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Introduction to Scottish Genealogy

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

Learn the skills and find the resources necessary to research, compile, prove and display your own family trees, or those of others. This course will enable you to learn about the basics of roots research, using genealogical source material available both online and from a variety of archived and published sources.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

It is highly desirable that students do as much groundwork on their immediate ancestors as possible before starting the course: births, marriages & deaths of parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents, where possible, including all relevant dates and locations. This work will have to be done in any event; early identification of 20th-century ancestors will give students a head start and save much classroom time.

Apart from the above, no previous experience is necessary, although the course will make references to some online sources that are publicly available.

Content of Course

1. General introduction to Genealogy; storage of records, display etc. Surnames.

2. Census and Post-1855 statutory records; websites; charting, software.

3. Pre-1855 Parish records: Catholic records.

4. Dates & calendars; Money; Measure.

5. Wills & Testaments; Introduction to Paleography.

6. Land records: valuation rolls, retours, sasines, charters, maps.

7. Military; Newspapers; Photographs.

8. Heraldry; Clans and Families.

9. English and Irish records.

10. DNA and Genealogy.

11. Final discussion on how to take it all further

Teaching method(s)

Each session will generally consist of three parts; an introduction to the relevant topic; identification of the appropriate search fora, including, if appropriate, demonstration of how to research topics online; discussion with students on their own genealogical research.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate a good grounding in the skills & resources necessary to research, compile, prove & display their own family trees, or those of others.

  • Use various genealogical source material available both online and in a variety of archived & published sources;

  • Take a methodical approach to the searching of these resources & interpretation of the results, using use all the major resources for Scots genealogy

  • Be familiar with the various styles & methods of genealogy and the various methods of storing & displaying family trees


Core Readings

  • Durie, B., 2012. Scottish Genealogy.3rd edtion, Stroud: The History Press.

Web Sources​ 

Class Handouts

Examples relevant to each topic will be provided as appropriate, as will list of sources specific to each stage.


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.