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HYM4340 - The Highland Clearances: Displacement, Migration and Memory in Scotland

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

Postgraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Dr Jane Drakard


Clayton Second semester 2007 (Day)


This unit examines the famous evictions of Scottish highlanders from their ancestral lands between the late eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries. It focuses on the context and rationale for these events and the consequences for crofters who were either forcibly removed to inferior lands by their landlords or who chose to emigrate. Patterns of local resistance will be considered, as will the long term consequences for highland society. The Highland Clearances are still prominent in popular memory and a subject for vigorous debate in Scotland; the role of the clearances in modern Scottish identity and history-making will be considered, including issues of commemoration and memorialisation.


Students successfully completing this unit will be expected to demonstrate: a thorough grasp of the context in which the Clearances took place, key events and the broad outlines of the social, economic and cultural consequences for Highland society; a critical appreciation of historical debates about the severity of the evictions and the economic and social impact of the Clearances; familiarity with the major historical works on this subject and a close engagement not only with the arguments put forward by key historians, but also with available documentary sources; well developed oral and written skills in the critical analysis of a variety of texts including government papers, the viewpoint of landlords, the perspectives of the displaced crofters and contemporary understandings of those who observed and recorded the events in journals and memoirs; a capacity to reflect on the history-making process in the context of the Highland Clearances and to analyse the contemporary meanings of the past which are manifested in popular histories, in web sites and in literature, music and film about the Clearances; the capacity to devise, plan and successfully complete an essay based on independent historical research into some aspect of the history of the Highland Clearances.


Tutorial presentation (15 minutes) equiv. 1000 words 10%, Critical review 2000 words 20%, Research essay 4000 words 50%, Take-home examination 2000 words 20%

Contact hours

1 two-hour seminar per week.


HSY4340 and HYM4340