Viking and Medieval Nordic Studies, MLitt

Viking and Medieval Nordic Studies, MLitt

Introduction

Examine the history, culture and society of Viking and Medieval Scandinavia at one of Scotland’s ancient Universities. Explore medieval Nordic texts and artefacts and Old Norse-Icelandic language with internationally renowned academics in their areas of expertise and research.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
MLitt
Duration
12 months or 24 months
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month
September

Our postgraduate degree offers a broad and interdisciplinary overview of early Scandinavian Studies while allowing you to specialise in themes and topics of interest. Acquire an understanding of the Old Norse-Icelandic language, literature, myths, history, and society of early Scandinavia, using primary sources in the original language and English translation.

Aberdeen is one of the few places in the UK to have a specialist Centre for early Scandinavian Studies, giving you the unique opportunity to interact with our dynamic postgraduate community and experts in the field while receiving specialist training and research skills development. There are opportunities to contribute to various projects within the Centre for Scandinavian Studies, including our online journal, Apardjón, named after the Old Norse word for Aberdeen.

You are taught in small-group classes, giving you the space to participate in group discussions and receive guidance from our experts in the field. Our students study in beautiful Old Aberdeen, benefitting from a vibrant campus experience and charming green spaces, with easy access to our compact and student-friendly city centre.

We deliver a stimulating programme of events, including research seminars with talks from external speakers, postgraduate workshops, field trips to Scandinavian sites and archives, and student symposia.

Our master’s degree provides scope to advance into different career paths. Acquire transferable skills in critical thinking, teamwork, oral and written communication, problem-solving, and project management to boost your employability. Many of our MLitt graduates have progressed on to study for a PhD. Others have gone into careers in education, the creative industry, museums and heritage sector, education, media, and communication.

The following projects are associated with the Centre for Scandinavian Studies:

What You'll Study

You can choose to study for:

  • Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert) based on undertaking 60 credit points; 40 credits must be at level 5.
  • Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) based on 120 credit points; 90 credits must be at level 5.
  • Master of Letters (MLitt) based on 180 credit points; 150 credits must be at level 5.
Degree Content

Compulsory Courses

Note: Students with appropriate proficiency in Old Norse should take alternative non-Norse courses from the list of electives, in consultation with the programme coordinator.

Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD5006)

This course, which is prescribed for all taught postgraduate students, is studied entirely online, takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks.

Topics include orientation overview, equality and diversity, health, safety and cyber security and how to make the most of your time at university in relation to careers and employability.

Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’.

Old Norse 1: Language, Literature and Culture (HI553F)

30 Credit Points

Old Norse was also the primary literary language of the Scandinavian Middle Ages, notably the Icelandic sagas and skaldic and eddic poems. This course will provide the basic linguistic tools needed to read Old Norse texts, and some background about the history of the language and its links with other languages. No prior knowledge of Old Norse is assumed. This course uses Old Norse literature, in particular the sagas and Eddas, to introduce aspects of early Scandinavian culture, including literature and pre-Christian religion.

Dissertation in Historical Studies (HI5917)

60 Credit Points

An individually supervised project with a 15,000-word dissertation for students to complete their MLitt qualification

Optional Courses

    Note: Other relevant elective modules chosen from the course catalogue may be taken with the permission of the programme coordinator and course coordinator.

    Independent Study In Celtic & Anglo - Saxon Studies B (CE4099)

    15 Credit Points

    This course will provide the opportunity for students to pursue in-depth exploration of a specific topic in Celtic and/or Anglo-Saxon Studies. It gives students an opportunity for intensive engagement in a specific area within the research field of an individual staff member, and can be arranged as preparatory work towards a dissertation. The content of this course may vary, but the course focuses on enhancing the student's knowledge and research skills in the specified topic. Students are asked to discuss their ideas with a possible supervisor in the first week of term. In Autumn 2023 Dr Aideen O'Leary will teach Old English language under this course title, based on her new multimedia edition (with Dr Zhangfeng Xu) of the Aberdeen course Learning Old English by Dr Duncan Macrae-Gibson, available from Aberdeen University Press.

    Palaeography i (HI501D)

    15 Credit Points

    A postgraduate student of medieval and early modern history or literature often needs to be able to use unedited literary and archival sources, or to check the completeness and accuracy of existing editions. Medievalists often need to consult material available only in later copies, extracts and antiquarian notes. To do so, you must be able to read pre-modern scripts. This course is designed to give students the necessary skills to use manuscript sources for themselves, whatever their date, describe manuscripts, and transcribe texts. Assessment is by exercises and a final essay.

    Latin 1 (LT1009)

    15 Credit Points

    Latin 1 is an introductory, intensive course for those with little or no previous exposure to Latin. Students completing this course should have a Latin vocabulary of about 400 words and a basic understanding of Latin grammar and syntax. Students successfully completing this course will be adequately prepared to attend Latin 2. Students will very likely discover that their knowledge of English vocabulary and grammar/syntax is improved by their study of Latin. The etymological roots of many English words can be traced to the Latin language.

    Swedish 1 (SN1003)

    15 Credit Points

    Sweden is the largest Scandinavian country and is known for e.g. technology (from dynamite to Skype), culture (from Vikings to Abba and Stieg Larsson), tourism (from snowy mountains to red cottages) and politics and society (from UN to corporate social responsibility).

    By learning Swedish you acquire a new language, but maybe also a new way of thinking, and an interesting twist to your CV.

    Teaching in this course is interactive and you will learn to communicate in a friendly environment by practising to listen, speak, read and write (and why not sing?) and also get some cultural insight.

    Northern Worlds (AY5001)

    30 Credit Points

    In a series of research-led lectures and seminars, students investigate what characterises the Archaeology of the North from environmental, socio-cultural, and ideological aspects. We examine several inter-locking themes, from the first colonisations of the North tracing how these earlier populations established the cultural, ethnic and religious diversity that define later periods. Students will be introduced to the ecological characteristics of higher latitudes, and examine the diverse ways in which communities have made the Northern World their home. We also examine how human communities have responded to climate changes in the past, resilience and adaptation, technology, and spirituality amongst Northern peoples

    Viking Archaeology (AY5005)

    30 Credit Points

    In their brief 300-year heyday, the peoples of Viking-Age Scandinavia transformed the northern world, and themselves. This course explores the Vikings at home, abroad, and in their new homes overseas in the developing colonies of the diaspora that stretched from the coasts of North America to the Asian steppe. In lectures and seminars students will consider themes such as settlement and social structure, urbanism and commerce, pagan and Christian religion, and the political process that created the modern nation states of Norway, Sweden and Denmark

    Brittonic Language Ib (CE4074)

    30 Credit Points

    This course consists of an exposition of the grammar of mediaeval Welsh, accompanied by appropriate translation exercises and grammatical interpretation of selected passages of text.

    Special Subject (HI502K)

    30 Credit Points

    This course allows you to participate in lectures and seminars for a specialist upper-level undergraduate (Honours) course in History or a neighbouring discipline, with tailored postgraduate-level research and assessment methods. The course is open to students on any of the campus-based PGT programmes in History, and you are able to choose the option that best suits your interests and programme, in consultation with your programme coordinator.

    Example courses, from a wide range available each year, include: History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict; The Scottish Wars of Independence, 1286-1328; Britain and Revolutionary Russia 1917-1924; The Black Radical Tradition; Myths of the North; Enlightenment Compared: Ireland, Scotland, Central Europe.

    Engaging with Historiography (HI502T)

    30 Credit Points

    Students work closely with a member of staff to develop a detailed knowledge of and write a critical survey of the literature in their chosen field. This helps students develop research skills required for the literature review in the dissertation, but will be much broader in scope to ensure they have a secure grasp of the relevant research in their field. The course enhances students' ability to identify and engage critically with a body of literature and improve their skills in academic writing appropriate to postgraduate work.

    Directed Reading in History (HI503A)

    30 Credit Points

    This course allows you to define and explore a specialised research topic of your choosing. You will work one-on-one with an expert supervisor to develop a sustained line of inquiry and tailored bibliography. Regular meetings with your supervisor allow for in-depth discussion of your reading, culminating in an extended research essay in your chosen area.

    Independent Reading In Historical Studies (HI552G)

    15 Credit Points

    This course allows you to pursue a specific, tailored line of study related to your postgraduate degree programme. Expert, one-on-one supervisory support will guide your project as you develop independent research skills and specialist knowledge, culminating in a concise research essay in your chosen area.

    Approaching Archives (HI552L)

    15 Credit Points

    What is an archive and how can it be used? Students are introduced to some archives in Aberdeen and learn how to make best use of these important resources for research. Seminars investigate the history and philosophy of archival collections, and how they relate to museums, libraries and galleries; approaches to the evaluation of contents of archives and qualitative analyses of specific collections. Assessment is based on a 5000-word essay in which students are asked to identify and analyse material from a specific archive which may be in Aberdeen, or elsewhere in Scotland, the UK, or abroad.

    History and the Media (HI553C)

    15 Credit Points

    History has long had a high profile in literature, film and television; its presence has expanded exponentially in the digital age, with a vast range of new historically-based websites, computer games, and blogs. This course will consider the use of history and historical themes in literature, film, and television. In an age claimed to be post Truth, it will consider the dividing-line between fiction and history, the problems of historical authenticity and artistic licence, and the use and misuse of history by politicians and other public figures.

    Latin 2 (LT1507)

    15 Credit Points

    Latin 2 picks up where Latin 1 finished in first term. By the end of this course students should have a more or less comprehensive understanding of Latin syntax and grammar, a Latin vocabulary of 700-800 words, and should be capable of translating simple Latin texts into idiomatic English. Students will very likely discover that their knowledge of English vocabulary and grammar/syntax is improved by their study of Latin.

    Swedish 2 (SN1503)

    15 Credit Points

    Building on Swedish I, you will continue to learn to speak, listen, read and write in Swedish. We will now use a more complex language - for instance we will use more adjectives to describe things, and start using subclauses. By extending your vocabulary as well as working with grammar, by the end of the course you should be able to communicate on European language level A2.

    As before, teaching is interactive with a lot of speaking practice in class and in the end of the course you are invited to actively take part of our midsummer cultural tutorial.

    Research Preparation in Historical Studies (HI5594)

    15 Credit Points

    This course consists of a mixture of two-hour group seminars and shorter supervision meetings with the member of staff best equipped to advise you on your dissertation topic. It will involve detailed discussion of your research ideas and planning with the aim of providing the fullest preparation for researching and writing the dissertation in the summer and research beyond. Fundamental to the success of the course are mutual feedback and support within the student group.

    Northern Peoples and Culture (AY5501)

    30 Credit Points

    In a series of text based student-led seminars we study past Northern Peoples and Cultures through key topical debates, characteristic for different cultural regions and time periods. In the seminars students examine a range of northern contexts, from prehistory to more recent times all over the Circumpolar North. Students encounter topics as versatile as animal domestication in Northern Eurasia, Scandinavian Vikings, and Colonial North America illustrating the diversity of life and thought in Northern communities. Each seminar will also explore how particular key issues have become central to the 'identity' of archaeological research in the respective areas

    The World of Vikings (AY5505)

    30 Credit Points

    The last centuries of the Scandinavian Iron Age, c. 750-1050, is the dynamic era in which Norse peoples made a lasting impression on Northern European and indeed world history. We call it the Viking Age. It was characterised by a society in transition – between Pagan beliefs and Christianity, Iron Age Chiefdoms and Medieval States, Thing and Law. In this course we explore the impacts that the Vikings had on Northern European society through the ancient artefacts and places they left behind. In addition to biweekly seminars, this course lets you meet the Vikings in their World through a week-long field trip where we will explore how society, landscape, economy and worldview was radically changed by the Viking Age.

    Celtic & Anglo - Saxon Kingship (CE4595)

    30 Credit Points

    Kingship and the Middle Ages seem to go together. In some cultures mediaeval kingship grew powerful, the public embodiment of a people and the creator of government and (therefore) state. But this was not so everywhere and at all times. The Germanic-speaking peoples, fearful of leaderly power, were very reluctant to embrace kingship. The Celtic-speaking peoples inherited a long-lived ideology of kingship but never embraced monarchy. We examine the development of kingship as social institution, taking the Celts as a whole and using the Anglo-Saxons as representative of a larger Germanic history.

    Special Subject (HI552K)

    30 Credit Points

    This course allows you to participate in lectures and seminars for a specialist upper-level undergraduate (Honours) course in History or a neighbouring discipline, with tailored postgraduate-level research and assessment methods. The course is open to students on any of the campus-based PGT programmes in History, and you are able to choose the option that best suits your interests and programme, in consultation with your programme coordinator.

    Example courses, from a wide range available each year, include: History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict; The Scottish Wars of Independence, 1286-1328; Britain and Revolutionary Russia 1917-1924; The Black Radical Tradition; Myths of the North; Enlightenment Compared: Ireland, Scotland, Central Europe.

    Presenting Historical Research (HI552R)

    30 Credit Points

    Students complete the course with an enhanced ability to present convincing academic arguments and research findings in writing and, particularly orally. They improve their critical engagement with the research and arguments of other historians.

    Students attend research seminars and write a seminar comparison report, fostering engagement with the process of presenting arguments and research findings.

    Following training in presentation skills, students present their dissertation proposals in a workshop, recording their presentation using Camtasia, and respond to questions from staff and students. Students then write a reflective analysis of their presentations.

    Directed Reading in History (HI553A)

    30 Credit Points

    This course allows you to define and explore a specialised research topic of your choosing. You will work one-on-one with an expert supervisor to develop a sustained line of inquiry and tailored bibliography. Regular meetings with your supervisor allow for in-depth discussion of your reading, culminating in an extended research essay in your chosen area.

    We will endeavour to make all course options available. However, these may be subject to change - see our Student Terms and Conditions page.

    Fee information
    Fee category Cost
    EU / International students £22,000
    Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year
    UK £10,000
    Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year

    Fee Information

    Additional Fee Information

    • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
    • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our Tuition Fees page.

    Funding Opportunities

    You can also find funding opportunities advertised on the University’s funding database.

    The James Carnegie maintenance scholarship for postgraduate students is available with this degree.

    Scholarships

    Self-funded international students enrolling on postgraduate taught (PGT) programmes will receive one of our Aberdeen Global Scholarships, ranging from £3,000 to £8,000, depending on your domicile country. Learn more about the Aberdeen Global Scholarships here.

    To see our full range of scholarships, visit our Funding Database.

    How You'll Study

    Our MLitt students join a lively, collegial, rigorous research community at the Centre for Scandinavian Studies. You are encouraged to participate in the Centre’s stimulating programme of weekly research seminars, including papers from external speakers and postgraduate workshops.

    There are also opportunities to take field trips to Scandinavian sites and archives and attend student symposia to exchange ideas and develop your conference presentation skills. We host regular informal social events to foster discussion and collaboration.

    The taught component of the programme takes place in the autumn and spring, and you will write your dissertation, with one-on-one guidance from your supervisor, during the summer. We teach in small-group classes where discussion and active participation are encouraged. You will have regular contact with experts in the field. In addition, students usually have access to a shared study space at the Centre and a subject library.

    Part-time students

    This route runs over two years. You will take a maximum of 180 credit points over two years.

    Learning Methods

    • Field Trips
    • Group Projects
    • Individual Projects
    • Peer Learning
    • Research
    • Seminars
    • Workshops

    Assessment Methods

    The programme is assessed by a variety of means but focuses on research-led essays in the relevant subject areas, with some courses including presentations; language courses are assessed by a mixture of in-class assessments and exams.

    Why Study Viking and Medieval Nordic Studies?

    • Aberdeen is one of the few places in the UK to have a specialist Centre for early Scandinavian Studies.
    • Receive specialist knowledge and guidance from experts across specialisms within Viking and medieval Nordic Studies.
    • Learn Old Norse language and literature using primary sources in the original language and English translation.
    • Contribute to projects within the Centre for Scandinavian Studies, including our online postgraduate journal, Apardjón, named after the Old Norse word for Aberdeen.
    • Tailor the degree to your study or career interests while broadening your understanding of Viking and medieval Scandinavia.
    • Benefit from proximity to important Viking Age sites in Orkney and Shetland, only a ferry ride away!
    • Acquire transferable skills in critical thinking, teamwork, oral and written communication, problem-solving, and project management to boost your career prospects.

    What Our Students Say

    Seluvaia Ita

    Seluvaia Ita

    Seluvaia Ita

    The programme was great, and the instructors were personable and incredibly helpful. I received training in research methods, archives, manuscript studies, object care and analysis, and Old Norse language.

    Find out more

    Jess Trumbull

    Jess Trumbull

    Jess Trumbull

    I chose to pursue my degree at the University of Aberdeen because of the location and the great reputation of the staff and program. The program is turning out even better than I had expected, and I look forward to the continued work with everyone.

    Jessica Nutt

    Jessica Nutt

    Jessica Nutt

    The lecturers and moderators were beyond helpful, and have made my experience at Aberdeen amazing. The course was eclectic, fascinating, and highly engaging, and I think I've learnt more in this past year than I ever thought possible.

    Gerardo Sánchez

    Gerardo Sánchez

    Gerardo Sánchez

    This interdisciplinary programme is perfect if you would like to specialise in any aspect of Medieval Scandinavia: language, literature, archaeology... There is a vast range of options with a vast range of experts willing to assist you.

    Benjamin Harrison

    Benjamin Harrison

    Benjamin Harrison

    The teaching has been excellent and the staff are always happy to help or discuss a question. The atmosphere of the Centre is incredible as well, where the MLitts are welcomed and encouraged just as much as the PhDs are.

    Entry Requirements

    For more information about the application process, including details about which supporting documents you will be asked to provide, please click here.

    Qualifications

    The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

    Candidates must normally have an Honours degree to at least 2.1 standard in an appropriate discipline or equivalent qualifications and experience.

    Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

    English Language Requirements

    To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

    IELTS Academic:

    OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 6.0; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0

    TOEFL iBT:

    OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 21; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

    PTE Academic:

    OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

    Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency:

    OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 169; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

    Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

    Document Requirements

    You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

    Degree Certificate
    a degree certificate showing your qualifications
    Degree Transcript
    a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
    Personal Statement
    a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme

    Aberdeen Global Scholarship

    Eligible self-funded post graduate taught (PGT) students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Explore our Global Scholarships, including eligibility details, on our dedicated page.

    Aberdeen Global Scholarships

    Careers

    This degree broadens your historical awareness and knowledge giving you the skills to acquire further training and progress into work across different industries and contexts. These areas include and are not limited to:

    • Translation
    • Teaching
    • Archiving
    • Curation
    • Publishing
    • Journalism

    Interdisciplinary study of early Scandinavia

    Aberdeen is one of very few places in the UK to have a dedicated Centre focusing on Viking Age and medieval Scandinavian studies in interdisciplinary perspectives

    What our Alumni Say

    Tiffany White

    Tiffany White

    Tiffany White

    Graduated 2015

    I enjoyed the close-knit community at the Centre, as well as the many Scandinavian events put on by the university's Nordic Society. The MLitt adequately prepared me for a future academic career and entrance to the PhD program at UC Berkeley.

    Sam Thompson

    Sam Thompson

    Sam Thompson

    Graduated 2016

    The centre for Scandinavian Studies has an incredibly welcoming atmosphere and I feel like I made some lifelong friendships during my time there. I have been well prepared for an academic future and I hope to start working on a PhD soon.

    Our Experts

    Our academic staff have diverse specialisms across disciplines in literature, philosophy, art history, history, music, and law, offering you the flexibility to study topics that interest your vocation.

    Other Experts
    Professor Ralph O'Connor
    Dr Charlotta Hillerdal
    Mrs Anna Bokedal
    Professor Robert McColl Millar
    Programme Coordinator
    Dr Hannah Burrows

    Information About Staff Changes

    You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. However, these may be subject to change - see our Student Terms and Conditions page.

    Features

    Students on the MLitt in Viking and Medieval Nordic Studies will study on the university’s beautiful Old Aberdeen campus. The Centre has a growing specialist library in early Scandinavian Studies in addition to the holdings in the main University library, and MLitt students have access to shared study space.

    Image for The Centre for Scandinavian Studies
    The Centre for Scandinavian Studies

    The Centre for Scandinavian Studies

    The Centre for Scandinavian Studies specialises in the literature, history, language and culture of the Viking Age and Medieval Nordic world, providing a base for those involved in undergraduate and postgraduate Scandinavian and early Nordic Studies.

    Find out more
    Image for The Centre for Early Modern Studies (CEMS)
    The Centre for Early Modern Studies (CEMS)

    The Centre for Early Modern Studies (CEMS)

    The Centre for Early Modern Studies specialises in exploring late medieval and early modern culture, offering a collaborative space for scholars and students to engage in research events, seminars, workshops, and conferences to understand the era.

    Find out more

    Get in Touch

    Contact Details

    Address
    Student Recruitment & Admissions
    University of Aberdeen
    University Office
    Regent Walk
    Aberdeen
    AB24 3FX