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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.

This course is for anyone, anywhere in the world, with a professional or personal interest in Scotland’s history and her people. Flexible and fully online, it’s designed to give you a taste of our unique online Masters in Scottish Heritage.

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 will I 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?

How will I study?

Our Scottish Diaspora course spans 16 weeks, including a three-week spring holiday. It’s delivered part-time, 100% online. You can study with us anywhere in the world and manage your study hours to suit you.

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

Online teaching

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 best collections of Sir Walter Scott’s work.

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 Radio 4.

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

Where will this take me?

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:

You can use the credits you earn on each of these courses towards our innovative:

Masters in Scottish Heritage

Delve deeper into Scotland’s history with our online MLitt Scottish Heritage. Study anywhere in the world, with flexible hours to fit around your work or personal commitments.

Find out more about credits.

Free careers advice

We’ll help you explore your career potential and connect with job opportunities around the world.

You can access our free careers service while you study.

From interview training to CV clinics, we’re here with tailored, impartial and professional advice.

Am I ready?

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.

The main interaction on the course takes place through online discussion boards. You’ll interact with each week’s subject through these discussions. Typically there are 8 – 10 discussion questions set each week. We ask that you review an extract from an example discussion board to help you self-assess your academic suitability for this course.

Apply for this course

Start date
18 January 2021