Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

MA Russian Studies and Scandinavian Studies

UCAS code: RR76

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Russian Studies and Scandinavian Studies

This joint honours programme gives you the opportunity to study the languages and cultures of two neighbouring and influential parts of modern Europe.

Around 150 million people in the world speak Russian, while the languages of Denmark, Norway and Sweden have long had a considerable impact beyond the Nordic region.

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

As well as your language classes, you will explore aspects of Russian-speaking, Scandinavian and Nordic culture. Courses cover literature, history, 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 proud home of the Northern Scholars Scheme which fosters co-operation between the Nordic and Baltic countries and Scotland.

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.

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 it studying or build a work placement into your time abroad.

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.

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 Russian Studies 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

Russian

If you have no previous knowledge of Russian you will take Russian Studies 1A, an intensive beginners Russian course. Through classes in grammar, speaking, listening, writing and reading, you will build the foundations of Russian language skills.

If you have studied the language before, you will take Russian Studies 1B which provides advanced Russian language study. The course will consolidate and build on your existing knowledge, with the focus on generating Russian through writing and speaking.

Both our language courses include a unit on Russian culture, with materials studied in translation. You will be introduced to the main historical events that have shaped Russia, and to the cultural and literary works of Russian speakers.

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

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

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

Russian

You will continue to study Russian language, expanding your range of vocabulary and using increasingly complex grammar.

You will practice translation and writing in Russian using extracts from literary texts and other media.

You will also choose one of the following three courses:

  • Transnational Russian Culture
  • The Golden Age of Russian Literature
  • Utopia and Dystopia in 20th-century Russian Literature

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 choose option courses from a wide range 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 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

You will spend Year 3 abroad, dividing your time between two countries. This is when you will really deepen your knowledge of your languages 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 Russian is spoken and one in which Danish, Norwegian or Swedish is spoken.

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 normally based on whether you study in both countries, or combine study for Russian with work for Scandinavian Studies.

Where can I go?

For Russian, you will study at a university or language centre. Although we are not currently sending our Year 3 students to Russia and Ukraine, we are still able to fully support them to spend the year studying abroad. This year, for example, we have students at Tallinn University in Estonia, and at universities in Kazakhstan and Armenia.

For Scandinavian Studies, the University has exchange places in universities in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

A work placement in Scandinavia is another great way to gain an international perspective, build professional networks and prepare you for your career after university. 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.

If you are considering working abroad for Scandinavian Studies, 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.

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.

As well as any coursework set by your host institution, you will take e-learning courses for both Russian and your chosen Scandinavian language. These will count as part of your Year 3 marks and prepare you for your Year 4 language courses.

Depending on what you intend to do in Year 4, you might 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)

Well-being 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 Russian Studies and Scandinavian Studies, and prepare you for your final year.

Year 4

You will develop advanced language skills in Russian and in either Danish, Norwegian or Swedish.

You will also choose from a wide range of specialist, honours-level courses taught by research-active experts.

These courses cover topics such as Russian-speaking, Scandinavian and comparative:

  • literature and culture
  • history and politics
  • language in socio-political context

You will also complete a dissertation or long essay in either Russian or a Scandinavian language.

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 14,400 titles in the Russian language, 7,500 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 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 and clubs, including the Russian Speaking Society and Scandinavian Society.

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

With the support of our students, one of our Teaching Fellows in Russian has been leading activities to help displaced children from Ukraine with education and music tuition, and adults with language skills.

Read our interview with Ekaterina Popova about welcoming Ukrainian families to Edinburgh

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 significant Russian 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

The city has excellent links with 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 countries where either Russian, Danish, Norwegian or Swedish is spoken. You will spend at least eight weeks in each destination.

Whether studying or working, 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 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, 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 institution.

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 Russian 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 world language in addition to English.

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

Local and global opportunities

With increasing migration in response to changing global dynamics, there is demand for our graduates in Scotland, the UK and abroad.

Since speakers of one Scandinavian language are widely understood across the Nordic region, and Russian extends your reach to Eastern Europe, Asia and growing numbers of speakers across the US, you will be well-placed to work in a wide range of countries.

Wherever you are based in the world, the ability to understand and communicate in your chosen languages will make you stand out.

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:

  • Russian Studies
  • Scandinavian Studies

Our portfolio of interdisciplinary taught MSc programmes typically includes:

  • Comparative Literature
  • Intermediality
  • Translation Studies

Each of these programmes is a good foundation for a PhD, but is equally of value as a stand-alone qualification.

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: 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 62 with at least 54 in each component.

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 Russian Studies and Scandinavian Studies

Additional costs

As long as international travel is possible, 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