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An Introduction to Scottish Literature: The Literature of Edinburgh (10 credit points)

Course Times & Enrolment

Wednesdays from 27th September 2023 (Code LI319-103) Wednesdays from
27th September 2023 11:10am - 1:00pm • (10 classes)
LG47 Paterson's Land, Holyrood Campus • Tutor: Anya Clayworth BA (Hons) PhD
This course is now closed for enrolments

Course Summary

This course explores the rich literary heritage of Scotland, examining the work of some of the country's most celebrated literary works in connection to its capital city. We shall consider the importance of the city of Edinburgh, the world's first UNESCO designated city of literature, in shaping the country's literary landscape. We shall read a wide variety of texts from the 19th Century to present day and consider the common themes which emerge.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment


Content of Course

The course will explore a range of texts inspired by, or written in, Edinburgh. For each text we shall examine the presentation of Edinburgh and consider how the local setting may have influenced the development of the text. From the outset, we shall examine literary texts as well as other materials, locating the authors within the country's cultural and historical context. Initial discussion of Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie will expose one of the key themes of the course: that of 'duality'. Students will be asked to continue to consider this theme as we explore the writings of other long and short-term residents of Edinburgh as well as those who have been inspired in different ways by the city.

Teaching method(s)

The course will be taught in a small seminar setting, where participation will be supported and encouraged.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Evaluate, compare and contrast a wide range of texts, demonstrating knowledge of Edinburgh's linguistic, literary, cultural and socio-political contexts;

  • Analyse literary texts by applying close reading techniques and referring to recognised literary terminology to illustrate arguments;

  • Construct, present and evaluate arguments coherently by assessing, analysing and responding to secondary reading;

  • Analyse contemporary responses and reactions to texts by evaluating and assessing ideas from non-literary texts such as letters, criticism or journalism;


Core Readings


  • Spark, M. (2000) The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

  • Atkinson, K. (2011) Case Histories. London: Black Swan.

  • Glover, S. (2005) Bondagers and The Straw Chair. London: Methuen. NB. Please only read Bondagers for this class.

  • Burke, G. (2007) Black Watch. London: Faber.

  • Poems by Robert Burns, Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon will be provided as PDF handouts.


  • Foster, A. (2005) The Literary traveller in Edinburgh: a book lover’s guide to the world’s first city of literature. Allan Foster. Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing.

  • Skoblow, J. (2001) Dooble Tongue: Scots, Burns, Contradiction. Newark: University of Delaware Press.

  • Roberts, D. (1996) Minds at War: The Poetry and Experience of the First World War. Burgess Hill: Saxon Books.

  • Barker, P. (2008) Regeneration. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

  • Brown, I. (2011) The Edinburgh Companion to Scottish Drama. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

  • Brannigan, J. et al. (2019) Robert Burns in Edinburgh: an illustrated guide to Burns’ time in Edinburgh. Glasgow, Scotland, UK: Waverley Books.

  • Robinson, R. (2012) The National Theatre of Scotland's Black Watch. Contemporary Theatre Review, 22 (3), pp. 392-399.

  • Page, N. (1990) Muriel Spark. Basingstoke: Macmillan Education.

Class Handouts

Poetry to be provided as PDF handouts.


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.