Development and International Relations

Arctic Studies

Grønlands bygd

Arctic Studies provide an opportunity for students to focus on the Arctic as a particular field of specialization within their chosen master’s degree programme. 

What is the Arctic?

In the present years Arctic scholars have to rethink how we approach and understand the Arctic, not only because the ice is melting, but also because the political and societal scenes are changing rapidly. The specialization in Arctic Studies provides an advanced understanding of the Arctic region and its relationship with the rest of world, seen in historical, social, political and cultural dimensions. Arctic Studies contribute with new problem-based research and teaching that engages the real-life problems which Arctic communities are facing today. This specialization gives particular attention to studies in the human sciences within the areas of social, cultural and political analysis, inter-cultural communication, nation-building, post-colonialism, geo-politics, international relations, globalization, governance and sustainable development (including tourism and the management of the natural and cultural heritage).

Students acquire strong analytical skills, the ability to conduct independent research, and an opportunity to gain practical experience in relevant professional fields (internships facilitated in a broad range of institutions across and beyond the Arctic).

Where is the Arctic?

The geographical area in focus is the Circumpolar North,including Greenland, the Nordic Region, Canada, Alaska and Russia, the North Atlantic and the Polar Sea. However, special attention is paid to global connections, well-established and emerging, in Europe, Asia, Russia, and North America. The Arctic is indeed a global region, and it is important to be attentive to these transregional connections. 


The specialization consists of the following modules (70 ECTS points)

Exam form
1. Cultures, Societies and Histories of the Peoples of the Arctic 7th  5

An internal, written examination: a 2-day take-home written assignment given by the examiner on the basis of the curriculum of the course (max. 10 pages), graded according to the 7-point grading scale

2. The Arctic in the Age of Globalization. 8th  5

An internship in Denmark or abroad documented by a host institution statement and an internal written examination in: Internship Project, graded according to the 7-point grading scale

Or study activities with related examinations at the selected university/programme approved in advance by the study board.

3. A project oriented course (internship) with an emphasis on a minimum of one of the dimensions of Arctic Studies.

Alternatively, relevant studies in another programme /university with an emphasis on a minimum of one of the dimensions of Arctic Studies.

9th 30

An external combined oral and written examination in: A master’s thesis, graded according to the 7-point grading scale

4. A master’s thesis with an emphasis on a minimum of one of the dimensions of Arctic Studies.

10th  30 Written report. Graded.

 (* To obtain a full MA degree: follow mandatory or elective modules as determined by the study regulations of the MA programme in question).

1. Cultures, Societies and Histories of the Peoples of the Arctic

This course introduces historical and contemporary inter-cultural encounters and exchanges in the Arctic, including colonial histories, nation-building and migration. The course is based on theories of identity-building and inter-cultural representation and negotiations.

2. The Arctic in the Age of Globalization

This course introduces the international relations and sustainable development of the Arctic. Global players such as nation-states, supranational entities and multinational companies are increasingly interested in the Arctic and its resources, imagined and existing. However, innovative governance structures - domestic and international – are involving indigenous peoples in unique ways.

Arctic Studies can be chosen as an integral part of a number of AAU's master’s programmes. The following have been pre-approved (Integration in other MA programmes may be approved by the study board in question):


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Featured Research (by teachers and supervisors)

The teachers and academic supervisors at Arctic Studies are researchers who represent various disciplines such as Cultural Studies, Political Science, Anthropology and History. See: