On-campus Beginner to Intermediate Level Genealogy

Do you have a personal interest in genealogy? Perhaps you have been working on your own genealogy project and would like to know how to progress further?

Our multi-week daytime classes run throughout the year, with numerous start dates and topics to help develop your knowledge and understanding in the field of genealogy.

We also offer one-day workshops focusing on a variety of subject areas including 'Clans, Families, Chiefs and Tartans in Scotland' and 'Scottish Emigration to America'.

Some of our courses are credit bearing and you can accumulate credits in genealogy classes leading to an Open Studies Certificate in Genealogical Studies.

You can also combine your Genealogy classes with other subjects in the programme to gain an Open Studies Certificate. Find out more about studying for credit.

An overview of class content can be found below. 

8-week classes

Family History Research: an Introduction
10 credit points (at Level SCQF 7)

Researching your family roots can be a great emotional and intellectual achievement.

In this class, you will find out where to uncover the sources useful for tracing the story of your own family and discover what information they contain.

These will include indexes and original records, online and published. Case studies of family histories will show how various sources can be used to build the information found into a meaningful genealogical record on paper and on computer.

Class text

You will be provided with a copy of the ‘Family Record: a workbook to record your family research’ by H Craig. The text for this class is ‘Discover your Scottish ancestry: internet and traditional resources’, G Holton and J Winch, 2nd revised ed. 2009, (Edinburgh University Press).

Using Technology in your Family History Research
10 credit points (at Level SCQF 7)

The internet provides unparalleled access to genealogical and family history resources and more becomes available every day. Research your ancestors - when they lived, where they lived and what they did.

Learn about genealogy software, using local and international resources, creating effective queries and using online reference sites.

This class is based in a computer lab and aims to combine both practical and theoretical skills to enable you to research your ancestry more effectively.

It will use research methods and information technology to develop your analytical skills and to increase your understanding of the web as a research resource.

Students should bring along a USB memory stick to the class to save their work.

Please note: A basic knowledge of genealogy along with basic PC literacy is required for this class.

Family History Research: Beyond the Basics

10 credit points (at Level SCQF 7)

Most family historians are comfortable working with the birth, marriage, death and census information readily available for Scotland and England. This class takes you beyond these basic sources and examines a wide range of resources for Scotland, England and Ireland, including testaments, land and property registers, maps, valuation rolls, street and trade directories, newspapers, census substitutes and church records. You will also look at research methods and ways of recording your findings, and introduce palaeography (old handwriting), heraldry and genetic genealogy.

Class text

The required reading for this class is: Bruce Durie, ‘Scottish Genealogy’, 3rd edition (History Press, 2012).

Tracing Your Irish Family History

Many families in the West of Scotland can trace at least some of their family roots back to Ireland. Until recently, this has often been considered to be a genealogical ‘brick wall’, due to the loss of certain historical Irish records a century ago. This perception is now changing, due to the increasing availability of important records for family history research.

This class aims to help you uncover what records are now available to help you enhance your knowledge of these elusive family branches, and place this new information in the wider context of your family history project.

Occupations in Family History Research

Family history research can gain a great deal of social, historical and cultural context from studying records of the occupations pursued by our forebears. This class aims to help you discover the genealogical records that will tell you more about your ancestors’ working lives, and place them within their historical environment.

The main focus will be on the Victorian era, but you will also look at some aspects of occupational history in earlier and later periods. Glasgow will feature strongly, but other parts of Scotland will also be considered.

Making Sense of Old Documents for Family History

Anyone researching family or local history is likely to encounter older handwritten records that, at first sight, seem impossible to read or understand. These might include letters, wills, sasines or land records, kirk session and other church records, court records or charters.

In this class, you'll look at different types of old documents and learn tools, tips and techniques to help you decipher the handwriting and unlock the information in each record.

The focus will be on Scottish records, primarily from about 1600-1900, written in old Scots but the tools and techniques can be applied more broadly.

Short genealogical seminars & one-day workshops.

Scottish Emigration to America

Between 1700 and 1775, possibly 75,000 Scots emigrated to Colonial North America - from the Highlands and Islands (1739 and after), but predominantly from the Lowlands. Some 200,000 Ulster Scots also migrated. There had been attempts at specifically Scottish colonies up to 1707. After 1783, when the United States of America emerged, many more emigrated. This one-day class will explore the reasons for migration, the routes taken and where Scots ended up in America and Canada.

Records of Inheritance in Scotland

Scotland makes a distinction between moveable and immovable (heritable) possessions. Up to the 1860s, ‘real’ (as in ‘real estate’) property could not be included in a will or testament.

Wills and testaments are not the same thing, and there were strict laws as to how moveable estate could be bequeathed.

Real estate had to be inherited by the Retours system. However, many people found ways around these strictures - largely by Deeds and by Trust Disposition and Settlements.

This one-day class will explore the relevant laws, and where the documents can be found.

Clans, Families, Chiefs and Tartans in Scotland

The Clan system is a feature of the Gaelic culture of the Highlands and Islands, and of the Borders.

The majority of Scotland (in population terms) was in the Lowlands, which had no Clan structure, but these do also have Chiefs.

This one-day class will explore how the Clan system came about, and how it was affected post-1746.

Also dealt with, will be the distinction between Clans and Families, the roles and responsibilities of Chiefs then and now.

Finally, the real story of tartans will be discussed, and the influence of the visit of King George IV to Scotland in 1822.

Heraldry: an introduction

Heraldry (or, more correctly, Armory) is often dismissed as mere symbology.

But there is a body of laws – more strictly enshrined in legislation in Scotland than anywhere else – and a historical, legal and ceremonial context that makes it a strictly regulated part of modern Scotland.

By the end of the day, you should be able to correctly blazon a Coat of Arms and, from a blazon, draw a Coat of Arms; understand the rules, history and context of Arms in modern Scotland and understand the process for obtaining Arms in Scotland.

Enrolment for our Autumn classes will open during August.

You will be able to 'browse' and 'book online' using our online booking system which will be available on this page from mid-August.