A new university course in the Scots language that is believed to be first of its kind has been launched.

Developed over the past two years by The Open University (OU) and Education Scotland along with the Scots community, the free online course teaches the language through the context in which it is spoken.

It also highlights the role of the language in Scottish culture and society.

Taking around 40 hours to complete, it is intended to help grow knowledge and understanding of Scots and its history, in Scotland and further afield.

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It has been hailed as a "significant step forward in the continued recognition" of the language.

The course is split into two parts and the first part is now available on the OU's OpenLearn Create platform, with the second expected to be online by the end of the month.

The creators hoped the course will be used in the classroom by teachers and other educators.

Sylvia Warnecke, OU senior lecturer in languages, said: "As Scots grows in popularity, it feels right to show how as a language it has developed over time as a vital aspect of Scottish culture and history, and how it links to other European languages.

"The course is written to appeal both to existing Scots speakers and those new to the language.

"It will give learners a chance to practise using the language themselves and develop their understanding of written and spoken Scots in different dialects."

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Michael Dempster, Scots Scriever at the National Library of Scotland, said: "As a first language Scots speaker and someone who teaches other speakers about their language, this course is a significant step forward in the continued recognition and understanding of our language.

"This is an excellent resource for both Scots speakers and learners, gie it a shot."

Author James Robertson, co-founder of Scots language publishers Itchy Coo, was among those who contributed to the course.

He said: "This comprehensive course underlines the range, vitality and national significance of Scots.

"It shows what a crucial and integral part of Scottish culture and identity Scots has been and continues to be."