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7 Must-See Films to Explain Scotland to International Students

9th June 2017 Posted by: Maddie Broxup

IT IS hard to think of Scotland without stereotypically imagining tartan, bagpipes and haggis. But the country exhibits brilliant history, beautiful buildings and a proud culture that reinforces the admiration many people have for this part of the UK. If you haven’t been to Scotland, this list of five films may help you get an idea of what Scotland and its people are like! 


Starting with Mel Gibson’s brilliant masterpiece, Braveheart follows a 13th-century warrior named William Wallace as he leads the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England. Despite being a little gruesome in parts (but hey, that’s what the 13th-century was all about), it portrays multiple emotions in a cinematic way that captures the historical context and gives you a great idea of Scottish strength of character. It was also nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won five of them. Pretty impressive!

Greyfriars Bobby: The True Story of a Dog

Released in 1961, this Disney film is a little old. However, it follows the true story of an old shepherd and his dog, Bobby, who embark on a journey to Scotland’s capital – Edinburgh. Unfortunately, whilst there, the shepherd becomes increasingly ill and dies from pneumonia. The story goes that the loneliness of the dog and his faithfulness to his master made Greyfriars Bobby stay by his master’s graveside for many years. A famous and popular story, you can also see the famous statue of Bobby in Edinburgh too!

Sunshine on Leith

If you’re a lover of musicals – you’ll enjoy this one! The film follows two soldiers, Davy and Ally, after coming home from serving in Afghanistan. They must both learn how to reconnect with family, relationships and adapt to this ‘new’ way of living. The film includes some brilliant songs and makes you want to get up and join in with them, emphasising the Scottish way of celebrating!


Watch Shakespeare’s most remembered piece – often called ‘The Scottish Play’ – come to life in this 2015 adaptation exploring love, death and fear. As a trio of witches claim in a prophecy that he will one day become King of Scotland, Macbeth embarks on a journey to fulfil this prophecy as his yearning for the throne becomes the only thing he can think about. The main character is played by Michael Fassbender and depicts 11th Century Scotland, including great scenes of bravery in battle, all whilst using Shakespeare’s scripts.


This Disney animation is for all ages and follows Merida, a young princess who is given a bow and arrow for her birthday and is determined to make her own path in life. She must use her bravery and archery skills to fix a curse that is placed upon her mother. The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film and also won a BAFTA. This is the first film that Pixar have released where the protagonist is female, and it uses the red-headed Merida to portray females as strong and resilient!

Loch Ness 

The Loch Ness monster is a sea creature that has been at the forefront of Western media since the early 20th century. This 1996 film follows an American scientist on his quest to either prove or disprove the existence of the Loch Ness monster. Whilst in Scotland, Dr Dempsey does not receive a very warm reception from the Scottish residents who are fed up with this being the only tourist attraction. However, Dr Dempsey insists on carrying out his work – and may also fall in love with a local whilst in the process! 

Under the Skin

Released in 2014, this film plays with the perception of beauty in an interesting way. Scarlett Johansson, a disguised alien on earth, uses her mesmerising beauty to entice Scottish men with her voracious sexuality. Over time she becomes drawn to humanity, empathising with her victims and is forced to undergo a process of self-discovery. This film is labelled as a horror sci-fi and includes some nudity and sexual content. It was filmed on the streets of Glasgow, with real people as unwitting extras.

Once you've watched these, why not check out our must-see films that explain Colombia, EnglandPortugal and Ireland?

Do you want to study in Scotland? Check out these great Scottish universities:


Edinburgh Napier

Robert Gordon University Aberdeen

University of Edinburgh




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