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The City of Guelph, Ontario, Canada
School of Scottish Studies
Addendum on the Scottish Studies dept.

The Scottish Studies program at the University of Guelph, the most ambitious in North America, began with the formation of an Inter-departmental Committee in 1967. It has since grown into a full interdisciplinary area of study with MA programs in several departments and a PhD program in the department of History. In addition, undergraduate and Open Learning courses are available. Supplementing the courses are events organized on campus for the benefit of students and all interested parties. There is a steady stream of distinguished visiting professors who give public lectures on a variety of topics. Also, each year a Scottish Colloquium is held in which a number of speakers present talks about their research. The scholarly journal Scottish Tradition, which offers a wide range of articles on Scottish history, literature and culture, is produced annually through the Office of Scottish Studies at Guelph.

The Scottish Collection

To aid students in their research the library whioch has the largest collection of Scottish material in North America, has an extensive collection of printed materials on Scottish and Scottish-Canadian topicsw and a considerable amount of manuscript source material which covers a broad range of subjects from the fourteenth through the nineteenth centuries. The collection is particularly strong in printed primary source material and manuscripts on microfilm as well as in local history, family and clan history. Jacobitism, agriculture and the church. The Library also subscribes to a wide range of Scottish periodicals. The library collection is regularly augmented through purchase and donation. In recent years the Scottish Studies Foundation, a charitable organization which supports the Scottish Collection and is raising funds to established a Chair of Scottish Studies, has generously donated a significant two volume scrapbook of William Lyon McKenzie's writings and provided funds towards the purchase of a large collection of Scottish novels.

Undergraduate Courses

Scottish Studies courses offer a new perspective on an old subject - British History. In contrast to the traditional English outlook, undergraduate courses like Celtic Britain and Ireland analyze events from the point of view of Scotland, Ireland and Wales, often with surprising resulots. At the more advanced levels, seminar based courses offer in depth looks at a variety of topics.

If a subject that interests you is not covered by any of the scheduled courses, the History and English programs may be able to offer you Independent Reading Courses for more specialized study.

The Department of History also offers a series of credit courses in a distance format through the Office of Open Learning. These courses, which are open to anyone with an interest in the history of the Celtic peoples, explore a wide range of subjects from the prehistory era to the twntieth centry.

Graduate Courses

Thye first thesis on a Scottish topic was accepted in 1968 and since then enrolement in both Master's and Doctorate programs has grown steadily. Over forty theses have been completed since 1970. In the History Department, research has been carried out on a variety of aspects of Scotland's political, economic, social, religious and cultural history from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century. Special empahsis is also given to Scottish emigration and the important contribution Scots made to the development of Canada. In the English department research has been carried out on several Scottish writers and issues of contemporary relevance such as nationalism.

Through the focus of the Scottish studies graduate program at this time is mainly upon history, it is nevertheless an interdisciplinary activity. The Committee for Scottish Studies contains represenatives from the departments of History, Languages and Literature, English, Sociology and Anthropology and the Library.

Graduate Studies Admission

Students intere3sted in Scottish Studies should apply to the Department in which their main disciplinary interest lies (eg. History, English). The Department of History is part of the Tri-University program with Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo. Applicants must meet satisfactory qualification to both the Tri-University and Guelph History Gradute Committee. Those interested in Scottish literature should apply to the Guelph program in English.

Upon registering in the program, the student will establish a course of study and research in consultation with his or her supervisor. The Master's degree usually requires that a student successfully complete four courses to be followed by the writing of a thesis based upon original research. A six course M.A. involving a major reseaqrch paper is also available. Some proficiency in a second language is required.

At the Ph.D. level students take graduate courses in three fields in their first two years. After successful completion of these students go on to conduct the research necessary for a doctoral thesis.


Coming from outside the University educational system it is often unclear as to the benefits that the Scottish Studies department offer to the wider community. Above was discussed the importance of original research and the production of written thesis. It is clear that these works are often the basis for books that the wider public can read.  As this is the only University in North America to offer a degree in Scottish Studies this means those people that graduate will go on to lecture on the topic of Scottish Studies and thus educate a wider audience in these matters.

When I visited the Scottish Studies department I was looking for course material that ordinary members of the public might benefit from and I didn't really see the overall benefits of the work that they do.  I do however maintain that there should be a little better marketing of the Scottish Studies department and that the open distance learning include courses that more ordinary members of the public could take. I hope with the new Chair being announced that Graeme Morton will be able to bring the resources of his department to a wider audience as there is undoubtedly a great interest in Scottish history from the general public and especially in North America.

Contact Information

For more information contact:

The Office of Scottish Studies
Department of History
University of Guelph
N1G 2W1
Tel: 519 824 4120 ext. 3209

Further details on the Scottish Studies program can be found at the web site.

Return to School of Scottish Studies


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