Alan Macniven

Alan Macniven


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am very happy to consider proposals for PhD and MSc (R) projects on all aspects of the Viking Age, especially those with a multi-disciplinary focus, or an emphasis on place-names or Scotland. I would also welcome proposals for research projects on more modern developments in Scandinavian, and particularly Swedish, literature, language and culture.

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Personal profile


  • MA, MSc, PhD (Edinburgh)
  • PGCE (Cumbria)
  • PGCUT (Edinburgh)
  • Fellow, Higher Education Academy
  • Convener, Scottish Place-Name Society
  • Committee Member, Scottish Society for Northern Studies
  • Convener of the Northern Scholars' Scheme, the University of Edinburgh
  • Representative for Scotland, Viking Congress
  • Trustee, Finlaggan Trust
  • Fellow, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
  • Member, Cross Party Group on the Nordic Countries


  • I am currently Head of DELC: Scandinavian Studies


  • I have previously served as School Representative on the College Library & IS Committee; and as the Convenenor, and Deputy Convener of the MEL Exam Board for DELC.
  • As Head of the DELC Teaching Organisation, I was responsible for compiling the Analytical Report for DELC's periodical Teaching Programme Review in 2017.
  • I have served as External Examiner in Scandinavian Studies for University College, London; and in Swedish for the University of Aberdeen; and as External Advisor for Leeds Metropolitan University.

Research Interests

Dr Macniven's current research focuses on cultural interaction, principally between Norse and native in western maritime Scotland during the Viking Age. Although dogmatically interdisciplinary, the main source material for this work comes from the names of places and associated settlement studies. Specific interests include: immigrant naming practices in fully occupied and named landscapes; the nature and extent of cultural transitions at the beginning and end of Scotland’s Viking Age; and the evidence for maricultural practices and military infrastructure in Scandinavian Scotland. Alan's Monograph, The Vikings in Islay (2015, John Donald), was shortlisted for the Saltire Society's 'Research Book of the Year' award.



  • Viking Studies (Course Organiser)
  • Old Norse Literature and Society (Course Organiser)
  • The Material Culture of Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic Scotland (Course Organiser)

1st & 2nd Year

  • Scandinavian Literature 2 (Course Organiser)
  • Scandinavian Civilisation A (Course Organiser)
  • Scandinavian Civilisation B (Course Organiser)


  • History of the Scandinavian Novel
  • History of the Scandinavian Languages
  • Scandinavian Place-Name Studies
  • Old Norse Literature and Society (Course Organiser)
  • Viking Studies (Course Organiser)


Research students

Current Research Students

  • Jess Nutt (PhD): An inter-disciplinary investigation into the Viking’s presence in Early Medieval Wales using evidence of conflict.
  • Lynn Schoenbeck (PhD): Bog bodies, and their place in Danish national identity.
  • William Norman (MSc by Research): Is their a beneficial future for a united Scandinavia?

Completed PhD Projects

  • Dr Daniel Haycraft (2022): Famine, Fever, Flood, and Conquest: The Impact of Natural Disasters on the Ninth-Century Rise of the Vikings in the Carolingian Empire According to the Royal Frankish Annals, the Annals of Xanten, the Annals of St Bertin, and The Annals of Fulda.
  • Dr Christian Cooijmans (2018): Of Monarchs and Hydrarchs: A Conceptual Development Model for Viking Activity across the Frankish Realm (c. 750-940 CE).
  • Dr Ryan Foster (2018): Norse Shielings in Scotland: An interdisciplinary study of setr/sætr and ærgi-names.
  • Dr Ian Giles (2018): Tracing the Transmission of Scandinavian Literature to the UK: 1917-2017.
  • Dr Katarzyna Aleksiejuk (2016): Names on the Internet: Towards Electronic Socio-onomastics.
  • Dr Dominic Hinde (2015): Our shared future: The rhetorics of modern Swedish environmentalism.
  • Dr Ersev Ersoy (2012): Social reality and mythic worlds: reflections on folk belief and the supernatural in James Macpherson's Ossian and Elias Lönnrot's Kalevala.

Completed MSc by Research Projects

  • Elizabeth Bradbury (2018): Facets of the Feminine in Old Norse Religion.
  • Kevin Luschen (2018): Aspects of Viking Age Sword Culture in Scotland.
  • Eric Cain (2012): Insecurity in the Unresolved: The Game of Literature Experience and [Un]resolution in Swedish Crime and Horror Fiction of Mankell’s Mördare mot ansikte, Lindqvist’s Låt den rätta komma in, and Roman’s Mörkrädd.
  • Marilyn Amedro (2011): Reflections on the Instability of Place and Identity in the first two novels of William Heinesen.               
  • Dominic Hinde (2011): A perceived utopia?: Four narratives on the environment in Sweden.


Education/Academic qualification

Scandinavian Studies, Master of Arts, University of Edinburgh

Scandinavian Studies, Master of Science, University of Edinburgh

Scandinavian Studies, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Edinburgh

External positions

External Examiner, Scandinavian Studies, University College London


External Examiner, Swedish, University of Aberdeen


External Adviser on Languages for International Communication (Swedish)., Leeds Metropolitan University



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