Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

MA Scandinavian Studies and Philosophy

UCAS code: RV65

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Scandinavian Studies and Philosophy

Philosophy has been at the core of Western intellectual life for at least 2,500 years. Studying Scandinavian Studies and Philosophy helps you understand the contemporary world, as well as shedding light on the past.

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 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 develop an understanding of the other two we teach to degree level. In Year 2, for example, you can choose to explore the similarities and differences between Danish, Swedish and Norwegian.

Philosophy

Studying philosophy allows you to think about some of the great philosophical questions in a clear, disciplined and systematic manner.

Philosophy:

  • introduces you to the thinking of some of the great philosophers of the past and present
  • illuminates the connections between diverse areas of human experience
  • makes you more aware of the assumptions that form the basis of your beliefs

Why Edinburgh

As a world-leading historic, festival and capital city, Edinburgh is the ideal place to study a language in its cultural context. Philosophy has been taught at the University since its foundation in 1583 and we are the only university in Scotland, and one of only two in the UK, to offer undergraduate honours programmes 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.

Studying over four years enables you to choose courses, including from other disciplines, that match your own interests, expertise and employability needs.

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.

Year 1

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 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.

Philosophy

In years 1 and 2, you will take a range of courses that introduce you to a variety of the main areas of Philosophy. This will include courses in some or all of the following areas:

  • Epistemology
  • Ethics
  • History of Philosophy
  • Logic
  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of Language
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Philosophy of Science

Option courses

You will complete your Year 1 studies with an option course 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

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.

Philosophy

You will continue to take courses in some or all of the main areas of Philosophy listed in Year 1.

Option courses

As in Year 1, you will complete your studies with at least one option course.

Courses to choose from include a great selection in European languages and cultures that explore literature, film and theatre in themed and comparative contexts.

Likely 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 typically have the opportunity to study a course in Scandinavian Civilisation, if you haven't already done so in Year 1.

Year 3

You will spend Year 3 in either Denmark, Norway or Sweden. This is when you will really deepen your knowledge of your chosen Scandinavian language by speaking it 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 might be able to divide your time between two destinations, but to give you a balanced experience, you will spend at least eight weeks in each place.

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 Denmark, Sweden or Norway.

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.

Depending on availability, you will take courses in philosophy at your host institution. If this is not possible, you will take an online course that covers major themes in philosophical methodology. This course will help you critically analyse and engage with literature by key philosophers and present your arguments clearly, including in essays and short assignments.

Regardless of whether you study or work abroad, you will take an e-learning course to prepare you for your Year 4 language courses in either Danish, Norwegian or Swedish. This course 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 wellbeing 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 Scandinavian Studies and Philosophy and prepare you for your final year.

Year 4

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 your core courses, you will choose courses from a range of specialist, honours-level options in Scandinavian culture and Philosophy.

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

Philosophy has been taught at the University since its foundation in 1583. Our collections and library holdings in the subject are extensive.

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

From acting to dancing, making friends in language cafes to campaigning on global issues, student-led groups offer lots of ways to explore your subjects, interests and talents socially.

The Scandinavian Society, for example, is one of around 300 societies and clubs supported by Edinburgh University Students' Association. The Association also promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.

Founded in 1871, Edinburgh PhilSoc is the University's oldest continuously running student society and is the largest and most active philosophy society in the UK.

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

You will spend Year 3 abroad (a minimum of 30 weeks) in either Denmark, Norway or Sweden.

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.

In Years 1 and 2, Philosophy courses are taught through a combination of lectures and tutorials.

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 Scandinavian Studies, you will have seminars instead of lectures. Philosophy courses are taught through a mixture of seminars and tutorials 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

Combining a language with philosophy 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 linguistic and critical skills you will develop, you will also gain a nuanced understanding of diverse cultures and societies throughout history.

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

Humanities 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

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.

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.

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:

  • Masters by Research degrees in Scandinavian Studies and Philosophy
  • Taught MSc programmes in Philosophy, including online programmes
  • Interdisciplinary MSc programmes in Comparative Literature, Intermediality and 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: 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.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 Scandinavian Studies and Philosophy

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