The Aberdeen History Department was established in 1898, although of course the University’s first Historian was also its first Principal, Hector Boece of King’s College (d.1536). The Department’s first professional chair, the Burnett-Fletcher Chair of History, was founded in 1903. Since then professors of History at Aberdeen have included eminent scholars with a breadth of talent, such as historian of Scotland and musicologist C.S. Terry, the medievalist and legal historian G.O. Sayles, and the Africanist John Hargreaves.
Aberdeen was ranked the leading University in Scotland in History for Research Impact and 2nd in the UK for Outstanding Impact after the 2013 Research Excellence Framework. These outstanding results reflect a strong commitment to research innovation.
Aberdeen historians have expertise in areas as diverse as medieval Scandinavia, early-modern Poland and modern East Asia. The department fosters individual and collaborative scholarly endeavour, and the work of its members forms four concentrations of research activity:
- Irish and Scottish Studies
- Medieval and Early Modern Studies
- Scandinavian Studies
- The History of Global Empires
More information about these areas of study is available below.
Historical research is supported by the state-of-the-art Sir Duncan Rice Library which opened in 2012. The Library’s Special Collections Centre holds a major international archive of Jacobite material, The MacBean Collection, and has significant holdings on the Scottish Enlightenment. It is the repository of the outstanding archive of Scottish Catholic heritage, and it also houses landed estate papers dating from the middle ages, and a number of printed collections.
Members of the department are firmly committed to interdisciplinary scholarship. This activity is demonstrated throughout the concentrations above, and enhanced by further involvement in Centres dedicated to the Study of History, Culture and the Environment; the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHPSTM); and Russian and Eastern European History (ACREEH).
There is also extensive participation in the Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and the Rule of Law (CISRUL), and the Centre for Global Security and Governance.
A regular History Research Seminar allows members of the department to give papers on work in progress, and hosts visiting speakers. For further details, see News and Events.