Part of Historic Environment Scotland

Scottish Architectural Traditions

Dates: 27/08/18
Days of the week: Monday, Tuesday
Total hours: 70
Taught hours: 37.5
On-site instruction: 13.5
Off-site instruction: 26


Learn about the progression of Scottish architectural styles, building materials and construction technologies from the prehistoric period to the 20th century.

Key historic sites and buildings, names and international influences are the main focus of this introduction to Scotland’s historic architecture and townscapes. You will also look at how settlements have grown up across Scotland, whether organically or as planned burghs, towns and cities.

Study all of the significant periods in Scottish building – from the Bronze Age to the post-war era. Explore the Scottish Renaissance, the Georgian era and the multitude of Victorian buildings around us – many of which are now listed. Then travel from the extravagant heights of the Edwardian era to the radical impact of the Modern Movement and comprehensive redevelopment of the 20th century.

Entry requirements

Individual modules are open to anyone with an interest in the subject matter. Applicants for the Advanced Professional Diploma should have a relevant degree or professional experience.

Classes, lectures and presentations

  • Prehistory to the Christian Era
  • Early Medieval to Reformation
  • Scotland Post-1603
  • Traditional Townscapes
  • Improvement and Enlightenment
  • Victorian Scotland
  • Late Victorian Urbanism
  • Edwardian Era
  • 20th-century Planning
  • Modern Movement

Potential site visits

  • Meigle Museum
  • Kilmartin Glen, Argyll
  • Neolithic Orkney
  • Bearsden Roman Baths, Bar Hill and Antonine Wall
  • Crannog Centre, Loch Tay
  • Glasgow Cathedral
  • Govan Old Parish Church
  • Auchindrain Township
  • Culross
  • Rosslyn Chapel
  • Gladstone’s Land
  • Dumfries House
  • Edinburgh New Town
  • Footdee and Old Aberdeen
  • Glasgow West End
  • Rosyth Garden Village
  • Cumbernauld


Architectural styles, materials, construction and settlement patterns

  • Prehistoric – Skara Brae and Jarlshof, standing stones, cairns, henges, roundhouses, brochs, duns and hill-forts, chambered tombs, crannogs
  • Roman – forts, baths, Antonine Wall
  • Early Christian era – churches, round towers, blockhouses
  • Norse and Irish influences
  • Early medieval – castles, keeps, abbeys, priories, churches, cathedrals
  • Norman influence
  • Later medieval – tower houses, castles, abbeys, palaces, fortifications
  • French influence
  • 15th to 16th century – castles, towers and palaces, burgh architecture, bridges
  • Scottish Renaissance (17th century) – tower houses, tenements, burgh architecture, parish churches, early country houses
  • Georgian – classical design, planned towns and civic buildings, military/defence, early industrial, agricultural and estate buildings, cottages and longhouses
  • Victorian and Edwardian eras – industrial and structural engineering, speculative residential estates, competing styles, broad typology
  • The tenement paradigm
  • 20th century – inter-war housing estates, post-war comprehensive development areas, new towns, industrialised system-building, emerging conservation ethic

Evolution of historic townscapes and streetscapes

  • Early settlements (clachans and villages), royal towns and burghs from the 12th century
  • Medieval rebuilding
  • 15th to 17th-century expansion
  • Age of Improvement – planned fermtouns, Age of Enlightenment new towns (Edinburgh New Town), picturesque speculative developments (Glasgow’s West End)
  • Late Victorian urbanism – overdevelopment, slums and housing shortages, municipal redevelopment, Geddes’ urbanist approach
  • 20th-century town planning – emergence of public housing, garden city movement, inter-war bungalow style, comprehensive redevelopment