the imagination, awakening the voice. Working with a Scottish folk tale.

2. Welcome and introduction. Story game exercises, voice work and movement work in support of storytelling.

3. Working with a Scottish folktale. How to connect with your audience.

4. A Celtic myth. Working with how to memorise a story – the bare bones and the flesh.

5. Storytelling performance by the tutor/ group discussion.

Day 2

1. Visit to the Scottish Storytelling Centre on the Royal Mile

2. A lecture from Scottish Storytelling Centre expert on the Scottish Storytelling tradition.

3. A literary tour down the Canongate will look at stories within the iconic buildings of the Canongate.

Day 3

1. Story play, movement and voice.

2. The folktale – learning the 3-fold skill of the storyteller – engaging audience, enacting story, picturing story.

3. Riddles, story play and ways to engage children.

4. Further work on practising the art of the storyteller. Participants will be given the tools to tell a story in a lively way and engage an audience.

Day 4

1. Stories in the landscape: Weather permitting we will spend the day in Arthur’s Seat. The guided walk will explore the spirit of place in literature and storytelling.

Day 5

1. Warm up, riddles, songs, story games.

2. Discuss last evening’s performance.

3. Practising in pairs for the afternoon’s final performance by students.

4. Voice work

5. The storytelling ceilidh: An opportunity for students to tell a whole story, incorporating the skills learnt on the course.  A time to celebrate, reflect and share. 

Teaching method(s)

A variety of activities from tutor presentations to group work with practice exercises on key topics such as warm-up exercises to engage imagination, vocal dexterity and gesture, story games and work on voice and movement .We will create time for peer support and the five days will culminate in a sharing of stories.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Appreciate the Scottish storytelling heritage;

  • Relate to an audience;

  • Tell a story to best effect;

  • Select stories to suit specific settings and audiences.


Core Readings

  • Campbell, David, 2010. Out of the Mouth of the Morning. Edinburgh: Luath Press

  • Smith, Donald, 2002. Storytelling Scotland: A Nation in Narrative. Edinburgh:  Edinburgh University Press

  • Smith, Donald, 2014. Edinburgh Old Town – journeys and evocations. Edinburgh: Luath Press

  • Grimm Brothers, 2007. Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Harmondsworth: Penguin Popular Classics

  • Rolleston, T.W., 2003. Celtic Myths & Legends. Dover: Dover Publications Inc.

  • Jarvie, Gordon, ed., 1997. Scottish Folk & Fairy Tales. Harmondsworth: Penguin Popular Classics

Web Sources

Class Handouts

Handouts on background story lore and short stories.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.