Undergraduate study | Scandinavian Studies
Learn modern Danish, Swedish or Norwegian in the context of Scandinavian culture, past and present.
Why study Scandinavian Studies in Edinburgh?
Scandinavia's languages, and its history, politics and culture, have long had a considerable impact beyond the Nordic region.
Today, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish continue to expand in popularity. Scandinavia's screen and literary cultures attract global critical acclaim, and the socio-economic concept of the Nordic Model is widely studied.
Edinburgh is the only university in Scotland, and one of only two in the UK, to offer undergraduate honours programmes in Scandinavian Studies. This enables you to learn modern Danish, Swedish or Norwegian in the context of Scandinavian culture, past and present.
The University is also unique in Scotland in offering students a full academic year abroad within the four-year honours programme, regardless of whether you spend the year studying or working. If you are studying Danish, Swedish or Norwegian and another language, you will divide your time between two countries, broadening your skills and experience.
One of the most attractive characteristics of our degree is its flexibility. As well as lots of joint honours combinations, your first two (pre-honours) years will give you the option to study other subjects drawn from a broad list of disciplines.
You’ll be part of a small, friendly community of staff and students at all levels who really value each other’s interests, input and expertise, and where there’s lots going on in the subject area. Edinburgh itself is a world-leading festival city with excellent cultural and research links to the Nordic nations, and a great Scandinavian scene.
Studying Norwegian [my chosen Scandinavian language] was the best choice I have ever made. The department is full of many kind people who share my passion for Scandinavian Studies. The course starts at beginners' level, but after a year I already felt fluent in Norwegian, with the help of amazing tutors, fellow students, and the Scandinavian community here at the university.
- You’ll complete a four-year MA (Honours) degree. You can take Scandinavian Studies as a single honours degree, or jointly with one of a range of other subjects. Many of our degree combinations are unique in the UK.
- It doesn’t matter if you’re a complete beginner - the majority of our students are. Our staff, many of whom are native speakers, are experienced in the accelerated teaching of language skills and you’ll progress in no time.
- You’ll specialise in the modern language of either Denmark, Norway or Sweden but, whichever you choose, you’ll also gain an understanding of the other two.
Years 1 & 2
The first two years will provide a solid foundation in the Scandinavian language of your choice (written and spoken) and introduce you to the culture, literature and society of Denmark, Norway or Sweden.
In Year 1, you’ll be encouraged to take one, or both, of the two courses we offer in Scandinavian Civilisation, taking you from the earliest times to the present day.
In Year 2, you can choose to develop your skills in understanding all three Scandinavian languages so that you can recognise similarities and differences and translate between them.
- Whether you’re doing single or joint honours, you’ll do the same amount of core Scandinavian Studies courses in these pre-honours years. You’ll gain the rest of your credits from partner subject courses, if you are doing a joint degree, and outside courses, of which single honours students take more. This choice and flexibility may enable you to change the focus of your degree going into your final two (honours) years, which is when you start to specialise.
Years 3 & 4
- Your third year will typically be spent abroad, either studying or working, turning classroom learning into living engagement with other cultures. Our graduates have told us how much the Year Abroad has benefitted their broader life experience and skills, as well as their understanding of Scandinavia.
- If Scandinavian Studies is the only European language-based subject you are studying, your Year Abroad will be spent in either Denmark, Sweden or Norway. If you’re doing a joint degree with another European language, you’ll divide your time and travel plans between your two languages.
- As well as developing advanced language skills in these years, you will learn how to undertake your own research to the level of completing a dissertation or long essay in your final year. This is your chance to focus on a topic, period or discipline that’s of particular interest to you. We have an extensive range of honours courses to choose from, from Viking Studies to Ibsen and Brandes, and The History of the Scandinavian Novel.
- You’ll typically be based at the heart of the University of Edinburgh in a world-leading festival city with fantastic cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections.
- Our School has its own Study Resource Centre, in-house screening room and computing labs. The Main University Library is just across the square from us.
Teaching and learning
- Our approach to learning and teaching is active, inclusive and question driven to help you gain skills for life after university.
- Across your courses, you’ll typically be taught in a combination of lectures, tutorials (including language classes) and seminars. On some courses, you will have seminars instead of lectures, especially in your honours years.
- You will also be expected to study independently and in small groups, and to read widely.
Assessment and support
- You’ll be assessed through a combination of coursework and exams.
- Coursework may take a range of forms to give you the opportunity to practice different skills.
Exams will include oral exams to test your spoken language skills.
- Depending on where you go and what you do on your Year Abroad, Year 3 may include being assessed, in part, by a host university.
- As well as the teaching and other staff you will meet day-to-day, there are lots of ways to get help with your learning, including through the University’s Institute for Academic Development and Edinburgh University Students' Association.
In the 2024 to 2025 academic year, you can take Scandinavian Studies as a single honours degree, or study any of the following joint honours degree combinations...
|French and Scandinavian Studies||German and Scandinavian Studies||Russian Studies and Scandinavian Studies|
|Scandinavian Studies and Spanish||Scandinavian Studies and Politics||Scandinavian Studies and Social Policy|
|Scandinavian Studies and English Language||Scandinavian Studies and Linguistics||Scandinavian Studies and English Literature|
|Scandinavian Studies and History||Scandinavian Studies and Classics||Scandinavian Studies and Philosophy|
|Celtic and Scandinavian Studies||Scottish Ethnology and Scandinavian Studies|
There’s lots of information about our undergraduate Scandinavian Studies programmes on the University of Edinburgh Degree Finder. For example, you can find out about:
- the courses you will take each year
- entrance requirements
- English language requirements
- fees and funding opportunities
If you’d like to study on any of our undergraduate programmes, you must apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. Applications for entry in September 2024 are now open.
Skills and experience
Studying one or more languages to degree level demonstrates that you're a good communicator, a resilient problem solver, and someone open to other cultures and new ideas – what employers value as Intercultural Competence.
Beyond the language skills you'll develop on our programmes, and the nuanced understanding you will gain of other cultures and societies, graduating with a four-year honours degree from the University of Edinburgh shows high-level intellectual strength and flexibility, including the ability to understand, analyse and articulate key concepts, and to work to varied briefs to deadline, both independently and in groups.
Opportunities at home and away
As there are relatively few graduates from UK universities specialising in the Scandinavian languages, there are excellent opportunities for those who do learn Danish, Norwegian or Swedish, particularly since speakers of one language are widely understood in all Scandinavian countries and both Swedish and Danish are official working languages of the EU.
You do not have to be based in a Scandinavian country to have a career in which the ability to understand and communicate in Danish, Norwegian or Swedish will make you stand out. Within the private, public, not-for-profit, and for-benefit sectors, graduates have gone on to career pathways in:
- Business, finance and commerce
- Communications, marketing, advertising and public relations
- Education, outreach, advocacy and training
- Journalism, broadcasting and media
- Leisure, tourism and travel
- Politics, policy work, diplomacy, civil service and law
- Publishing, culture, heritage and the arts
- Research, development and venture acceleration
- Translating and interpreting
The enhanced research skills you will develop on a Scandinavian Studies programme, particularly in your honours years, are a valuable asset if you wish to continue studying at postgraduate level. At the University of Edinburgh, for example, you can study a Masters by Research degree in Scandinavian Studies, or take an interdisciplinary taught Masters programme such as Comparative Literature, Intermediality, or Translation Studies.
I loved how the department was small. This not only meant that we all knew one another and developed friendships whilst we studied, but it also felt like all the different subjects of Scandinavian Studies were at our fingertips. Studying translation theory during every year of my degree has turned out to be very useful, while my time at LLC has also put me in contact with professional translators such as Kari Dickson, Guy Puzey, Ian Giles and others. They have inspired my passion for translation, as well as given me indispensable advice for getting started in the industry.
QS World Rankings by Subject 2023
The University of Edinburgh is ranked 3rd in the UK for Modern Languages.
We are also 3rd in the UK in the broad subject area of Arts & Humanities.
Globally, we’re in the World Top 10 for Modern Languages (7) and Arts & Humanities (10).
The Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings are based on research citations and the results of major global surveys of employers and academics.
They are International Ranking Expert Group (IREG) approved.
Get to know us better
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Other ways to take Scandinavian Studies at Edinburgh
If you're not on one of our degree programmes, you can still learn Danish, Norwegian or Swedish with us!
As an undergraduate student of most subjects at the University of Edinburgh, you can take a Scandinavian language, or one of our cultural courses, as an outside subject in one or both of Years 1 and 2 of your programme, depending on your timetable. You don't need any prior knowledge of any of our subjects.
We also teach Icelandic as an Open Language course.