Introduction

English and Language & Linguistics at Aberdeen combines all the advantages of the UK’s second most highly-rated research hub for English literature, language and creative writing, with a fascinating exploration of how human language evolved, how we learn languages and how they differ and change over time. You will gain the all-round knowledge and skills to open up an avenue to a wide variety of careers.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
MA
Duration
48 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
September
UCAS Code
QQ31
Degree marketing image

Aberdeen is a leading centre for the study of literature, language and creative writing, rated second in the UK for its research output. You will study poetry and prose through the dynamic relationship between author, reader and literary text, covering every period from Chaucer to contemporary English, Scottish, Irish, European and American writing and the cultural and critical impact of powerful and controversial modern works. You will be inspired by enthusiastic teachers and researchers, themselves acclaimed authors and poets and be encouraged to develop your own creative writing skills.

Language and Linguistics takes you on a deeper exploration of language, analysing this fascinating human attribute to understand ourselves and human societies more fully. You will study how the brain processes speech and language, how we acquire languages as children and adults, how they vary and change over time, social factors and different dialects of English. Our understanding of language grows all the time with new discoveries in neuroscience, animal behaviour, archaeology, sociology and psychology, bringing new applications of linguistics in industry, medicine and forensic science.

This subject combination will make you very attractive to employers, especially in media, advertising and marketing, information and communication technology, publishing, language teaching and health-related professions such as speech and language therapy.

What You'll Study

Year 1

Year 1

Compulsory Courses
Academic Writing for Language & Literature (AW1008)

This compulsory evaluation is designed to find out if your academic writing is of a sufficient standard to enable you to succeed at university and, if you need it, to provide support to improve. It is completed on-line via MyAberdeen with clear instructions to guide you through it. If you pass the evaluation at the first assessment it will not take much of your time. If you do not, you will be provided with resources to help you improve. This evaluation does not carry credits but if you do not complete it this will be recorded on your degree transcript.

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Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD1002)

This course, which is prescribed for level 1 undergraduate students (and articulating students who are in their first year at the University), is studied entirely online, takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks.

Topics include orientation overview, equality and diversity, health, safety and cyber security and how to make the most of your time at university in relation to careers and employability.

Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’.

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Acts of Reading (EL1009)

15 Credit Points

This course introduces students to the study of English by exploring the dynamic relationship between author, reader and text in a series of classic works of fiction and poetry. It covers a broad historical range (from Folk Tales and ballads to 21st century postmodernity) and offers a basic grounding in key elements of literary theory, literary history and the varieties of literary form.

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English Structure and use (LN1003)

15 Credit Points

This course opens up new ways for students to think about language by introducing them to the fundamentals of English linguistics. Students will learn how to identify and analyse the major "building blocks" of language in phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. Examples for illustration and discussion will be drawn from varieties of English spoken in the British Isles and worldwide, with lectures and tutorials geared to providing students with an active vocabulary with which to discuss language, and essential tools with which to analyse its structure and function.

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Controversial Classics (EL1513)

15 Credit Points

Literature can provoke, offend and disturb as well as entertain. This course considers some of the most powerful and controversial works of modern literature. It examines the circumstances of publication, the nature of the controversy, and the cultural and critical impact of each work. The course shows how poems, plays and novels can raise searching questions about national, racial and personal identity, and looks at the methods used by writers to challenge their readers, as well the responses of readers to such challenges.

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English Past and Present (LN1502)

15 Credit Points

How do we get from Chaucer to Twitter? From Beowulf to Beyoncé? This course will look at the development of English over the last millennium and beyond, examining language changes in sound, structure and meaning. Students will also be introduced to present-day sociolinguistic study, and how it can contribute to our understanding of language in the modern world and in the past.

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Optional Courses

Select further courses of choice to make up 120 credit points.

Year 2

Year 2

Compulsory Courses
Encounters with Shakespeare (EL2011)

30 Credit Points

So you think you know Shakespeare? This course invites you to think again. Studying a range of plays we get behind the mythology of Shakespeare, and rediscover the dynamic inventiveness of the Elizabethan theatre. Shakespeare and his contemporaries were the principal players in a period of literary experimentation that reinvented the possibilities of literature. Encounters with Shakespeare is your chance to find out more.

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The Tragedy of Knowledge (EL2512)

30 Credit Points

This course traces the use of key Western myths from antiquity to the present to examine the way knowledge is often presented as both dangerous and compelling. As well as introducing students to a range of historical, social, and formal variations on the theme of knowledge, the course also highlights the role of storytelling and adaptation in the formation of knowledge and understanding.

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Language in Society (LN2008)

30 Credit Points

Language is central to our humanity. Language and society are inextricably linked. Language unites; language divides. This course will develop your understanding of the social nature of language, providing insight into, among other things, the relationship between gender and language, language death and the art of persuasion.

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Varieties of English (LN2510)

30 Credit Points

The English language spoken in different places and by different groups of people varies hugely and this variation is a perennial topic of interest whenever people from different backgrounds meet. This course will survey a range of varieties of English, both from across the British Isles and from around the world, and will explore how these varieties differ from each other as well as what unites them. In order to do this, we will consider the sounds of English, standard and non-standard word morphology, variation in sentence structure and differences in lexical choice.

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Optional Courses

Select further courses of choice to make up 120 credit points.

Year 3

Year 3

Optional Courses

Select a total of two courses from the following groups, each from a different group:

Medieval/Renaissance

  • EL30DQ: Knights, Virgins and Viragos, Chaucer and Medieval Writing
  • EL30CP: Page and Stage: Renaissance Writings 1500-1640
  • EL35EJ: Writing Revolt: Literature and Politics in the 17th Century

Romantic/Victorian

  • EL3009: American Innovation
  • EL35XR: Romanticism
  • EL30QA: Sympathy for the Devil: The 19th Century Scottish Short Stories
  • EL35SB: Britain and the 19th Century World
  • EL35VB: Bildungsroman to Alien Invasion

Contemporary/Modern

  • EL35KN Haunted Texts
  • EL30FF: Modernism: Make it New
  • EL30UT: Art and Atrocity: Representations of Violence and Trauma
  • EL35UT: Art and Atrocity: Representations of Violence and Trauma

Plus one course from the following:

  • EL35WC: Queer Times
  • EL35YB: Creative Writing: Creativity and Craft
  • EL30EH: Classical Epic
  • CE3594: Dangerous Liaisons: Love, Sex and Romance in the Celtic West and Old North
  • EL30VC: Fallen Women and Self-Made Men

Plus, select a further 60 credit points from level 3 courses in Language and Linguistics.

Page and Stage: Renaissance Writings 1500 - 1640 (EL30CP)

30 Credit Points

This course explores the poetry, drama and prose of a period often referred to as the golden age of English literature. A period which saw Shakespeare and his contemporaries produce innovative new literary works in which the language of desire took centre stage.

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Knights, Virgins and Viragos: Chaucer and Medieval Writing (EL30DQ)

30 Credit Points

An introduction to late medieval-literature, challenging modern assumptions about the medieval and exploring the diverse range of medieval literary culture, from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales to the autobiographical narrative of Margery Kempe and surprising profanity of medieval lyric.

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Writing Revolt: Literature and Politics in the Seventeenth Century (EL35EJ)

30 Credit Points

Literature has the power to reimagine society. The course will explore how poetry, drama and other literary forms across the century sought new literary approaches to meet the challenges of these times. We will examine different literary strategies adopted by authors to engage with their times, from those who drew upon classical precedent to others who brought new voices, and new publics, into the forum of literature. Texts on the course will vary each year, but will feature such authors as Ben Jonson, John Donne, Katharine Philips, John Milton, Lucy Hutchinson and Samuel Daniel.

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American Innovation (EL3009)

30 Credit Points

This level-three course offers an introduction to American literature and culture between 1850 and 1950, a century in which the United States was transformed from a rural economy to an industrialised super-power. You will learn about the key writers of this period, the issues that sparked their imaginations, and the literary strategies which they adopted, or at times invented, to express their response to the changing world around them. This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars.

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Sympathy for the Devil: Scottish Short Stories (EL30QA)

30 Credit Points

While the short story is often said to have developed in America, nineteenth-century Scottish writing is in fact instrumental in the emergence of the form. Often drawing on oral and folk traditions Scottish writers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries employ the supernatural, or our fear of it, to explore subjects such as guilt, fear, remorse and the extent to which we can control our own destinies. This course will explore the ways in which the short story in Scotland develops from the early nineteenth century until the beginning of the twentieth. It will include writers such as Walter Scott, James Hogg, John Galt, Margaret Oliphant, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jane Findlater and Lewis Grassic Gibbon

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Romanticism (EL35XR)

30 Credit Points

The Romantic movement swept Europe in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and produced some of the most innovative and exciting literature that has ever been seen. This rule breaking art helped shape the way that we consider art today and underpins many of our ideas about imagination, originality, creativity and self-expression. This course will explore the ways in which the Romantic movement manifested itself across Britain and Ireland and will consider writers such as Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Scott, Austen and Byron.

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Bildungsroman to Alien Invasion (EL35VB)

30 Credit Points

This module covers some of the most prominent and popular genres of the Victorian period, including realism, detective fiction, sensation fiction, the ghost story and the social problem novel. We will learn how to identify a genre’s distinctive features, but also how it may overlap with other forms of fiction. By reading authors such as George Eliot, Charlotte Brontë, Mary Elizabeth Braddon and H. G. Wells, we will think about how writers help to create and challenge generic boundaries.

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Britain and the Nineteenth - Century World (EL35SB)

30 Credit Points

The Romantic (1782-1832) and Victorian (1832-1901) periods were ones of remarkable activity for British citizens abroad. Imperial expansion, increasing international trade, major conflicts and growing mass migration all drew more British citizens than ever into contact with the wider world. This course explores the footprints left by these interactions in nineteenth-century literature: critically examining how Britain saw the world and how the English-speaking world saw Britain during a century of unprecedented international activity. This course will combine canonical writers of empire and migration with less well-known accounts of the period. Writers covered may include Mary Shelley, Henry Derozio, Fergus Hume, Cornelia Sorabji, Robert Louis Stevenson and Arthur Conan Doyle. The course will apply a range of critical lenses to this material offering students an introduction to key concepts and debates from nation theory, settler studies and postcolonial studies.

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Fallen Women and Self - Made Men (EL30VC)

30 Credit Points

The Victorian period is often seen as a time of sexual repression and rigid gender roles, in which men and women were expected to perform in accordance with established codes of behaviour that were based on assumptions about innate masculinity and femininity. While this perception of Victorian attitudes may be true to some extent, many Victorians were well aware of the dangers of gender stereotyping, and wrote fiction in order to interrogate and challenge these expectations. Focussing mainly on the novel, but including some poetry and drama, this module explores how Victorian writers engaged with gender stereotypes, and considers the literary tactics that authors used to re-examine, overthrow and sometimes reaffirm them. We will also consider how these stereotypes changed during the nineteenth century in response to public controversies and campaigns that kept questions of gender at the forefront of public consciousness. Figures such as the Fallen Woman, the Self-Made man and the Angel in the House will be explored in texts by authors including Emily Brontë, Christina Rossetti, Robert Louis Stevenson and Thomas Hardy.

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Dangerous Liaisons: Love, Sex and Romance in Celtic West and Old North (CE3594)

30 Credit Points

The literature of the Celtic and Germanic Middle Ages is famous for tragic tales of forbidden love, and for the frankness with which its poetry approaches the subject of sexual attraction. This course will explore how the interwoven themes of love, sex and romance were dramatized in Celtic, Norse-Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon stories and poetry. Topics covered may include: the love-triangle, maiden-kings, cross-dressing, amorous trolls, the stepmother as temptress, elopements and abductions, otherworldly lovers, unrequited love.

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Classical Epic (EL30EH)

30 Credit Points

This course is your opportunity to study four of the most influential and gripping texts of world literature. We begin in the oral culture of ancient Greece, with the Iliad's stark meditation on war and death, and the Odyssey's consolatory reflections on divine justice, poetry and love. In imperial Rome, we see the genre transformed into a monument to political power in Virgil's Aeneid, then thrown into disarray by Ovid's irreverent anti-epic, the Metamorphoses. We end by considering some of the ways these texts have been exploited and adapted across the intervening centuries, in poetry and prose, art and film.

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Queer Times (EL35WC)

30 Credit Points

This course adopts a cross-period approach, bringing contemporary and premodern texts into conversation in exploring representations of queer experiences and themes in diverse forms. Divided into three sections, queer presents, queer pasts, and queer futures, the course will introduce a selection of theoretical and critical readings in thinking about how representation is shaped by temporal and cultural context. We will consider the relationship between representation of queer experience and formal experimentation, and how queer forms impact on our sense of queer possibilities.

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Modernism: Make IT New (EL30FF)

30 Credit Points

The early twentieth century was a time of great literary experimentation as literary modernists rose to the challenge to make it new. We will explore modernism’s stylistic experimentation while also considering the social contexts and changes that shaped this literature. The course will examine a range of writers, genres, movements and locations which prompt us to consider what, when and where was modernism.

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Art and Atrocity: Representations of Violence and Trauma (EL30UT)

30 Credit Points

How is the artist to respond when the virtual becomes the real and when words cannot carry the weight of trauma? How can an author avoid the accusations of voyeuristic prurience or crass opportunism when he or she attempts to re-present events of public violence? This multi-disciplinary course examines work from a wide range of modes, including fiction, poetry, film and graphic art, and looks at the difficulties of inscribing trauma and the ethics and praxis of remembrance. Key events covered include the Holocaust, the Sabra and Shatila massacre, 9-11, the Gulf War and the conflict in the Balkans.

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Haunted Texts (EL35KN)

30 Credit Points

This course offers an overview of a wide range of twentieth-century Scottish literature, focusing on themes of haunting, death, and place. Including novels, short stories, poetry, and drama, the course explores questions of the relationship between self and society, the legacy of the past, and the formation of gendered and regional identities. There are lots of ghosts.

View detailed information about this course
Art and Atrocity: Representations of Violence and Trauma (EL35UT)

30 Credit Points

How is the artist to respond when the virtual becomes the real and when words cannot carry the weight of trauma? How can an author avoid the accusations of voyeuristic prurience or crass opportunism when he or she attempts to re-present events of public violence? This multi-disciplinary course examines work from a wide range of modes, including fiction, poetry, film and graphic art, and looks at the difficulties of inscribing trauma and the ethics and praxis of remembrance. Key events covered include the Holocaust, the Sabra and Shatila massacre, 9-11, the Gulf War and the conflict in the Balkans.

View detailed information about this course
Creative Writing: Creativity and Craft (EL35YB)

30 Credit Points

This course offers students the opportunity, through lectures and interactive workshops, to develop their understanding of, and practical skills in, the writing of prose fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction. Taught by widely published, award-winning writers, it provides a thorough, practice-based understanding of creative process and of the technical challenges involved in developing an original idea into a completed literary artefact, presented to a professional standard. It also contributes to students' future career potential, whether as ‘creative’ or other kinds of professional writers/communicators.

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Year 4

Year 4

Optional Courses

Select one of the following dissertation options:

  • English Dissertation (EL4502) or Dissertation in Language and Linguistics (EL4012)

Select further credit points from level 4 courses in English and Language and Linguistics to gain 60 credits in each discipline.

English Dissertation (EL4502)

30 Credit Points

Students will have the opportunity to write a dissertation on a topic of their choosing within English literature.

View detailed information about this course
Dissertation in Language and Linguistics (LN4012)

30 Credit Points

Once you have successfully completed three years of university-level study of Linguistics, this course allows you to develop and carry out an independent piece of research on a topic of your choice. It might be that a particular taught course has inspired you to explore a topic in more depth; your own reading might have prompted you to wonder about a particular question. You will be supervised by a member of the department who will be happy to give advice and support as you complete your dissertation of 7000-8000 words.

The Dissertation spans HS1 and HS2.

View detailed information about this course

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

Learning Methods

  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:

  • Coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course.
  • Practical assessments of the skills and competencies they learn on the course.
  • Written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, years of study and individual courses.

Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.

Why Study English and Language & Linguistics?

Why English

  • 94% Overall Satisfaction for Linguistics and Creative Writing. The Complete University Guide 2021
  • Rated second in the UK for the quality of Aberdeen research in English language and literature in the 2014 REF national assessment of research quality at UK universities.
  • An international profile through major literary projects such as the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen and the Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels of Sir Walter Scott.
  • The WORD Centre for Creative Writing, promoting creative projects in fiction, non-fiction and collaborative mixed-media in all the languages of northeast Scotland (from Doric to Polish).
  • The spectacular, award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library, home to literary treasures collected over 500 years, charting the power of the written word from ancient papyri and medieval manuscripts to contemporary e-books and other media.
  • Historic collections including rare printed books, the 12th century Aberdeen Bestiary, MacBean Stuart and Jacobite Collection, the novels of Sir Walter Scott, and an exceptional collection of Charles Dickens' first editions.
  • A packed campus programme of student and public events, exhibitions, seminars, invited speakers and the annual May Festival which welcomes internationally acclaimed authors to campus every spring to discuss literature, including European writers.
  • Research centres include the nationally recognised Centre for the Novel, the Centre for Modern Thought, and the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies.

Why Language and Linguistics

  • A vibrant linguistics research and teaching community, and the benefits this study brings to other subjects such as modern languages, anthropology, sociology and history.
  • Researchers revealing new insight into how spoken English is changing, including evidence gathered from tracking TV and radio soaps over the years.
  • Major research partnerships such as the study of witness testimonies following the 1641 Irish Rebellion, with language revealing the social, economic, cultural and political situation in 17th century Ireland, giving clues on sectarianism today.
  • Award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library with top-class study facilities and literary treasures collected over 500 years charting the power of the written word from ancient papyri and medieval manuscripts to contemporary e-books and other media.
  • A packed campus programme of events, exhibitions, invited speakers and the annual May Festival which attracts internationally acclaimed authors, broadcasters and public figures to discuss the written and spoken word in various languages.

Entry Requirements

Qualifications

The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.


General Entry Requirements

SQA Highers

Standard: AABB

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB

Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

A LEVELS

Standard: BBB

Minimum: BBC

Adjusted: CCC

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3.

Entry from College

Advanced entry to this degree may be possible from some HNC/HND qualifications, please see www.abdn.ac.uk/study/articulation for more details.

SQA Highers

Standard: AABB

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB

Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

A LEVELS

Standard: BBB

Minimum: BBC

Adjusted: CCC

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3.

Entry from College

Advanced entry to this degree may be possible from some HNC/HND qualifications, please see www.abdn.ac.uk/study/articulation for more details.

The information displayed in this section shows a shortened summary of our entry requirements. For more information, or for full entry requirements for Arts and Social Sciences degrees, see our detailed entry requirements section.


English Language Requirements

To study for an Undergraduate degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.0 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0

TOEFL iBT:

OVERALL - 78 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 59 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 169 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
RUK £9,250
Students Admitted in 2021/22
EU / International students £18,000
Tuition Fees for 2021/22 Academic Year
Home Students £1,820
Tuition Fees for 2021/22 Academic Year

Scholarships and Funding

Students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who pay tuition fees may be eligible for specific scholarships allowing them to receive additional funding. These are designed to provide assistance to help students support themselves during their time at Aberdeen.

Additional Fees

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.

Undergraduate EU Scholarship

The Aberdeen Global Undergraduate Scholarship is open to European Union (EU) students.

This is an £8,000 tuition fee discount available to eligible self-funded Undergraduate students who would have previously been eligible for Home (Scottish/EU) fee status.

View Undergraduate EU Scholarship

Careers

There are many opportunities at the University of Aberdeen to develop your knowledge, gain experience and build a competitive set of skills to enhance your employability. This is essential for your future career success. The Careers and Employability Service can help you to plan your career and support your choices throughout your time with us, from first to final year – and beyond.

Our Experts

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Discover Uni

Discover Uni draws together comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. You can compare these and other data for different degree programmes in which you are interested.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Address
Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
Aberdeen
AB24 3FX