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 and Scottish Heritage students, and also students of other programmes with an interest in interdisciplinary historical research. The intention is to provide students with a thorough understanding of the interdisciplinary approaches used in modern historical and archaeological studies, and to critically appraise a range of different source materials. Through this module, students will gain clear insight into the main topics and research methodologies that form modern scholarly practice. Themes include: accessing source material; interpreting different types of sources; methodological barriers, and creating an interdisciplinary approach.

This module will give students a critical understanding of the theory and methods used within modern historical and archaeological research, which will aid them with their other subject choices as well their dissertation specialisation at SCQF 11 (for those wishing to take this module). It will also provide a progression pathway for those who wish to engage in further study at PhD/MRes level.

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 (20 credits)

This course is will explore in a multi-disciplinary manner the Viking homelands. It will deepen students’ knowledge and understanding of the development of Scandinavian society and culture during the Viking Age, and extend students’ knowledge and understanding of key issues, such as the nature of the pagan religion of Scandinavia and the importance of understanding developments in the Viking homelands in order to understand the Vikings abroad (as in Britain and Ireland)

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.