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Scotland: Romance and Reality

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

A one day course exploring the Romantic images of Scotland formed in the 18th and 19th centuries, of highlands and heroes. Using contemporary primary sources, and including access to the major National Museum exhibition, the course will discuss the influence of art and literature, transport and tourism, and the role of figures such as Queen Victoria and Walter Scott.

Please note, the course accompanies the major exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland: "Wild and Majestic", and includes a museum visit.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

No prior knowledge is required. 

Content of Course

This one day course charts changing images of Scotland in the 18th and 19th centuries and examines how art, literature and material culture, as well as transport and travel guides, encouraged tourism and promoted particular ideas about Scotland and especially the Highlands as the ‘last great European wilderness’.

The course looks at Scotland’s identity after the Jacobite rebellions, when the Highlands were reinvented, especially though the royal approval of Queen Victoria. Scotland’s re-presentation in literature and the arts will be considered, including the work of Walter Scott and the cult of Robert Burns. The course will also include lesser-known travel writing, shedding a complementary and sometimes less romantic light on Scotland of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Teaching method(s)

In a combination of lecture, discussion, and examination of evidence, students will be guided through a range of written and visual sources to accompany the major exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland, Wild and Majestic; the course will include access to the museum, and discussion of its exhibits and themes.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify key themes in the creation of Scotland’s romantic identity in the 18th and 19th centuries;

  • Analyse the growth of tourism in Scotland at this time;

  • Assess the evidence, written and physical, for the romantic portrayal and for the real Scotland;

  • Assess critically the legacy of Scotland’s 18th and 19th century portrayal.


Core Readings


  • Durie, A.J., 2004. Scotland for the Holidays?: Tourism in Scotland c.1780-1939. East Linton: Tuckwell.

  • Grenier Haldane, K., 2005. Tourism and identity in Scotland, 1770-1914 : creating Caledonia. London: Ashgate.

  • Gold, J.R. and Gold, M.M., 1995. Imagining Scotland: tradition, representation and promotion in Scottish tourism since 1750. London: Scolar Press.      


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.