Home research cultural Centre for Nordic Studies Courses Optional modules

Optional modules

Optional modules can be studied across all our MLitt Programmes.

Students can also choose optional modules from the core modules of other MLitt Programme.

  • Celts and Vikings in Contact (20 credits)

Around AD 700 Celtic peoples dominated the North Atlantic. The Picts lived in the Northern Isles of Scotland, while Gaelic-speaking clerics from the Hebrides and Ireland had sailed to the Faroe Islands and Iceland. By 900AD these areas had been settled by the Vikings. The peoples and cultures were changed by their contact. This module will explore the result of the contact between these peoples and the extent to which cultural syntheses developed, both in the British Isles and in Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. It will examine the impact of the Gaels on Icelandic settlement and their continued impact of Icelandic folklore, and the reasons why they were written out of official Icelandic historiography. It will also explore Norse elements in the culture of the Gaelic areas of Scotland and Ireland and the creation of societies of mixed Gaelic Norse ethnicity. It will be a multi-disciplinary study including archaeology, folklore, history, place-names, genetics and literature. It will be taught by experts from Iceland and Scotland.

  • Picts - Revealing the Painted Past (20 credits)

This module examines the role of the Picts in Scotland’s past from a fully interdisciplinary perspective. It will place the influential 1950s publication, The Problem of the Picts, in the light of recent research; summarising the current state of knowledge. All major aspects of Pictish society will be addressed, using stone sculpture, written sources and archaeological evidence. Major themes include: The Pictish Kingdom(s), Christianisation, Pictish Language and place-names and material culture, as well as the view of the Picts in contemporary media.

  • The Language and Palaeography of Older Scots (20 credits)
  • This module aims to give an in-depth knowledge of Older Scots Language. The course will also contain an introduction to palaeography and glossary compilation working from manuscripts and early printed texts. It will cover both literary and non-literary material.

  • The NAR Literary Context (20 credits)
    This optional literature module seeks to offer students an insight through prose and poetry to the literary cultures of the North Atlantic Rim and the various forms of social organisation and social change of the North Atlantic Rim.


  • Historical and Cultural Perspectives of the NAR (20 credits)
    This module aims to look at the cultural and social disparities of the North Atlantic Rim regions in terms of historical background and cultural heritage and the influences both external and internal which have modified and impinged upon it. Particular attention will be paid to communities which are satellites of larger areas in the region commensurate with the status of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland.


  • Early Scottish and Norse Literature (20 credits)
    This module aims to give students a sound knowledge of the literature of the Highlands and Islands from earliest times up to 1600 in their linguistic, social, and literary context. The development of specific themes and styles in each language group will be compared and contrasted and the societies which produced them analysed. It will provide a literary context for those students wishing to take the Language and Palaeography of Older Scots option at PG Dip level.


  • The Orkney and Shetland Tongues (20 credits)
    This module aims to provide students with an overview of the current and historical language situation in the Northern Isles, to develop basic linguistic skills and to apply these skills to the study of language as used in Orkney and Shetland.


  • Orkney and Shetland Literature (20 credits)
    The main purpose of this module is to give students a sound knowledge of the literature of the Northern Isles from earliest times to the present in their linguistic, social, and literary context in order to inform their understanding and critical analysis of modern Orkney and Shetland literature. The Scots and Nordic influences will be isolated and analysed, both singly and severally. The module will place the developing Northern Isles canon in the context of the society which created it.


  • Introduction to Screenwriting (20 credits)
    Students will learn how to develop a framework of screenwriting practice and will be encouraged to write a short screenplay.  By the end of the course students will have developed a range of skills and critical facilities in screenwriting. In addition, they will have been offered the opportunity to develop and write a short screenplay with peer feedback.


  • Exploring Creative Writing (20 credits)
    This module provides opportunities for the practice, study and development of creative and professional writing, operates at an advanced or publishable level and is intended to appeal to students with an interest in creative writing, those who want to develop their ideas with a view to completing a full length work and seek contact with others who are similarly minded in an environment that builds on the craft and practical business of writing such as editing, manuscript preparation, improvement, marketing, contracts and so on.


  • Gaelic medium options available on our MLitt Island Studies programme through Sabhal Mòr Ostaig