The University of Akureyri is the only university in Iceland that offers courses in Modern Studies. The programme emphasises learning critically about different aspects of modern society. Many elective courses are available and there are good opportunities for exchange studies, both domestically and abroad. In addition to Modern Studies, the programme offers Icelandic as a Second Language, providing students with a solid foundation in Icelandic grammar, vocabulary, and syntax, as well as an understanding of Icelandic society and culture.

Is the programme for you?

  • Do you enjoy talking about pressing issues?
  • Do you want to become a conscious citizen?
  • Do you want to understand why Icelandic culture is the way it is?
  • Do you want to deepen your understanding of European societies?
  • Are you interested in sharing content?
  • Are you passionate about Icelandic social issues?
  • Do you want to improve your Icelandic to be able to pursue studies in this language?

Areas of emphasis in Icelandic as second language

The focus on Icelandic as a second language is designed to provide you with a comprehensive understanding and proficiency in the Icelandic language. The programme covers various aspects of the language, including grammar, vocabulary, listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. You can expect to develop strong oral and written communication skills in Icelandic, along with a solid foundation in grammar, vocabulary, and syntax. The programme focuses on improving speaking abilities and reading comprehension skills, enabling you to engage confidently in discussions and enhancing your understanding of a wide range of Icelandic texts.

Students need to attend to electronically four mornings or afternoons each week for 2 hours.

You can view the organisation of the programme further down the page and in Ugla, the university's teaching website.

Areas of emphasis in Modern Studies

The programme is a combination of philosophy, ethics, history, social studies and Icelandic. A picture of modern society is drawn; that is, the form of society that began to gain ground in Europe in the 18th century. The factors affecting this are discussed and various issues raised. You will be trained in scientific methods and, among other things, critical thinking is emphasised. The programme is designed to include knowledge of Icelandic so that you can learn the relevant vocabulary required to discuss modern issues in Icelandic.

Students complete a total of 240 ECTS. In addition, there are many elective courses and you can also choose between three focus areas: historiography, philosophy and Icelandic.

You can view the organisation of the programme further down the page and in Ugla, the university's teaching website.

Opportunities after graduations

After completing your studies, you will have extensive knowledge of the structure and development of modern society. Those qualities are in demand among companies, associations, municipalities and institutions. For example, our students have found jobs in the fields of culture, teaching, media and information sharing. The programme also prepares you for graduate studies in different fields of the humanities and social sciences, for example in anthropology, ethics and history.

The knowledge acquired in Icelandic during the programme will help you to improve your chances of finding adequate employment in the labour market.

Social life

Social life is an important part of university education and the social life of students at HA is lively and robust.

All students at the university are members of the Student Association of the University of Akureyri (SHA), but each department also has its own student organization. Kumpáni is an association of social science students; you may wish to consult Facebook for further details on this.

Admission requirements

The general requirement is that applicants have completed a matriculation examination or equivalent, a final examination from a secondary school at the third qualification level, an equivalent foreign examination or 60 ECTS credits from a recognized university – or, alternatively, other academic prerequisites the Faculty of Social Sciences deems satisfactory.

All applicants must also pass a special entrance examination in Icelandic on June 12th at 13:00. The Icelandic test can be taken at test centres located around Iceland (at the cost of 4000 ISK), at the University of Akureyri or the University of Iceland. Proficiency in basic Icelandic is assessed through reading comprehension and listening skills. Here you can find sample examination tasks:

All applicants whose native language is not English, are required to provide proof of English proficiency. The minimum score for English proficiency is TOEFL 79, IELTS 6.5 or PTE academic 58.

Prioritisation of applications due to number restrictions

We would like to point out that if the number of applicants who meet the general admission requirements exceeds the number criteria, applications will be prioritised as follows:

  • Meet general admission requirements, 100 points
  • Number of units completed, 0-80 points
  • Applicant´s letter of motivation, 0-10 points
  • Gender ratio in the department, 10 points
  • Result of the Icelandic test, 10 points

Applicants will then be ranked according to the sum of these factors and admitted in that order.


Applications that do not meet the general admission requirements are evaluated independently. It is important, therefore, that applicants submit a letter of introduction together with information relating to previous studies.

Flexible learning

All undergraduate programmes at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Akureyri are flexible; that is, the department takes equal care of both those students who want to study in real time and be part of the university community, and those who prefer more pliable arrangements. All students adhere to the same curriculum and performance requirements.

However, you have to keep in mind that the Icelandic course will be taught online but in real time, and therefore requires your presence online while the lectures are being delivered.

Students who attend in real time on site or via interactive teleconferencing equipment can participate in teacher-student discussions in the classroom. In individual courses, all students participate in presentations and discussions in real time. Most traditional lectures are recorded and posted on a teaching website. Thus, you can watch lectures when it suits you and as often as you wish.

All distance learning students visit Akureyri several times throughout the school year for short study periods where the main focus is on project work and discussions. Here, you will have the opportunity to meet teachers, fellow students and other university staff and connect even better with your university community.

Exchange studies

All students have the option to take part of their studies at a foreign partner university. You will receive a waiver of the tuition fees of the guest school and pay only the enrolment fee in HA. An international representative assists you in applying for the program, accommodation and student grant.

How to apply?

Applications are submitted electronically our online application portal, with an electronic ID and will be open from beginning of March until June 5th.

Supporting document

  • Secondary school matriculation examination (school leaving examination after three years of secondary school or equivalent)
  • CV
  • Statement of perspective of the studies, 1–2 pages written in English or Icelandic, including:
    • Your motivation for joining the programme
    • Your knowledge or experience relevant to the programme objectives
  • Proof of English proficiency
  • Any other considerations you would like to be taken into account
  • Evidence of basic Icelandic competence, as you need to have basic Icelandic knowledge for joining the programme


In the Modern Studies programme I received a good training in critical thinking and disciplined practice. The programme opened up new opportunities and proved to be a good preparation for my postgraduate studies in cultural management and the work I have done, for example as a cultural officer of Eyþing and the director of the centenary of Iceland’s sovereignty.

Ragnheiður Jóna Ingimarsdóttir
Mayor of Þingeyjarsveit Municipal Council