This learner has completed ID verification. Find out more.

Certificate of Achievement

Randal Oulton

has completed the following course:

The Scottish Highland Clans: Origins, Decline and Transformation

The University of Glasgow

The course explored the history, society and culture of the Scottish Highland clans. It covered the period from c. 1500 to the end of clanship in c. 1800. It analysed how the later romanticisation of the clans provided new ways of re-imagining modern Scotland.

3 weeks, 4 hours per week

Dr Andrew Mackillop

Senior Lecturer, Scottish History

The University of Glasgow


Learning outcomes

  • Develop an understanding of the origins and functions of the Scottish Highland clans, and assess their social structures, economy and culture
  • Investigate the contrast between hostile stereotypes of the clans as barbaric and warlike and their day-to-day role as complex social communities
  • Reflect on the processes of feuding, civil war, revolt and social-economic change between 1500 and 1800 that resulted in the slow transformation and decline of the clans
  • Identify and assess the modern legacies of the clans in events such as Highland Games, Clan Societies and Tartan Parades, as well as their portrayal in film and television
  • Assess in an informed way the key characteristics of Scottish Highland clanship, their history, their decline and their modern reinvention
  • Assess the social and cultural basis of the new representations of clans, such as Highland games and clan societies, that developed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries


  • Week 1: Defining the Clans: Meet the chiefs and the clan gentry. See how different forms of family, kinship and strong links to land helped bind a clan together. Learn about the ‘professional clans’, those families who provided bards, doctors and judges for Scottish Gaelic society. Explore how archaeology and history can help explain the castles, churches, defensive sites and overall function of the clans
  • Week 2: Clan Society and Culture: Explore daily life for ordinary people living under the authority of the chiefs. Using the case study of the Macgregors and Campbell, learn why and how clans feuded, and what made the Scottish Crown seek to ‘civilise’ the Highlands? Learn about Gaelic musical culture, poetry and dress. Discover how clan involvement in the religious and civil wars of the seventeenth century was high profile and traumatic. Lastly, consider how new cultural and social-economic changes resulted in a slow decline of the clans as a form of community.
  • Week 3: Decline and Transformation: Assess the debates around clan involvement in the Jacobite risings between 1689 and 1746. Discover the latest thinking on the Battle of Culloden and the ‘Clearances’. Finally, appreciate how the literature of Walter Scott, the romantic poets, as well as Highland Games, theatre and film reinvented the clans as a romantic Scottish and global emblem.

Issued on 4th June 2021

The person named on this certificate has completed the activities in the transcript above. For more information about Certificates of Achievement and the effort required to become eligible, visit

This certificate represents proof of learning. It is not a formal qualification, degree, or part of a degree.

Free online course:

The Scottish Highland Clans: Origins, Decline and Transformation

The University of Glasgow