Research projects, centres, networks and publications in Scandinavian Studies.
We study the Nordic societies and their contributions to the world, present and past.
We have particular research strengths in:
- Language and linguistics - including language history, language policy, historical and critical onomastics, dialectology and linguistic landscapes
- Literature and culture - including nations, transnationalism, postnationalism, diasporas and migration, geocriticism, travel writing, children’s literature and literary translation
- Broader social, historical and geographical topics spanning the Viking, medieval, modern and contemporary eras
In the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), our research was submitted in Modern Languages.
The results reaffirm Edinburgh’s position as one of the UK’s leading research universities - third in the UK based on the quality and breadth of its research in Modern Languages according to Times Higher Education's REF power ratings.
Browse Edinburgh Research Explorer for staff profiles, research outputs and activities
Selected research centres and networks
Research centres and networks range from formal collaborations to informal groups of researchers working together on a theme or challenge.
The groups provide opportunities for researchers at all career stages to work together with partners and stakeholders in organising events, workshopping publications, engaging audiences outside the academy, and exploring ideas for future projects and funding bids.
Established in 1956, the Northern Scholars scheme fosters co-operation between colleagues in the University of Edinburgh and scholars of the Nordic and Baltic countries: Denmark; Finland; the Faroes; Greenland; Iceland; Norway; Sweden; Estonia; Latvia; and Lithuania. Mutual areas of interest include aspects of linguistics, history and culture common to these countries and to Scotland.
Selected research projects
At its first peak in 2020, the COVID-19 crisis saw the closure of most of Europe’s national borders and many internal boundaries. Were these closures only a temporary measure or, in light of similar responses to migration, war and terror, do they signal an evolution in re-bordering trends? Situating these questions in the wider context of national, transnational and regional identities, Borders as Living Spaces examines the complex impact of COVID-19, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and migration on European borderlands. In the project, Dr Ruairidh Tarvet uses the theoretical framework he developed for his 2018 PhD thesis, and which he recently expanded upon in a study of COVID-19’s impact on national identity and societal sustainability in the Danish-German borderlands.
Borders as Living Spaces is a comparative analysis of re-bordering trends using survey and interview material. It documents the impact of re-bordering on the lives of the residents and minority populations in two different European border regions: Denmark-Germany; and Austria-Slovakia. The communities studied have centuries of experience as sites of conflict resolution, integration and identity negotiation. As well as policy makers, the study will be of particular use to the minority and borderland community institutions who struggle to find a voice and recognition in times of major crises.
Watch or listen to Ruairidh talk to Manchester Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence about his research on borderlands
Read an article (in Danish) referencing the research on the Grænseforeningen (Border Association) website
Funded by the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) Research Fund: July 2022 to July 2023
LLC team: Dr Ruairidh Tarvet (Principal Investigator)
The Islay Life Explorer (ÌLE) is a web-based portal to a unique collection of thematically layered data on the Inner Hebridean island of Islay off Scotland’s west coast. The project developed out of research into Viking settlement in Islay which established the nature and extent of Norse-native interaction on the island during the Viking Age. The initial research collated and analysed an extensive body of linguistic, environmental, archaeological, historical and cartographic material, including place-names, family histories and cultural heritage from sources including the Islay Cultural Database. ÌLE makes this material freely and digitally accessible for personal use.
The ÌLE searchable map shows local historic sites and features, as well as a family history of people who once lived on Islay and the places associated with them. Recently updated, the interface was developed in collaboration with the School of Geosciences, including postgraduate students on the Geographical Information Science programme, and informed by activities with Islay school and community groups. In addition to ÌLE, outputs from the original research include the monograph, 'The Vikings in Islay: The Place of Names in Hebridean Settlement History'. A systematic review of around 240 of the island's farm and nature names, this was shortlisted for the Saltire Society's 'Research Book of the Year' award 2016.
Watch or listen to BBC Reel's Why the Vikings never left Scotland
Funded by the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) Impact Fund
LLC team: Dr Alan Macniven (Principal Investigator)
Tabula Nortmannorum is a pioneering project to establish an interdisciplinary digital resource for the study of the Viking Age (c. 750-1050 CE). Researchers are currently developing a web-based GIS interface to give users a fully interactive online environment in which to explore, map, and interpret Scandinavian activity across the Viking world. Specifically, the resource will allow users to spatially analyse a comprehensive, georeferenced database of primary evidence. This will visually link Scandinavian commerce, conflict and co-existence across and beyond their various European theatres.
At present, Tabula Nortmannorum’s planned features include customisable and multi-layered mapping of Viking activity, references to relevant primary and secondary literature, and a timeline component. This will allow users to chronologically pinpoint and collate specific historical events, archaeological deposits, and onomastic elements. By mapping the Nordic origins, overseas movement, and diasporic influence of the Viking phenomenon, this project aims to provide a broad and innovative reference framework for prospective academic research.
LLC team: Dr Alan Macniven (Principal Investigator)
We offer a one-year Masters by Research (MScR) degree and a full PhD programme in Scandinavian Studies.
Working with colleagues elsewhere in LLC, and across the wider University, we are able to support research which crosses boundaries between disciplines and languages.
Find out more about postgraduate research in Scandinavian Studies