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West Nordic Studies

No intake of new students in 2020


In the fall 2015 the University of the Faroe Islands, University of Greenland, University of Akureyri in Iceland, University of Iceland and University of Nordland, coastal Norway, will launch a new international and interdisciplinary master programme called West Nordic Studies, Governance and Sustainable Management.

This new master programme provides students with a unique opportunity to take part in shaping the emerging Nora region of Greenland, Faroe Islands, Iceland and coastal Norway and offers students a chance for enhanced mobility within the region.

West Nordic Studies: Governance and Sustainable Management is a multidisciplinary Master’s Programme (120 ECTS) in West Nordic Studies offered jointly by the partner universities. The programme aims to provide specific knowledge of the Circumpolar North, combined with abilities to manage and link contemporary issues and past developments on orientation in the major themes of the present debate on societal challenges. The objective is to increase knowledge of the common issues of the area. The aim is to graduate candidates that can understand and meet the complicated challenges of coastal Norway, Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands (the Nora region) as part of the Circumpolar North complexities and are able to strengthen networking in the area. WNS will offer a comparative perspective in meeting the urgent challenges the region is facing today including the social implications of climate change affecting scarce populations and micro-economies; long distances; limited working opportunities; gender issues in society and education; threats to indigenous culture and societal security; contested issues of identity and cultural heritage; the quest for natural resources; good governance and sustainable management.

The programme includes studies in WNS home universities, joint intensive course at the University of Akureyri, studies completed at other partner universities and a Master’s thesis. WNS studies can be completed in four semesters. Each WNS student is required to complete at least 30 ECTS credits at another partner university abroad. The length of the study abroad period can vary according to the student’s individual study plan.


West Nordic Studies - courses
Advanced political science ( 15 ECTS )

The objective of the course is to further develop the BA acquired skills in independent analysis and critical review of political science problems.

This can be done by a deeper treatment of development and reform issues with special insight into the importance of global and regional processes for the individual nation and the individual (integration and identity, etc.).

Topics such as nationalism, 'nation-building' and autonomy are treated in a Greenlandic context.

Arctic relations are also part of the course.

Advanced sociology ( 15 ECTS )

The purpose of the course is to give the students knowledge of modern sociological theories and approaches.

The emphasis lies on concept analysis.

The course covers the social dynamics between various structures, organisations, individuals and other actors.

The relationships and interactions between systems, structures and individuals are in focus within a Greenlandic context.

Public finances ( 10 ECTS )

The purpose of this course is to give the students knowledge about public finances within both the public and private sector.

The course covers cost-benefit analyses, theories of public goods and services, tax policies and the role between state, self-government and municipalities.

The course is based on microeconomics.

International law ( 10 ECTS )

In this course, the main elements of public international law are introduced and their application to Greenland analysed. Students learn how to identify the sources of international law.

They survey the different participants in international law and their rights and responsibilities, with an emphasis on States, peoples and international organisations. The rights and responsibilities of the Greenlanders are explored in some depth and students discuss the consequences of obtaining full statehood.

Students learn about the principal organs of the United Nations, the human rights treaty system, good governance and the historical development and application of the rights of indigenous peoples. They also become familiar with the basic principles of law of the sea, the rights of peoples to their natural resources, and international environmental law.

Finally, students consider different mechanisms for dispute settlement in international law, including negotiation, litigation before international tribunals, counter-measures and the use force.

Optional courses ( 10 ECTS )

The Department of Social Sciences offers optional courses every semester / term within the main field of the educational programme such as political science, sociology, economics, law or more interdisciplinary courses.

These courses vary each year and can be combined with BA-courses, where the MA-students will have a more extensive reading list than the BA-students.

Field project ( 10 ECTS )

In consultation with a supervisor at the home university, a student or group of students choose a subject and field of study in the country of the host university.

A field project may involve quantitative and/or qualitative research and data collection including ethnography, survey research, interviews, observation, etc. depending on the context.

A faculty member at the host university assists the student in cooperation with the supervisor.

Master thesis ( 30 ECTS )

The purpose with the MA-thesis is to produce an individual work within the scope of the programme.

The MA-thesis is a larger work which should show the student’s ability to do own research.

The MA-thesis is a scientific work within a specific area showing the relationship between theoretical, empirical and methodological approaches.

The MA- thesis should be written according to academic standards with a stringent language.

The MA-thesis should act as a proof of the student’s ability to master how academic work should be conducted.

The subject of the MA-thesis is decided between the student and the teacher within the discipline of concern.

The teacher within the field of research accepts the research problem and disposition before the student begins with his/her project.

Students will apply to one of the five partner universities, which will select the WNS candidates according to the local admission procedures, but following the common selection criteria. The common selection and admission criteria are:

  • A Bachelor’s Degree of 180 ECTS or equivalent studies
  • Good English skills according to each university requirement
  • Statement of interest according to each university requirement

If you have any questions regarding the West Nordic Studies - please do not hesitate to contact:


Steven Arnfjord
Head of department, sociologist, PhD, assistant professor
Institute of Social Science, Economics & Journalism 
Department of Social Sciences
Ilimmarfik, Manutooq 1 
P.O. Box 1061 
3900 Nuuk
Room: C215
Phone: +299 38 56 31

Also view Steven Arnfjord's profile site
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