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Old Norse Studies, Master's, 2 years

For more than 500 years, Norway, Iceland and the Western Isles shared a linguistic and literary culture, from the colonization of Iceland until the beginning of the 15th century. This Master’s programme allows you to learn about the language, culture and literature of this fascinating period.
  • TuitionNone
  • Years2 years
  • LanguageScandinavian, English
  • ECTS120
  • StartAutumn

The programme allows you to specialize in multiple areas, but always focuses on the Old Norse texts in their original form. There are numerous texts and sources that exist in both Proto-Norse and Latin, such as memorial stones from the Viking age, parchment books from the Middle Ages or younger Icelandic handwritten texts. 

Old Norse studies is an international field, and this is reflected in our students and scientific staff, who come from many different countries. 

These three Master’s theses show that the subject covers a wide range of areas: 

As a student of Old Norse Studies, you will become part of the medieval research cluster. There are many opportunities to get involved: in activities with local museums and collections of handwritten documents, in an international postgrad symposium hosted every April, and the Medieval Week each autumn.

More information below

old norse master nedstryn
Foto/ill.:
University Museum of Bergen

Career

The Master's Degree in Old Norse Studies allows you to work with texts in a thorough manner, view historical sources in a critical manner, communicate clearly and make distinctions between opinions and historical facts. 

Society needs people who possess a foundation in the humanities and knowledge of the broader social and historical contexts. The Medieval Period was formative for the whole of Europe and which constantly gains the attention of new generations, as we see in films and series, books, theatre and historical games. The fact that Norway is becoming more and more popular as a destination of both cultural and historical interest, shows that many foreigners share an interest in our history. 

The vast majority of our candidates manage to get subject-related employment not long after their graduation. 

A Master's Degree in Old Norse studies qualifies you for work in both the private and public sectors, such as 

  • courses and teaching at higher level, both in Norway and abroad  
  • text work that requires a high-level of historical knowledge of the Norwegian language 
  • public cultural management and administration 
  • the museum sector 
  • libraries and cultural institutions
  • turism
  • humanistic research at higher level  

Many of our former students work both abroad and in Norway.  

A Master's degree allows you to continue in academic research by choosing research education (PhD).

Programme structure 

The Master's degree in Old Norse Studies differs from most other Master’s programmes in that work on the Master’s thesis runs parallel with the course section through the four semesters. The thesis and the course are weighted the same, 60 ECTS for each part. 

A thesis supervisor provides you with follow-up and advice, while you are expected to plan and perform your project independently. There are many topics to choose from which provide you with the opportunity to work with something that really interests you. 

1st semester (Autumn) 

You start by selecting a topic for the Master’s thesis, which you then present and receive feedback on during the project preparation topic, NOLISP300 (15 ECTS). Some students already know which topic they wish to study when they start their Master's degree, while others develop their topic during the first semester. All students benefit from discussions that take place during the project preparation course and with subject teachers. We ensure that students are assigned a supervisor before the end of the first semester. 

You also study an in-depth study topic, NOFI300 (15 ECTS), in the first semester. The contents of this topic change from semester to semester. 

2nd and 3rd semester 

You study two new in-depth study topics, NOFI302 (15 ECTS) and NOFI303 (15 ECTS), while working in parallel with your Master’s thesis. You might choose to spend one or even both semesters on an exchange study period, but make sure that you can take approved examinations in your place of study. This is to ensure you achieve the correct amount of ECTS credits in the course section.  

4th semester 

You complete the Master’s thesis. The four topics in the course section must be completed during the fourth semester at the latest. However, we advise you to have completed these topics during the first three semesters in order to concentrate fully on the Master’s thesis. If there is room for one more course during the last semester, we recommend that you study NOFI303. This involves students having to perform a trial lecture which includes two weeks of preparation. We make sure that students receive the lecture topic after the Master’s thesis has been submitted.  

See full list of courses

Student life  

Department of Linguistics, Literary and Aesthetic Studies (link) is found in the Humanities building (link) at the university campus in the centre of Bergen. Here, you work side by side with other Master’s students and you become part of a diverse environment with students and staff from many countries.  

There are reading areas for Master’s students in the Humanities building, and many other open reading areas at the nearby University Library. Students also have a pleasant meeting place in the Humanities building called Ad fontes (link). 

A Master's degree requires a high level of effort and work-ethic which develops students’ ability to conduct independent research. Subject-related meetings with other students, your supervisor, other scholarly staff and international colleagues are all important parts of the programme.  

As a Master’s student in Old Norse Studies, you can look forward to: 

  • An international working environment 
  • Research-based teaching  
  • Participation in research and dissemination activities 
  • Regular meetings in relevant research groups, especially The Research Group for Medieval Philology
  • Participation at the conference Bergen International Postgraduate Symposium in Old Norse Studies, that takes place each spring in Bergen
  • The opportunity to publish digital publications in the text archive Menota (Medieval Nordic Text Archive)
  • Study in a large interdisciplinary medieval environment in close contact with other medieval subjects 
  • Informal and close contact with staff and students, who are very willing to help. 
  • Opportunities to participate in many voluntary positions, both as a student representative at the department and faculty, and through social and academic gatherings organized by the Student Committee for Nordic Studies.  

Language 

Teaching: Scandinavian. Teaching can be conducted in English if needed. 

Primary texts: Old Norse. Subject literature will mainly be in Scandinavian and English, but you will also be encouraged to try other languages, especially German and Icelandic.   

Examinations and Master’s thesis: You are allowed to write in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, English or German.  

What you will learn 

  • You attain good knowledge of Old Norse sources. 
  • You get an overview of the subject’s most important support materials and learn to work independently. 
  • You receive wide, general knowledge of key theories, terminology and methods in Old Norse Studies as a scientific discipline. 
  • You learn to critically assess opinions within your own subject area. 
  • You learn to plan and complete an independent research project.  

Complete list of learning outcomes (norwegian)

Study aboard period 

You can take part in an exchange study period at another university in the 2nd and/or 3rd semester. We particularly encourage students to take part in exchanges at our sister institutes at the University of Iceland (Háskóli Íslands) and the University of Copenhagen. We have a well-established international network that also allows us to present our work and ideas to other educational institutions, depending on the theme selected for your Master’s thesis.  

See list of recommended exchange agreements

How to apply

Follow these links to find the general entry requirements and guidelines on how to apply:

You will also have to meet the programme specific entry requirements.