Module information for MLitt Island Studies (180 credits)


This is the only dedicated taught postgraduate degree in Island Studies in Scotland. The programme focuses on the study of islands and their communities, both in Scotland and internationally and gives you the opportunity to explore the islands of the world.

Island communities are often culturally unique, yet by their nature they share many commonalities, sometimes referred to as 'islandness'.

Core modules are :

  • From Atlantis to Utopia: The Nature of ‘Islandness’ (20 credits)
    This module will make a philosophical, sociological, cultural and literary exploration of the nature of ‘Islandness’, that existential quality shared by island communities despite their individual cultural inheritance and the geographical peculiarities of their particular islands.
  • From Muckle Flugga to Pladda: the Scottish Islands (20 credits)
    This module is central to any MLitt on Island Studies taught from the Scottish Islands, and gives the programme a unique flavour within the field. It will take a comparative, multi-disciplinary look at the range of cultures and identities expressed by the inhabitants Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland and life in these islands today. This will encompass history, an examination of cultural identity, language, literature and politics.
  • Governance in Small Islands (20 credits)
    Small islands often have particular needs, which are not always met by their respective continents, this can lead to islands seeking and exercising varying degrees of self-government, ranging from insular local authorities like Shetland to nation-states like Malta. This module will look at how small islands are governed. It will compare and contrast a wide range of islands and their systems of governance, including comparisons between the powers exercised in places such as Shetland, Orkney, Man and the Faroe Islands. Is there an ideal amount of self-government to which small islands should aspire?
  • Selling 'Cold' Islands (20 credits)
    This module will explore the increasingly important phenomenon of island tourism in cooler destinations. Islands in the cooler climes are clearly selling their attractions to the discerning tourist. Ever more cruise ships visit the islands of the North and South Atlantic. 62 ships visited Kirkwall in 2011, while 50,000 cruise passengers will visit Stanley in the Falklands in the 2013 season. Cold islands can attract large numbers - Iceland currently attracts 600,000 visitors a year. What exactly is being sold? Are there lessons?
  • Research Dissertation (60 credits)
    The module aims to provide students with an opportunity to undertake a sustained, rigorous and independent investigation of some aspect of material culture and the environment. There is an online UHI postgraduate dissertation handbook for student guidance. The dissertation must consist of original work. It should be informed by the theoretical and practical knowledge and expertise which the participant has developed through other modules and/or in previously accredited learning. It should focus on a theme, topic or issue which is relevant to the subject. The resulting dissertation should not only present and interpret the research findings but also critically evaluate the research design and methodology employed; and identify the outcomes of the research in terms of actual or planned developments and changes.

Programme entry requirements

2:1 Honours degree (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject, such as History, Archaeology, Literature, or Ethnology. Other disciplines, such as human geography and the social sciences, will also be considered.

International students whose first language is not English must meet language competency standards as noted on the International page of the UHI website.