Study the history of Scottish emigration with our supportive expert team.

For many people over the centuries, growing up in Scotland has been about preparing to leave their homeland.

Find out about the generations who have emigrated from Scotland:

  • who they were and why they went
  • where they settled or spent time
  • and the long-term impact for Scotland and the communities in which they made new homes.

Learn to work with many sources and grow your analytical skills as you come to see the real people beyond the stereotypes that have sometimes dominated narratives of emigration and settlement.

Engage with fascinating treasures and unrivalled expertise in Scotland’s rich written, visual and oral past, from the 18th century to the present day. Gain a global view, connecting this rich history and heritage with today’s Scottish diaspora.

Who is this course for?

This flexible and fully online course is for anyone, anywhere in the world, with a professional or personal interest in Scotland’s history and her people.

Build credits towards a Masters degree

This online course is part of:

You can use the credits you earn on this short course towards this MLitt qualification.

Robert McGregor

This course caused me to question how, as a member of the Scottish Diaspora, I could better contribute to society. Understanding the different waves of emigration over a 250-year period provides such wonderful insights into contemporary society.

Robert McGregor, MLitt Scottish Heritage student, Chief Investment Officer and Executive Director (Philippines)

What you’ll study

Through a rich selection of literature, visual and oral history you’ll engage with the motives and experiences of emigrants and sojourners in the Scottish diaspora, and connect their themes back to Scotland.

You’ll cover topics including:

  • historiographical debates, how historians study the Scottish diaspora
  • causes and consequences of late-18th-century emigration from Scotland
  • the Highland and Lowland Clearances
  • the ‘recruitment business’
  • Scots in England
  • journeying to new lands
  • the inter-war exodus from Scotland
  • the significance of return migration
  • strengths and weaknesses of emigrant testimony as a source
  • the diaspora in literature, religion and popular culture.

The focus of the course can also be adapted to you and your own connections to Scotland. Depending on your interests, particular attention may be paid to Scottish settlement and its impact in a specific location, such as the USA, Canada, New Zealand, or Australia.

Why study Scottish history online with the University of Aberdeen?

Top 20

Top 20 in the UK

We’re rated top 20 in the UK for History (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024).

Award-winning online teaching

Course coordinator, Marjory Harper, holds a Postgraduate Award for Excellence in Teaching for inspirational and online teaching.

20% alumni discount

University of Aberdeen alumni get 20% off this online course.

How you’ll study

Online learning

Our distance learning Scottish Diaspora course is delivered flexibly, 100% online. You can study with us anywhere in the world and manage your study hours to suit you.

Your teaching

This course is taught at Masters level. You’ll learn from academics with world-leading expertise in Scottish emigration.

Your teaching is delivered through MyAberdeen, our online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It holds all the materials, tools and support you’ll need in your studies. Take a look around MyAberdeen.

You can access your learning materials on computer, smartphone and laptop, 24 hours a day. You’ll find a range of resources at your fingertips, including online:

  • video lectures
  • audio clips
  • presentations
  • reading materials
  • resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library
  • discussion boards with colleagues and tutors.

The main interaction on the course takes place through the online discussion boards. You’ll interact with each week’s subject through these discussions. Typically, there will be 8 – 10 discussion questions set each week.

Archive access

You’ll enjoy access to a rich stream of written, visual and oral source materials from within the University and across Scottish archives.

You’ll be able to explore our Sir Duncan Rice Library collection online, including ancient Scottish records, manuscripts, prints, photographs and literary collections of leading Scottish writers and poets. Treasures include a large Jacobite collection, works of the Scottish Enlightenment, and one of the best collections of Sir Walter Scott’s work.

You’ll be assessed entirely online via:

  • a reflective journal, where you submit a 400-word entry every second week of the course. This will total six submissions and accounts for 60% of your final mark
  • a 2,600-word essay in week 12. This accounts for 40% of your mark.

This course totals approximately 300 hours of study and assessment time.

That’s around 15 – 20 hours per week in regular topic work, with more time required around assessments.

This is an indicative guide to the time required for a typical student at this level to achieve the learning outcomes.

You can largely set your own study hours to cover the materials. MyAberdeen is available 24/7, so you can log in and study when it suits you.

Activities at fixed times

There may be some activities scheduled at a fixed time, such as online meetings with your tutor or assessments with deadlines. But otherwise, you can access and work through the course at your convenience.

Our first-class support structure will ensure that you aren’t alone in your studies. You’ll have contact with your course coordinator throughout your course. This could be by email, MyAberdeen, online call, or phone. You can use social media and discussion boards to chat with your fellow students too.

We provide a wide range of services to support you in your studies and beyond:

Wherever you are in the world, you’ll feel part of our very special Aberdeen learning community.

Your course coordinator

Professor Marjory Harper is a Professor of History. She’s travelled the world researching Scottish emigration.

Her work in this field has led to appearances on BBC Radio 4 and Radio Scotland and a Saltire Scottish History Book of the Year award. Listen to Marjory on BBC Radio 4.

Marjory holds an Excellence in Teaching award for her innovative and supportive online teaching.

Where this will take you

Build your learning

You’ll earn 30 credits at Masters level (SCQF Level 11) with this course. It’s one of several Scottish Heritage short courses that we offer online:

Towards a Masters degree

You can use the 30 Masters-level credits you’ll earn with this course towards our:

Masters in Scottish Heritage

Explore the rich history, art and philosophy of Scotland and its people. Access rare archive treasures and award-winning online teaching, with this flexible online Masters.

View MLitt Scottish Heritage

Free career support

Access our free careers service while you study.

  • 1:1 appointments
  • CV checks
  • Interview prep
  • Job opportunities

See how our careers service can help you.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

We welcome students from all over the world.

This course has no formal entry requirements. You do not need to provide proof of your qualifications.

But you do need to check the entry guidance above to understand the level of teaching delivered, to decide if this course is right for you.

If you do not have qualifications from the UK, check the equivalent teaching level for your country.

Visa requirements

You do not need a visa to study online with us.

English language requirements

Teaching is delivered in English.

You do not have to provide proof of your English language skills to join this course. But we want to make sure that you can use English well enough to study successfully.

Recommended level of English

This course uses our Postgraduate Higher level of English language proficiency.

These are our Postgraduate Higher requirements, and these are minimum scores.

IELTS Academic and IELTS Online (not IELTS Indicator or IELTS General Training)

  • 6.5 overall
  • 5.5 for listening and speaking
  • 6.0 for reading and writing

TOEFL iBT and TOEFL iBT Home Edition

  • 90 overall
  • 17 for listening
  • 21 for reading
  • 20 for speaking
  • 21 for writing
  • TOEFL DI code is 0818

Cambridge English: B2 First, C1 Advanced, or C2 Proficiency

  • 176 overall
  • 162 for listening and speaking
  • 169 for reading and writing

LanguageCert International ESOL B2 Communicator (Written and Spoken)

  • Overall High Pass
  • 33 for listening, reading and speaking
  • 38 for writing

PTE Academic (online test not accepted)

  • 62 overall
  • 59 for listening, reading, speaking and writing

For more information about language qualifications see our English Language Requirements page.

You will need access to:

A computer (PC, laptop or Mac) operating on either:

  • Windows 10 or later
  • macOS 10.15 (Catalina) or later.

Most teaching materials are smartphone- and tablet-friendly. But we recommend a proper laptop or desktop for completing assignments comfortably.

Reliable internet access

We recommend:

  • a wired connection
  • a minimum download speed of 2 Mbps so you can take part fully in live sessions.

Speakers or headphones

  • We recommend a headset with built-in microphone and earphones if you’re likely to study in an environment with background noise.
  • A webcam is optional, but you may like to use one for some interactive sessions.

Software

We’ll give you access to Office365 applications. This means you can use online versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and install these programs on up to five personal devices.

If your course requires specialist software, we’ll provide you with access to this and a licence that lasts throughout your studies.

See our detailed IT requirements for more information.

When you study with us, you can expect a first-class support structure so that you’re never alone in your studies.

But learning online does mean you have to motivate yourself and manage your own time.

Your most important commitment to your course will be time – the time to work through, reflect on and understand your teaching materials.

Before you start a course that involves a high degree of independent study, we recommend looking at the time you will be able to devote to your course each week:

  • Be realistic
  • Create a weekly schedule as a guide

If you have any questions about studying online, get in touch with our friendly team. We’re here to help.

Fee payment

Your course fee needs to be paid in full before you start your course.

We accept payment via Visa Debit, Visa Credit and Mastercard.

Ways to save

You may be able to get help funding this course via:

  • discounts – if any discounts are available for this course, they’ll appear in the section below
  • employer sponsorship – we accept full and partial fee payments from sponsors.

Find out more about funding options.

Student card

All our students are entitled to a University of Aberdeen student card. This gives you access to a range of student discounts around the city and online.

This course has no formal entry requirements. You decide if it’s suitable for you.

The course is delivered at Masters level. At this level, you’d usually have at least

  • a 2:2 (second-class) degree
  • or relevant experience that supports this level of study.

Apply for this course

Start date
27 January 2025
Cost
£1,930
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