The Department of Anthropology's research is of international quality and is funded by a wide range of external grants. Our successes in winning grants are based in our collaborative way of working and our commitment to extending the scope of anthropological research in innovative ways. These are underpinned by a coherent set of research themes in the department:

Anthropology of the North

Since its founding in 2003 the Department has been a focus internationally for the Anthropology of the North, involving the Nordic and Baltic countries, northern Russia, Iceland, Greenland, Canada and Alaska together with their links to north east Scotland.

Environment and Perception

The environment, and human relations with it, is an important theme in the Department's research and teaching. Current interests include perceptions of society and nature, human-animal relations, the politics of landscape and resource management and place, paths and movement

Creativity and Knowledge

We focus on creativity and knowledge as central to a range of anthropological pursuits. A particular strength is the link with Marischal Museum's extensive ethnographic collections.

Religion, Belief and Practice

The Department’s research in religion is wide-ranging, but has a particular focus on Buddhism, Islam, shamanism, and the theme of death, embodiment and the person. It also covers ritual theory, cosmology and myth, moral subjectivity, and evolutionary theories of religion.


Sociology at Aberdeen is widely recognised as one of the leading departments in the UK in terms of both its research and teaching quality.

Sociology is the study of people and societies, with particular emphasis on modern urban settings. The subject overlaps with other related disciplines such as politics; international relations; anthropology; economics; history; human geography and psychology. This broad focus is also reflected in the research interests of Aberdeen Sociology staff who specialise in areas as diverse as global conflict and peace studies; religion and secularisation; global political economy; identities and well-being and even the relationship between humans and other animals.

Despite the fact that we are located in the North of Scotland our staff retain a particularly international outlook, engaging with some of the most important issues and question confronting contemporary societies at a global as well as local level. All of the latter is also reflected in our research lead teaching model, where our students are introduced to the various theories, research methods and bodies of knowledge that equip them to explore and understand many of the most important issues of our times.

The New Europe Centre Aberdeen is concerned with European social research. It consists of a variety of people and projects at the University of Aberdeen and outside who are working on the problem of understanding Europe in terms of people, values and behaviour. An important aspect of this work is also to look at policy measures and implications. 

Politics and International Relations

Researchers in the Department of Politics & International Relations (PIR) investigate some of the most critical political problems facing contemporary democracies, at several levels of analysis: local/sub-national, national, and regional/international.  These topics range from disputes over power-sharing in multi-ethnic states to concerns about political representation in democratic republics to debates about the future role of the European Union and other experiments in regional governance and international organisation.  The Department also pursues a high degree of interdisciplinary research on more focused topics, such as energy policy, environmental policy, health policy, and identity politics (gender and ethnicity), all of which span the traditional division between domestic/comparative and international politics.  In recent years, the Department has focused on four core research themes: a) Political Organisation and Participation; b) Conflict and Security Studies; c) Comparative Politics; and d) International Relations Theory.  Our specific research projects, networks, and outputs overlap across these themes, and PIR does not maintain a rigid barrier between the fields of Politics and International Relations in developing research projects.  Most if not all of our staff members incorporate a comparative/international dimension to their work, even though their primary focus might be on various aspects of domestic politics.  We also attempt to balance the more traditional focus on empirical political behaviour with a more critical examination of the conventional wisdom about political life, both in advanced democracies and in the developing world.  Finally, our research culture is explicitly interdisciplinary in nature, and involves intensive collaborations with other disciplines, in the social sciences and otherwise, especially in the areas of security/conflict resolution, representation/civil society, various aspects of public policy (particularly health, energy, environment, and technology), and the politics of identity.