Student Ambassadors are current PhD students within the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy. They come from a variety of backgrounds and countries, and each have had a unique experience at the University. These students are here to answer questions about what it is like to live in Aberdeen, how they find studying at the University, what convinced them to pursue their PhD in Scotland, and any other questions you may have about their study experience. Please direct any queries regarding admissions to

Declan Kelly: Systematic Theology

I'm a PhD student in Systematic Theology, focusing on the concept of love in the writings of Karl Barth. I am from Galway, Ireland, and moved to Aberdeen just over a year ago. I was drawn to the university for its reputation as a first-class institution in theological education, and after a year of being here I can vouch for that reputation. Fruitful theological work and conversation happens here, and it is a joy to learn from and participate in it. Students (as well as faculty) endeavour to see each other as comrades rather than competitors, which makes for a fitting environment in which to pursue one's theological vocation.

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Danielle Hayward: Systematic Theology (Distance Learning)

I am a second year, part-time PhD student in systematic theology and I am studying via distance. I live in Belfast, Northern Ireland and, before enrolling at Aberdeen, I competed both a BTh (2012) and MTh (2013) at Queen’s University Belfast. My current research seeks to clarify Karl Barth’s understanding of the creation and deployment of formal confessions of the Church with the aim of exploring how these confessions function as truth statements. My broader interests include ecclesiology, epistemology and, more generally, the relationship between the Church and world events.

My experience studying with Aberdeen has been positive so far and continually exceeds my expectations on both academic and personal levels. I truly feel connected and part of the student body even from a distance. I am happy to talk and welcome any questions you may have about about studying with Aberdeen.

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Gary Michael: New Testament (Distance Learning)

I’m a PhD student in Divinity concentrating in New Testament. I live in North Carolina in the United States and study by distance learning. The subject of my thesis is divorce and remarriage, especially from Matthew, Deuteronomy, related extra-biblical primary sources, and the history of their interpretation.

I have a BA in Geography and Studio Art from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a ThM from Vintage Bible College and Seminary, and a MA in Biblical Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. I’m an older student pursuing postgraduate studies later in life than most but from a strong sense of divine calling.

I first learned of Aberdeen through my seminary studies and was further drawn to the school by its excellent reputation in New Testament. Aberdeen has proven to be the perfect place for me to complete my education and prepare for the next season of my life.

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Stuart Sheehan: Practical Theology (Distance Learning)

I am a third year, PhD student (via distance) in the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy. I am exploring ways that the theological construct of corporate gatherings may have changed among Baptists (later Southern Baptists) from early C17 to early C21. My broad interests include evangelical theology, liturgy, and Baptist history. I live in Houston, Texas and lead an organization that delivers theological training to pastors and church leaders around the world. The PhD (via distance) at the University of Aberdeen presented an incredible opportunity to study at one of the world’s leading institutions and keep my current post. The work is challenging, but very rewarding! I love the regular interaction with my supervisor and the University’s effort to make me feel truly connected. 

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Beñat Elortza: Scandinavian Studies

I graduated with an MA in History from the University of the Basque Country in 2013, and went on to study Medieval and Early Modern Studies in the University of Aberdeen from 2013-2014. My research interests include state-building in medieval Scandinavia, most areas of military history, and naval and shipbuilding history of the Middle Ages. My doctoral project, which I started in 2014, deals with European influence and military transformation in high medieval Scandinavia, ca. 1035-1200, with a special focus on the role of European influence on royal power and the shift of foreign policy. I am currently supervised by Professors Michael Gelting and Stefan Brink.

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Blake Middleton: Scandinavian Studies

I come to Aberdeen from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States. I have a keen interest in early medieval Norse and Insular narrative literature. I have previously studied at Penn State University, obtaining my BA in Medieval Studies with a minor in English and at the University of Glasgow where I completed an MLitt in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, focusing on the supernatural within Icelandic sagas. I began my PhD at the Centre for Scandinavian Studies in 2013. My PhD project focuses on the Giants within Old Norse mythology, sagas, þættir and skaldic poetry.

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Claire Organ: Scandinavian Studies

I completed my MA in English and Celtic Civilisation (2010) and an MLitt in Scandinavian Studies (Viking and Medieval) at the University of Aberdeen (2011). My PhD research project focuses on Colour Symbolism in the Old Norse mythological poems contained within the Codex Regius (2365 4º); in particular I am exploring the literary motif of ‘red gold’ in Vǫlundarkviða. I am based in the (most welcoming) office within the Centre for Scandinavian Studies (CfSS)! My husband and I moved from Birmingham, England to Scotland in 2001 for work purposes, and I have two children, dogs, cats, chickens and a duck called Elvis!

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Heidi Djuve: Scandinavian Studies

I am a PhD candidate funded by the Elphinstone Scholarship Scheme at the Centre for Scandinavian Studies, where I also completed my Master of Letters in 2014. My current research project is based on a comparative approach to high- and late medieval Scandinavian prose discourses on the art of governance – or, as they are often referred to – ‘mirrors for princes’. My broader research interests include medieval political thought and philosophy, medieval literary criticism, and the development of statehood during the Scandinavian Middle Ages.

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Davide Monaco: Philosophy

I graduated from the University of Naples Federico II in 2012 with a thesis on Ernst Mach’s philosophy of science.  I started my PhD at the University of Aberdeen in 2014 (Normativity Project Award Scheme) under Dr. Beth Lord’s supervision. I’m currently working on Spinoza’s theory of parallelism and monism and their relation: my research focuses on the compatibility of different interpretations of parallelism and their coherence with Spinoza’s concept of the uniqueness of substance, and it is carried out in a theoretical and historico-philosophical perspective. In addition I investigate Spinoza’s theory of causality and knowledge, given that it proves to be essential for the grounding of the systematic relation between monism and parallelism.  I’m also interested in other conceptions of monism (e.g. Haeckel, Mach) and parallelism (e.g. Fechner, Wundt, Mach). Besides early modern philosophy, my areas of interest include continental philosophy, epistemology, philosophy of science and German philosophy of the 19th century.

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