Postgraduate taught 

Celtic Studies MSc

Kingdoms and societies in northern Britain AD 400-800 Masters ARCH5108

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This is an interdisciplinary course which will look at the kingdoms of northern Britain between AD 400 and 800, namely the Picts, the Britons, the Gaels and the Anglo-Saxons. An agglomerate of two successful courses, 'Northern Britons' and 'Early Medieval Gaeldom', and some material from 'The Picts and the Formation of Alba' (a course which is also being reshaped in a separate PIP form for 2020-21), this course will integrate evidence from archaeology, history, literature and onomastic to discuss the broader contexts of the early medieval Scotland. Emphasis will be put on the fragmentary nature of the evidence, and the methodology necessary to best work through the sources available. The main themes addressed in the course are politics, beliefs, daily life but also craftsmanship, art, and texts. One of the key-approaches of this course is its interdisciplinarity, and how to use evidence from various sources to develop a strong and nuanced understanding of this complex period. Students will be encouraged to develop their own ideas and approach to the material.   


14x1hr lectures, 6x1hr seminar/workshops over 10 weeks as scheduled in MyCampus. This is an optional courses in Archaeology and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Excluded Courses

ARCH4018 - Kingdoms and societies in Northern Britain




Essay 1 (1500 words) 30%

Essay 2 (2500 words) 50%

Oral presentation on poster during Seminar (10 minutes) - 20%

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Provide a critical understanding of the origins of early medieval Scotland, looking at themes of politics, art, belief and daily life

■ Provide a critical understanding of the role of archaeological, textual and historical evidence in assessing the period

■ Display a critical appreciation of the interdisciplinary nature of the field

■ Provide an awareness of the broader European context of 5th to 8th century Scottish history

■ Enable the capacity to discuss a topic in depth, with attention to current debates and

■ Communicate complex issues both in writing and orally to a small group.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Outline and identify important aspects of the historical, political and social development of northern Britain in the period AD 400-800

■ Critically assess current scholarly debates in relevant disciplines.

■ Formulate well-expressed written and oral arguments drawing on a variety of source material, and working among the different relevant disciplines.

■ Develop oral and IT skills through seminar presentations

■ Expand critical analysis of source material through group discussion in seminars

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.