University of abertay

University of Abertay Dundee
File:University of Abertay Dundee Logo.png
Established 1994 - granted University Status
1888 - Dundee Institute of Technology
Type Public
Chancellor Rt. Hon. Lord Cullen of Whitekirk
Principal Professor Nigel Seaton
Chairman of Court Eddie Frizzell
Students 4894
Undergraduates 4445
Postgraduates 449
Location Dundee, Scotland

The University of Abertay Dundee, usually known simply as Abertay University, is a modern university in Dundee, Scotland.


The University of Abertay Dundee was created in 1994, under government legislation granting the title "University" to the Dundee Institute of Technology. This organisation - focussed on broadening educational access to the working classes of Dundee - was founded in 1888 as Dundee College of Technology. It was described as an "industrial university" in a report prepared for the Scottish Office, then known as "The Scotch Office" as early as 1902 and gained independent degree-giving authority in the 1970s.

Academic profile and reputation

Abertay is situated in the centre of Dundee. The campus buildings include the historic Old College buildings of Dundee Business School, a library, scenes of crime teaching facilities, specialist Ethical Hacking labs designed for research into computer hacking and misuse, and modern computer games labs in the UK Centre for Excellence in Computer Games Education.

Abertay was the first university in the world to offer a "computer games" degree in 1997.[1] Today it remains a leader in the field with two major new developments - the creation of the UK's first Centre for Excellence in Computer Games Education, and a business support programme.[2]

The Centre for Excellence is accredited by Skillset[3][4] and has strong links with industrial partners from across the broadcast, interactive and wider digital media sectors. These partners include BBC Scotland, BBC New Media, BBC Vision, BSkyB, Channel 4, Electronic Arts, Codemasters, Blitz, Rare, Sony Entertainment Europe, Microsoft and Disney Interactive.

The University runs Ethical Hacking degree programmes, both undergraduate and postgraduate. Recently spending substantial amounts of money upgrading its specialist laboratories, Abertay is at the forefront for research into computer security, and countermeasure development.

The findings of the latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) showed that Abertay is the most highly rated modern university in Scotland for research in environmental sciences, law and psychology.[5]

Abertay academics also research in the fields of forensic science, environmental systems, mental health and counselling, psychology, food science, biotechnology, and business management. The forensic science teaching facilities include a scenes of crime house. Abertay researchers made global headlines when they published results from their research into recovering fingerprints from fabrics using a technique known as vacuum metal deposition (VMD). It is the first time in more than 30 years that fingerprints on fabrics have been a major focus for research and the team have already had a number of successes using this method.

Abertay organises and hosts the annual international Dare to be Digital games design competition which involves teams of students from around the world competing to create a new game in the space of nine weeks. Working with industry mentors, the teams experience the same studio environment as they would working with a major company - as do the students on Abertay's courses. The winning teams are the sole nominees for a unique BAFTA Ones to Watch Award, which is announced at the British Academy Video Games Awards each year.


Further to the research carried out in Abertay’s Specialist Centres, the University also has research interests in a number of other areas including law, psychology and forensic science.

The findings of the latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) showed that Abertay is the best modern university in Scotland for research in environmental sciences, law and psychology.

The RAE results 2008 showed that Abertay has significantly improved its overall performance since the last RAE in 2001:

  • 35% of Abertay academic staff were judged to be producing research of international quality
  • 10% of staff in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences are working at world-leading standards
  • 75% of staff are producing international quality research
  • 80% of Law staff are working at international level
  • 65% of General Engineering staff are working at international level


The University is composed of Schools and Divisions, rather than the usual Faculties and Departments. There are Four Schools and one Institute, plus a number of support services.

School of Engineering, Computing and Applied Mathematics

Abertay offered the UK’s first ‘ethical hacking’ degrees,[6] and is one of the foremost centres for computer hacking in the country. Other courses include computing and networking, web design and development, and engineering systems.

The ethical hacking courses, offered at undergraduate and postgraduate level, teach students to hack computer systems. The knowledge base allows students to develop countermeasures to complex security problems, and as a result produce highly powerful computer security systems. The applied approach to security is common to the other courses on offer. These include degrees in engineering systems, which teaches sophisticated computer control of manufacturing processes, and in security informatics using technology to understand and prevent major international crimes.

Abertay's Ethical Hacking Society currently meets every week on campus. It seeks to educate and enlighten members about offensive computer security, its techniques, and its impacts. Its members represent the University around Europe at hacking conferences such as Brucon. Securi-TAY[7] is the society's annual hacking conference. The combination of information security research, Ethical Hacking degree courses, and an active society makes Abertay a popular location for cybersecurity education.

Institute of Arts, Media and Computer Games

The Institute of Arts, Media and Computer Games has links with companies informing the contents of its courses, which range from games programming at the science and technology end to narrative-based animation at the arts end.

All the courses are Skillset accredited,[3] with the Institute being awarded Skillset Media Academy status.[4] The Institute’s teaching spaces are like the studio environments used by modern creative companies – games programmers work alongside animators and visual artists, and sound technologists create content for computer games and other interactive media products.

The Institute is also host to the international game design competition Dare to be Digital each year, which sees teams of students travelling to Scotland for nine weeks to develop a new game. The games are put on show to the public at the annual Dare ProtoPlay games festival in August, then three teams are picked to compete for the unique BAFTA Ones to Watch Award.

School of Contemporary Sciences

The School of Contemporary Science comprises the Division of Environment and Forensic Science, the Urban Water Technology Centre (UWTC), the SIMBIOS Centre, and the Division of Food and Life Sciences.

The courses on offer include Biomedical Science, Civil Engineering, Biotechnology, Energy and Environmental Management, Food Science and Technology, Policing and Security, and Forensic Sciences.

Within the School are laboratories for chemical analysis, building and testing engineering solutions, and training forensic science graduates using simulated crimes. The university's Rankin House - a fully furnished flat for recreating crime scenes - was named after and opened by internationally renowned crime writer Ian Rankin.

Dundee Business School

Dundee Business School has links with both young and mature industries, such as new media and energy and oil, and staff from a range of academic, professional and industry backgrounds.

Courses available include a range of MBA pathways - including biotechnology, energy, finance and sports development – as well as programmes in accounting, law and marketing.

Students in Dundee Business School take part in international business challenges competitions, as well as interactive projects working with real companies during their studies.

The school also hosts an Innovation and Global Growth Week where companies are invited to present business problems to postgraduate students, then work with them to develop innovative solutions. Companies represented at the 2013 week included Axeon, Cairndene, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Harris Tweed, Heineken, Michelin and Stoneridge Electronics.

School of Social and Health Sciences

Courses on offer include Psychology, Nursing, Counselling Studies, Sport and Exercise Science, and Sociology.

Courses offered by the Division of Psychology are accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS). This means that students who complete a course of study and meet the requirements of the BPS, are eligible for entry to postgraduate training for professional practice.

The Division of Nursing and Counselling has a dedicated nursing bay on campus for real clinical practice, as well as a counselling suite for students to practice their therapeutic techniques. Video recording equipment allows the review of training sessions, to encourage personal and professional development of student counsellors.

Research Groups


The Scottish Informatics, Mathematics, Biology, and Statistics (SIMBIOS) Centre is an interdisciplinary research group within the School of Contemporary Sciences. The research team are world renowned for their work with soils and ecosystems for example, with leading academics from around the world having joined the team in recent years. The team work across a number of areas including using soil science to understand climate change.

Urban Water Technology Centre

The Urban Water Technology Centre (UWTC) developed from the activities of a group of staff carrying out research and consultancy work associated with wastewater and environmental management. As a direct result of work carried out, UWTC staff have particular expertise in sewer systems operation and design, wastewater treatment systems, anaerobic digestion, sustainability issues, and urban eco-system service evaluations.

Abertay Centre for the Environment

The SIMBIOS Centre and UWTC jointly run the Abertay Centre for the Environment, a Knowledge Transfer Partnership. Research areas include anaerobic digestion, wastewater treatment processes, biofuels, yeast fermentation, sustainability, environmental visualisation, stormwater management and sustainable urban drainage systems, soil physics and biology.

Food Innovation @ Abertay

Food Innovation @ Abertay (FIA) is a practical innovation support service for the Scottish food and drink industry. Based within the School of Contemporary Sciences, FIA has worked on a range of projects, ranging from the reformulation of products to reduce fat and salt content, to gluten-free products, to developing seaweed as an ingredient. They have also worked on juice and meat products, as well as many bakery and meat products.

Sports Consortium

The Sport, Performance, and Exercise Consortium (SPEC) aims to provide a central focus for members of a wide range of academic disciplines involved in the study of the use and impact of sport and exercise.

Investigation, Security, Policing and Intelligence

The Investigation, Security, Policing & Intelligence (I-SPI) Research Group including psychologists, sociologists, forensic scientists, computer scientists and lawyers - who are directly or indirectly engaged with research relating to the promotion of criminal justice.

Group members have achieved exciting advancements and impacts in the field of criminal justice research, including ground-breaking forensic techniques to detect fingerprints on fabrics, and innovative ways to obtain reliable evidence from victims and witnesses of crimes.

Evolutionary & Biological Approaches to Behaviour

The Evolutionary & Biological Approaches to Behaviour (EBAB) research group encompasses the core research interests of staff from the University's Division of Psychology. This involves taking an evolutionary and biological approach to the study of behaviour in humans and other animals. It also encompasses the wider scope of 'biological and evolutionary influences' and how these factors fit into other areas of study.

Sustainable Assessment, Visualisation & Enhancement

The Sustainability Assessment, Visualisation & Enhancement (SAVE) research group are developing a suite of tools - including interactive simulation and visualisations - that communicate complex multivariate information to diverse stakeholder groups.

The research has been applied to urban regeneration projects for Dundee and Fife councils, sustainable coastal management, studying the effect of alternative water management strategies on the life cycle of phosphates in rivers, and the influence of land management strategies on the sustainability of ecosystems.

Student life


  • Alloway Halls
  • Lyon Street
  • Meadowside Hall
  • CRM Students Dundee
  • Victoria Chambers

Students' Union

Home to Abertay's 5000+ students, this building was constructed in 2005 at a cost of £6 million. The Union sits at the heart of the campus. It is the focal point for student entertainment and recreation and contains numerous outlets including Aroma coffee bar, Bar One, the Sports Bar, Hideout nightclub and Campus Shop.[8]

On the top floor of the building is the Hannah Maclure Centre (HMC), a cafe and art gallery which shows exhibitions from local, national and international artists. It also hosts university events and has a cinema which regularly has free film screenings, open to the public.

The University of Abertay Dundee Students' Association (UADSA) is based in the Union on the second floor where the President and Vice-President have their offices. The UADSA co-ordinates all clubs and societies and acts as the voice and representation of all of Abertay's students. The President for 2013-2014 is Richard Cook[9] and the Vice-President is Sarah Samson.[10]

Notable alumni


External links

  • University of Abertay Dundee
  • University of Abertay Students Association

Template:Universities in Scotland

Coordinates: 56°27′48″N 2°58′31″W / 56.46333°N 2.97528°W / 56.46333; -2.97528

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