Highlands and Islands Culture MLitt

What is special about this course?

At least 55 million people world-wide claim Scots descent. This exciting and unique postgraduate course allows the culture of the Highlands and Islands to be explored wherever you are, whether you are part of the Scots diaspora keen to find out about your heritage or just want to find out more about the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

Students will be studying folklore, customs, belief systems, music, song, literary heritage and much, much more. Come and immerse yourself in the lived experience of Highlands and islands communities!

Special features

  • Unique course content not available anywhere else
  • You are taught by international experts in the field, including the team at the Institute for Northern Studies
  • We use video conferencing and a virtual learning environment to deliver the course so you can study from anywhere in the world
  • Small class sizes
  • You can also choose unique options in palaeography, creative writing and the North Atlantic world
  • You can study individual modules for personal or professional development, or work towards the PgCert, PgDip, or full masters degree

Entry requirements

  • 2:1 honours degree (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject, such as history, archaeology, literature, or ethnology
  • Other degree programmes will be considered on an individual basis
  • International students whose first language is not English must meet language competency standards as noted on the international page of our website.


*Funding support notice*

Postgraduate Loans (SAAS) (Scottish domiciled and EU students)

Loans for tuition fees are available from SAAS for eligible Scotland domiciled and EU students, and loans for living costs for eligible Scottish students.

Access routes

Students can access the programme from a range of UHI undergraduate programmes including:


 Core modules are:

  • The Gaelic legacy
  • The Highlands and Islands story
  • Traditional customs and beliefs of the Highlands and Islands


 You will choose three option modules which may include:

  • Medieval history of Orkney and Shetland
  • Exploring creative writing
  • Celts and Vikings in the North Atlantic
  • Picts: revealing the painted past
  • Small island governance
  • Selling cold islands
  • Tour of the Highlands
  • Archaeological heritage of Orkney and Shetland


To achieve the award of MLitt Highlands and Islands Culture you must complete a research dissertation.

How will I study my course?

  • Full-time
  • Part-time (structured)
  • Part-time (unstructured)
  • You will study this course through a combination of video conference seminars and learning via the university's virtual learning environment (VLE), with support from your tutors and student advisor
  • International students requiring a Tier 4 visa to study with us must be based at Orkney College UHI during their studies. International students undertaking the course from their home country can study online and by video conference, in real-time or recordings
  • All other students can choose to study at Orkney College UHI or Lews Castle College UHI in Stornoway, or from their own location studying online and by video conference in real-time or recordings
  • An online induction will be offered at the start of your course

How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 1 year @ 20 hours per week
  • Part-time structured: 2 years @ 10 hours per week

Number of hours per week indicates the total number of hours you should dedicate to the course, which includes time spent in lectures and your own time spent on individual study and research.

Where can I study my course?

  • Lews Castle College UHI
  • Orkney College UHI

Start date

  • September
  • January


(inc EU)
Rest of UK
Rest of UK
(inc EU)
Per module (20 credits) £560 £560 £650 £650 £1,340 £960
Postgraduate certificate (3 modules, 60 credits) £1,680 £1,680 £1,950 £1,950 £4,020 £2,880
Postgraduate diploma (6 modules, 120 credits) £3,360 £3,360 £3,900 £3,900 £8,040 £5,760
Masters degree (6 modules + dissertation) £5,000 £5,000 £5,850 £5,850 £12,060 £8,640

Fees are payable in advance each academic year unless otherwise agreed.


From 2017, eligible Scotland domiciled students studying full time for any taught postgraduate course up to full Masters level can access loans up to 10,000 from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS). This comprises a tuition fee loan up to £5,500 and a non-income assessed living cost loan of £4,500. EU students studying full time can apply for a tuition fee loan up to £5500.

Part-time students undertaking any taught postgraduate course over two years up to Masters level who meet the residency eligibility can apply for a for a tuition fee loan up to £2,750 per year.

Full details can be found on the SAAS website. Applications for loans open in April.

Students from the rest of the UK who meet the eligibility requirements may be able to apply for a loan from the Student Loan Company

External scholarships and financial support may be available. Contact the relevant university  partner college for more information.

What can I do on completion of my course?

Once you have successfully completed your Masters course in Highlands and Islands Culture, there are a variety of careers you might like to consider.  Here is just a taster of the kind of opportunities available to you:

  • Tourism and heritage sector
  • School teaching on completion of relevant PGDE qualification
  • Community education
  • Adult education
  • Journalism; particularly newspaper and radio
  • Working for local government agencies
  • Teaching on this or similar degrees

Can I progress into further study?

You can progress to PhD study at the University of the Highlands and Islands, and other institutions.

Is there more information available online?

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What our students, graduates and staff say

The Institute for Northern Studies is based in Orkney and Shetland, the northern most part of the UK. Our students come from a variety of places and backgrounds, even from as far away as Canada and Australia. Our exciting, innovative programmes are embedded in the history and culture of our area. These include Viking Studies, Highlands and Islands Culture, Highlands and Islands Literature, Orkney and Shetland Studies and Island Studies.

Dr Andrew Jennings, programme leader for the institute’s masters programmes, is the author of a number of publications on Scottish history, Norse place-names and island studies, and is currently involved in a number of projects, including an international project with the Estonian War Museum.

The diverse range of modules that can be studied as part of the MLitt in Highlands and Islands Culture really reflects the vibrant and varied culture of the Highlands and Islands. The programme allows students to gain specialist insight into areas that particularly interest them, whether this is history, literature, language, or the arts.

Oisín Plumb, lecturer at the Institute for Northern Studies.

The MLitt Highlands and Islands Culture is a unique interdisciplinary programme which focuses on Scottish heritage and makes it accessible across the world. It is equally relevant for those of Scottish descent and those who would like to find out more about Scotland

Professor Donna Heddle, director of the university's Institute for Northern Studies, author of publications on Scottish language, literature and cultural history, and currently leading several national and international research and cultural tourism projects.


Apply for Highlands and Islands Culture MLitt

I want to start in Jan/Feb 2020 or Aug/Sep 2020 or Jan/Feb 2021

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands. We operate a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.