The Scottish Enlightenment
Time: 17:30 - 19:30
Oxford, Cambridge, or London… it was Glasgow and Edinburgh. The Scottish Enlightenment
made a unique contribution to the development of economics, history, philosophy,
sociology, and more that is still with us today. This course identifies the main thinkers,
debates, and contributions and places it within the context of the time.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HBH56
Duration: 8 sessions (over 8 weeks)
What is the course about?
Scotland as the intellectual centre of Great Britain in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
• What was the Enlightenment? How did it begin? What was its legacy?
• How was Scotland – and the world – changing in the late 18th and early 19th century?
• Who were the key themes of the Scottish Enlightenment?
• Who was Adam Smith? Was he really the father of modern economics?
• What did Smith say about ethics? Why might this surprise some on the right?
• Who was David Hume? What did he have to teach us about the way we think?
• How did Hume approach history and politics? What can we learn from him today?
• Who was Adam Ferguson? What made him unique among his contemporaries?
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Define the Scottish Enlightenment and place it in the context of the time
• Describe the main social and economic changes facing Great Britain
• Explore the key contributors to the Scottish Enlightenment
• Identify the key points of Adam Smith’s economics and its relevance today
• Discuss the relationship between Smith’s economic and moral writings
• Explain why the writings of David Hume remain key texts for philosophers
• Outline the contribution made by Hume to political theory
• Understand the critique of commercial society offered by Adam Ferguson.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an introductory course and no prior knowledge is required.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Each class is broken down into bite sized explorations of key topics, introduced by the tutor
and followed by class discussion; in addition, the tutor introduces the session and sums up
at the end to make sure you fully understand the important points. You will be provided
with select readings, but this is designed to enhance your study after the class; you can
follow, enjoy, and contribute to the discussion without doing so.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
No other costs. Please bring a pen and notebook to class if you wish to make notes.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Other courses in British history. Please see the City Lit website.
Justin is Lecturer in Politics at Brasenose College, Oxford. He also teaches at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford and the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge. He is an Associate Lecturer at the Open University. He holds postgraduate degrees from Oxford, Cambridge, and London.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.