Scandinavian Studies, Master of Arts

Course description and objectives

The Master’s degree in Scandinavian Studies is a research-oriented programme of philology centred on literary studies that also integrates issues and methods of cultural studies. The subject matter of the course is modern North Germanic languages: Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic; their historical antecedents; texts written in these languages; their historical and cultural context; their reception; and Scandinavians studies.

In the course of your studies you will choose from three core focus areas. Each of these offers a trans-disciplinary opportunity for students to engage in Scandinavian Studies in more depth and in connection to other subjects:

  1. The philological focus area concentrates on literary and linguistic issues and methods in both the Old Norse branch of studies and the Modern Scandinavian one.
  2. The mediaeval focus area concentrates on the Old Norse branch, up to and including the end of the Middle Ages.
  3. The modern focus area concentrates on the Modern Scandinavian branch, from the Reformation up to present day.

Thus, a Master in Scandinavian Studies offers an education with a sound theoretical base, guided by current scholarship and by the principles of research-based learning. It provides you with the opportunity to systematically expand the knowledge acquired in your Bachelor’s programme, enabling you to participate in research projects and contribute your own research. We place particular value on perfecting your language skills – studying abroad for a period of time at a Scandinavian university can significantly contribute to this. Learning objectives include excellent written and verbal command of one continental Scandinavian language as well as very good passive language skills in other Nordic languages, including historical language development and a broad knowledge base of Scandinavian literature in its social, cultural and historical context.

The Master in Scandinavian Studies prepares you for your doctoral studies and for an academic career, but also for challenging careers in media, culture (work in theatres, museums, educational institutions etc.), at academic institutions in Germany and abroad, in publishing, in tourism etc. As the programme focuses on teaching text, research, and foreign languages competence, it is advisable to obtain additional qualifications through practical training such as internships and volunteer work with an eye to your desired job field.

Degree: Master of Arts Scandinavian studies
Accreditation: Accredited
Standard period of study: 4 semesters
Language of instruction: German
Start of studies: Winter and/or summer semesters
Study regulations: Download the Masters Programme Study Regulations


Course structure

The Master in Scandinavian Studies is a full-time course with seven core compulsory modules (including the Master’s thesis as a final module) and one compulsory elective. The course begins in semester one with the compulsory module Research Projects: Philological Methods in Scandinavian Studies (Sk.MA.1). This module, which includes intensive guidance for your orientation in course methodology and content, serves to ensure that graduates from diverse Bachelor’s programmes begin their studies based on a common working basis. Moreover, this module is useful in helping you choose your core academic focus area. After completing this module, students spend the next two semesters in two seminars (one per semester) engaging intensively with academic research questions and issues in Scandinavian Studies (module Sk.MA.2). Parallel to this, your individual focus area is developed in one of the three compulsory elective modules Sk.MA.3.1: Scandinavian Studies in Philological Contexts, Sk.MA.3.2 The North and Europe in the Middle Ages: Contacts, Conflicts, and Cultural Transfers, or Sk.MA.3.3: Literature and Culture in the Modern Age. The aim and intention is that students attend events and lectures of other courses (such as General and Comparative Literature, Literary studies, American studies, English studies, German studies, History, Philology, Greek philology, Catholic Theology, History of Art, Latin Philology, Religious studies or Romance studies). Academic study and research in continental Scandinavian languages is practised from the first semester on (compulsory module Sk.MA.4: Scandinavian languages: Literature, culture, and society). Parallel to this, students expand their knowledge of continental Scandinavian literature (module Sk.MA.5). There is an optional module (Sk.MA.6: Special Options) in which you may have relevant activities and achievements you may have acquired during your studies outside the course itself accredited. In the last semester of study students write their Master’s thesis (module Sk.MA.8); in the penultimate semester, a colloquium with an unmarked presentation (module Sk.MA.7) which is geared towards prepares them for the content and methodology of their thesis work.

The current Goethe University course catalogue has information on which teaching events you can attend within which compulsory modules. A single lecture may be relevant to multiple modules or areas of study. In such cases, the CP obtained by attending the event count only once. The lecturer in charge of the module will decide about the accreditation of CP.


Study abroad

The Institute for Scandinavian Studies has ERASMUS partners in the universities in Reykjavík (Háskóli Islands), in Stockholm and Umeå (Sweden), in Helsinki (Finland) as well as in Bergen (Norway), and in Aarhus and Copenhagen (Denmark). We strongly recommend that you utilize this opportunity to study abroad – usually for one or two semesters.


Study Requirements

Entry requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree from Goethe University with a major in Scandinavian Studies


  • Bachelor’s degree from Goethe University with a major in Empirical Linguistics (focus area: Scandinavian languages)


  • Bachelor’s degree from Goethe University in a related subject (e.g. General and Comparative Literature, American studies, German studies, History or similar) combined with a minor in Scandinavian Studies


  • A degree at least equivalent to the above-mentioned at an institute of higher education in Germany or abroad in the same or a similar subject area with a standard period of study of at least six semesters, as well as good knowledge of one continental Scandinavian language (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish) and philological methodology.

If you have successfully completed a course at Goethe University with a minor in Scandinavian Studies or Empirical Linguistics (focus area: Scandinavian languages) accredited with 60 CP, then you may, subject to certain conditions, also be admitted to enrol in the Master’s programme. The same applies if you have completed a Goethe University Bachelor’s degree majoring in Empirical Linguistics under the Goethe University’s Study Regulations in force until the summer semester of 2011. The same also applies for Bachelor’s degrees or equivalent qualification completed at a different institute of higher education in the same subject or a related one.

The Admissions Board determines what degrees and qualifications are equivalent and/or recognized.

Knowledge of foreign languages

The course in Scandinavian Studies requires you to have a good knowledge of English on B1 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) as well as very good knowledge of at last one continental Scandinavian language (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish), and knowledge of Old Norse and Latin.

Further requirements

If you aim for a Master’s degree in Scandinavian Studies, you are expected to have a marked interest in literature, language, culture, and history. You should also be able to handle a comprehensive reading list, including academic literature in English. On top of the above-mentioned language requirements, we expect you to be able to express yourself in German at a very high level.


The Application Process

Documents to be submitted:

  • A copy of your Bachelor’s degree credentials.
  • Should your Bachelor’s credentials be unavailable: Transcript of Records or equivalent documentation of completed modules with content and preliminary average marks.
  • Proof of knowledge of relevant languages.
  • If you have neither a German university entrance qualification nor a degree or qualification from a German institute of higher education, then you must also provide proof of sufficient knowledge of German.
  • Depending on your country of origin and your educational background you may need additional documentation. Please review the general information on applying to a Master’s programme for further information on this.


Application deadlines

31.08. for the winter semester
28.02. for the summer semester

Please apply via the Goethe University applications portal.

Course guidance services

We offer you a consultation session regarding your choice of subject before beginning the course. Please book an appointment with Ms Jun.-Prof. Dr. Felcht or with Ms Prof. Dr. Zernack.


Student-led guidance services: Christine Amling,