The MA (Hons) in Scottish History is an ideal introduction to understanding Scotland’s unique historical development and place in the wider world. By studying Scottish History, you will get a grounding in the history of the country, adding breadth and depth to your experience living, studying and working in Scotland.
In your studies, you will cover a wide chronological range of periods from the Dark Ages to Modern Scotland. You will be exposed to issues of nation building, loss of sovereignty, the tensions between core and periphery, and the reclamation of nationhood.
If you started this programme in 2019, you can find information about 2019 entry on the 2019 Scottish History MA page. Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.
These grades are the overall standards required to consider you for entry. Find out more about Standard, Minimum and Gateway entry requirements using academic entry explained and see which entry requirements you need to look at using the entry requirements indicator.
Standard entry grades: AAAAB, including A in History
Minimum entry grades: AABB, including B in History
Gateway entry grades: BBBB, including B in History
Standard entry grades: AAA, including A in History
Minimum entry grades: ABB, including B in History
Standard entry grades: 38 (HL 6,6,6), including HL6 in History
Minimum entry grades: 36 (HL 6,5,5), including HL5 in History
We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes, please see our entry requirements for more information.
For degrees combining more than one subject, the subject with the higher entry requirements determines the grades you need. You will also need to meet any further subject specific entrance requirements as outlined on their pages.
If English is not your first language, you will need an overall IELTS score of 7.0, with a minimum score of 6.5 in each component (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking), or an equivalent English Language qualification.
St Andrews students must meet with their Adviser of Studies at the beginning of Semester 1 in September to complete advising – a compulsory part of the matriculation process. After module choices have been decided, a timetable will be allocated indicating the dates and times of classes.
The School of History at St Andrews has an international reputation for the diversity of teaching programmes offered. The School has expertise in medieval and modern history, from Scotland to Byzantium, and the Americas to the Middle East and South Asia.
The University of St Andrews as a whole was voted top in the UK for student academic experience in The National Student Survey 2019 as 95% of St Andrews final year students gave the University top marks for the quality of the learning and teaching experience.
The University has secured a TEF Gold Award for the quality of teaching and the undergraduate experience.
The MA (Hons) in Scottish History is a four-year course run by the School of History. During your studies, you will learn to approach Scottish History from a number of different angles, exploring issues such as invasions, rivalries, lordship, tyranny, Enlightenment, social problems and culture, past and present.
In the first two years, you will have the opportunity to study from a broad chronological span, from antiquity to the present day. You will study how economic, social and political issues and events have fundamentally shaped modern Scottish society, and gain valuable insight into ongoing tensions within the Union and the nature of modern Scottish identity.
Alongside Scottish History, in the first year of your studies, you will be required to study an additional two subjects. In the second year you will usually carry on at least one of these subjects, sometimes two. Find out more about how academic years are organised.
The skills you gain in analysing original and secondary source materials will prepare you to dive deeper into specialist topics during your third and fourth years.
Breadth of knowledge and perspective are highly encouraged, and all students are expected to take some modules in other subject areas, for example English, Art History or Geography.
Graduates in Scottish History from St Andrews can expect to have developed an appreciation for this country’s history, and be able to make connections across different time periods and between different cultures.
The University of St Andrews operates on a flexible modular degree system by which degrees are obtained through the accumulation of credits. More information on the structure of the modules system can be found on the flexible degree structure webpage.
Students will take the following compulsory first-year module:
Scotland and the English Empire 1070-1500: compares and relates the societies of the English crown and the kingdom of Scotland in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest of England.
Students will also choose one module from the following:
The Fall of Rome and the Origins of Europe (400-1000): examines how political, cultural and social life changed in the Byzantine, British and ‘barbarian’ worlds in response to major upheavals.
The Early Modern Western World (c. 1450-1770): looks at continental European history in the early modern period, and the expansion of Europe.
Themes in Late Modern History (c. 1776-2001): provides thematic coverage of major political and social developments in the Western world during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Students will take the following compulsory second-year module:
Scotland, Britain and Empire (c. 1500-2000): provides an introduction to how and why the British nation state evolved from the separate kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland and how and why it has survived over the last three centuries.
Students will also choose one module from the following:
History as a Discipline: Development and Key Concepts: provides an introduction to key theoretical and methodological approaches which have characterised the emergence of History as a discipline since medieval times.
Medieval Europe (1000-1400): examines key themes that helped to shape continental Western Europe from the aftermath of the Carolingian Empire and beginning of the Crusades to the Black Death and the Hundred Years War.
If you decide to take Scottish History in your third and fourth years, you choose from a wide variety of advanced options, including modules ranging from the Picts and Vikings to modern Scottish politics and society.
Here is a sample of Honours modules which have been offered in previous years:
Kingship and Tyranny: Scotland in the Age of Reform 1513-1603
Medieval St Andrews
Scotland and the Wider World
Thatcherism, the 'new right', and the remaking of British politics, c.1940-1997
The Power of Persuasion:Propaganda in Renaissance and Reformation Scotland
The Scottish Enlightenment.
Some modules at Honours level are intended to build your portfolio and provide you with career experience. For example, the Recording the Past module allows you to submit a multimedia historical project in the form of a radio programme, video documentary, website or other appropriate medium.
In fourth year, students also undertake a dissertation of around 10,000 to 12,000 words on a topic of their choice or an Honours Project. These modules based on independent research enable you to develop key research skills which are desired by both prospective employers and by graduate schools offering postgraduate degrees.
The compulsory modules listed here must be taken in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. For Honours-level, students choose from a range of Honours modules, some of which are listed above. A full list of all modules available for the current academic year can be found in the module catalogue.
Teaching at sub-honours level is delivered primarily through lectures (100 to 200 students) and small group tutorials (5 to 7 students). Lectures are given by all members of the School, enabling students to hear active researchers in each field talk about their specialism. Tutorials are an opportunity for students to discuss and develop their thinking in a small and friendly atmosphere, guided by a professional expert.
Teaching at Honours level moves away from large group lecturing. Students meet in groups of about 5 to 15 students for longer classes in which they are expected to participate fully.
When not attending lectures and tutorials, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve:
working on individual and group projects
undertaking research in the library
preparing coursework assignments and presentations
preparing for examinations.
You will be taught by a small and friendly group of Scottish historians who publish extensively and continue to make a major contribution to the development of Scottish History. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of tutorials under the supervision of the module leader.
In addition to your studies in the School of History, optional academic support is available through practical study skills courses and workshops hosted within the University.
The University’s student services team can help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities, long term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities webpage.
During your Scottish History degree, you will be assessed by a combination of coursework and examinations. Coursework includes:
Classroom examinations often incorporate essays and source exercises. In addition, many modules include a written examination held at the end of each semester during a dedicated exam diet with revision time provided beforehand.
The School aims to provide feedback on every assessment within three weeks to help you improve on future assessments.
Undergraduates at the University of St Andrews must achieve at least 7.0 on the St Andrews 20-point grade scale to pass a module. To gain access to Honours-level modules, students must achieve the relevant requisites as specified in the policy on entry to Honours and in the relevant programme requirements. Please note that some Schools offer qualified entry to Honours, and this will be clearly specified in the programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please visit the common reporting scale webpage.
Visit St Andrews
If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us at a visiting day to explore the town, find out about our courses and meet current students.
History graduates find employment in academia, museums and archives, or as History teachers.
Using the analytical and communication skills acquired through the study of History, many also proceed to careers including:
the financial sector
The School also offers a course which gives students the opportunity to gain invaluable first-hand experience of teaching in local schools.
The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.
Scottish History students may participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. You may also have the opportunity to participate in the School Abroad exchange programme. For information about study abroad options, please see the Study Abroad site.
From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first-year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.
Students of Scottish History may be interested in joining the following student societies:
Celtic Society embraces all things Scottish and specialises in trips to the Highlands, pub socials, traditional Burns suppers, and ceilidhs.
History Society hosts talks with guest speakers on a variety of topics as well as social events including pub nights, garden parties and trips abroad.
The School of History occupies three sites all within a few minutes’ walk of each other at the heart of the historic town of St Andrews. Students will attend tutorials, seminars and individual meetings with tutors in these buildings, while larger lectures are located in nearby buildings. The School of History sites are:
St Katharine’s Lodge, a 19th-century former school near the seafront
New Arts Building, a modern building with lecture classrooms and study spaces
St John’s House, located on South Street.
The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As University buildings are located throughout the town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings and areas of greenery and seaside which provide a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. If you want a change of scenery, St Andrews' position near surrounding towns and cities such as Anstruther, Dundee and Edinburgh make it ideal for getting to know more about Scotland.
“I was not intending to study Scottish History, but after one class I was captivated. Nothing can compare to the experience of studying in such a beautiful and ancient seaside town so steeped in the religious, political and educational history of this nation. Being taught by leading experts with such a passion for their subject – I don’t think I could be happier studying anything else.”
James (Pennsylvania, USA)
School of History University of St Andrews St Katharine's Lodge The Scores St Andrews KY16 9BA
As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online (PDF, 72 KB).