The University of Akureyri is the only university in Iceland that offers studies in modern studies. The program emphasizes 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.

Challenges of Modernity is an English-language extension of UNAK’s time-honoured BA programme in Modern Studies focusing on central topics and study areas in the contemporary social sciences and humanities. As such, it allows the enrolled students to take up to 180 ECTS in suitable courses that are taught in English, hence, to complete a full BA degree, if they so wish, in that language. However, given its historical premises and rationale, it includes opportunities and incentives to acquire and/or improve language skills in Icelandic, so as to facilitate the integration of refugees and other foreigners who live in Iceland and may aim at completing BA-level university studies by enrolling in Modern Studies at UNAK (See, in particular, the 3rd-year courses).

Naturally, Challenges of Modernity is equally open to all potential students who happen to have a genuine interest in its contents and aims.

Is the programme for you?

  • Do you enjoy talking about social 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 Western societies?

  • Are you interested in sharing content?

  • Do you want to be able to convince people and get them on your side?

Areas of emphasis in the programme

The emphasis area called "Challenges of Modernity" is part of the BA programme in Modern Studies and, as such, it shares much ground with its general aims and structure. Therefore, the programme combines philosophy, ethics, history, psychology, and social studies.

A picture of modern society is drawn, i.e., the form of society that began to gain ground in the West in the 18th century. The factors that affect it are discussed and various issues are raised, especially in connection with contemporary concerns, debates, and challenges.

Along the way, you will be trained in scientific and scholarly methodologies, and critical thinking is going to be strongly emphasized.

In addition to 1st- and 2nd-year mandatory courses, plus a 3rd-year BA thesis, amounting to a total of 90 ECTS, you are given the freedom and the responsibility to integrate the rest of your studies by selecting appropriate optional courses, in consultation with the BA programme's director and the teachers.

As of the third year of studies, you are emphatically recommended to include relevant Icelandic-language courses, as indicated in this template, even if the course material and the exams may be held in English. This is done to facilitate your exposure to, and integration within, Icelandic culture and society. However, there remains the opportunity to complete the third year of the programme by taking English-taught courses alone.

On completion of studies

On completion of studies, students have acquired extensive knowledge about the structure and development of modern society. Those qualities are in demand by companies, associations, and institutions.

Students have, for example, obtained jobs in the fields of culture, teaching, media, and information dissemination.

The programme prepares students for graduate studies in different fields of the humanities and social sciences, inter alia anthropology, ethics and history.

Admission requirements

Icelandic matriculation examination (stúdentspróf: school leaving examination after three years of secondary school) or equivalent or at least 60 ECTS from a recognized University.

Applicants from abroad, whose native language is not English, must demonstrate good English language skills. Proof of language proficiency is not required but recommended.

As there are limited spots available in that programme, international applicants with domicile in Iceland are prioritized. For additional spots – priority will be given to students based on academic qualifications and motivational letters.

Application prioritization because of capacity constraints:

We would like to note that applications will be prioritized as follows if the number of applicants who meet the general admission standards exceeds the number criteria:

  • Meet the application requirements, 100 points.
  • Total credits completed, 0-80 points
  • The applicant's outlook on the program/studies, 0-10 points.
  • Candidates who are considered immigrants according to the criteria of Statistics Iceland, 10 points.
  • The faculty's gender ratio, 10 points.

Then, based on the total of these variables, applicants will be ranked and admitted in that order.

Handling fee

Citizens of countries outside EEA/EFTA (exempting the Faroe Islands and Greenland) are required to pay a fee of 50 EUR for the handling and processing of their applications. The fee is charged as part of the online application process. The handling and processing fee is not refundable.