The Centre for the North

The Centre for the North

We aim to expand research within northern circumpolar regions, as defined by climatic, environmental, historical, geopolitical and cultural conditions whilst answering key questions from the sponsorship of four major programmes of interdisciplinary research.

Facing east and west, the geographical location of the University of Aberdeen, allows unique strengths in fields ranging from geosciences and environmental biology to archaeology, anthropology and education....

Our archaeologists' recent fieldwork unearthed a rare Pictish symbol stone near Aberlemno of great Pictish significance and teamed up with the Pictish Arts Society to launch a fundraising campaign to conserve.

Other fieldwork further away in Alaska resulted in films of the Quinhagak Dance Group  performing at the opening of their new Nunalleq village cultural centre. As part of a local school Education Pack by lead artist, Alice Watterson. Narration from Larissa and Lonny Strunk of Quinhagak and Chuna McIntyre of Eek. Special thanks to Crystal Carter, the Quinhagak Dance Group and all the archaeologists A Day in the Life of an Archaeologist.

About The North Theme

Aberdeen lies at the hub of a region that extends eastwards to the Nordic and Baltic countries and to northern Russia and Siberia, and westwards to Iceland, Greenland, Canada and Alaska.

This region, known as the 'circumpolar North', is defined by latitude and the tight intersection of climatic, environmental, historical, geopolitical and cultural conditions. These come together to give it a significance for the future of life on earth out of proportion to its relatively sparse human population.

Aberdeen offers a base for northern research that uniquely affords a truly circumpolar perspective. The University has already established a leading international research reputation in a number of fields, such as geosciences, environmental biology, archaeology, anthropology, and education.


Research across the Northeast of Scotland, touching all parts of the circumpolar Arctic worldwide, has been and remains a hallmark of the University of Aberdeen.

The first major international event, which put Aberdeen on the map, was the meeting of the Sixth Circumpolar Universities Assocation Conference, which was held in Aberdeen from 24-27 June 1999. The CUA was the forerunner to the University of the Arctic. The then Principal Prof C Duncan Ricewas the Chair of the CUA and helped guide the formation of the University of the Arctic under the Arctic Council

This event was followed by the Inuit Studies Conference held on 23-26 August 2000.  Over 150 delegates from Iceland, Alaska, Greenland, Canada, Scandinavia, France, Germany and the UK attended.

To integrate the growing interest in the Arctic within Aberdeen, the Northern Studies Centre was founded in 2001. It integrated researchers across many different Faculties of the University as well as scholars based at the McCaulay Institute and the Centre for the Environment and Hydrology.  Dr. Sarah Woodin served as the NSC coordinator from 2001 to 2011 and a group of 41 research associates.  Over that ten-year period the NSC coordinated major research funding from UK funding councils,  led a major ESRC/NERC transdisciplinary seminar series, and spearheaded a NSC postdoctoral fellow programme.

In June 2011, the NSC was transformed into a University research theme entitled the North.  The theme was led by Prof. Tim Ingold and managed by 17 Project Board members, drawn from three of the then Colleges of the University representing a full range of northern interests. A major element of this intiatiive were the four funded research programmes which created a community of researchers focussing on several interdisciplinary themes.

From 2012-2018 the University hosted an ERC Advanced Grant examining the techniques of Arctic Domestication across the circumpolar North.  This legacy project involved over 35 researchers and continues to shape research.

In 2017 the University hosted the University of the Arctic Rector’s Forum – the first time that this event was hosted by a non-Arctic institution.  The conference was followed by  an international interdisciplinary conference and a special student declaration on research in the Arctic.

From 2018 Dr Ed Schofield to 2024 lead the theme together with 10 new members of The New North theme working group, to build on the University's current northern research ranging from music, language and archaeology to geology, hydrology and climate change. 

In March 2024 Drs Robert Wishart and Nancy Wachowich were appointed as co-leaders of the The North Theme with the goal of transforming the network into a Centre for the North with strong links to other Scottish universities and the Scottish Executive's Arctic Connections Programme.

Legacy Programmes

From 2002-2011 Prof. Kevin Edwards led two major Leverhulme research projects on the human and ecological consequences of Viking settlement in the North Atlantic

From 2011 to 2016 we ran four wide-ranging interdisciplinary programmes:

The programme teams were comprised of established staff, five postdoctoral research fellows and 11 doctoral students. Many of our publications can be seen in the publications list at the bottom of the page.

From 2012-2018 Prof David G. Anderson hosted an ERC Advanced Grant examining the techniques of Arctic Domestication across the circumpolar North.  This legacy project involved over 35 researchers and continues to shape research across the University.



Our short-term ambition is to transform this active network into a Centre among the network of Centres within the University of the Aberdeen. To that end we will coordinate applications for network funding to allow students and early career researchers to attend events and conduct fieldwork across the Arctic.

Useful Links


University of Aberdeen students and staff can apply for north2north funding from other countries as detailed below

Staff mobility

Norway and Kingdom of Denmark offer grants for incoming staff from the University of Aberdeen. You can find the application process and the grant rates on the following webpages:

Student mobility

Canada, Norway, Kingdom of Denmark and Finland do offer grants for incoming students from the University of Aberdeen. You can find information about the application processes in the different countries on the following webpages:

Please contact the north2north National Agencies of these countries if you have specific questions about the mobility to and from one of the countries mentioned above. You can find their email addresses on the following webpage:

Every north2north member institution does have a north2north institutional coordinator. The University of Aberdeen north2north institutional coordinator is Louisa Stratton 

You can find the list over the institutional coordinators and their email addresses on the following webpage:

Students interested in the north2north Mobility Program can find information on the webpages of UArctic:

The student mobility aspect is administered through the University of Aberdeen’s regular study exchange application

Students who are interested in a north2north exchange can find the list over the participating institutions on the following webpage:

If you are interested in knowing how the program is organized, further details can be found in the north2north Mobility Guidelines (you will find a description of the programme in the north2north Mobility Guidelines):