Decolonising the Curriculum

Decolonising the Curriculum

Welcome to the University of Aberdeen’s resources for decolonising the curriculum.

As part of our Aberdeen 2040 Strategy and our ‘Inclusive’ Strategic Theme, the University of Aberdeen is taking forward a Decolonising the Curriculum initiative. We know from recent reports that racism exists in the sector and that there are degree awarding gaps. Driven by our ambition to be an antiracist university, we have therefore embedded the ambitions for decolonising the curriculum in our University’s Antiracism Strategy. The purpose of the web resources is to provide support for the work that is taking place to decolonise the curriculum.

The Anti-Racist Curriculum Project is a national project, which brought together colleagues from across the higher education and further education sectors and has produced a set of resources that we can access to support our work on decolonising the curriculum. The Anti-Racist Curriculum Project Guide can be found here and relates to all aspects of the resources that we have developed.

Education has the power to shape our understanding of the world, and the curriculum plays a critical role in shaping that education. The curriculum has been influenced by Western perspectives, which have excluded and marginalised knowledge systems from diverse cultures and communities. At the University of Aberdeen, we recognise that this focus has resulted in an incomplete understanding of the world that can be addressed. Our decolonising the curriculum initiative aims to give voice to diverse perspectives and knowledge systems, ensuring that our students receive a comprehensive education that reflects the realities of our world. Join us in our journey towards creating a more equitable and inclusive curriculum that truly represents the diversity of our global community.

Information Sessions

Find out more by booking on to one of our upcoming information sessions here (institutional log-in required).

Decolonising the Curriculum at the University of Aberdeen

Our Route to Decolonising the Curriculum

We aim to decolonise our curriculum by identifying, challenging, and transforming pedagogical practices including class activities, course structure, assessment, terminology, and examples used in the delivery of our education.

We have taken the decision as a University to:

There is a great deal of work that colleagues and students across the University have already done to take forward Decolonisation of the Curriculum, and the institutional Group acknowledges the importance of this work and its impact on the way in which the resources have been developed. Appreciation is given to all those who have contributed to the case studies.

Our Definition of Decolonising the Curriculum

We know that the terminology around Decolonising the Curriculum is contested. For example, some might refer to diversifying the curriculum, others to an antiracist curriculum. The use of language is likely to evolve and we will review our resources regularly to keep pace with evidence. [To note, the University, through the Race Equality Strategy Group, has agreed race-related definitions for its work [see Race Definitions Task and Finish Group.These are being kept under review].

Our Group developed a definition which served as a guide to the development of our resources. We have defined Decolonising the Curriculum as follows:

Decolonising the Curriculum at the University of Aberdeen is informed by our understanding that all British universities and the disciplines taught and researched in them have been indelibly shaped by the racialized hierarchies of knowledge forged through Europe’s colonial history.

A colonial mode of knowledge production and dissemination presents perspectives, values, and ideologies particular to Europe as universal, superior, and complete; it marginalizes and makes invisible knowledge produced in non-European geographical and cultural contexts. Crucially, it also obscures the long history of the co-production between the west and the rest of knowledge (philosophical and scientific), which is central to life as we know it today.

We aim to decolonise by identifying, challenging, and transforming the colonial categories of thought that dominate disciplinary knowledge and its dissemination. To this end, and driven principally by the goal of restoring epistemic justice to producing and disseminating knowledge, we will review, rethink, and revise pedagogical practices including class activities, course structure, assessment questions, terminology and examples used in class exercises, reading lists, teaching materials, evaluation, and research strategies.

Decolonising the curriculum is not a linear project with a definite end, but an ongoing open-ended process that has its own challenges. To tackle this profound issue, we will ensure that students and staff with lived experience and from backgrounds historically affected by colonialism are at the centre of the process, while ensuring that it is a collective effort that does not place all the labour and responsibility on them.


Decolonising the curriculum is an extensive piece of work that can seem daunting at the beginning. For this reason we have broken the process down into 4 thematic areas and have provided information and resources on each and toolkit videos to give examples of how each area might be approached.

The 4 themes to support the work on decolonising the curriculum are:

Additional Information


Welcome to our dedicated web section on the terminology used for Decolonising the Curriculum.

Here, we aim to shed light on the various terms and phrases that are commonly employed when discussing this important topic. We understand that the language surrounding decolonisation can be nuanced and contested, with different perspectives and approaches emerging.

Through this section, we strive to provide clarity and promote understanding by exploring the evolving terminology and its implications. Join us as we delve into the diverse terminology surrounding decolonising the curriculum and its significance in fostering inclusive education.

To note, the University, through the Race Equality Strategy Group, has agreed race-related definitions for its work [see Race Definitions Task and Finish Group These are being kept under review].


The Decolonising the Curriculum Steering Group

Thanks go to all of those involved in the Steering Group.

The students, academic colleagues, and professional services colleagues who contributed to the work have brought a great deal of expertise, enthusiasm, and commitment to the work. They have liaised and consulted with others, and developed the resources that are now available for us to use.

Find out more on the Decolonising the Curriculum Steering Group page.