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Maps and Mappery in Scottish History, 1100 - 1850 (10 credit points)

Course Times & Enrolment

Wednesdays from 23rd April 2014 (Code H333) Wednesdays, 10:00am - 12 noon • (10 classes) Room LG46, Paterson's Land, Holyrood Campus • Tutor: Aaron M Allen PhD
This course is full

Course Summary

For anyone who enjoys studying maps and who has a passion for history, this is the perfect course to indulge your interests while developing research skills. A deeper appreciation of maps as an historical source will be cultivated while exploring the rich collections of the National Library of Scotland's Map Library. Maps as both objects and documents will be set in the context of Scotland's history, giving greater awareness of how maps enrich our understanding of Scotland's past.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

Previous study of Scottish history would be beneficial, but is not required.

Content of Course

Framework: Maps and Mappery (Weeks 1 & 2)
1. Introduction: The anatomy of the map

Case studies (Weeks 2 to 8)

2. Understanding Creation: the Medieval Map
3. Scotland’s maps and mapmakers
4. Renaissance Prestige: Displaying the World
5. Civic Pride: the Town Plan
6. Images of Power: Military Maps
7. Mercantile Investment? Maps and Sea Charts for Travel and Trade
8. Beyond the Enlightenment: Ordinance Survey and modern cartography

How maps are being used in history today (Weeks 9 & 10)

9. Burgh Surveys
10. GIS and the Historian

Teaching method(s)

Lecture and discussion with extensive use of original sources.

Learning outcomes

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

  • use maps as primary documents, asking questions of them comparable to questions asked of any manuscript or published text;
  • discuss maps as objects, with a critical awareness of their use in different contexts and in different periods;
  • assess Scottish cartography in the context of wider European trends;
  • undertake a comparative study of maps as representations of place and analyse the morphology of place through time;
  • demonstrate the above learning outcomes through the assessment.


Core Readings


Fleet, Christopher, Withers, Charles W. J., and Wilkes, Margaret, eds., 2011. Scotland: Mapping the Nation. Edinburgh: Birlinn.
Hodgkiss, Alan, 2007. Discovering Antique Maps. Princes Risborough: Shire.
Cunningham, Ian, 2006. The Nation Survey'd: Timothy Pont's Maps of Scotland. Edinburgh: John Donald. Hewitt, Rachel, 2010. Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey. London: Granta.


Lynch, Michael, 2000. Scotland: A New History. London: Pimlico.
Macleod, Finlay, 1989. Togail Tir, Marking Time: The Map of the Western Isles. Stornoway: Acair.
McNeill, Peter & MacQueen, Hector, 2000. An Atlas of Scottish History to 1707. Edinburgh: Scottish Medievalists.
Various journal articles where pertinent and accessible through the University Main Library.

Web Sources


Class Handouts

  • Lecture outlines
  • Extracts of articles when relevant
  • Excerpts of maps and documents
  • Data sets for workshop section of select classes


Open Studies 10 credit courses have one assessment. Normally, the assessment is a 2000 word essay, worth 100% of the total mark, submitted by week 12. To pass, students must achieve a minimum of 40%. There are a small number of exceptions to this model which are identified in the Studying for Credit Guide.

Studying for Credit

If you choose to study for credit you will need to allocate significant time outwith classes for coursework and assessment preparation. Credit points gained from this course can count towards the Certificate of Higher Education.

Student support

Please see the Open Studies Studying for Credit Guide for details about credit study, assessments and marking criteria. Full details are available from Reception.

Let our Student Guidance Officer know if you feel you have specific requirements to enable you to study an Open Studies course or complete assessments. Please contact Reception to arrange a confidential appointment with her. Giving us this information will enable us to make arrangements to meet your requirements for studying in accordance with your rights under the Disability Discrimination Act.