Dr Paula Duffy
Dr Paula Duffy

Dr Paula Duffy

MA, MSc, PhD


112 St. Mary's Building
Old Aberdeen Campus
Elphinstone Road
AB24 3UF

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2020 to Present: Lecturer, Geography and Environment, School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen.

2019 to 2020: Lecturer in Sustainable Development (education focussed), School of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews

2014 to 2019: PhD Sustainable Development (Science), School of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews

2015 to 2019: Tutor and Teaching Assistant, School of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews

2015 to 2018: Teaching Assistant and Teaching Lead Volunteer: GeoBus Outreach Programme, School of Earth and Environmental Science, University of St Andrews

2016 to 2017: Marine Social Scientist, Internship at Marine Analytical Unit, Marine Scotland, Scottish Government


  • PhD Sustainable Development (Science) 
    2019 - University of St Andrews 

    Doctoral Thesis entitled:

    • Understanding socio-demographic change and sustainability in Scotland’s coastal communities.
  • MSc Applied Population and Welfare Geographies 
    2011 - University of Dundee 

    Thesis Entitled:

    • A Qualitative case study of backpacking in Bolivia: Understandings of motility and mobilities
  • MA (Hons) Geography 
    2009 - University of Dundee 

    Degree Classification: First Class Honours

    Dissertation entitled: 

    • Therapeutic Landscapes of Mental Health Care: A Case study of Stratheden Hospital 

External Memberships

  • Fellow of Royal Geographical Society - with the Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG) 
  • Member of Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) 
  • Member of American Association of Geographers 
  • Member of the UKRI ECR Forum

Professional positions held

  • Communications Officer for Population Geography Research of RGS-IBG (PopGRG) (2021- ongoing)



Research Areas

Geography and Environment

Research Specialisms

  • Human Geography
  • Human Demography
  • Applied Social Science
  • Marine Sciences
  • Gender Studies

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

Current Research

  • Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership: Ecovillage Transition in Action

  • RSE-MoST Bilateral Project: Socio-demographic determinants in perceived risk of climate change by coastal communities and stakeholders in Taiwan and Scotland: A planning perspective

Past Research

  • The population sustainability of Coastal Fife. Part of the Fife Coastal Zone project funded by St Andrews Restarting Research Funding Scheme (SARRF) and Scottish Funding Council (SFC)
  • Understanding socio-demographic change and sustainability in Scotland’s coastal communities. ESRC +3 CASE funded PhD Studentship in partnership with Marine Scotland, The Scottish Government. PhD awarded by  University of St Andrews

  • International Student Migration and Constitutional Change in Scotland, Funded by ESRC Centre for Population Change(CPC), and the University of St Andrews Research Impact Fund


‘Growing Scotland’s Islands: can the National Islands Plan stimulate a population turnaround?’

  • Lead Supervisor: Lorna Philip (University of Aberdeen)
  • Co-Supervisors: Margaret Currie (James Hutton Institute) Paula Duffy (University of Aberdeen) Ruth Wilson (James Hutton Institute)

The aim of this research is to better understand intersections between island community resilience, migration and economic activity and to identify pathways through which an economically active population may be retained and increased across the Scottish islands.

Building on the findings of previous research, for example, studies of rural return migration, in-migration to rural areas at different life course stages, and ongoing research led by the James Hutton Institute (collaborative partner for this work) namely the Islands Revival project (Islands Revival, 2019) and the National Islands Plan Survey,  this research will undertake an in-depth study of working age, in-migrant islanders (whether new or returning). Islanders' motivations for moving to an island community, lived experiences of island life and future plans, including residential and employment aspirations, will be explored through these two PhDs.


This work is being generously funded through two PhD studentships:

  • ESRC 3+1 SGSSS Supervisor led collaborative Studentship  awarded to Marcus Craigie
  • McCaulay Development Trust PhD Studentship  awarded to Kirsten Gow




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  • Where is the coast? Creating boundaries in transitional spaces - towards a working definition for socio-demographic analysis in Scotland

    Duffy, P.
    RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2021
    Contributions to Conferences: Abstracts
  • A place-based approach to population sustainability: Demographic and economic change at the local level in Fife, Scotland

    McCollum, D., Nicholson, H., Duffy, P.
    Local Economy, vol. 36, no. 6, pp. 505-523
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • (un)Sustainability in Scotland’s coastal population space: a Socio-demographic perspective

    Duffy, P. M.
    Contributions to Conferences: Papers
  • International students in Scotland, Brexit and beyond

    McCollum, D., Duffy, P., Barker, C.
    Non-textual Forms: Web Publications and Websites
  • The potential for Assemblage thinking in population geography: assembling population, space and place

    Duffy, P., Stojanovic, T.
    Population, Space and Place , vol. 24, no. 3, e2097
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Immobility and the practices of being ‘local’ in Scottish Coastal communities

    Duffy, P. M.
    Annual Meeting of the American association of Geographers 2017
    Contributions to Conferences: Abstracts
  • Assembling Population and Place: Social Theory and the on-going conversation for Early Career Population Geographers

    Duffy, P. M.
    RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016
    Contributions to Conferences: Abstracts
  • The importance of demographic process in assembling coastal communities: three case studies from North East Scotland

    Duffy, P. M.
    RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016
    Contributions to Conferences: Abstracts
  • Assembling singularities in a Trans-scaler world: St-Andrews as a global-town

    Duffy, P. M.
    RGS-IBG Postgraduate Mid-term Conference 2016
    Contributions to Conferences: Abstracts
  • Assembling a Typology of Scottish Coastal Communities:: Considering policy-making, statistical governance and Assemblage theory

    Duffy, P. M.
    International Conference of Population Geographies 2015
    Contributions to Conferences: Abstracts


Contributions to Conferences

Contributions to Journals

Non-textual Forms