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

Undergraduate Course: Highland Problems,1851 to 1953 (SCHI10018)

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) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits40 ECTS Credits20
SummaryThe course aims to consider the way in which the UK government dealt with the problems of the Scottish highlands in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The response of the people of the region lie at the heart of the course. The issues relating to the highlands will be treated in a comparative context.
Course description In the immediate aftermath of the potato famine in the Scottish Highlands a Report on Highland conditions by Sir John MacNeill recommended that assisted emigration should be employed to deal with the 'surplus population of the region'. In 1953 a Commission of Enquiry into Crofting Conditions considered the issue of how to reform land tenure in order to revitalise the Highlands. Between these two dates the Scottish Highlands were one of the major issues in Scottish politics. The bulk of this course will consider the period from 1880 to c1925, encompassing the Crofters' War, the granting of security of tenure to Highland crofters and government attempts to place more land at the disposal of crofters. The main theme will be the variety of approaches adopted by governments of the period to cope with the problems presented by the Highlands. The background to the problems which the government perceived will be examined in depth. A key component of the course will be to place the developments in a wider context, for example, in terms of changes in landownership in Scotland and Britain, the relationship between the Highland land issue, party ideology and Westminster Politics, or the development of policy in other areas of the British Isles, e.g. Ireland or Wales, and the British Empire At the end of the course we will think about this historical material in the context of the current debate on land reform in Scotland.

Content note: This course will expose students to a considerable variety of approaches in the field of the history of the Scottish highlands and appropriate comparative contexts, including, but not limited to, polemical debate, protests on the land question (sometimes violent) and depictions of scenes of eviction. Issues around the land question remain politically relevant in contemporary Scotland. Students may discover the involvement of previous generations of their family in some of the events dealt with in this course. Students taking the course need to be prepared to engage with historical actors on their own terms and grapple with ideas and movements with which they may personally disagree. Engaging with a diverse range of viewpoints is integral to the study of History at a university. Seminars on the course often range widely, and discussion will proceed in a free and spontaneous fashion.
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.

Students should only be enrolled on this course with approval from the History Honours Programme Administrator.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 400 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 44, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 8, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 348 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 40 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
Two 4000 word essays (20% each)

Non-Written Skills:
Two presentations (15 minutes) (10% each)

Written Exam:
Three-hour exam (40%)
Feedback Students will design their essay topics with the Course Organiser and will receive formative feedback on a plan and a bibliography prior to submission of the essay. Further, students will receive written feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours or by appointment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. know and understand this period of Scottish History;
  2. have some skills in critical reading of primary and secondary sources;
  3. have some skills in completion of independent research leading to seminar presentation and submission of written work to a required standard;
  4. demonstrate some skills in participation in group seminar work and an appreciation of the responsibility to other members of the group that such work entails.
Reading List
Cameron E, Land for the People? The British Government and the Scottish Highlands, 1880 to 1925 (East Linton, 1996)

Hunter, J, The Making of the Crofting Community (Edinburgh, 1976)

Hunter, J, The Claim of Crofting (Edinburgh, 1990)

Leneman, L, Fit for Heroes: Land Settlement in Scotland after the First World War (Aberdeen, 1989)

MacColl, A, Land, Faith and the Crofting Community: Christianity and Social Criticism in the Highlands of Scotland 1843-1893 (Edinburgh, 2006)

Newby, A, Ireland, Radicalism and the Scottish Highlands, 1870-1912 (Edinburgh, 2007)

Robertson, I J M, Landscapes of Protest in the Scottish Highlands after 1914 (Farnham, 2013)

Tindley, A, The Sutherland Estate, 1850-1920: aristocratic decline, estate management and land reform (Edinburgh, 2010).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills On completion of the course students will have developed skills in the following graduate attributes:

Ability to read and assess large amounts of evidence: textual, visual, oral.

Ability to write clear and coherent prose in the construction of an argument

Ability to make sense of polemical material

Ability to make clear and coherent presentations.

Ability to understand and historically contextualise a contemporary political issue, ie land reform.
KeywordsHighland,Scottish,land reform,protest,politics
Course organiserProf Ewen Cameron
Tel: (0131 6)50 4031
Course secretary
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