Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

MA German and Scandinavian Studies

UCAS code: RR26

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA German and Scandinavian Studies

This unique joint honours programme is your opportunity to study the languages and cultures of two neighbouring and influential parts of modern Europe.

Over one third of Europeans speak German as their first language, while the languages of Denmark, Norway and Sweden have long had a considerable impact beyond the Nordic region.

Through intensive language study, including a year abroad, you will have the opportunity to acquire advanced spoken and written skills in both German and a Scandinavian language - either Danish, Norwegian or Swedish. No previous knowledge of any of the languages is needed.

In addition to your language classes, you will explore aspects of German-language and Scandinavian culture. Courses cover literature, cinema, history, society, politics, and languages in themed and comparative contexts.

Why Edinburgh

As a world-leading festival and capital city, Edinburgh is a fantastic place to study languages in their cultural context.

We are 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 Scheme 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.

Studying over four years enables you to choose courses that match your own interests, expertise and employability needs. It gives you the blend of specialist skills and Intercultural Competence valued in a range of careers around the globe.

What our graduates say

I liked Edinburgh as it gave me the opportunity to combine German with another less common language. It is a beautiful city where there is a lot going on, without feeling overwhelming, and it's easy to get around. I use things I learnt at Edinburgh every day in my work: I translate from Swedish to English, but also [use] other skills... such as communicating information clearly and concisely, and properly researching articles and checking my sources.

  • Becky Waterton, German and Scandinavian Studies MA (Hons), 2017. Based in Sweden, Becky is Deputy Editor of The Local, a news platform with sites in nine European countries, including Austria, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

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 German 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

German

If you have not studied German before, you will take German 1A, an intensive language course.

If your entry qualification for German is a Scottish Higher, A level, or equivalent, you will take German 1B. This course covers language as well as literature and culture from 1770 to the present day.

As part of German 1B, you will interview a German-speaking professional working in Edinburgh or Glasgow. This will give you the opportunity to:

  • practise professional communication
  • discover the value of languages in the workplace
  • gain insights into possible career options

Read 'Conversation to career starter' - our feature on the German interview

Scandinavian Studies

You will take an intensive beginners' language course in either Danish, Norwegian or Swedish. You will develop your spoken and written language skills, and study aspects of literature and culture.

Over the course of Years 1 and 2, you will be also encouraged to take one, or both, of two courses in Scandinavian Civilisation. These 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.

Option courses

You will complete your Year 1 studies with option courses chosen from a wide range offered by the University.

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
  • Celtic and Scottish ethnology
  • philosophy, divinity and law

Year 2

German

You will further develop your oral language skills. You will also practise translation, grammar, and writing different types of texts in German.

You will continue to study German-language literature and culture, choosing at least two courses from a range of options. These are likely to include:

  • Researching Disability in German Literature and Society
  • Culture, Modernity and the City in the Weimar Republic
  • Reading Antisemitism in Modern German Literature
  • The Contemporary Short Story in German
  • Screening Sex: Gender, Sexuality, and Identity on the German Screen and Beyond
  • Migration in German-Language Discourse
  • German Colonialism: History, Memory, Controversy

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 move on to using more complex grammar, fine-tuning your pronunciation and building on your vocabulary so that you feel confident in expressing yourself on your Year Abroad in Year 3.

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 option courses include a great selection in European languages and cultures that explore literature, film and theatre in themed and comparative contexts.

Typical option courses include:

  • Cultural Responses to War
  • Migration, Exile, Diaspora
  • Crime and Detection in Literature
  • Gender and Culture
  • The Coming-of-Age Narrative
  • Introduction to European Cinema
  • Dynamics of Language and Power
  • Languages Beyond University

You will also likely have the opportunity to study either or both of our Scandinavian Civilisation courses, or learn the fundamentals of the Dutch language, if you haven't already done so in Year 1.

Year 3

You will spend Year 3 abroad, dividing your time between two countries. This is when you will really deepen your knowledge of German and your chosen Scandinavian language by speaking them daily and immersing yourself in local cultures.

Living abroad will also give you the wider perspective, experience and skills to embrace the opportunities and challenges of life after university.

30 weeks to live your languages

You will spend a total of 30 weeks abroad. You will divide your time between a country in which German is spoken and either Sweden, Norway or Denmark.

To give you a balanced experience, you will spend at least eight weeks in each of your two destinations. How you further divide your 30 weeks is typically based on whether you study, work or combine the two.

Where can I go?

Transforming classroom learning into a lived experience, you will study or work in a German-speaking country, usually Germany or Austria, as well as Denmark, Norway or Sweden.

If you are considering working abroad, the first step is to start thinking about where you would like to go. Visa requirements and application processes vary between countries, so it is a good idea to find out what documentation you will need and whether you are eligible to get it.

Study or work?

When you are abroad, you can typically choose to:

  • study in one or two destinations
  • work in one or two destinations
  • study in one destination and work in another

If you choose to study, you will take classes at one or two of the universities where we have available exchange opportunities. This means that you will spend either:

  • two semesters at a single institution or
  • one semester at two different institutions (in different destinations)

A work placement abroad is another great way to gain an international perspective, build professional networks and prepare you for your career after university. Once you have checked if you are eligible to work abroad, and have talked through your plans with us, you might choose to do one or more placements. For example, you might find an internship or traineeship, arrange work with a private company or charity, volunteer, or gain experience as a teaching assistant.

Whatever you decide to do, your time abroad is a chance for you to evolve and grow beyond Edinburgh. It adds an international dimension to your studies, showing future employers that you are open to new ideas and experiences.

Coursework while abroad

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

Regardless of whether you study or work abroad, you will take e-learning courses in both German and your chosen Scandinavian language to prepare you for your Year 4 language courses. These courses will count as part of your Year 3 marks, alongside any coursework arranged by your host university (if studying abroad).

Depending on your Year Abroad activities, you also begin preparing for your dissertation while abroad, guided by your dissertation supervisor.

Keeping in touch

While you are studying or working abroad for credit, you are still a student at the University of Edinburgh.

The Year Abroad Office and your Student Adviser, both based in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), will check in with you at key points during your Year Abroad. Additionally, each language has a dedicated Year Abroad Coordinator for any academic queries, ensuring you are all set and ready for your final year in Edinburgh.

Just like any other time during your studies, you have access to all University services while you are abroad. These include our:

  • Student Wellbeing Service
  • Student Counselling
  • Student Disability and Learning Support
  • University emergency helpline (available 24 hours a day)

Wellbeing and safety

Your well-being and safety abroad is our first priority. If international travel is not possible or placements are disrupted, for example following travel advice from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), we will offer you alternative ways to engage with your subjects. We will support you to meet your learning outcomes for German and Scandinavian Studies and prepare you for your final year.

Year 4

You will take advanced language classes in:

  • essay, commentary and summary writing in your chosen languages
  • translation from German and the Scandinavian languages into English
  • spoken German and Danish, Norwegian or Swedish

In addition to these core courses, you will also choose from a wide range of specialist, honours-level courses on topics such as Scandinavian and German-language:

  • film and literature
  • history and politics

Typical options include:

  • Comparative Literature in a European and Global Perspective
  • From Girls in Uniform to Men in Drag: Gender, Sexuality and Ethnicity on the German Screen
  • Scandinavia and the World: Negotiating the North in the 21st Century
  • Contemporary Scandinavian Literature: A Transnational Approach

Building on all the knowledge and skills you have developed over four years, including in independent research, you will complete a long essay or dissertation in your choice of German, Swedish, Norwegian or Danish.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2024/25)

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 and support 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 and collections

The Main University Library holds academic books, journals and databases, films, newspapers and other media. Its holdings include around:

  • 95,000 books and 5,425 journals in German
  • 7,500 titles in Swedish
  • 5,400 titles in Danish
  • 3,600 titles in Norwegian

The Library is also the home of the University's Centre for Research Collections which brings together:

  • more than 400,000 rare books
  • six kilometres of archives and manuscripts
  • thousands of works of art, historical musical instruments and other objects

The Centre's treasures include the Karin McPherson Collection, a unique resource for students interested in the literature and culture of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Running to some 1,000 volumes, the Collection presents a complete overview of the GDR’s literary (and sometimes broader) culture from 1949 to 1989, including internationally renowned and lesser-known writers.

Many of the University's Special Collections are digitised and available online from our excellent Resource Centre, computing labs and dedicated study spaces in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC).

Centres for research, teaching and outreach

We are proud to host the Northern Scholars Scheme 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

Events and activities

The Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) supports more than 300 student-led societies, clubs and social enterprises, including the German Society and Scandinavian Society.

From acting to dancing, making friends in language cafes to campaigning on global issues, these student-led groups offer lots of ways to explore your subjects, interests and talents socially. EUSA also promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.

If you love to write, our online creative writing magazine Babble is the place to publish your:

  • prose
  • poetry
  • drama
  • non-fiction

Babble goes out twice a year and includes work written in German, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and five other European languages. You can get involved in the editorial committee, and launch nights typically include readings and performances.

Recent extra-curricular activities in German include:

  • student-produced plays and performances
  • student-made film version of the fairytale 'Aschenputtel'
  • German bake-off

In the city

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city filled with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections. The city's resources for studying literatures, languages and cultures are exceptional, and its world cinema scene is particularly strong.

Many national collections are located close to the University's Central Area, making them easy to access between classes. Highlights include:

  • the National Library of Scotland, which has outstanding German holdings
  • the National Museum of Scotland, where links between Scandinavia and Scotland are evident in stand-out artefacts such as the Lewis Chess Pieces, likely made in medieval Norway

We have excellent links with the German Consulate, as well as with the Goethe-Institut. The city is also well connected to the Nordic nations, and among its hidden treasures is the Swedish Viking Age runestone situated outside our building at 50 George Square.

Study abroad

You will spend Year 3 abroad (a minimum of 30 weeks), studying or working in a German-speaking country and either Norway, Sweden or Denmark. You will spend at least 8 weeks in each destination.

This is a chance for you to evolve and grow beyond Edinburgh. Our graduates have told us how much the Year Abroad has benefited their broader life experience and skills.

We know that you are likely to have lots of questions about your Year Abroad. We’ve gone into lots of detail about where you can go and what you can do under ‘What you will study / Year 3’ above. You can also find out more through the University's Study and Work Away Service.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

University is a place to plan your own goals under expert guidance, study independently and in groups, and reflect upon your learning throughout your degree.

Our approach to learning and teaching is active, inclusive and question driven, so it may be different to your experiences at school. It will help you gain the skills for life after university, and we will guide you through the steps from one phase to the next.

Depending on the size of your year group, and which option courses you take, your classes will typically fall into three categories:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars

As well as these classes, to get the most out of your courses, you will need to read widely.

We make extensive use of our audio and visual resources, and you’ll also be encouraged to use online materials.

Lectures

Lectures are taken by all students on a course, typically at the same time. They are delivered as interactive presentations which may involve audio-visual material.

Lectures are given by an experienced academic. They are designed to guide you through the background, questions and debates related to the topic you are studying.

Tutorials

Tutorial groups are smaller. They are also led by an academic, but here the emphasis is more on what you think about the topic yourself. So, tutorials are your chance to discuss and expand upon what you have learned in a lecture.

Language tutorials give you the opportunity to develop your linguistic skills in a range of real-world tasks under the supervision of an experienced language teacher.

These classes typically cover skills such as reading, writing, listening and speaking – all of which involve learning and applying grammar.

Seminars

Seminars blend features of lectures and tutorials. Again, they are designed to encourage and enable your active participation in learning.

On some courses, you will have seminars instead of lectures, especially in Year 4.

Support

As well as the teaching staff and other staff members 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 (IAD).

Additionally, the Students’ Association facilitates a peer support scheme for Scandinavian Studies, bringing together students across year groups to help each other with specific study skills, topics or themes.

How will I be assessed?

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

Coursework is generally completed throughout the year, while exams take place at the end of a teaching block.

Coursework may take a range of forms to give you the opportunity to practice different skills. For example, you may be asked to:

  • write an essay, review, blog post, opinion piece or learning journal
  • respond to a piece of writing, film, or other media, including through close reading
  • give a short talk or presentation
  • record a podcast or video
  • design a poster or presentation

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.

In your final year, you will also complete a dissertation or long essay.

Skills and experience

Studying languages to degree level demonstrates that you are a good communicator, and someone open to other cultures and new ideas – what employers value as Intercultural Competence.

Beyond the language skills you will develop, you will also gain a nuanced understanding of diverse cultures and societies.

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

The skills you will be able to demonstrate to employers when you graduate include the ability to:

  • understand, analyse and articulate complex issues and concepts
  • manage your time to meet deadlines on different types of projects
  • work independently and as part of a group

Opportunities across sectors

Combining German with a Scandinavian language, you will be one of very few graduates from UK universities specialising in Danish, Norwegian or Swedish while speaking a major European language in addition to English.

Since speakers of one Scandinavian language are widely understood across the Nordic region, and German extends your reach into central and eastern Europe, you will be well-placed to work in a number of countries.

Increasing migration in response to changing global dynamics means that, wherever you are based in the world, the ability to understand and communicate in your chosen languages will make you stand out.

Within the private, public, not-for-profit, and for-benefit sectors, previous language 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

What our graduates say

I don’t have a background in journalism, but the fact that I had a degree in Scandinavian Studies more than made up for this when I applied for my current job. It’s such an unusual degree, and so difficult [for employers] to find native-English speakers who can communicate well and are also fluent in a Scandinavian language.

  • Becky Waterton, German and Scandinavian Studies MA (Hons), 2017. Becky started Danish as a complete beginner in her first year with us and now lives and works in Sweden. She is Deputy Editor of The Local, a news platform with sites in nine European countries, including Austria, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

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 both German and Scandinavian Studies. Either of these programmes is a good foundation for a PhD, but is equally of value as a stand-alone qualification.

Taught masters (MSc) programmes generally comprise a combination of core and optional courses taught by specialists in the field, training in research methods, and an independent dissertation or piece of creative work. Our portfolio of taught MSc programmes typically includes:

  • Comparative Literature
  • Intermediality
  • Translation Studies

Careers advice

Throughout your time with us, we will encourage you to identify and hone your employability skills.

LLC has a dedicated Careers Consultant within the University's excellent Careers Service.

Through our careers service, you can:

  • book one-to-one appointments and practice interviews
  • access a range of online resources
  • attend themed fairs such as the Creative and Cultural Careers Festival

Popular peer support includes Life After LLC, a panel event where you can draw inspiration from our recent 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: AAB. (Revised 18/04/2024 to lower entry requirements from AAA.)
  • IB: 37 points with 666 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: a language other than English at B. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: a language other than English at B. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: a language other than English at 5. SL: 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

Mature applicants

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

Mature applicant qualifications

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

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
  • 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.We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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 65 with at least 54 in each component. We do not accept PTE Academic Online.*

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

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

(*Revised 24 May 2024 to change PTE Academic requirement from total 62 with at least 54 in each component, and to clarify that we do not accept PTE Academic online.)

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 German and Scandinavian Studies

Additional costs

As long as international travel is possible, 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