First-year students come from school better prepared to deal with primary sources, according to the co-ordinator of a 19th-century British history course at Stirling University.
Emma Macleod believes this confidence stems from an increased emphasis on primary sources at school in the past decade. She stressed, however, that school pupils tended to be presented with these materials and were less able to find them for themselves. "I think our students are quite polarised. Some are very good at using the library, other students have not the first idea."
Dr Macleod added that general knowledge was not as good as once was the case, and believes this may be down to the dominance of 20th-century European history at school. Anecdotal evidence from colleagues, however, suggests that Scottish students are arriving at university with a better grasp of their own country's history.