Institute for Northern Studies

The Orkney and Shetland Islands, along with Caithness on the Scottish mainland, are identified primarily in terms of their Nordic cultural and linguistic heritage. The work of the Institute for Northern Studies aims to rediscover, preserve and interpret local culture for future generations.

The Institute for Northern Studies is Scotland’s most northerly research centre. We deliver locative based research and teaching in the Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland. We aim to place the Scottish Islands and Scottish Highlands in their Nordic and North Atlantic context. We work with other universities in the UK and abroad, heritage agencies and local businesses.

INS has been involved in the following funded research projects:

  • 2010 - 2013 the HERA Joint Research Programme funded Assembly Project (TAP) – Meeting-places in Northern Europe AD 400-1500, an international collaborative project investigating the first systems of governance in Northern Europe, co-investigator with the Universities of Oslo, Vienna, and Durham.
  • 2012 - 2013 the AHRC funded Skills Training programme for PhD students and ECRs in the field of Old Norse-Icelandic and Viking Studies, co-investigator with the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Nottingham - More information on the project website.
  • 2012 the AHRC funded Orkney and Shetland Dialect Corpus Project - a scoping study to ascertain the feasibility of developing a larger corpus-based project on Orkney and Shetland dialect grammar.
  • 2011 - 2013 the Royal Society of Edinburgh funded Hjaltland Research Network - created to plan a large-scale multi-disciplinary research project into Viking Age Shetland and the North Atlantic, co-investigator with the Universities of Lund, Copenhagen and Edinburgh - More information on the project website.
  • 2002 - 2006 the Northern Peripheries Project Northern Heritage consortium, co-investigator with Universities in Scandinavia.

We offer research-led teaching at post-graduate level in the form of five MLitt programmes (link to course page). We also advise PhD students working on topics such as the traditional Shetland boat, Orcadian Identity and intercultural exchange between Shetland and Norway, and Highlands and Islands literature. (link to Phd students page).


Key information and contact details

You can find more information at the Institute for Northern Studies website.

For detailed information on research staff, publications, activity and equipment at this centre please use the UHI Research Database.

Institute Director: Prof Donna Heddle

T: +44 [0]1856 569247

General enquiries: Ms Kim Burns

T: +44 [0]1856 569300

INS Orkney, Scott’s House, Grainshore Road, Hatston, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1FL
INS, Shetland College UHI, Gremista, Lerwick, Shetland ZE1 0PX - tel (+44) (0)1595 771407
INS, Webster Building, Perth College UHI, Crieff Road, Perth PH1 2NX  - tel (+44) (0)1738 569301