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A unique new online short course exploring the rich history of Scotland over a thousand years.

Engage with unrivalled expertise and fascinating source materials to evaluate the global impact of Scotland.

A journey of discovery to be enjoyed as an inspiring short course with all the convenience of distance learning – or as a tempting taster to progress to a full online Masters in this fascinating topic.


Scotland’s heritage and history fascinate a global audience. Wherever you live, and whether your interests are professional or personal, this flexible, distance-learning short course has been designed as a taster to a unique and exciting programme now available online with Aberdeen.

You’ll enjoy the unique combination of engaging with highly-experienced and world-leading experts in Scotland’s rich past, over a wide chronological spectrum from the early medieval period to the present day. You’ll take a global view, connecting this rich 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 heritage. You may work in the museum and heritage sector, art and art history, or in education. Or you may be retired and want to use your leisure to immerse yourself in gaining the intellectual tools to pursue an area of special interest. 

This credit-bearing short course will give you an overview of an eventful millennium. Should you decide to pursue your studies in greater depth, you can follow this first short course with another short course on the Scottish Diaspora to start in January and – with two courses completed – you gain a PgCert. You can then extend your studies a further year with two short courses on Scotland’s Visual History, and Approaches to Research, and gain a PgDip. Adding a third year, in which you’ll undertake a dissertation, will gain you a full Masters degree.  All options are available fully online for you to study at any location, at your own pace, and fitting around your work and personal commitments.

Why Aberdeen for this course?

The combination of reputation, experience, breadth of expertise, teaching and research strength – and, importantly, international outlook – makes Aberdeen the obvious provider of first-class education in Scottish history and heritage. This is the first programme of its kind at a Scottish university.

The study of Scotland’s past is an integral part of the intellectual life of our University, founded over 500 years ago to bring learning to the unruly communities of northeast Scotland. We have always been ambitious and focused on the wider world, while remaining firmly rooted in our region and country.

The impact of history research at the University of Aberdeen was assessed as top in Scotland and second in the UK in the most recent national assessment of research at UK universities (Research Excellence Framework 2014).

With access to a rich stream of source materials located within the University and across the region, our academics conduct internationally-renowned research and make their expertise available to a broad range of constituencies. Acclaimed research projects include those on the medieval Aberdeen Bestiary, the Burgh Records, the Buildings of Scotland, and the Scottish Emigration Database. 

You’ll have online access to the wonderful resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library, 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.

You can study this credit-bearing online short course standalone, or as a taster to delve deeper into this fascinating topic through progressing to a full online Masters programme.

What you'll study

  • Week 1 - Get to know your classmates and tutors, talk about your favourite place in Scotland, be introduced to the theme of ‘why Scottish history matters’.
  • Week 2 - Medieval turbulence and bloodshed, the wars of Scottish independence.
  • Week 3 - Government and society during the Renaissance, meet the Stewart dynasty.
  • Week 4 - Rocked by the Reformation, compare articles on witchcraft trials in Scotland.
  • Week 5 - Into the 17th century, what was the ‘Covenanting revolution’?
  • Week 6 - Parliamentary union with England. 
  • Week 7 - 18th century Scotland: Jacobitism and the Enlightenment.
  • Week 8 - Examine a practical manifestation of the Enlightenment  by studying The Statistical Account of Scotland with fascinating snapshots of life in Scotland in the 1790s and 1830s/40s.
  • Week 9 - Enter the modern era of industrialisation, urbanisation and mobility – with  all their  repercussions.
  • Week 10 - Nineteenth-century dislocation, the Disruption of the Established Church, changes in farming, and the Highland Clearances. 
  • Week 11 - Empire and war, and their impact on Scotland.
  • Week 12 - The Scottish imagination: changes in how Scots perceived themselves from medieval through to modern times.
  • Week 13 - Marketing Scotland as a travel and tourist destination from the 18th to 20th century.
  • Week 14 - Scottish devolution and the independence debate
  • Week 15 - Revisit our theme - ‘why Scottish history still matters‘.

How you'll study

This online, 15-week distance-learning short course offers all the flexibility and convenience to study when, where and how you choose, and to fit your learning around your location, work and personal commitments. 

Our online courses are delivered through our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) as self-contained units of learning taught and assessed to the same quality as our degree programmes, and developed specifically for an online audience, using a range of learning materials and assessment activities. 

We aim to create an online classroom experience and student community which enables you to enjoy the same learning experience as students on our full degree programmes, including access to a suite of learning resources and support.

You’ll be expected to spend 30-40 days on this course, and all material will be uploaded to our VLE for you to work through at your own pace and to suit your commitments. 

You’ll be guided through your programme with online lectures, videos and audio clips, quizzes, reading material, access to the wonderful online resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library as well as plenty of opportunity to interact with your tutors, and with your classmates on our online discussion boards. 
Wherever you are in the world, as you enjoy the convenience of online distance study, you will still feel part of our very special Aberdeen family and learning community. 


Our online courses are delivered through an online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and have been developed specifically for an online audience, using a range of learning materials and assessment activities. 

Regular feedback will ensure that you are gaining the best from the variety of course topics and materials provided. You will also have three assignments: a 500-word historiographical analysis of two recent scholarly articles; a 500-word comparison of two original source documents; and a 3,000-word essay.. There are no exams. 

Entry Requirements

Candidates should normally have an Honours degree to at least 2.1 standard in an appropriate discipline or equivalent qualifications (normally a 3.0 GPA in North America).

However, for candidates who do not meet these admission criteria, alternative qualifications combined with relevant professional experience and supportive references may also be considered as a means for entry. Applicants who do not possess the formal degree qualification are required to submit a supporting personal statement.

All students entering the University, including online courses, must provide evidence that they can use English well enough to study our programmes effectively. Details of our English language entry requirements can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages. For details of our pre-sessional English courses see our Language Centre website.