The University of Aberdeen, founded in 1495, is one of the four ancient Scottish Universities, and was created by Papal Bull.

Unlike many modern universities, the University's constitution is not contained within a single document, but comprises a combination of Acts of Parliament, Ordinances which require the approval of the Privy Council, and Resolutions of the University Court. In this, we are no different from any of the other three Ancient Scottish Universities. The document which contains the constitutional framework within which the University operates is the enclosed publication entitled The Acts, Ordinances and Resolutions Affecting the University of Aberdeen 1858-1990, which is available in Policy, Planning and Governance.

The 1858 Act merged and incorporated King's College and Marischal College, Aberdeen under the title of the University of Aberdeen and confirmed the original foundation date of 1495.

Defintions of Court Terms

As a body corporate, the Court is recognised in law as owning a legal personality separate and distinct from the personality of its members, and hence as capable of owning property, entering into contracts, employing staff, and suing and being sued.

Perpetual succession signifies the Court's power to appoint its own members (subject to statute) without further reference to any external authority.

The Common Seal represents the Court's authority to secure or guarantee its undertakings. The University Seal, together with signatures of Court members continues to be used to endorse formal legal documents on behalf of the University.

An Ordinance is a further definition or stipulation of existing powers, as prescribed by Acts of Parliament - for example, amendment of the composition of Court, Senate, etc. This requires the consent of the Privy Council.

A Resolution represents the elucidation of a power which is within the Court's own competence to enact - for example, the creation of a new Chair.