Undergraduate study - 2024 entry
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MA Scandinavian Studies (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish)

UCAS code: R600

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Scandinavian Studies (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish)

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.

No prior knowledge needed

On our wide-ranging 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.

In Years 1 and 2, you can also choose option courses from a broad list of disciplines in addition to Scandinavian Studies, or learn more about Scandinavian Civilisation.

Why Edinburgh

As a world-leading festival and capital city, Edinburgh is a fantastic place to study a language in its cultural context. We are the only university in Scotland, and one of only two in the UK, to offer undergraduate honours programmes in Scandinavian Studies.

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.

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

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

Without [my degree in Scandinavian Studies], I wouldn't have the linguistic knowledge or the confidence to do the work I do. I loved the small class sizes and close-knit nature of the department, not to mention the range of topics available. The teaching staff are approachable, passionate and extremely knowledgeable - I couldn't have asked for more.

  • Rosie Hedger, Scandinavian Studies MA (Hons) graduate. Winner of an English PEN Translates Award, Rosie is a self-employed, freelance literary translator working mostly with female writers.

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 subject of 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

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 our 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 of Edinburgh.

You can, for example, 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.

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

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

Year 2

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 option courses from a wide range offered by the University of Edinburgh.

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

Likely options 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 typically have the opportunity to study either or both of our Scandinavian Civilisation courses, if you haven't already done so in Year 1.

Year 3

This is the first of your honours years. If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend it in either Denmark, Norway or Sweden.

You will typically be away for at least 30 weeks, 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.

During your year abroad, we will aim to ensure your experience is as beneficial as possible to your final year, as well as your wider language learning and cultural awareness. For example, you will take an e-learning course which will count as part of your Year 3 mark and prepare you for your Year 4 language courses.

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

Year 4

This is the second of your honours years. Building on your experiences from Year 3, you will take advanced language classes in:

  • spoken Danish, Norwegian or Swedish
  • essay, commentary and summary writing in your Scandinavian language
  • translation from your Scandinavian language into English

In addition to these core courses, you will also choose from our evolving range of specialist, honours-level option courses on Scandinavian cultural topics. Ranging from the medieval to the modern, they typically include:

  • Old Norse Literature and Society
  • Viking Studies
  • Nynorsk
  • Scandinavia and the World: Negotiating the North in the 21st Century
  • Contemporary Scandinavian Literature: A Transnational Approach
  • History of the Scandinavian Novel

Drawing on the knowledge and skills you have developed over four years, including in independent research, you will complete a dissertation.

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 (2023/24)

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.

Libraries and collections

The Main University Library holds academic books, journals and databases, films, newspapers and other media. Its holdings include around 7,500 titles in Swedish, 5,400 in Danish, and 3,600 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

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 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
Events and activities

The Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) supports more than 300 student-led societies and clubs, including the Scandinavian Society. It 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 explore your subject, interests and talents socially.

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 Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and six other European languages. You can get involved in the editorial committee, and launch nights typically include readings and performances.

In the city

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city filled with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections. Among its hidden treasures is the Swedish Viking Age runestone situated outside LLC's building at 50 George Square.

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 and 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.

The city, and Scotland more generally, retains excellent links with the Nordic nations. There are consulates for Denmark, Norway and Sweden and, in August 2022, the Scottish Government opened its Nordic Office in Copenhagen.

Study abroad

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 (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.

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 will 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, including those in Scandinavian Studies, you will have seminars instead of lectures, especially in your honours years (Years 3 and 4).

Support

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 (IAD).

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.

Skills and experience

Studying a language 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 on this programme, 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 project
  • work independently and as part of a group

Opportunities across sectors

Our programmes are an excellent primer for a range of careers, especially those that place a premium on thinking that is both disciplined and imaginative.

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
  • politics, policy work, diplomacy, civil service and law
  • publishing, culture, heritage and the arts
  • research, development and venture acceleration
  • translating and interpreting

Home and away

With increasing migration in response to changing global dynamics, there is demand for our graduates both at home and abroad.

Wherever you are based in the world, the ability to communicate in another language, and to understand the cultures to which it opens doors, will make you stand out.

If you are keen to work abroad, it’s good to know that - 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.

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 Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

According to Scottish Government figures, the combined inward investment from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden puts the Nordic region in the top five of inward investment sources for Scotland, and three of the top 20 destinations for exports.

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 a Masters by Research degree in Scandinavian Studies. This programme is a good stepping stone to 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 interdisciplinary taught MSc programmes typically include:

  • Comparative Literature
  • Translation Studies
  • Intermediality

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.

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. 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

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.
  • 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.

(Revised 29 August 2023 to remove 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

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 Scandinavian Studies (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish)

Additional costs

As long as international restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad. The costs you have to pay 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 refund 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