Gaelic has been taught as a subject at the University since the eighteenth century. Many distinguished Gaelic scholars have passed through as students or staff.
Professor John Stuart Blackie studied at the University in the 1820s and was appointed Chair in Humanities in the 1830s. In the first half of the twentieth century, the late Professor Derick S. Thomson (Ruaraidh MacThòmais) and Iain Crichton Smith (Iain Mac a’ Ghobhainn) studied at the University; Thomson later became the Head of the University’s Celtic Department in 1956. In more recent years, the renowned Gaelic scholar Donald MacAulay was a Reader in Celtic and Donald Meek held the first Chair in Celtic.
This long and prestigious history is recognised in the University's draft Gaelic Language Plan 2012-17, which commits to promoting and developing Gaelic in the University within the framework of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005.
The plan demonstrates the University’s commitment to enhance students’ experience of studying Gaelic within the School of Language and Literature, and to broadening opportunities for all students to enjoy the Gaelic language and culture.
In addition to courses provided in the School of Language and literature, the University’s School of Education is one of the leading providers of Gaelic education programmes. The University’s Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies also supports Gaelic. The Institute publishes a literary magazine, Causeway / Cabhsair, which frequently includes the poetry and short stories of established and developing Gaelic writers.