Undergraduate study - 2023 entry
Open to the world

MA Scandinavian Studies and Social Policy

UCAS code: RL64

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Scandinavian Studies and Social Policy

The languages, history, politics and culture of Denmark, Norway and Sweden have long had a considerable impact beyond the Nordic region.

Today, Scandinavian languages and cultures continue to expand in popularity, and the socio-economic concept of the Nordic Model is widely studied.

Scandinavian Studies and Social Policy make an excellent joint honours choice by combining the study of:

  • a modern language in its cultural context

  • the distribution of welfare and wellbeing within societies, and the policies which influence that distribution.

Scandinavian Studies

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 2, for example, you can choose to explore the similarities and differences between Danish, Swedish and Norwegian.

Social Policy

You will focus on social and economic change, what causes it, and its consequences for society.

Reflecting on how policies are developed, you will learn about the policy-making process in the UK. You will also study the influence of international bodies such as the EU and OECD.

We deal with a wide array of policy areas, for example:

  • health

  • welfare

  • labour markets

  • education

  • family and childhood

We work closely with:

  • governments

  • NGOs

  • third sector and interest representation groups

  • international organisations and other external actors

International comparative analyses are one of our main strengths, and we place a strong emphasis on providing our students with empirical research skills, so that they can become critical researchers themselves.

Why Edinburgh

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

Home of the Northern Scholars programme, the University has an excellent reputation for research and teaching in this area.

We are 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.

Our programme is also extremely flexible. 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 Scandinavian Studies and Social Policy.

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

Scandinavian Studies

You will take an intensive beginners' language course in either Danish, Norwegian or Swedish.

Each course also involves studying literature and culture.

Social Policy

You will take Social Policy & Society. In this course, we will introduce you to core concepts in the analysis of key government policy areas. We do this by contrasting various lenses through which we can understand social policy. You will explore the consequences of different policy decisions by governments on different parts of society.

You will also study Politics of the Welfare State, which examines social policy as a political issue in the UK. It introduces you to the politics of the area that constitutes one of the largest sets of government expenditure.

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 over the course of Years 1 and 2.

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

  • business, economics and informatics

  • politics, social policy and social anthropology

  • art and architectural history

  • history, classics and archaeology

  • Celtic and Scottish ethnology

  • linguistics and language sciences

  • philosophy, divinity and law

You can also opt to study another language. We offer one of the widest ranges of languages of any UK university. The majority are suitable for complete beginners and include cultural study.

Year 2

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.

Social Policy

You will take Comparative Social Policy: Global Perspectives, which compares different approaches to social policy in European and non-European countries.

You will also take Evidence, Politics and Policy. This course will enable you to critically assess how evidence is used or misused by different actors and in the media to influence public opinion.

Option courses

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

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

If international travel restrictions allow, 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.

You will complete prescribed work in both Social Policy and Scandinavian Studies. For example, you will take an e-learning language course which will count as part of your Year 3 mark and prepare you for your final year courses in either 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 advanced spoken and written skills in your chosen Scandinavian language - Danish, Norwegian or Swedish.

You will take a course in Analytical Perspectives in Social Policy.

There are a wide range of specialist, honours-level courses in both Scandinavian Studies and Social Policy to choose from.

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

Based in the Main University Library, the Centre for Research Collections is unique in the UK. The centre brings together a collection of more than 400,000 rare books and six kilometres of archives and manuscripts. It also houses the University’s collections of art, historical musical instruments and other objects.

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

Events and activities

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

From making friends in language cafes to campaigning on global issues, these student-led groups offer lots of ways to engage.

Staff and student editors publish creative writing in nine European languages – including Norwegian, Swedish and Danish – in the online magazine, Babble. 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. It has excellent links with the Nordic nations, and many Scandinavian shops and cafes.

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.

A cultural powerhouse, Edinburgh is also a political city - seat of the Scottish Parliament, and home to a range of embassies and consulates.

Study abroad

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad (a minimum of 30 weeks), in either Denmark, Sweden or Norway.

This is your chance to immerse yourself in Scandinavian culture, 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

  • seminars

  • tutorials

  • e-learning

How will I be assessed?

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

Skills and experience

Combining a language with social policy demonstrates that you are 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 will develop on this joint honours programme, and the nuanced understanding you will gain of other cultures and societies, graduating with a four-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh shows high-level intellectual strength and flexibility.

The skills you will be able to demonstrate to employers when you graduate include 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.

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

This joint honours programme is an ideal primer for a career in politics, policy work, diplomacy, civil service and law, but an understanding of a Scandinavian language also opens other doors.

For example, within the private, public, not-for-profit, and for-benefit sectors, previous graduates have gone on to work in:

  • business, finance and commerce

  • communications, marketing, advertising and public relations

  • education, outreach, advocacy and training

  • journalism, broadcasting and media

  • leisure, tourism and travel

  • publishing, culture, heritage and the arts

  • research, development and venture acceleration

  • translating and interpreting

Further study

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

At the University of Edinburgh, we typically offer Masters by Research degrees in Scandinavian Studies and in Social and Political Science. Our taught MSc programmes typically include:

  • Global Environment, Politics and Society

  • International and European Politics

  • International Relations

  • Public Policy

  • Comparative Literature

  • Intermediality

  • Translation Studies

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: AABB-ABBB by end of S5 or AAAB-AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAB - ABB.
  • IB: 36 points with 665 at HL - 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. National 5s: a language other than English at B and English at C.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: a language other than English at B or 6 and English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: a language other than English at 5 and English at 5.

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

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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 Scandinavian Studies and Social Policy

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