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  Weather, climate, human impacts and human responses in early modern Scotland (c.1600-c.1700).

   School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law

   Sunday, June 30, 2024  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

This project is relevant to the interdisciplinary research theme of climate action and net zero.

Due to its geographical position at the North East corner of the Atlantic Ocean, Scotland was particularly affected by climate change in the early modern period, most notoriously during the 'Seven Ill Years' of the 1690s Maunder Minimum period. The goal of this research project is to place that crisis in a longer-term perspective and provide insights into how people understand and respond to climate change. The aims of the project are to achieve an enhanced understanding of:

- the impact of the Little Ice Age on weather patterns across the seventeenth century

- the impact of those changes on human society

- human responses to those impacts

- the evolution of human attitudes to shifting patterns of weather.

It will apply a proven methodology combining quantitative and qualitative analysis of surviving written records. At its core are the records of the courts of the Church of Scotland, a research resource unique in early modern Europe in geographical coverage, susceptibility to weather impacts, and tendency to record those impacts. Alongside those, other administrative sources and personal writings (diaries and correspondence) will enhance the qualitative analysis of the weather patterns recorded in those ecclesiastical records by providing complementary evidence for social responses and human attitudes to weather and climate.

For informal enquiries about the project, contact; Dr Alan MacDonald

For general enquiries about the University of Dundee, contact

Our research community thrives on the diversity of students and staff which helps to make the University of Dundee a UK university of choice for postgraduate research. We welcome applications from all talented individuals and are committed to widening access to those who have the ability and potential to benefit from higher education.


Applicants must have obtained, or expect to obtain, a UK honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent for non-UK qualifications), and/or a Masters degree in a relevant discipline. For international qualifications, please see equivalent entry requirements here:

English language requirement: IELTS (Academic) overall score must be at least 7.0 (with not less than 7.0 in reading, listening, speaking and writing). The University of Dundee accepts a variety of equivalent qualifications and alternative ways to demonstrate language proficiency; please see full details of the University’s English language requirements here:



Step 1: Email Dr Alan MacDonald to (1) send a copy of your CV and (2) discuss your potential application and any practicalities (e.g. suitable start date).

Step 2: After discussion with Dr MacDonald, formal applications can be made via our direct application system. When applying, please follow the instructions below:

Candidates must apply for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in PhD in History (3 Year);PhD in Geography & Environmental Science (3 Year); using our direct application system.

Please select the study mode (full-time/part-time) and start date agreed with the lead supervisor.

In the Research Proposal section, please:

-         Enter the lead supervisor’s name in the ‘proposed supervisor’ box

-         Enter the project title listed at the top of this page in the ‘proposed project title’ box

In the ‘personal statement’ section, please outline your suitability for the project selected.

History & Archaeology (19)

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project. The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees and living expenses, via external sponsorship or self-funding.


A.R. MacDonald and J. McCallum, 'The evidence for early seventeenth-century climate from Scottish Ecclesiastical records', Environment and History, vol. 19 (2013), pp.487-509.

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