Students and staff standing in front of Urquhart CastleWelcome to the Elphinstone Institute, a centre for the study of Ethnology, Folklore, and Ethnomusicology at the University of Aberdeen. Established in 1995 in celebration of the quincentenary of the universitys founding, the Institute researches and promotes the culture of the North and North-East of Scotland in context.

The Institute is a centre for research and graduate study, with a Taught MLitt (Master’s) degree in Ethnology and Folklore recognized by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and supervision for the research degrees MLitt Res and PhD. 

Staff and students use ethnographic methodologies to explore ideas of identity and belonging, meaning and function, drawing on an exceptional heritage of traditional music, ballad and song, story, lore and language, alongside the dynamic creativity of those who live and work here today. We are interested in how traditions and cultures are created, adapted, reinterpreted and renewed, to meet new and challenging circumstances, whether here or abroad.

Student, staff, and guests sitting in the Elphinstone InstituteA key part of our remit is public engagement, co-producing knowledge and research in partnership with local organizations and individuals. These cooperative ventures can take the form of joint research projects and community initiatives, public events such as festivals, displays, and conferences, and participative workshops, all of which enrich our academic work and increase public understanding of the importance of vernacular culture in society today.

Our monthly public lectures and ethnographic film series operate throughout the academic year and are open to all. With an exciting combination of cutting-edge research and excellent visual material, each lecture and film closes with questions and often lively discussion. The Institute also publishes a refereed series of scholarly publications, available from the Institute or from our online shop. The latest news can be found in the Institutes biannual newsletters

Contact the Elphinstone Institute by email or by phone: 01224 272996