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PG Scottish Culture & Heritage

Award: Distance Learning
Study Mode: Distance Learning
Duration: This programme is available full-time over 1 year (over 2 semesters) or part-time over 2 years (4 semesters).
Course Contact:


This new postgraduate certificate programme in Scottish Culture and Heritage is the first programme of its kind to be offered through a distance learning format. It offers a unique opportunity to engage with the culture of Scotland through its wealth of popular tradition in Scots, English and Gaelic, to study original sound archives that are available for the first time in digital format, and to engage with international debates concerning the role of tradition and heritage in the 21st Century.

The flagship resource is the digital audio archive website, Tobar an Dualchais/ Kist o Riches which currently holds almost 31,500 recordings in Scots, English and Gaelic, covering traditional music, song, folklore, social history and all forms of cultural tradition.

This programme is offered through collaboration between Celtic and Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (SMO), a college of the University of the Highlands and Islands. Both institutions have a worldwide reputation for the quality of their teaching and research and the resources for the study of Scotland, particularly relating to languages, cultures and heritage.

The research environment is built on the growing availability of both e-journals and e-books and the full range of digitised resources for the study of Scotland, including extensive digitised audio resources and visual archival resources supported by library services of both institutions. All materials will be available at your fingertips wherever you have online access.


Course Content

The programme comprises 60 credits at SCQF level 11. Students will take all courses.

The courses are:

1. The Traditional Arts in Scotland: History and Context

This course is about seeking to understand and contextualise what have come to be known as the ‘traditional arts’ in Scotland. In the present day, the traditional performing arts - music, song, story, and dance - are seen to have a crucial part to play in helping bring a unique stamp to the nation’s creativity.

But what is the story of tradition in Scotland? Here we will introduce Scotland’s instrumental musical and song traditions and explore the verbal art of storytelling. We will explore the various modes of performance in a cross-disciplinary context and reflect upon the processes of transmission both historically and geographically.

Through a series of illustrative video talks and filmed performances, you will deepen your understanding and build a critical vocabulary with which to begin engaging with and analysing source material.

2. Scottish Culture and Heritage Online: Resources and Research Methods

This course provides you with the tools of interpretation and analysis required for your study of cultural heritage in Scotland. We begin by thinking about historical process of collecting and creating the School of Scottish Studies Archives. Is this material itself merely a snapshot in time?

Through a series of personal video testimonies, we will reflect upon the relationship between the collector and the collected: between the fieldworkers themselves and the characters whose music, songs and stories populate the Archives. Through a series of tutor-led webinars, we will then introduce you to the core online and electronic resources, Tobar an Dualchais primary among them, equipping you with the requisite tools for further research.

Semester 2 explores the various theoretical approaches for interpretation, ranging from the more traditional text-based comparative methods to more recent ethnological and folkloric approaches in context.

3. Understanding Heritage

This course is a chance to reflect upon and challenge the meaning of ‘heritage’ and think critically about its various modes of production in the modern world. We will explore the different ways in which heritage has been selected, represented and conceptualised.

Through a series of mini-video lectures and webinars, we will explore the relationship between heritage and history and think about the competing conceptualisations of heritage as product and as process, tangible and intangible, at the at the level of the global, national, regional, local and personal.

We will also reflect upon how heritage bodies such as UNESCO impact upon these conceptualisations in local, national and international contexts.

4. Tobar an Dualchais / Kist o Riches: Analytical Case Study

In this course, you will have the freedom to explore and engage with the treasure trove of the archive material through various lenses. This is your chance to study one or more genres in depth - musical traditions or verbal arts - and explore the relationship of culture to place and locality.

Choosing one of the many characters whose stories populate the Archives, you will reflect upon the role and value of the individual creative voice. You will then have the chance to conduct more in-depth research in an area of your choice.

Whether this is a study of West Highland piping, Shetland fiddling, the Bothy Ballads of the North East or the rich Storytelling traditions of the Travellers, this is a real treat and opportunity to put into practice the key ethnological theories and methods you have learned earlier in the course.

5. Tradition and Modernity

This course examines the varying roles of the traditional arts in contemporary Scottish society. We will explore the politics of cultural revivalism, thinking through the processes whereby re-creations and reconstructions of the past are used to serve the present. We will reflect upon the relationship between culture and the economy and between culture and the media, reflecting upon how these wider structures impact upon creative practice, tradition and performance.

We will also reflect on how developing technologies and changing contexts have impacted upon the arts of tradition, shifting away from the traditional community taigh ceilidh to the international concert venues of festivals such as Glasgow’s Celtic Connections.

Our tutors will introduce you to a range of contemporary performers who have themselves drawn upon archive material. Looking to the future, we invite guest voices to consider the contemporary role of archives and the possibilities of using archive material as a vehicle for connecting communities with their local heritage.


Entry Requirements

Prospective students are expected to have an undergraduate degree at the 2.1 level (GPA 3.4) or above, or other national equivalents.

Beyond competence in English, there are no formal linguistic requirements for entry, but students wishing to take the option of studying through the medium of Gaelic will have to demonstrate appropriate competence in the language. This is normally done through interview (face-to-face or telephone) and literacy levels can similarly be determined by written submission.


Fees and Funding

£3,100 (£1,550p/a part time)


There are a number of scholarships available at the University. More information available at:


How to Apply

Please apply online by finding this degree in the prospectus finder.