REF 2021

1st in the UK

Divinity at the University of Aberdeen was ranked 1st in the UK for overall quality of research


Our research has been ranked first in the UK by the Research Excellent Framework (REF2021), a very detailed survey of our publications, research impact, and research environment conducted by the government to determine funding for a five-to-seven-year period. We are the top performing department in any subject in Scotland.

Theological research and study has been untaken at the University for over five centuries. As well as historical links to figures like George Macdonald, William Robertson Smith and P. T. Forsyth, recent scholars associated with the Department include James Torrance, I. Howard Marshall, John Webster, and Andrew Walls. Many other leading lights in theological and biblical studies studied here or began their careers here. Our alumni and former colleagues fill senior and prestigious positions in universities and seminaries all over the world.

Today, research in the Department is distributed across the full range of speculative, philosophical, systematic, textual, historical and practical enquiries in theology.  

Aberdeen’s Department of Divinity is the highest ranked department in Theology in the United Kingdom for research, and the top performing department in research in any subject in Scotland, as ranked by the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF2021). Members of staff are engaged in research in all the major sub-disciplines of theology, publish intensively in top flight publications, and are in high demand as speakers internationally.

There is an extremely lively research community of post-graduate students and faculty, focused on research centres, multiple weekly seminars, reading groups, visiting international speakers, and public lectures (including the Gifford Lectures and the Hay of Seaton Memorial Lectures). Our most recent former PhD students have gone on to take posts at such universities as Tübingen, St Andrews, Oxford, Notre Dame, Gothenburg, Trinity Bristol, Biola, Sofia and Canberra (and many others). Learn more about what makes Divinity in Aberdeen unique.

Have a look at our new guide for more information about postgraduate research in Divinity.

What others say about our research:


Following involvement in a recent colloquium, Professor Anthony Thiselton, FBA, commented:
‘I was especially impressed by the lively and creative thinking in Systematic Theology, and the Department clearly has a very strong team in research on Bonhoeffer. New and Old Testament studies are also strong, and the addition of ministerial training ensures that its theology, ethics, and biblical studies always remains practical, and in my view level headed. The ethos or atmosphere of the Department is warm and happy.  In these days, such excellence is not to be taken for granted.  Students are fortunate to have chosen Aberdeen.’

Susan Parsons:
‘The Divinity Department is distinguished by the unique opportunity it offers students: intellectual challenge in the specialist seminars that allow engagement with internationally renowned speakers; a supportive and close-knit community of staff and students that nurtures debate on the urgent questions of the day; and encouragement to contribute to the wider society through publication of reviews, scholarly papers and books. Aberdeen is altogether an excellent environment for learning the basics and then advancing in the disciplines of theology.’ 


Click on the links to the left to find out more about areas of research in Divinity.