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Course content

The first of its kind in the world, Ancestral Studies is an innovative new interdisciplinary programme. Uniting teaching across humanities and sciences, Ancestral Studies explores the social and biological contours of identity, allowing you to study across multiple disciplines, create your own curriculum and pursue self-directed unique research.

Why this programme

  • A truly interdisciplinary degree programme taught collaboratively by world leading academic departments
  • An emphasis on building practical skills through professional masterclasses and skills workshops
  • An immersive learning experience drawing upon the unique Scottish landscape and its rich history 
  • The opportunity to contribute to, and shape, a new academic field of research

Programme structure

This course can be taken full or part time (at the convener’s discretion). It is comprised of two core modules and several optional taught modules. This structure allows you to shape your own curriculum and tailor it to your interests (insofar as staffing and course availability allows). You will work closely with the convener to shape a meaningful and intellectually cogent programme of study. Over the summer you will complete a dissertation or professional report dependent upon your interests.

Core Courses

Research Methods for Ancestral Studies introduces you to key research methodologies and practices drawn from a range of disciplines. You will receive an introduction to specialist and transferable skills such as working with archives and online genealogical resources, visual culture, heritage landscapes, museums and material culture. Emphasis is placed on the interpretation of primary sources. 

Approaches to Ancestral Studies provides a conceptual framework for exploring core themes of the discipline through weekly topics drawn from multiple disciplines. You will consider questions of identity (genetic and social), examine current trends in family history and heritage research and address questions of past generations and their experiences of place, language and material culture. You will be exposed to theoretical, critical and practical insights from across the arts, humanities and sciences to explore ancestry, relational identity, intellectual inheritance and memory works.

Optional courses

Optional courses will be drawn from a range of disciplines and will therefore change on a yearly basis. You will work with the programme convener to choose a complement of optional courses that will align with your interests. These courses may be taken from History, Archaeology, Celtic and Gaelic, and more (depending on course offerings in any particular year).


MSc students will complete a dissertation. Innovative, cross-disciplinary dissertations are encouraged and will be supervised/co-supervised within the appropriate School/s.  

Programme alteration or discontinuation

The University of Glasgow endeavours to run all programmes as advertised. In exceptional circumstances, however, the University may withdraw or alter a programme. For more information, please see: Student contract.

Career prospects

The combination of practical and theory based learning will equip graduates of Ancestral Studies with a well-balanced and broad set of transferrable skills. You will have practical research skills in primary and secondary sources (from artefacts to archives), the ability to critically evaluate sources, to debate and formulate your own arguments and theories, and to present your research to your peers.

Potential career paths include academic and commercial archaeology, a variety of positions within museums, galleries, archives and libraries, or within the growing Ancestral Tourism sector.

Visit the Ancestral Studies (MSc/PGDip) page on the University of Glasgow website for more details!





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Recipient: University of Glasgow

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