The AHRC Centre (2001-10) established a partnership of three institutions – Aberdeen, Queen’s Belfast and Trinity Dublin – with unrivalled expertise in the fields of Irish and Scottish culture. It promoted high-quality single-discipline, comparative and interdisciplinary research, and undertook postgraduate training with special reference to history, literary and cultural studies, and the languages of Ireland and Scotland.  At a time of significant constitutional change within Britain and Ireland it provided an informed understanding of the historical and cultural influences which have shaped relationships between Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Phase One of the Centre’s work (2001-05) delivered successful outcomes to 14 research projects across the disciplines of history, language and literature. The success of Phase One led the award of a further £1.34m for Phase Two of the centre’s activity. In announcing the award, Professor Geoffrey Crossick, Chief Executive of the AHRC said:

"This will be the largest single award that the AHRC has ever made, and it will enable the AHRC Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies to develop its leading international position in what is a critically important field of research."

The work of Phase Two is entirely comparative in nature. It aims, from five key strands of research, to develop theoretical perspectives on the study of Ireland and Scotland which will provide an effective foundation for the future study of both countries and provide a model for other such comparative studies of linked cultures.