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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Athens of the North: the Origins and Ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment (PGHC11393)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course provides an introduction to the advanced study of Scottish intellectual history in the period 1660-1780. The course will examine the origins of the Scottish Enlightenment and introduce students to some of its key ideas. Ranging across history, philosophy, religion, science and law, the course will sample the works of writers including Hutcheson, Hume, Robertson, Smith and Ferguson. The course will also discuss the Enlightenment's social context, from drink-fuelled taverns to university lecture theatres. Each class session will address a particular theme or author. The first sessions will engage with recent debates about the origins and character of the Scottish Enlightenment, examining the contributions of international influences and indigenous traditions of learning. The course will then turn to a series of major authors, topics and approaches. Here emphasis will be placed on close reading of primary sources, as well as wider matters of interpretation. Students will gain from the course knowledge of the interests of Scotland's eighteenth-century intellectuals, and the ability critically to assess recent debates about the Scottish Enlightenment's sources and nature.
Course description Week 1: Introduction: historiography and approaches
Week 2: The intellectual background: Scotland, c. 1660-1780 [asynchronous forum seminar]
Week 3: The reform of Scotland's universities [synchronous seminar]
Week 4: Francis Hutcheson and the moral sense [asynchronous forum seminar]
Week 5: David Hume: the polite essay and the denial of miracles [synchronous seminar]
Week 6: Enlightenment history-writing: David Hume and William Robertson [asynchronous forum seminar]
Week 7: Adam Ferguson and conjectural history [synchronous seminar]
Week 8: Enlightenment society (1): gender and manners [asynchronous forum seminar]
Week 9: Enlightenment society (2): societies, clubs and taverns [synchronous seminar]
Week 10: Adam Smith's moral thought [asynchronous forum seminar]
Week 11: Adam Smith's political economy [synchronous seminar]
Asynchronous forum discussions will include front-loaded screencasts or podcasts of short 10 minute lectures introducing the topics to be discussed over the course of the week's seminar. All primary source material discussed in both synchronous and asynchronous seminars will be provided electronically.
In addition to this there will be two half-hour virtual office slots provided per week, via Skype.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
After completing the course, students will be able to:
- demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of some of the main historical arguments surrounding the origins and significance of the Scottish Enlightenment;
- independently identify and pursue research topics in this period of Scottish history;
- exhibit an understanding of different conceptual approaches for the study of history;
- analyse and contextualise primary source material;
- arrive at independent, well-argued, well-documented and properly referenced conclusions in their coursework essays;
- demonstrate their skills in group discussion, collaborative exercises (such as with wikis or group essays) and oral presentations;
- demonstrate their written skills, their analytical and theoretical skills in coursework;
- demonstrate their ability to reflect on the reading
Reading List
** identifies items to be made available digitally on Learn.
Primary sources
Extracts from: Francis Hutcheson, An Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue, 4th edn. (1738); David Hume, The History of Great Britain (1754); William Robertson, The History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V (1769); Adam Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society
(Edinburgh, 1767); John Millar, The Origin of the Distinction of Ranks, 3rd edn. (London: John Murray, 1779) via ECCO.
Extracts from: Hume, Essays, Moral and Political (1741, rev. edn. 1777); David Hume, An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (1777 edn.) via
Extracts from: Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1790 edn.) via:; Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1789 edn.) via
** Adam Smith, Lectures on Jurisprudence, ed. R.L. Meek, D.D. Raphael and P.G. Stein (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), pp. 13¿23
** Elizabeth Mure, 'Some remarks on the change of manners in my own time, 1700-1790' in Dorothy McMillan (ed.), The Scotswoman at Home and Abroad: Non-Fictional Writing, 1700-1900 (Glasgow: Association for Scottish Literary Studies, 1999), pp. 33-42
Secondary literature
** Hugh Trevor-Roper, 'The Scottish Enlightenment', Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, 58 (1967), pp. 1635-58 [PDF: 'Trevor-Roper']
John Robertson, 'The Scottish contribution to the Enlightenment', IHR e-seminars in History, 1997:
** Paul Wood, Introduction: Dugald Stewart and the invention of "the Scottish Enlightenment", in Paul Wood (ed.), The Scottish Enlightenment: Essays in Reinterpretation (Rochester, N.Y.: University of Rochester Press, 2000)
** Roger L. Emerson, 'Scottish cultural change 1660-1710 and the union of 1707', in John Robertson (ed.), A Union for Empire: Political Thought and the British Union of 1707 (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 1995)
** Paul Wood, 'The scientific revolution in Scotland', in Roy Porter and Mikulás Teich (eds.), The Scientific Revolution in National Context (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 1992)
Roger L. Emerson, 'Science and the origins and concerns of the Scottish Enlightenment', History of Science, 26 (1988), pp. 333-66 [online]
** James Moore, 'The two systems of Francis Hutcheson: on the origins of the Scottish Enlightenment', in M.A. Stewart (ed.), Studies in the Philosophy of the Scottish Enlightenment (Oxford: Oxford U.P., 1990)
** M.A. Stewart, 'Hume's historical view of miracles', in M.A. Stewart and John P. Wright (eds.), Hume and Hume's Connexions (Edinburgh: Edinburgh U.P., 1994)
** M.A. Stewart, 'Hume's intellectual development, 1711-1752', in Marina Frasca-Spada and P. J. E. Kail (eds.), Impressions of Hume (Oxford: Oxford U.P., 2005)
Murray G.H. Pittock, 'Historiography', in Alexander Broadie (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Scottish Enlightenment (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 2002) [E-Book]
** Mary Catherine Moran, '"The Commerce of the Sexes": gender and the social sphere in Scottish Enlightenment accounts of civil society', in Frank Trentmann (ed.), Paradoxes of Civil Society: New Perspectives on Modern German and British History (New York: Berghahn, 2000)
** Roger L. Emerson, 'The social composition of enlightened Scotland: the Select Society of Edinburgh, 1754-1764' Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, 114 (1973), pp. 291-321
Alexander Broadie, 'Sympathy and the impartial spectator', in Knud Haakonssen (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Adam Smith (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 2006) [E-Book]
Fonna Forman-Barzilai, Adam Smith and the Circles of Sympathy: Cosmopolitanism and Moral Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 2010), ch. 1 [E-Book]
** Marco Guena, 'Republicanism and commercial society in the Scottish Enlightenment: the case of Adam Ferguson', in Martin van Gelderen and Quentin Skinner (eds.), Republicanism: A Shared European Heritage: Volume II: The Values of Republicanism in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 2002)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The study of the past gives students a unique understanding of the present that will enable them to succeed in a broad range of careers. The transferable skills gained from this course include:
- understanding of complex issues and how to draw valid conclusions from the past
- ability to analyse the origins and development of current historiographical debates
- a command of bibliographical and library- and/or IT-based online and offline research skills
- a range of skills in reading and textual analysis
- ability to question and problematize evidence; considering the relationship between evidence and interpretation
- ability to marshal arguments lucidly, coherently and concisely, both orally and in writing
- ability to deliver a paper or a presentation in front of peer audiences
- ability to design and execute pieces of written work and to present them suitably, as evidenced by the final assessment essay of 3,000 words
KeywordsAthens North Enlightenment
Course organiserDr Alasdair Raffe
Tel: (0131 6)51 4269
Course secretaryMrs Lindsay Scott
Tel: (0131 6)50 9948
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