Programme structure

Viking and Medieval Norse Studies is an international two-year graduate programme (120 ECTS credits) leading to a master's degree.

  • The 1st year: Iceland
  • The 3rd semester: Denmark or Norway
  • The 4th semester: Iceland or Norway

The first two semesters take place at the University of Iceland in Reykjavík. In the third semester, the students can choose between courses at Aarhus University, Denmark, the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, or the University of Oslo, Norway. The fourth and final semester is reserved for writing a master’s thesis at the University of Iceland or at the University of Oslo.

4. semester MAS4091 – Master's Thesis in Viking and Medieval Norse Studies (30 ECTS)
3. semester Optional courses in Aarhus, Copenhagen or Oslo (a total of 30 ECTS)
2. semester Intermediate Old Icelandic Optional course Optional course
1. semester Introduction to Old Icelandic A or B Old Icelandic Literature Icelandic and Scandinavian Medieval History 
  10 ECTS credits 10 ECTS credits 10 ECTS credits

The 1st year: Iceland

The first year (autumn and spring semesters) is devoted to course work at the University of Iceland in Reykjavík, Iceland, and the associated Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies. Three separate faculties at the University of Iceland participate in the program and offer courses and thesis supervisors: The Faculty of Icelandic and Comparative Cultural Studies, The Faculty of History and Philosophy, and the Department of Folklore Studies at the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences. The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies is a research institute that houses a large collection of Icelandic medieval manuscripts, visual and oral documents, as well as a research library in medieval studies that will be open to students in the program. The staff of the institute will provide assistance and participate in teaching and thesis supervision.

The principal aim of the first year is to lay the groundwork for further academic work in the field of medieval Norse studies. The core of the coursework consists of three components:

1. Language

No prior knowledge of Old Icelandic is required, but special emphasis is placed on developing skills in Old Icelandic in the first year through courses in Old Icelandic at introductory and intermediate levels.

2. Literature, mythology, pre-Christian religion, memory of the Viking voyages

The student will get an overview of Norse literature and literary activity in Iceland and Norway in the middle ages by studying a variety of medieval texts, such as Eddic and Skaldic poetry, kings’ sagas, þættir, lives of the bishops, sagas of Icelanders, the contemporary sagas, romances, the legendary sagas (fornaldarsǫgur), as well as religious and didactic literature. In addition, students will be introduced to different theoretical approaches in the field of Norse medieval studies and contributions from other fields, such as archeology, anthropology, and sociology.

3. History

The students will get acquainted with the fundamentals of medieval Icelandic and Scandinavian history.

In the first year, students complete four obligatory core courses; 30 ECTS credits in the autumn semester and 10 ECTS credits in the spring semester.

Please consult the Icelandic programme page for a full overview of the 1st year courses.

The 3rd semester: Denmark or Norway

The 3rd semester is spent either at Aarhus University, the University of Copenhagen or the University of Oslo, all depending on the specialization of study of the individual student.

University of Oslo

The Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Oslo offers wide-ranging expertise in many aspects of the programme. Its particular strengths lie in philology, poetics and medieval grammatical literature, runology, medieval literacy, palaeography and codicology (material philology), Viking age archaeology, medieval art (book illumination, ecclesiastical art), and Anglo-Norse and Celtic-Norse relations.

Courses offered include (the list is not exhaustive):


Aarhus University

The Scandinavian Institute, in collaboration with the Departments of Religion, History and Archaeology, offers wide-ranging expertise in many of the subject areas covered by the programme. Aarhus University promotes a vibrant interdisciplinary milieu, and scholars in the various departments are keen to work with international students, both as teachers and course coordinators. Aarhus University offers special expertise in the fields of literary analysis, literary and cultural theory (narrativity, memory studies, orality and literacy), reception studies, Old Norse mythology, comparative religion and anthropological theory, and material history.

Please contact the Scandinavian Institute at Aarhus University for more information.

University of Copenhagen

The Department of Scandinavian Research offers wide-ranging expertise in the many subject areas covered by the programme, including Old Danish and Old Swedish. The Arnamagnæan Institute houses half of the Arnamagnæan manuscript collection and also has an excellent research library. The Institute staff will provide advice and training for students, especially in the fields of manuscript studies and artefactual philology, textual criticism and scholarly editing, and textual and literary history. The Name Research section offers expertise in onomastics, runology and Anglo-Norse studies. The Arnamagnæan Institute also hosts the Dictionary of Old Norse Prose project, whose resources will be available to students.

Please contact the Department of Scandinavian Research at the University of Copenhagen for more information.

The 4th semester: Iceland or Norway

The 4th semester is devoted to researching and writing a final thesis (30 ECTS). This can be done at either the University of Oslo or at the University of Iceland.

Diploma and degree

This programme leads to the following degree: Viking and Medieval Norse Studies

Students who spend their third semester in Oslo will be awarded a joint M.Phil./M.A. degree in Viking and Medieval Studies from University of Oslo and University of Iceland.

Published Nov. 20, 2012 10:52 AM - Last modified Feb. 23, 2018 1:59 PM