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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: Unions, Revolutions and Enlightenment: Developments in Political Thought in Early Modern Scotland (HIST10451)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits40 ECTS Credits20
SummaryEarly modern Scots experienced revolutions and counter-revolutions, absolutist monarchy and resistance, and several forms of union with England. This course explores the political thought to which the country's turbulent events gave rise. Starting with sixteenth-century writers including George Buchanan and John Knox, the course traces Scottish political thought through to the early nineteenth century.
Course description The turbulent political events of early modern Scotland gave rise to a diverse and sophisticated body of political writing. In this course, we sample the leading authors and assess the main arguments of this political thought. The course proceeds chronologically from sixteenth-century writers including John Mair, George Buchanan and John Knox, through seventeenth-century theorists including Samuel Rutherford and George Mackenzie, to such thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment as David Hume and Adam Smith. Along the way, we encounter histories, dialogues, legal and theoretical writings, pamphlets and sermons. We engage with several recurring themes, including Anglo-Scottish relations, the nature of royal authority, the rights of rulers and their subjects.

The main emphasis of the course is on the close reading of specified extracts from the sources. These texts are discussed in seminars and will be the focus of the two assessed essays. The course concludes with a three-hour exam, in which students comment on passages from the specified sources.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass in 40 credits of third level historical courses or equivalent.

Before enrolling students on this course, PTs are asked to contact the History Honours Admission Administrator to ensure that a place is available (Tel: 504030).
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  9
Course Start Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 400 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 44, Summative Assessment Hours 3, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 8, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 345 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Two 4,000 word essays 50%
One 3-hour exam 50%
Feedback Students are expected to discuss their coursework with the Course Organiser at least once prior to submission, and are encouraged to do so more often. Meetings can take place with the Course Organiser during his published office hours or by appointment. Students will also receive feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)3:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination, a detailed understanding of early modern Scottish political thought;
  2. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination, an ability to read, analyse and reflect critically upon scholarship relating to early modern Scottish political thought;
  3. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination, an ability to understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material;
  4. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination, the ability to develop and sustain scholarly arguments, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence;
  5. demonstrate independence of mind, initiative, intellectual integrity and maturity.
Reading List
Primary readings
Extracts from sources including:
J. Knox, On Rebellion, ed. R.A. Mason (Cambridge, 1994)

G. Buchanan, A Dialogue of the Law of Kingship among the Scots, ed. R. A. Mason and M.S. Smith (Aldershot, 2004)

James VI and I, Political Writings, ed. J.P. Sommerville (Cambridge, 1994)

A. Fletcher, Political Works, ed. J. Robertson (Cambridge, 1997)

D. Hume, Essays (various editions)

A. Smith, Wealth of Nations (various editions)

Secondary readings
R.A. Mason, Kingship and the Commonweal: Political Thought in Renaissance and Reformation Scotland (East Linton, 1998)

J. H. Burns, The True Law of Kingship: Concepts of Monarchy in Early-Modern Scotland (Oxford, 1996)

J. Coffey, Politics, Religion and the British Revolutions: The Mind of Samuel Rutherford (Cambridge, 1997)

J. Robertson (ed.), A Union for Empire: Political Thought and the British Union of 1707 (Cambridge, 1995)

J. Moore, 'Natural rights in the Scottish Enlightenment', in M. Goldie and R. Wokler (eds.), The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Political Thought (Cambridge, 2006)

D. Winch, Adam Smith's Politics: An Essay in Historiographic Revision (Cambridge, 1978)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Alasdair Raffe
Tel: (0131 6)51 4269
Course secretaryMiss Lorna Berridge
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