Abertay University

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Abertay University
Abertay University logo.png
Established 1994 - granted University Status
1888 - Dundee Institute of Technology
Type Public
Chancellor Rt. Hon. Lord Cullen of Whitekirk
Principal Nigel Seaton
Chairman of Court Eddie Frizzell
Students 4894
Undergraduates 4445
Postgraduates 449
Location Dundee, Scotland
56°27′48″N 2°58′25″W / 56.46333°N 2.97361°W / 56.46333; -2.97361Coordinates: 56°27′48″N 2°58′25″W / 56.46333°N 2.97361°W / 56.46333; -2.97361
Affiliations Million+
Website www.abertay.ac.uk

Abertay University, formerly the University of Abertay Dundee, is a modern university in Dundee, Scotland.


Abertay University 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[edit]

(2015, national)
The Guardian[2]
(2015, national)
Times/Sunday Times[3]
(2015, national)
The student library
Dudhope Castle
Kydd Building

Abertay University is situated in the centre of Dundee. The campus buildings include the historic Old College buildings of Dundee Business School, the Bernard King 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.[4] 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.[5]

The Centre for Excellence is accredited by Skillset[6][7] 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.[8]

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


Logo of the University of Abertay on the side of the library

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[edit]

Abertay offered the UK’s first ‘ethical hacking’ degrees,[9] 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.

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[10] 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[edit]

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,[6] with the Institute being awarded Skillset Media Academy status.[7] 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[edit]

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[edit]

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.

School of Social and Health Sciences[edit]

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[edit]

SIMBIOS The Scottish Informatics, Mathematics, Biology, and Statistics (SIMBIOS) Centre is an interdisciplinary research group within the School of Contemporary Sciences. The team work across a number of areas including using soil science to understand climate change.

Urban Water Technology Centre

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.

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 are engaged with research relating to the promotion of criminal justice.

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[edit]


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

Students' Union[edit]

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.[11]

On the top floor of the building is the Hannah Maclure Centre (HMC), a cafe and art gallery. 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. 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[12] and the Vice-President is Sarah Samson.[13]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "University League Table 2015". The Complete University Guide. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "University league table 2015 - the complete list". The Guardian. 2 June 2014. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Times and Sunday Times University League Tables 2015". Times Newspapers. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  4. ^ "Computer games courses". University of Abertay Dundee. 
  5. ^ "Support for business". University of Abertay Dundee. Retrieved January 27, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b "Computer Games Industry Accredited Courses". London: Creative Skillset. 
  7. ^ a b "Accredited Computer Games courses: University of Abertay Dundee". London: Creative Skillset. 
  8. ^ "Research Assessment Exercise 2008: the outcome". December 2008. 
  9. ^ "Computer course to teach hacking". BBC News. 2006-06-19. 
  10. ^ "Securi-TAY". 
  11. ^ "Abertay Students' Union | Your Union". University of Abertay Dundee Students' Association. Retrieved 29 October 2012. 
  12. ^ Squire, Stewart. "Election results". University of Abertay Dundee Students' Association. Retrieved 2013-07-18. 
  13. ^ Samson, Sarah. "Vice President's welcome for the year 2012/13". University of Abertay Dundee Students' Association. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 

External links[edit]