History of Scots ENGLANG4038

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

In this course we examine the history of the Scots language from its origins to the late modern period. We include such topics as the sources of Scots vocabulary, the sounds, spelling and grammar of Scots, and discuss changing functions of Scots in literary and non-literary contexts, as well as attitudes to Scots in view of its relationship with English. The course will make use of various manuscript, printed and online resources and include a visit to GUL Special Collections.


1 x 2hr session per week (comprising 1x1hr lecture; 1x 1hr seminar) over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus.


This is one of the Honours options in English Language and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into English Language & Linguistics, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses

ENGLANG4005 History of Scots




Written assignment (essay, 3000 words) - 50%

Set exercise: translation of an Older Scots text (c.300 words and a commentary c.1000 words) - 50%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course will provide the opportunity to:

■ gain an understanding of the history and development of the Scots language from its origins to the late modern period;

■ examine a range of materials written in and about Scots from a range of historical periods;

■ reflect on the relationship between Scots and English, and on attitudes towards Scots, at various points in the language's history.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ describe the key stages in the history and development of the Scots language from its origins to late modern times;

■ explain factors which have influenced the development of Scots and English in Scotland;

■ identify linguistic features associated with key historical periods of Scots;

■ analyse the use of Scots in literary and non-literary texts from medieval to late modern times;

■ use and evaluate existing resources for the historical study of Scots and English in Scotland.

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.