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Scotland and Slavery

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

A wide-ranging consideration of Scotland’s involvement with slavery in the Caribbean during the 18th and 19th centuries. Topics include the slave regime, Scottish abolitionism and the legacies of slavery.

Please note, this course may include field trips (archival, museum and gallery visits).

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment


Content of Course

1. Introduction, Context and Connections. 

2. The Estate.

3. The Metropole: Perceptions of Slavery.

4. Approaches to Abolition and Abolitionism.

5. Legacies of slavery.

Teaching method(s)

Lecture and discussion, including examination of primary sources. The course may include archival, museum and gallery visits, depending on current displays and availability of holdings. 

Learning outcomes

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

  • Understand the nature and extent of Scotland’s involvement with slavery in the Caribbean;

  • Assess critically the competing humanitarian and economic narratives relating to the abolition of slavery;

  • Analyse the impact of Scotland’s slavery past in a national and international context.


Core Readings


  • Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings, 1789, reprinted Penguin 1995 with an introduction and notes by Vincent Carretta. A first-hand account of the horrors of kidnap and enslavement by a prominent African anti-slavery campaigner.  First published in 1789.  The Interesting Narrative includes a list of Scottish subscribers

  • Devine, T.M., 2005. Scotland’s Empire. London: Penguin.

  • Devine, T.M. ed., 2015. Recovering Scotland's Slavery Past: The Caribbean Connection. Edinburgh: EUP.

  • Graham, Eric, 2014. Burns and the Sugar Plantocracy of Ayrshire. MDPM.

  • Hamilton, Douglas, Scotland, the Caribbean and the Atlantic World, 1750-1820, Manchester University Press, 2005.

  • Karras, Alan L, Sojourners in the Sun: Scottish Migrants in Jamaica and the Chesapeake, 1740-1800, London, 1992.  Migration history, a comparative study.

  • Morgan, Kenneth, Slavery and the British Empire, Oxford University Press, 2007.

  • Whyte, Ian, Scotland and the Abolition of Black Slavery, 1756-1838, EUP, 2006.


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.