21 days
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In this The Scottish Highland Clans - Origins, Decline and Transformation course from The University of Glasgow by FutureLearn you will explore fascinating Scottish history by learning about the Highland clans and how clanship has changed across hundreds of years.

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In this The Scottish Highland Clans - Origins, Decline and Transformation course from The University of Glasgow by FutureLearn you will discover the important history of the Highland clans.

The Highland, Gaelic speaking clans are a vital part of Scotland’s history. They also shape how the world imagines Scotland today.

This course uses the expertise of University of Glasgow academics to explain the structure, economy and culture of the clans. It covers the centuries between the fall of the MacDonald Lords of the Isles in 1493 until around 1800, when the clans dissolved away as a result of social economic change. It then discusses how the legacies of clanship shaped global images of Scotland up until the present.

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • 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

Programme Structure

What topics will you cover?
  • Week 1: Defining the Clans: Meet the chiefs and the clan gentry.
  • Week 2: Clan Society and Culture: Explore daily life for ordinary people living under the authority of the chiefs. 
  • Week 3: Decline and Transformation: Assess the debates around clan involvement in the Jacobite risings between 1689 and 1746.

Key information


  • Part-time
    • 21 days
    • 4 hrs/week

Start dates & application deadlines

You can apply for and start this programme anytime.





Academic requirements

We are not aware of any academic requirements for this programme.

English requirements

We are not aware of any English requirements for this programme.

Student insurance

Make sure to cover your health, travel, and stay while studying abroad. Even global coverages can miss important items, so make sure your student insurance ticks all the following:

  • Additional medical costs (i.e. dental)
  • Repatriation, if something happens to you or your family
  • Liability
  • Home contents and baggage
  • Accidents
  • Legal aid

We partnered with Aon to provide you with the best affordable student insurance, for a carefree experience away from home.

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Start from €0.53/day, free cancellation any time.

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Other requirements

General requirements

  • This course is for anyone interested in Scottish History, Gaelic culture, and the way Scotland is represented in the modern world. No prior knowledge is required; all learners are welcome.
  • While the Educators themselves aren’t available to facilitate this run, we encourage you to engage with other learners and there are opportunities to do this throughout the course.

Tuition Fee

To alway see correct tuition fees
  • International

    Tuition Fee
    Based on the tuition of 0 USD for the full programme during 21 days.
  • National

    Tuition Fee
    Based on the tuition of 0 USD for the full programme during 21 days.
  • It's free to join and study this course, you have the option to upgrade  and receive a digital and printed certificate for $64. Additional benefits can be reached via the Unlimited FutureLearn product. 


Studyportals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.

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The Scottish Highland Clans - Origins, Decline and Transformation


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