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Introduction to Scottish Social History (10 credit points)

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

An introduction to the social history of Scotland from 1830 to the present. This course explores the structures and institutions that have influenced the lives of ordinary people over the past two centuries, such as family, work, housing, health and leisure. Changes and developments in people's lives in Scotland will be examined through analysing historical texts, autobiographies, visual material and oral history.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment


Content of Course

This course introduces students to the study of social history. Focusing on Scotland since 1830, and using a wide range of sources, students will consider events, trends and characteristics of life in the past two centuries for ordinary men, women and children. The course will consider issues of class, gender and ethnicity; it will examine experiences over time across the diverse geographical spread of Scotland, from cities, coasts and lowlands to Highlands and Islands; and it will assess the impact of influences such as World War I and II, the welfare state and women's suffrage. The course will cover themes including:

1. Family life: the changing meaning of the family.

2. Housing: examining Scotland's housing crisis and the responses to it.

3. Working life: the experiences of work for men and women.

4. Women's lives: attitudes to women, women's suffrage.

5. WW1 and WW2: the effect of war on society and the changes this brings on the home front, especially for women.

6. Health and welfare: the rise of the temperance movement in the nineteenth century and the welfare state in the twentieth century.

7. Leisure and popular culture: the opportunity to display wealth, commercialisation of leisure, holidays/sports.

Teaching method(s)

The course will be taught using a combination of lecture and seminar-style teaching (illustrated by visual material) with discussion time. Group discussion will be based on specific questions relating to assigned readings provided in advance.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate, by way of coursework as required, an awareness of social developments in Scotland in the period, and an awareness of their context beyond Scotland;

  • Demonstrate, by way of coursework as required, an ability to think critically about social change and the importance of class, gender and religion in historical trends;

  • Demonstrate, by way of coursework as required, an ability to handle primary sources critically.


Core Readings


  • Smout, T.C., 1968. A Century of the Scottish People. London: Collins.

  • Thompson, F.M.L., 1992. The Cambridge Social History of Britain 1750-1950. Vol. II, People and Environment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


  • Dickson, A. & Treble, J. H., eds., 1992. People and Society in Scotland, Vol III, 1914-1990. Edinburgh: John Donald.

  • Fraser, W.H. & Morris, R. J., eds., 1990. People and Society in Scotland, Vol. II, 1830-1914. Edinburgh: John Donald.

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


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.


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.