Module information for MLitt Viking Studies (180 credits)


The Vikings have been incredibly influential in world history and culture. The Institute for Northern Studies' team has used their recognised expertise in this area to create a unique course on offer to students all over the world and to re-evalaute the Vikings past, present, and future.

You will evaluate key archaeological, historical, economic, and social developments in the Viking world and analyse the significance and legacy of the cultural history of the Vikings both in isolation and in a wider context temporally and geographically. The programme explores the role of women and men in Viking society, and the significance of runes and Viking iconography in text and film among other fascinating topics.

Core modules are:

Vikings in Scotland and the Irish Sea region: settlement, burial and ritual (20 credits)
This module will make a comparative analysis of the Viking and Norse history and archaeology of the Scotland and the Irish Sea region in the period from AD 790 - AD 1266. It will assess and analyse the different stages of Viking settlement in the area and the societies that followed.

Gender in Viking society: Warriors, Travellers and Farmers (20 credits)
The module aims to introduce students to the history and archaeology of gender more generally and women in particular in the early medieval period, with a special emphasis on Viking society.  The period covered will span approximately from the late 8th to the 11th century, and we will explore key topics through a variety of primary sources, including archaeological evidence, Saga literature, chronicles and poems.

Discovering the Past: introduction to interdisciplinary research methods (20 credits)

This is a research-led module which serves as an introduction and starting point for all Viking Studies students and also students of other programmes with an interest in the medieval period. The intention is to provide students with a thorough understanding of the interdisciplinary approach used in Viking and Medieval Studies, and to apply source criticism to a range of different source materials. Through this module, students will gain clear insight into of the main topics and research approaches that form part of research on the medieval period. Themes include: Introduction to the Middle Ages, how to approach and use the different types of evidence, such as archaeology, place-names, runes, Icelandic sagas and annals. The semster is organised thus: Weeks 1-2: Reading materials will be released on a weekly basis; Week 3: Workshop dealing with the reading done in the last two weeks, followed by a short assessment. This pattern is repeated until week 12.

Visualising the Vikings: the Vikings in Popular Culture (20 credits)
Images of the Vikings are common and extremely powerful in Western Culture - the brutal barbarian, the berserker, the proto-capitalist, the indomitable hero. This 12 week course will explore the origins of these images and their realisation in the visual media, in movies, TV series, comics, and in music, from Wagner to Heavy Metal. It will compare image with reality, as revealed by archaeology, medieval history and saga literature. It will explore the relationship between the Viking of our imagination and our own desires, with reference to gender studies, psychology and philosophy. Why do some now idolise those who were described as ‘a most vile people’?

Vikings in the Landscape: Understanding Old Norse Place-names (20 credits)

This is a research-led module which introduces students to Old Norse place-names in their landscape setting. The focus is placed on examining the different types of place-names that were present in the Viking Age in Scandinavia and the Viking Age settlements in the west, such as Scotland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands. The place-names will be examined in conjunction with archaeological evidence and written sources (such as sagas, poetry and laws) relating to the Viking Age. In this way, the many facts of Viking Age Viking Society will be explored, including elite and farmer settlements, cult and religion, as well as law and administration.

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.


You can also choose from our range of optional modules.

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.