Optional modules


Optional modules can be studied across all of our MLitt Programmes, and can include core modules from any other MLitt offered by INS.

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.

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. 

Runology and Old Norse (20 credits)

This module aims to introduce students to reading Runic inscriptions and provide them with an overview of the historical and geographical distribution of Runic alphabets. A particular emphasis will be on inscriptions from Orkney and Shetland. The module also gives students a basic understanding of the Old Norse language through grammar, reading and translation exercises.

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