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Victorian Scotland

Course Times & Enrolment

Thursdays from 18th January 2024 (Code HS246-205) Thursdays from
18th January 2024 11:00am - 1:00pm • (10 classes)
National Museum of Scotland • Tutor: Helen Rapport PGCE, M.A., PhD
This course is now closed for enrolments

Course Summary

This course uses selected items from the National Museum of Scotland’s collections as the basis for studying Victorian Scotland. Starting with a particular historical object each week, students will consider the political, economic, industrial, imperial, cultural and social history of Scotland in this period of enormous change and creativity.

Please note, this course takes place at the National Museum of Scotland (meet at the Information Desk in the entrance hall).

Course Details

Content of Course

1. Overview of Victorian Scotland: main events, population change, census statistics and the New Statistical Account. Introduction of the NMS items to be considered each week.

2. Victorian Scotland; images, writings and innovations.

3. Steel, wheels and meals: economy and industry.

4. Towards democracy?: trade unionism, Chartists and Suffragettes.

5. Faith, Hope and Charity: Victorian society.

6. In sickness and in health?: the successes and failures.

7. A roof over our heads: architecture and housing.

8. Educating Scotland.

9. Exploring Empire and War    .

10. Romantic Scotland. 

Teaching method(s)

Lecture, class discussion of documents, images and reading.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Understand the diverse historical developments of Victorian Scotland;

  • Assess history of Victorian Scotland in the wider context of Britain and Europe at the time;

  • Reflect critically on physical objects as historical sources, and analyse them in conjunction with written sources;

  • Analyse the role of museums in their engagement with history and culture.


Core Readings


  • Fraser W.H., and Morris, R.J., eds., 1997. People and Society in Scotland: A social history of modern Scotland vol. 2 1830-1914. Edinburgh: John Donald.

  • Knox, W., 1999. Industrial Nation: Work, Culture and Society in Scotland, 1800-Present. Edinburgh: EUP.

  • McCaffrey, J., 1998. Scotland in the Nineteenth Century. London: Palgrave.

  • Griffiths, T. and Morton, G. eds., 2010. A History of Everyday Life in Scotland, 1800 to 1900. Edinburgh: EUP.

  • Smout, T.C., 2010. A Century of the Scottish People 1830-1950. Waukegan, IL: Fontana

  • Wood, S. H., 1996. Victorian Scotland: Understanding people in the past. London: Hodder & Stoughton


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.