Walk the storied halls of the University of St Andrews and attend courses taught by the faculty. Lodge in student accommodations on campus and explore the charming town of St Andrews and its environs.

Starting at: $4,995 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 St. Salvator’s Quadrangle, the University of St. Andrews  The town of St. Andrews  The town and coastline of St. Andrews  Ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral  The ruins of St. Andrews Castle  Edinburgh Castle  Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh  Dunnottar Castle  Glamis Castle

Smithsonian at St Andrews

8 days from $4,995

Walk the storied halls of the University of St Andrews and attend courses taught by the faculty. Lodge in student accommodations on campus and explore the charming town of St Andrews and its environs.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

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WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

One of the best trips, ever! It was quite different from other vacations we've taken. I really enjoyed the trip-prep- the readings in advance and am continuing to enjoy "follow-up" reading. The class was so good. The tour leadership was really personal. I was so happy to be with such nice and interesting people. I felt like we were with friends, from the start. A great experience all around. Thank you!

- Shana A.

A highly enjoyable and educational trip with companionable people and great tour leaders!

- Kathryn W.

The program at St Andrews is truly unique, it satisfies your needs for authentic experiences, expands your mind, and gives you precious insights to the Scottish mind and character.

- Elizabeth D.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

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Overview

Scottish Mystery Writers 

This course will explore the evolution of the Scottish mystery story, from traditional folktales to contemporary crime fiction. It will cover several important periods in the development of the genre, including the rise of the Victorian novel, Golden Age detective stories of the early 20th century, and the current trend for "Tartan Noir." It will end by focusing on two mystery novels set in St Andrews of the past and present. It will include guest readings by contemporary authors and excursions to the historic sites that have inspired writers. 

Excursions might include a walking tour of the locations featured in the two St Andrews novels; a visit to the St Andrews library archives to view relevant resources (manuscripts, old books, items relating to the historical context discussed in lectures); a literary tour of Edinburgh (new locations from the 2019 course); visits to distilleries or museums in the Fife or Dundee area.

Scottish Castles

The number of castles in Scotland is staggering. Since first coming into vogue in the 11th and 12th centuries, well over 2,000 have been built. Students on this program will focus on medieval castles and their role in Scottish history, literature, and culture. Lectures will be interspersed with excursions to some of Scotland’s proudest examples, including nearby St. Andrews Castle; Edinburgh Castle and elegant Holyrood Palace (the British monarch's official residence in Scotland); striking Dunnottar Castle perched on the sea cliffs; and Glamis Castle, childhood home to the Queen Mother.

With a combination of classroom learning and firsthand visits, students will come away with a foundation for understanding the key role of these remarkable structures in the country’s history.

One of the best trips, ever! It was quite different from other vacations we've taken. I really enjoyed the trip-prep- the readings in advance and am continuing to enjoy "follow-up" reading. The class was so good. The tour leadership was really personal. I was so happy to be with such nice and interesting people. I felt like we were with friends, from the start. A great experience all around. Thank you!

- Shana A.

A highly enjoyable and educational trip with companionable people and great tour leaders!

- Kathryn W.

The program at St Andrews is truly unique, it satisfies your needs for authentic experiences, expands your mind, and gives you precious insights to the Scottish mind and character.

- Elizabeth D.

Itinerary

Day 1 – Depart the U.S. for Scotland

Day 2 – Welcome to Scotland

Arrive in Edinburgh Airport this morning and transfer to St Andrews and its historic university. After settling in at McIntosh Hall,* join other travelers for a welcome reception in McIntosh Hall. You will have an opportunity to meet with St Andrews faculty who will provide an overview of the week and discuss the educational system at the university. Dinner this evening is at a local restaurant. (R,D)

*Note: Travelers may choose to upgrade to the nearby Ardgowan Hotel at a supplemental cost.

Day 3 – Castles and Mystery

Travelers will be enrolled in a course of their choosing: Scottish Castles or Scottish Mystery Writing. Each day’s lecture will explore a different aspect of the course theme.

Today, travelers in Scottish Mystery Writing will explore the origins of the Scottish mystery story, from folktales, ballads, and the supernatural. In the afternoon, enjoy a walking tour of St Andrews’ ancient center, uncover secrets of its turbulent past, and hear about long-standing rumors of hauntings and sinister events that have occurred there.

Travelers enrolled in Scottish Castles gather for a talk on St Andrews Castle and its role in the Scottish Reformation. Students will then visit St Andrews Castle for an up-close look at this historic site. (B)

Day 4 – The First Scottish Crime Novel and the First Scotch Whisky

Scottish Mystery Writing: Discuss the first Scottish mystery novels, focusing especially on James Hogg’s tale of murder and the supernatural, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner.

Scottish Castles: Learn about Falkland Palace, a 17th-century royal palace, and the broader subject of the Scottish crown—then head out to the palace and explore it in person. Lunch will be at a popular local café.

Later this afternoon, travelers from both groups will visit nearby Lindores Abbey Distillery, which is noted for holding the earliest written record of Scotch whisky, dating back to the 15th century. Today, enjoy a tour of the modern distillery and a tasting session, and tour the ruins of the original medieval abbey.

In the evening, enjoy a recital of Scotland’s traditional folk songs, including some of the mystery ballads introduced in your coursework. (B,L)

Day 5 – The Streets of Edinburgh

Both groups are bound for Edinburgh today to explore the city with a different focus.

Scottish Mystery Writing: Start the day with a talk about Dorothy L. Sayers, one of the leading writers in the 20th-century’s “golden age” of detective fiction. Sayers’ novel The Five Red Herrings concentrates on the artists and eccentrics living in a village in rural Scotland. Travelers will spend the afternoon in Edinburgh, soaking up the Gothic atmosphere of the Old Town, which is vividly brought to life in a James Hogg’s novel. Edinburgh has long been the literary center of Scotland, and on a short walking tour, you will explore some of this history. You will also have an exclusive session at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, listening to one of the present-day performers keeping traditional folktales alive before returning to St Andrews.

Scottish Castles: Learn about the “Athens of the North” and Edinburgh Castle in the morning. Once in Edinburgh, students will tour the castle—perched high on Castle Rock—as well as Holyrood Palace, the official residence of the British monarch when in Scotland, located at the other end of the Royal Mile.

Both groups return to St Andrews in the evening. (B,L)

Day 6 – Falkland Palace and Dunnottar Castle

Scottish Mystery Writing: Look at Shirley McKay’s historical crime fiction set in 16th-century St Andrews. Discover what this university town was like more than four centuries ago, and learn how little has changed, as you discuss McKay’s novel Hue & Cry.

This afternoon, Mystery students will take a short bus journey to Falkland Palace, a beautiful royal castle that enjoyed its heyday in the 16th century, the same time as McKay’s fictional detective was lurking in the cloisters at St Andrews.

Scottish Castles: Depart St Andrews this morning for Dunnottar Castle with lunch and a lecture en route. Dunnottar Castle is a striking medieval fortress, known most famously as the hiding place of the Scottish crown jewels during the invasion of Oliver Cromwell’s army in the 17th century.

In the evening, everyone is invited to attend a private reading and Q&A with a popular Scottish crime writer. (B,L)

Day 7 – Tartan Noir and Glamis Castle

For the final lecture, Scottish Mystery Writing students will learn how St Andrews has taken center stage in contemporary Scottish crime fiction, which is often described as “Tartan Noir.” Bestselling author Val McDermid’s The Distant Echo is a chilling tale of “town and gown,” bringing the links between St Andrews and mystery writing up-to-date.

Scottish Castles students will head out this morning for Glamis Castle, where your tutor relates the history of this beautiful castle, once the childhood home of the Queen Mother.

Back in St Andrews this evening, all students will gather to toast the end of your seminar with a farewell reception and dinner at a local restaurant, joined by St Andrews staff. (B,R,D)

Day 8 – Departure

Depart this morning for Edinburgh Airport and individual flights home, or travel to Glasgow for the optional extension. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)