Undergraduate study - 2023 entry
Open to the world

MA Celtic and Scandinavian Studies

UCAS code: QR56

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Celtic and Scandinavian Studies

Leugh an duilleag seo sa Gàidhlig

There has long been a strong Scandinavian influence on the Celtic world. This joint honours programme gives you the opportunity to study the languages, literatures, histories and cultures of the Celtic and Scandinavian countries, side-by-side.

Celtic

In Celtic, we work with the medieval literary tradition in Early Irish and Medieval Welsh (the most extensive in the whole of Europe), as well as Scottish Gaelic from the late Middle Ages to the present. We also explore the rich oral tradition recorded from the 18th century to the present day, and poetry from the 18th century golden age of Gaelic literature.

You will study 19th and 20th century responses to the rapid social, cultural, and linguistic changes in countries where the Celtic languages are spoken. You will also study the writing, song, and media production emerging from the lively and varied contemporary cultural scene in Gaelic Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.

At all levels of study, we offer courses in language, literature, history, and culture. This will enable you to build your programme by developing your own interests in particular areas, periods, and disciplines of Celtic studies. Our expertise extends to:

  • theoretical and practical issues of current sociolinguistics
  • language policy
  • language revitalisation

Celtic languages

You can choose to study Scottish Gaelic from Year 1, and continue to learn about Scottish Gaelic language, literature, and culture throughout your studies.

If you choose this pathway through the programme, it doesn’t matter if you are a complete beginner in Scottish Gaelic; we stream our Year 1 classes to suit all levels of prior knowledge or none.

You can also learn a medieval Celtic language at honours level (Years 3 and 4). For this path, you will study Celtic civilisation and literature in Years 1 and 2, with texts presented in English translation.

Both Old Irish and Middle Welsh are available, and students may choose to study one, or both.

Scandinavian Studies

Scandinavia's screen and literary cultures attract global critical acclaim, and the socio-economic concept of the Nordic Model is widely studied.

On our programme, you have the opportunity to develop advanced spoken and written language skills in modern Danish, Norwegian or Swedish while exploring Scandinavian culture, past and present.

You do not currently need to know a Scandinavian language, as courses are available for beginners. By Year 3, you will have the skills to spend the year abroad in Denmark, Norway or Sweden.

While you will specialise in one Scandinavian language, you will also gain an understanding of the other two we teach to degree level. In Year Two, for example, you can choose to explore the similarities and differences between Danish, Swedish and Norwegian.

Why Edinburgh

Edinburgh is the only university in Scotland, and one of only two in the UK, to offer undergraduate programmes with joint honours in Scandinavian Studies.

We are the proud home of the Northern Scholars programme which fosters co-operation between the Nordic and Baltic countries and Scotland.

As well as being distinctive in our subject offering, we are also unique in Scotland in integrating a full academic year abroad into the four-year honours programme, regardless of whether you spend the year studying or working. You will therefore spend Year 3 in either Norway, Denmark or Sweden.

Our programme is extremely flexible. You do not currently need to know any of the languages, as courses are available for beginners. In Years 1 and 2 you will choose option courses from a wide range of disciplines, and specialise as you progress through your honours years.

When you graduate, you will have the combination of broad cultural education and specialist knowledge valued by employers worldwide.

One of the most attractive characteristics of this four-year programme is its flexibility.

In Years 1 and 2, your pre-honours years, you will choose option courses from a wide range of disciplines in addition to your core subjects of Celtic and Scandinavian Studies.

As well as broadening your education and skill set, this may enable you to change the focus of your programme in Years 3 and 4, your honours years.

Year 1

Celtic

In Year 1 of your Celtic studies, you can choose between studying the Gaelic language and Celtic Civilisation.

Language pathway

If you take the language pathway, your course will be determined by how much Scottish Gaelic you already know.

If you have no previous knowledge, you will gain confidence in written and spoken Scottish Gaelic by taking our Gaelic 1A course.

If you are an advanced speaker, our Gaelic 1B course will deepen your experience of Scottish Gaelic literature and develop your language skills.

Civilisations pathway

The civilisations pathway (our Celtic Civilisation 1A and 1B courses) seeks to place the Celtic languages of the past and present into wider historical and contemporary context.

You will consider the impact of modern Celticness on how the past has been understood and will be introduced to Celtic Studies in the medieval and modern periods.

There is also the opportunity to combine the study of Celtic Civilisation with our basic language learning course, Introduction to Gaelic Language and Culture.

Scandinavian Studies

You will take an intensive beginners' language course in either Danish, Norwegian or Swedish. This will allow you to develop spoken and written language skills, and will introduce you to Scandinavian culture.

Option courses

To broaden the scope of your study, you will also choose option courses from a wide range offered by the University of Edinburgh.

These include two courses in Scandinavian Civilisation which provide an overview of important trends in the history, society, culture and politics of the Scandinavian and wider Nordic world, from the earliest times to the present.

We would encourage you to take one, or both, of these Scandinavian Civilisation options over the course of Years 1 and 2.

Other options include, but are not limited to, courses in:

  • linguistics and language sciences
  • business, economics and informatics
  • politics, social policy and social anthropology
  • art and architectural history
  • history, classics and archaeology
  • Scottish ethnology
  • philosophy, divinity and law

Year 2

Celtic

You can choose between continuing to study the Gaelic language, and studying Celtic Literatures.

If you take the language pathway, you will refine your language skills, as well as learning more about Scottish Gaelic’s literature, culture, and linguistic structure, and exploring verse and prose.

If you take the literature pathway, you will gain an overview of key literary genres and texts from Gaelic Scotland, Ireland and Wales from the early medieval period to the present, with texts presented in English translation.

Scandinavian Studies

You will continue with Danish Language 2, Norwegian Language 2 or Swedish Language 2, building on your linguistic knowledge from Year 1.

You will also take further courses in Scandinavian literature and languages. You can, for example, choose to develop your skills in understanding the similarities and differences between Danish, Norwegian and Swedish.

Option courses

As in Year 1, you will also choose from a range of option courses offered by the University.

These include a great selection in European languages and cultures, allowing you to study literature, film and theatre in themed and comparative contexts.

Year 3

International travel restrictions permitting, you will spend your third year in either Denmark, Norway or Sweden, either studying or completing a work/teaching placement.

Whether studying or working, our graduates have told us how much the year abroad has benefited their broader life experience and skills, as well as their understanding of Scandinavian culture.

During your year abroad, we will aim to ensure your experience is as beneficial as possible to your final year, as well as to your wider language learning, cultural awareness and skills development.

While away, you will undertake prescribed assessments in both Scandinavian Studies and Celtic. For example, for Scandinavian Studies, you will take an e-learning language course which will count as part of your third year mark and prepare you for your final year courses in Danish, Norwegian or Swedish.

If international travel is not possible, you will be offered an alternative means of engaging with your subjects, enabling you to meet your learning outcomes and preparing you for your final year.

Year 4

You will develop your advanced language skills in Danish, Norwegian or Swedish and, if applicable to your pathway through Celtic, in Scottish Gaelic.

You will also choose from a range of specialist, honours-level courses taught by research-active experts in Celtic and Scandinavian Studies.

You will complete your dissertation or long essay.

Our facilities

On campus

When you are on campus, you can expect to spend most of your time in the University of Edinburgh's Central Area - in class, in the library, or in one of the University’s many social spaces.

The Central Area is located on the edge of Edinburgh's historic Old Town, surrounded by lots of green space.

Take a virtual tour of the Central Area

Libraries, collections and centres

Our resources for the study of Celtic are outstanding. We hold the Celtic Class Library, which comprises a wide range of specialist materials, and the larger Scottish Studies Library.

You will also have access to the University’s rare books and manuscripts, such as:

  • the Carmichael-Watson Collection
  • the Donald MacKinnon Collection
  • the David Laing Collection

The Main University Library also holds books, journals and databases for the study of Scandinavian Studies, including around 7,500 titles in Swedish, 5,400 in Danish, and 3,600 in Norwegian.

One of the University's treasures is the School of Scottish Studies Archives, an extensive collection relating to the culture and tradition of Scotland. The Archives contain thousands of hours of recordings of songs, music, stories, rhyme and verse in Scots, Gaelic and English, as well as in dialects now extinct. There are also photographs and rarely-seen historic documents which capture exceptional and everyday aspects of Scottish culture and heritage.

We are founding members of:

  • Soillse (the National Research Network for the Maintenance and Revitalisation of Gaelic Language and Culture)
  • the Gaelic Algorithmic Research Group
  • Faclair na Gàidhlig (a collaborative project to publish a historical dictionary of Scottish Gaelic)

Events and activities

The Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) supports more than 300 student-led societies and clubs, and promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.

An Comunn Ceilteach (The Highland Society) is the University’s oldest student society and organises the city’s largest annual cèilidh. There is also a Scandinavian Society.

Passionate about music, literature, song and storytelling, we regularly hold events for staff, students and visiting guests to speak, perform or present research.

We also have a Traditional Artist in Residence, a performer from within the traditional arts in Scotland who works with staff and students on a range of projects and performances.

Staff and student editors publish creative writing in nine European languages in the online magazine, Babble. Languages include Swedish, Norwegian and Danish. Launch nights typically include readings and performances.

We are proud to host the Northern Scholars programme which fosters co-operation between scholars of the Nordic countries, the Baltic countries and Scotland, largely through events such as:

  • public lectures
  • workshops
  • the involvement of visiting guests in teaching and learning activities

In the city

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city filled with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections. These include:

  • the National Library of Scotland
  • the Scottish Poetry Library
  • the Scottish Storytelling Centre

The National Museum of Scotland has the Lewis Chess Pieces (probably made in the late 12th or early 13th century in Norway) on permanent display. Among the city's hidden treasures is the Swedish Viking Age runestone situated outside our building at 50 George Square.

The city has a long-established Gaelic community and a lively contemporary cultural scene. For example, there are conversation groups for practicing Gaelic socially, fèisean for performers, and an annual festival, Seachdain na Gàidhlig.

Edinburgh has excellent links with the Nordic nations, and many Scandinavian shops and cafes.

Study abroad

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad (a minimum of 30 weeks), in a Scandinavian country. This is your chance to immerse yourself in the culture of Norway, Sweden or Denmark, and to develop your broader life experience and skills towards life after university.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Courses are taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials and seminars.

In our language teaching, there is an emphasis on interaction and developing fluency, and on building the strong linguistic competencies required for a range of careers.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a combination of coursework and exams.

Skills and experience

Graduating with a four-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh shows resilience, flexibility and high-level intellectual strength.

The skills you will be able to demonstrate to employers include the ability to understand, analyse and articulate key concepts, both in print and orally. You will also have experience in working to varied briefs to deadline, independently and as part of a group.

In addition to these qualities, graduating in Celtic and Scandinavian Studies indicates that you have a nuanced understanding of other cultures and societies and how they shape our world. This gives you the Intercultural Competence that is so valued by employers internationally.

Opportunities at home and away

Thanks to an ever-broadening international reach, Celtic and Scandinavian languages, literatures and cultures have a steady stream of enthusiastic new speakers and audiences.

In Scotland, particularly, developments such as the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005, the creation of BBC Alba (the Gaelic digital television service), and the ongoing expansion of Gaelic-medium education have increased demand for highly-educated Gaelic speakers and specialists in Celtic culture.

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.

Speakers of one Scandinavian language are widely understood in all Scandinavian countries and both Swedish and Danish are official working languages of the EU.

Employment prospects are particularly high within:

  • education, outreach, advocacy and training
  • journalism, broadcasting and media
  • politics, policy work, diplomacy, civil service and law
  • publishing, culture, heritage and the arts
  • translating and interpreting

In some areas, there are more Gaelic-related jobs than there are people qualified to fill them.

Your transferable humanities skills and Intercultural Competence will also set you apart in sectors such as:

  • business, finance and commerce
  • communications, marketing, advertising and public relations
  • leisure, tourism and travel
  • research, development and venture acceleration

Further study

The enhanced research skills that you develop on a four-year programme, particularly in your honours years, are valuable assets if you wish to continue studying at postgraduate level.

At the University of Edinburgh, for example, we typically offer Masters by Research degrees in both Celtic and Scandinavian Studies. Our taught MSc programmes typically include:

  • Comparative Literature
  • Intermediality
  • Translation Studies

Eventually, you may decide to conduct doctoral work, like several of our past students.

Careers advice

We have an excellent Careers Service. Throughout your time with us, we will encourage you to identify and hone your employability skills, including through peer initiatives such as Life After LLC (Literatures, Languages and Cultures) where you can draw inspiration from our graduates.

Be inspired by our alumni

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: no specific Higher subjects required. Applicants with Gaelic, or a language other than English, at B, preferred. National 5s: English at C and a language other than English at B (if not at Higher).
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. Applicants with a language other than English, at B, preferred. GCSEs: English at C or 4 and a language other than English at B or 6 (if not at A Level).
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. Applicants with a language other than English, at 5, preferred. SL: English at 5 and a language other than English at 5 (if not at HL).

Additional requirements

Language requirement

For degrees that have a subject requirement of a language other than English, students may not use their own native language to meet this requirement. In these instances, English or an alternative language other than native will be acceptable.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

SQA, GCSE and IB

For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • SQA Standard Grade at 3
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the degree you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA Celtic and Scandinavian Studies

Additional costs

As long as international restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad. The costs incurred will depend on where you decide to go, and how you spend your time.

Some study placements at language schools may charge a fee, but we will normally reimburse you for tuition costs as long as your activity has been approved. You will be responsible for associated travel costs such as flights and visas.

Funding

For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding