Explore the story of the North East with this flexible online course that can also help you qualify as an official tourist guide.

From ballads to BrewDog, this remarkably comprehensive course delves into the North East from every angle. History, archaeology, law, politics, religion, food, music, language, geology – you’ll learn from academic experts from almost every one of our University schools.

Study for pleasure, or use this course to work towards a Scottish Tourist Guides Association (STGA) Green Badge qualification. It allows you to work as an official tour guide in the region.

An always-on course, you can enrol whenever you like and you’ll have 12 months to complete it at your own pace.

100% online, you can study anywhere you have internet access. Available 24/7, you can study whenever it suits your schedule.

What you’ll study

The topics you’ll study include:

  • the history of Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and beyond
  • the landscape and geology of the area
  • the story of the fishing industry
  • the rise of tourism
  • how north-east Scotland’s identity has been informed by its Doric language, literature and music
  • the area’s remarkable contribution to the success of Scotland’s food and drink industry.

You’ll also gain the skills you need to undertake independent research, so you can go on to develop your own knowledge of the North East.

The course spans almost every discipline offered by the University:

  • Archaeology and architecture
  • Geology and natural history – including petroleum geology
  • History – including exploration of Aberdeen City Archives and Burgh records
  • Identity and culture – including education, food and drink, language, and sport
  • Law, politics and religion – including devolution, Scots law, and the court system.

By the end of this course, you’ll be able to…

  • Recall relevant data and elements of the primary topics presented on north-east Scotland.
  • Identify the key changes taking place within the topics presented and how they impact upon north-east Scotland today.
  • Specify how and where to locate further sources of information relating to north-east Scotland.
  • Evaluate the relevance and reliability of those identified sources.

Why study online with the University of Aberdeen?

An always-on course

Available 24/7. Study when it suits. Complete anytime within 12 months.

Become a tourist guide

This course allows you to progress to the next stage of training for a Scottish Tourist Guides Association (STGA) Green Badge.

You’re in expert hands

We’ve been delivering online and distance learning for decades.

How you’ll study

Online learning

This distance-learning course is delivered entirely online. You can study with us anywhere in the world.

Your teaching

This course is taught at HNC level (SCQF Level 7).

Your teaching is delivered through MyAberdeen, our online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It holds all the materials, tools and support you’ll need in your studies. Take a look around MyAberdeen.

We’ve created a fascinating mix of learning materials for this course. You can access them on computer, smartphone and laptop, 24 hours a day, including:

  • interviews
  • audio clips
  • video lectures and presentations
  • slide shows
  • reading materials
  • the online resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library
  • discussion boards with colleagues and tutors.

Your tutors

You’ll learn from experienced academics, researchers and local guides.

There is no formal assessment for this course.

A series of short online quizzes will help you monitor your progress throughout your studies.

This is an always-on course. Your learning materials are available to you online, 24/7. This means you’re free to set your own hours and dip in and study when it suits you.

Once you’ve enrolled, you’ll have 12 months to complete the course at your own pace.

As a guide, investing around five to seven hours per week means you should complete the course within three months.

Our first-class support structure will ensure that you aren’t alone in your studies. You’ll have contact with your tutors via MyAberdeen and email. You can use social media and discussion boards to chat with your fellow students too.

We provide a wide range of services to support you in your studies and beyond:

Wherever you are in the world, you’ll feel part of our very special Aberdeen learning community.

Where this will take you

You’ll receive a certificate of completion from the University of Aberdeen when you successfully complete the course, including quizzes.

You can take this course standalone, or use it to progress to the next stage of training to become an STGA-accredited tourist guide for north-east Scotland.

Become a Green Badge tourist guide

This course is run in conjunction with the STGA to help you qualify as an STGA Green Badge tourist guide for the North East.

To do so after completing this course:

  • Complete our online Running a Business course and a First Aid course of your choosing.
  • Apply to complete the STGA Professional Skills Training.
  • Pass the STGA final assessments to achieve your Green Badge certificate.

You’ll then be an STGA-accredited tourist guide with your own member’s page on the STGA website.

Scottish Tourist Guides Association logo

What is a Green Badge?

The STGA Green Badge is a regional tourist guide qualification. Green Badge members are affiliates of the STGA and wear the green ‘Regional Affiliate’ STGA badge.

Find out more the STGA Green Badge.

Step 1

Start anytime. No admissions scrutiny. Earn your certificate then complete our Running a Business course.

Step 2

Choose a First Aid course. Earn your First Aid certificate.

Step 3

Apply to the STGA. Earn your Green Badge.

Further learning

This course is part of a suite of History and Society courses that we offer online.

You can use them to build up credits towards higher qualifications. Find out more about credits.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

We welcome students from all over the world.

This course has no formal entry requirements. You do not need to provide proof of your qualifications.

But you do need to check the entry guidance above to understand the level of teaching delivered, to decide if this course is right for you.

If you do not have qualifications from the UK, check the equivalent teaching level for your country.

Visa requirements

You do not need a student visa to study online with us.

English language requirements

Teaching is delivered in English.

You do not have to provide proof of your English language skills to join this course. But we want to make sure that you can use English well enough to study successfully.

Recommended level of English

For this course, we recommend the following level of English language proficiency.

These are our Undergraduate Standard requirements, and these are minimum scores.

IELTS Academic, IELTS UKVI Academic, and IELTS Online (not IELTS Indicator or IELTS General Training)

  • 6.0 overall
  • 5.5 for listening, reading and speaking
  • 6.0 for writing

TOEFL iBT and TOEFL iBT Home Edition

  • 78 overall
  • 17 for listening
  • 18 for reading
  • 20 for speaking
  • 21 for writing
  • TOEFL DI code is 0818

Cambridge English: B2 First, C1 Advanced, or C2 Proficiency

  • 169 overall
  • 162 for listening, reading and speaking
  • 169 for writing

LanguageCert Academic/LanguageCert Academic SELT

  • 65 overall
  • 60 for listening, reading and speaking
  • 65 for writing

LanguageCert International ESOL B2 Communicator (Written and Spoken) – Online / In-centre

  • Overall Pass
  • 33 for listening, reading and speaking
  • 38 for writing

Oxford ELLT Digital – English Language Level Test Online

  • 6.0 overall
  • 5.0 for listening, reading and speaking
  • 6.0 for writing

PTE Academic (online test not accepted)

  • 59 overall
  • 59 for listening, reading, speaking and writing

For more information about language qualifications see our English Language Requirements page.

You will need access to:

A computer (PC, laptop or Mac) operating on either:

  • Windows 10 or later
  • macOS 10.15 (Catalina) or later.

Most teaching materials are smartphone- and tablet-friendly. But we recommend a proper laptop or desktop for completing assignments comfortably.

Reliable internet access

We recommend:

  • a wired connection
  • a minimum download speed of 2 Mbps so you can take part fully in live sessions.

Speakers or headphones

  • We recommend a headset with built-in microphone and earphones if you’re likely to study in an environment with background noise.
  • A webcam is optional, but you may like to use one for some interactive sessions.


We’ll give you access to Office365 applications. This means you can use online versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and install these programs on up to five personal devices.

If your course requires specialist software, we’ll provide you with access to this and a licence that lasts throughout your studies.

See our detailed IT requirements for more information.

When you study with us, you can expect a first-class support structure so that you’re never alone in your studies.

But learning online does mean you have to motivate yourself and manage your own time.

Your most important commitment will be time – the time to work through, reflect on and understand your teaching materials.

Before you start a course that involves a high degree of independent study, we recommend looking at the time you will be able to devote to your studies each week:

  • Be realistic
  • Create a weekly schedule as a guide

If you have any questions about studying online, get in touch with our friendly team. We’re here to help.

Fee payment

Your course fee needs to be paid in full before you start your course.

We accept payment via Visa Debit, Visa Credit and Mastercard.

Ways to save

You may be able to get help funding this course via:

  • discounts – if any discounts are available for this course, they’ll appear in the section below
  • employer sponsorship – we accept full and partial fee payments from sponsors.

Find out more about funding options.

Student card

All our students are entitled to a University of Aberdeen student card. This gives you access to a range of student discounts around the city and online.

Annual fee increases

Fees for this course will rise a little at the start of each academic year, on 1 August. This increase is typically 5%.

This course has no formal entry requirements. You decide if it’s suitable for you.

The course is delivered at undergraduate level. We warmly welcome anyone interested in deepening their knowledge of north-east Scotland or those wishing to become an STGA Green Badge tourist guide for the North East.

Apply for this course

Start date
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