Dr Duncan Cockburn

Duncan Cockburn
Vice Principal for Strategy and Planning

Duncan has many years of experience in higher education, having spent the majority of his career working in the sector in a variety of roles. He is a graduate of the University of Aberdeen, holding a MA honours degree in History and a PhD on the subject of the development of Scottish medicine and science, and the influence of Italy from 1495 to 1640. He is also a former President of the University of Aberdeen’s Student Association.

Duncan took up his first role in the higher education sector in 2004 as Head of sparqs (Student Participation in Quality Scotland) before joining RGU in 2008 as the Principal’s Policy Advisor. He was appointed as the Director of Planning and Policy at the University in 2013.  In his current role, Duncan is also the executive lead for a number of departments, including Communications; Marketing; Student Recruitment & Admissions; Widening Access as well as Strategy, Planning & Policy.

Outwith work, Duncan is active in the cultural sector, he was appointed to the Board of Creative Scotland in 2019.  At a regional level he is Chair of Culture Aberdeen, the city’s cultural network responsible for the implementation and monitoring of the region’s cultural strategy.  He is also a Board member of both Aberdeen Performing Arts and Sound and was formally Chair of the Look Again visual arts and design festival run annually across Aberdeen and led by the University.  Duncan is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts. 

In his spare time, Duncan enjoys cooking, gardening and reading history books.


  • Strategy, Planning and Policy
  • Communications
  • Marketing
  • Student Recruitment & Admissions
  • Widening Access

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