PhD          MPhil          MLitt Res


Silhoutte of man using video cameraThe Institute has full- and part-time students pursuing independent field research in very diverse subjects.

Current topics include:

  • timbre in Northern European singing;
  • safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage;
  • immigrant-experience narratives;
  • the role of traditional arts in place-based education;
  • the Seven Incorporated Trades of Aberdeen;
  • contemporary shamanism.

Recently completed research projects include:

  • women's pre-nuptial rituals;
  • knowledge and use of medicinal herbs in the Western Isles;
  • Scottish step-dance traditions;
  • the role and function of the lullaby;
  • community identity and landscape heritage of Bennachie;
  • North-East Scottish sacred singing traditions;
  • traditions of belief in North-East fishing communities. 

The Institute is a diverse research environment and we welcome proposals on a wide range of topics in Ethnology, Folklore, and Ethnomusicology. Please feel free to contact us (01224 272996) to discuss your ideas.


PhD – 36 months full time or 60 months part time

The PhD is a three-year programme of field-based research culminating in a dissertation of up to 100,000 words which should demonstrate engagement with current scholarly literature and make an original contribution to knowledge through enquiry and analysis. Archival materials must be properly processed and accessioned.

Current Elphinstone Institute PhD students work on a range of topics as noted above and we welcome a diversity of subject areas within our disciplines.


MPhil – 24 months full time or 42 months part time

The MPhil is a smaller-scale version of the PhD in both duration and length of dissertation. Archival materials must be properly processed and accessioned.


MLitt Res – 12 months full time or 24 months part time

The MLitt Res offers a Master’s by research, rather than coursework plus dissertation. It calls for a longer dissertation than the Taught MLitt and requires an original contribution to knowledge. Archival materials must be properly processed and accessioned.