13th May 2020

A popular online course on Scottish legend Sir Walter Scott is being kept open and free until September in response to the Covid-19 crisis and the increased demand for armchair learning opportunities.

The course, Walter Scott: The Man Behind the Monument, attracted 1028 learners from 92 countries when it originally ran in March as a four-week mentored course. Now it is going to be kept running until the end of September, with people able to drop in anytime for the next three months or join the mentored four-week course which will run again in August.

The course has specifically been designed for beginners and there is no prior knowledge of the subject required. It requires no more than two hours of work each week and will provide a comprehensive overview of Scott’s work and legacy, while challenging common misconceptions.

Hosted by digital education platform FutureLearn, the course is being offered by Abbotsford, the author’s home in the Scottish Borders, in conjunction with experts at the University of Aberdeen. Professor Ali Lumsden, Director of the University’s Walter Scott Research Centre and Honorary Librarian at Abbotsford, will deliver a series of video-based modules as part of the course, along with Kirsty Archer-Thompson, Collections and Interpretation Manager at Abbotsford.

Kirsty said: “In this time of real need and unprecedented demand FutureLearn wanted to make as many of the courses on their platform available to as many people as possible. We were delighted to be able to support this initiative with our course on Scott.

“We’ll be moving to a ‘light-touch’ approach, asking learners to tag us in questions and logging on once a week to answer them all. We still intend to run our full mentored version of the course in August too, to coincide with Scott’s birthday on August 15, so there’s plenty of opportunity for people to join in and learn from home.”

Participants in the initial mentored course were incredibly positive about their experience with feedback comments including:

“I thought that, as a Scot, I had reasonable knowledge about Sir Walter Scott because he is so important in our history and culture, however this course has really deepened my knowledge and understanding of him. There is so much more to him than I had thought.”

“I have loved every minute of this course. It's awakened my interested in Scott not only as a writer but also as a man.”

“Thank you for this enlightening, stimulating, and interesting course.”

“Inspirational, educational and entertaining all in one”

“I have thoroughly enjoyed this course and have learned so much about Sir Walter Scott and his comprehensive legacy. I have completed a number of Future Learn courses and, without a doubt, this one is right up there with the best of them.”

Participants on the course will explore and discuss selections of Scott’s work, whilst reflecting upon his cultural impact and enduring literary legacy. They will understand Scott’s significance as a poet and novelist and become familiar with some of his best-loved work, such as Waverley and The Heart of Mid-Lothian. They will also gain an understanding of how and why he was inspired to write, how literature can shape heritage and national identity and Scott's impact on our wider material culture.

Topics that will be covered include:

  • The work and legacy of Walter Scott Scott as a collector
  • Relationship between Scott’s home at Abbotsford and storytelling
  • Connections between Scott’s work and landscape, history and nationhood
  • Curating Scott’s legacy

Anyone interested in the course can sign up via our website.