Our identity, purpose and values

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We are a university that holds social purpose, building on our long-standing values, dear to our hearts. We are not afraid to act purposively to make a real difference in the world.  The primacy of social purpose was intrinsic in our founding principles and has evolved and grown with us as we continue to transform lives, locally and globally, working together as a community to deliver positive change.  We will be “One Dundee”. 

Our impact on the world around us is enabled by the intensity of our focus in research, education, and engagement. In the coming decades, this triple intensity will be further enhanced across our university as we ensure that we pursue excellence in all that we do to make a positive difference.  The changes we make will ensure that the legacy we pass on will be strong, vibrant, and relevant to current and future challenges we all will face.

  • We are passionate about our social purpose
  • We focus our excellence to make a difference
  • We are a confident and high performing community
  • Though our reach is global, we are of Dundee, and for Dundee

Social purpose inspires us and drives everything we do.

We deliver impact through our graduates and students, our research and scholarship, and our contribution to health, society, and the economy across the globe and here in Scotland.  Our students are co-architects of the future and our partnership with them means that the student voice and our commitment to the student experience are, and will remain, distinctive features of the Dundee experience, the “Dundee Difference”.  Together with our students, we actively nurture our relationship with wider society, both locally and globally.

We will move forward with confidence, clarity of direction, and focus to ensure that our high performing community continues to have a positive impact on the world around us.


Our vision is to be a University globally renowned for our social purpose, delivered through our intensity and excellence in research, education and engagement. We will be agile and globally connected, focused on what we do best and where we can most effectively transform lives. Our students will be recognised as talented contributors to the work that is urgently needed to address the most pressing problems facing the world. 


Building on our history and the world-changing heritage of our city, our mission continues to be to ‘transform lives though the creation, sharing and application of knowledge’.


Our core values were adopted in 2012 after a deep and reflective consultation across our extended community. They describe who we are and how we act. They are:

  • Valuing people
  • Working together
  • Integrity
  • Making a difference
  • Excellence

These values continue to reflect our identity and they inform how we behave, make decisions, communicate and work. We will ensure a culture at our University of empowerment with accountability, and act together as a high performing community. We will work together in the relentless pursuit and delivery of our goals, underpinned by our values.

The Dundee Difference

Active partnership is a distinctive aspect of our University.  We are committed to working with our students, actively listening to them and responding to their voice. That commitment is genuine and needs constant work to ensure that it remains a mark of distinction. The partnership between staff and students, between the University and DUSA (Dundee University Students’ Association), is fundamental to who we are and to our success and needs to respond to challenges, local and global, as they arise.

This approach extends to how we work with other partners here in Tayside and around the world.  We have a strong sense of place, as a beacon within our fast-changing city with world-leading areas of research-intensity characterised by excellence and real-world impact. We have a history of design-led and creative approaches and of educating high quality graduates providing them with the skills to become global change-makers. We benefit from our location with city centre appeal combined with the security of a vibrant campus, and the remarkable quality of the natural environment that surrounds us.

What makes us distinctive and unique is the combination of all of these elements. We call this the Dundee Difference.

Our future focus

We have significant areas of excellence in research, education, and social impact which enable us to fulfil our mission in transforming lives. However, we can and will do even more to focus our contributions. We have the human, financial, and physical resources to deliver an even stronger and more vibrant university.  We also have both the appetite and capacity to embrace positive change, to be fit for the future and to manage the associated risks.

Over the next five-year period, we will continue to grow and focus on our internationally recognised excellence in life sciences, medicine and health, and art and design. We will reinvigorate and enhance our competitive strengths in science and engineering, business, law, social sciences and humanities to meet contemporary challenges, both local and global, in addressing social problems and in meeting the needs of the employment market.

We will confront head-on the challenges and uncertainties that society is facing and support the delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We will develop priority academic themes to provide focus and concentrate our impact on those areas where we can make the most difference. These are:

  • Population Health and Wealth
  • Climate Action and Net Zero
  • Equity and Inclusion

View case studies from our priority academic themes

Investigating these themes in our curricula will ensure that our students will be active global citizens attuned to social needs from the local to the global as well as the ways in which these are interconnected.

We will also strengthen and form new alliances and partnerships, at home and abroad, based on mutual respect and recognition of the need for co-design and co-delivery that meet all of our needs, particularly of those most disadvantaged.

We will be decisive in making choices and initiating changes that will deliver on these themes.