Undergraduate study - 2023 entry
Open to the world

MA Scottish Ethnology and Scandinavian Studies

UCAS code: VR96

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Scottish Ethnology and Scandinavian Studies

There has long been a strong Scandinavian influence on Scotland and the wider Celtic world.

This innovative joint honours programme presents the opportunity to study the languages, literatures and cultures of neighbouring northern European nations which have taken differing routes to modernity, both socially and politically.

Scottish Ethnology

Ethnology is the discipline which studies the culture and traditions of developed societies. It is sometimes described as being at the intersection where history and anthropology meet.

Focusing on Scotland, but also looking at comparative material from elsewhere, you will study the varying ways in which a modern European nation expresses itself culturally.

The programme explores questions like:

  • how do customs, beliefs, social organisation, language, music and song help to create and shape identity in the modern world?
  • how do we use and make sense of the past from within our present?
  • how can this understanding help us to shape our future?

A highlight of the programme is the chance to work with the rich range of materials in the School of Scottish Studies Archives. These materials include thousands of hours of recordings of songs, music, stories, rhyme and verse in Scots, Gaelic and English, as well as in dialects now extinct.

By the end of the programme, you will have developed the practical and intellectual tools to handle traditional resources, modern media and digital data. In this way, you will be ready to navigate and influence contemporary culture and society.

Scandinavian Studies

Scandinavian languages and cultures are increasingly popular. The region's television, film and literature attract global critical acclaim, and the socio-economic concept of the Nordic Model is widely studied.

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

You do not need to know any of the Scandinavian languages when you start, as courses are available for beginners. Over the course of your four years, you will specialise in one of them but gain an understanding of the other two we teach to degree level at Edinburgh.

You will spend Year 3 in either Denmark, Norway or Sweden gaining lived experience of Scandinavian culture. Combined with studying options from other disciplines in Years 1 and 2, our approach will give you the mix of specialist skills and broad Intercultural Competence valued by graduate employers 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 Scottish Ethnology and Scandinavian Studies. You can, for example, take another language, or explore other world cultures.

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

Year 1

Scottish Ethnology

You will study Scottish cultural history, heritage, cultural expression and representation.

Courses also look at literature, music and visual arts and how these are linked to Scottish identity.

Scandinavian Studies

You will choose one of three intensive beginners' language courses in Scandinavian Studies:

  • Danish 1
  • Norwegian 1
  • Swedish 1

These courses also explore literature and culture.

Option courses

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

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

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

You can opt to study another language, such as Scottish Gaelic. 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 civilisation
  • business, economics and informatics
  • politics, social policy and social anthropology
  • art and architectural history
  • history, classics and archaeology
  • philosophy, divinity and law

Year 2

Scottish Ethnology

You will study oral and visual representations of Scotland through music, song, art, photography and film.

You will also study the social, cultural and topographical features of Scotland and their influence upon each other over time.

Scandinavian Studies

You will continue with Danish Language 2, Norwegian Language 2 or Swedish Language 2, building on and developing 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 have a choice from a wide range of option courses.

Year 3

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend this year studying or working in Denmark, Norway or Sweden.

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.

While away, you will undertake prescribed assessments in both Scandinavian Studies and Scottish Ethnology. For example, for Scandinavian Studies, 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 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

In Year 4, you will choose specialist honours-level courses in both Scottish Ethnology and Scandinavian Studies and will complete your dissertation or long essay.

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 (2022/23)

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, in the School of Scottish Studies Archives, 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

The School of Scottish Studies Archives is an extensive collection relating to the culture and tradition of Scotland. It is one of the University's most notable collections.

The Archives contain thousands of hours of recordings. These include songs, music, stories, rhyme and verse in Scots, Gaelic and English, as well as in dialects now extinct. There are also photographs and rarely-seen historic documents capturing exceptional and everyday aspects of Scottish culture and heritage.

The Archive's extensive Scottish Studies Library holds important Scottish ethnological material, along with wider ethnological and Celtic material.

You will also have access to the University's rare books and manuscripts, including:

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

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

We are home to the European Ethnological Research Centre. The Centre has led the Regional Ethnology of Scotland Project since 2011 and publishes the multi-volume Scottish Life and Society: A Compendium of Scottish Ethnology.

Events and activities

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

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

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

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

Staff and student editors publish creative writing in nine European languages – 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. These include the National Library of Scotland, the National Museum of Scotland, and the National Records of Scotland.

In addition to the summer and winter festivals, the city has a lively year-round contemporary cultural scene. From sessions in traditional bars, to events in the Scottish Poetry Library and Scottish Storytelling Centre, there is always something going on.

Study abroad

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 (a minimum of 30 weeks) in a Scandinavian country.

This is your chance to immerse yourself in the culture of Norway, Sweden or Denmark, and to develop your broader life experience and skills towards life after university.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Courses are taught through a combination of:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • small group tutorials

Extensive use is also made of audio and visual resources, as well as readily accessible online materials.

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

Great care is taken in providing a welcoming and supportive learning environment.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through coursework and exams. In Year 4 you will complete a dissertation or long essay.

Skills and experience

Studying ethnology with a language to degree level 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 different 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 as part of a group.

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.

Whether you stay in Scotland, move to Scandinavia, or go elsewhere in the world when you graduate, this degree will make you stand out.

Recent graduates have gone on to careers in:

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

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

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

Further study

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

At the University of Edinburgh, for example, we typically offer Masters by Research degrees in both Scottish Ethnology and Scandinavian Studies, and interdisciplinary taught MSc programmes in:

  • Comparative Literature
  • Translation Studies
  • Film, Exhibition and Curation

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

Careers advice

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

Be inspired by our alumni

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: 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: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

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

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

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

Additional requirements

Language requirement

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

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

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

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

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

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

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

Mature applicant qualifications

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

SQA, GCSE and IB

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

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

English language tests

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

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

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

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

English language requirements

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

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

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

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA Scottish Ethnology and Scandinavian Studies

Additional costs

Fieldwork

Participation in fieldwork depends on your programme of study and the courses chosen. For example, if you choose to do your dissertation in Scottish Ethnology you may spend time on fieldwork and excursions.

Costs will vary according to the location.

However, if you prefer, you can select an archive- or library-based project that is unlikely to have any additional costs for this component of your programme.

Study Abroad

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