Irish and Scottish Studies



Top 20 in the UK in The Times & Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024

Irish and Scottish Studies

Research in this area pursues the aim of a truly international history primarily through the study of Scotland and Ireland in their wider context, from the medieval to the modern and contemporary period. A major anchor for this work is the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies (RIISS).

Founded in 1999, RIISS is dedicated to the comparative study of Irish and Scottish cultures. Its areas of concentration include language, literature, history (political, economic and social), politics, philosophy and religion, and the Irish and Scottish emigrant communities around the world. RIISS is internationally recognised for its work on migration and diasporas.

Irish and Scottish Studies in Aberdeen

As a student of Irish and/or Scottish studies at the University of Aberdeen you will have the opportunity to focus on topics ranging from medieval Scotland to the Scottish and Irish Enlightenment to Scottish politics from 1300-1600, and more. Students are supervised by experts in their respective fields, with one-on-one supervisory meetings and access to the University library resources.


We are interested in hearing from students wishing to undertake postgraduate level work in Irish and Scottish Studies at the doctoral level. Please contact one of the supervisors below if you are thinking about applying for a PhD in their subject area.

Dr Jackson Armstrong: Supervision is offered in Scottish politics and landed society c.1300–c.1600; English politics and landed society c.1350–c.1500; aspects of medieval and early modern nobility, rulership, and law; aspects of medieval and early modern borderlands and peripheries.

Dr Bradford Bow: Supervision is offered in the intellectual history of eighteenth - and early nineteenth-century Scottish Enlightenment moral and natural philosophy; Scottish philosophical and literary societies; Scottish intellectual and moral culture in the age of revolution; intellectual currents of Scottish global Diaspora; the ‘First’ British Empire.

Professor Michael Brown: Supervision is offered in eighteenth-century British and Irish political identity and the development of nationalism; the Enlightenment in the British Isles; Britain and Ireland in the 1790s.

Dr Alastair Macdonald: Supervision is offered in later Medieval Scotland; medieval warfare; Anglo-Scottish relations; the Anglo-Scottish borders; and medieval Aberdeen.


PGR Students

Some current (and graduated) students and their projects from the University of Aberdeen include:

  • Rose Luminiello, A Comparative Study of Sectarianism and Religion: Ulster and Poznania, 1890-1921
  • Douglas Smith, Scottish Political Exiles in England, 1400-1500
  • Lawrence Butler Perks, Understanding the content, form and purposes of Hero Myths as symbolic resources of nation and insurgency: the case of the Provisional IRA in the Northern Ireland conflict, 1969-1998

The following are some selected publications relating to Irish and Scottish Studies by staff at the University of Aberdeen:

Dr Alastair Macdonald

  • 'Courage, fear and the experience of the later medieval Scottish soldier'. Scottish Historical Review, vol 92, no. 2, pp. 179-206.
  • MacDonald, AJ. (2000). 'The Apogee of the 'Auld Alliance' and the Limits of Policy'. Northern Scotland, vol 20, pp. 31-46.
  • 'Triumph and disaster: Scottish military leadership in the Later Middle Ages', in A King & D Simpkin (eds), England and Scotland at War, c.1296-c.1513. History of Warfare, vol. 78, Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden, pp. 255-282.
  • 'John Hardyng, Northumbrian Identity and the Scots', in CD Liddy & RH Britnell (eds), North-East England in the Later Middle Ages. Regions and Regionalism in History, Boydell Press, Woodbridge, Suffolk, United Kingdom, pp. 29-42.
  • Border Bloodshed: Scotland and England at War 1369-1403. Tuckwell Press, East Linton, United Kingdom.

Professor Michael Brown

Dr Jackson Armstrong

Dr Colin Barr

  •  Ireland's Empire: The Roman Catholic Church in the English-speaking world, 1830-1914, Cambridge University Press (forthcoming)
  • Paul Cullen, 1803-1878: Church, State, and Ireland's Devotional Revolution, University College Dublin Press (forthcoming)

Some helpful links for further information and resources in Irish and Scottish Studies include: