Is Viking Studies/Scandinavian Studies a worthwhile degree?

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gyllgi
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I'm studying Maths, Chemistry, English Lit and French and have just finished my AS year.

I have no idea what I want to study at university, as evidenced by my A-level choices. I've been considering chemistry, but after finding out that 'Viking Studies' is an actual course that exists, it feels like a bit of a light in the horizon. It plays to my natural strengths, and I love languages, history and ancient mythology.

However, it's so ultra specific that I don't know what I could possibly do with that degree. I wouldn't mind academia, but I never, ever want to be a teacher.

Are there any people here who've done a similar degree or know someone who could weigh in their opinion?

For reference, part of my trepidation is that my mother has a degree in Ancient and Medieval History, which she has never used.
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999tigger
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(Original post by gyllgi)
I'm studying Maths, Chemistry, English Lit and French and have just finished my AS year.

I have no idea what I want to study at university, as evidenced by my A-level choices. I've been considering chemistry, but after finding out that 'Viking Studies' is an actual course that exists, it feels like a bit of a light in the horizon. It plays to my natural strengths, and I love languages, history and ancient mythology.

However, it's so ultra specific that I don't know what I could possibly do with that degree. I wouldn't mind academia, but I never, ever want to be a teacher.

Are there any people here who've done a similar degree or know someone who could weigh in their opinion?

For reference, part of my trepidation is that my mother has a degree in Ancient and Medieval History, which she has never used.
You can look at your degree as soemthing interesting to study or as a means to having a career.

If you use the search tool then someone did an ama abd they did viking studies. My recollection was enjoyable degree but limited job prospects.
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Snufkin
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(Original post by gyllgi)
I'm studying Maths, Chemistry, English Lit and French and have just finished my AS year.

I have no idea what I want to study at university, as evidenced by my A-level choices. I've been considering chemistry, but after finding out that 'Viking Studies' is an actual course that exists, it feels like a bit of a light in the horizon. It plays to my natural strengths, and I love languages, history and ancient mythology.

However, it's so ultra specific that I don't know what I could possibly do with that degree. I wouldn't mind academia, but I never, ever want to be a teacher.

Are there any people here who've done a similar degree or know someone who could weigh in their opinion?

For reference, part of my trepidation is that my mother has a degree in Ancient and Medieval History, which she has never used.
In short, yes it is absolutely a worthwhile degree. The vast majority of graduate jobs, apart from a few which require specific scientific knowledge, are open to anyone with a degree, the subject is irrelevant - really, employers do not care, so you might as well do something which interests you. In fact, niche degrees can be excellent talking points in job interviews, they're a great way to stand out from the crowd.

I'm assuming you mean UCL's BA Viking and Old Norse Studies degree? As well as learning Old Norse and studying medieval Scandinavian history and culture, you also have to learn a modern Scandinavian language (Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or Icelandic) - and that is a very marketable skill.

Viking/Scandinavian Studies students have gone on to do all sorts of things e.g. go into law, the civil service, translating, academia (including one guy who did a PhD at Harvard), accounting, IT/Business etc.
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artful_lounger
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As a generalist degree, it's as serviceable as any other. However it's a very niche area, so unless you have a deep and specific interest in that you may be better off doing another such "generalist" degree; at the very least, you have more options for courses to apply to (since in that realm it would be that, maybe ASNAC at Cambridge, or Celtic + something at Oxford if they start offering that again, Nottingham which I think would be via English Lit, and your other application options being literary or historical subjects...).

I have a friend who is very interested in the area, and plans to do a PhD in that area. He pretty much structured his entire (US) degree around trying to approximate in some small way that course, to continue to a PhD. He also talks about related historical topics constantly and owns about 4 different versions of Beowulf "to compare them", so...that's probably an indicator of who they would hope would be interested in the course, although I'm sure they expect less specifically interested people to apply under the belief it's a less popular (probably true) and thus easier to get into (probably not) course offered by them.

While the "Old" part of the course is very niche, however as Snufkin noted the Scandinavian language may be something - as those languages aren't the most common, and all of those countries have appealing opportunities. I would note though, most people in Sweden speak flawless English - in fact most Scandinavian countries in general have high proportions of English speakers who have very high proficiency in the language. I would suggest Icelandic might be the most valuable one in terms of "roles that require that language which English is not an alternative option", although is perhaps less relevant to the core area of Viking and Old Norse studies compared to the broader mainland Scandinavian regions.

If as you say you are interested in those broader areas, then it may well be a course worth considering. Do reflect on whether the specific niche area it focuses is on is of particular interest, or if you are more generally interested in those areas - if the latter, you may want to consider something broadly within that realm but with a wider focus, such as Archaeology (including Egyptology/Assyriology) or Classics or Classical Civilisation/Studies (I'd note for Classics itself, there are very often routes into the subject without having taken Latin or Ancient Greek first, including for both Oxbridge versions of the course). You may also find something like History of Art may interest, although that again has a slightly more niche perspective like ASNAC/Viking Studies type courses.

Generally speaking as Snufkin noted, your degree subject isn't that important for most grad roles, so much as how you are able to demonstrate it makes you an appealing hire in interview. This depends (almost) entirely on you however. Your university generally should have some facilities and support in employability though no matter what course you do, and this may vary between universities (although to a lesser extent between such "generalist" courses - "specialist" courses such as many STEM courses may have some more specific advice/recommendations/opportunities relating to the relevant industries which varies between the courses though).
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Bluestar511
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No, don't waste your time with a pointless degree.
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Snufkin
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
I would note though, most people in Sweden speak flawless English - in fact most Scandinavian countries in general have high proportions of English speakers who have very high proficiency in the language. I would suggest Icelandic might be the most valuable one in terms of "roles that require that language which English is not an alternative option"
It is true that many people in the Nordic countries speak very good English (although flawless is a bit of an exaggeration, in my experience), however Scandinavian people can be quite shy about speaking English, especially in a professional setting.

I disagree about Icelandic, unless the OP has a particular interest in that country then one of the continental Scandinavian languages would make a lot more sense (far more job opportunities, particularly in oil and gas, shipping, tourism, and translating and interpreting where native English speakers who know Danish/Swedish/Norwegian are in heavy demand). The continental Scandinavian languages are mutually intelligible to the degree that learning one in effect gives you access to the other two, that's three languages (and 20 million people) for the price of one!

I'll also tag in Anndee, she did Viking Studies at Notts I believe.
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Thomazo
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It’s a mickey mouse degree. Imo a uni degree should be something that you use to get yourself a career, not something that you just do for fun because it’s interesting. I don’t know how easy/hard exactly it is to get a career woth that but it’s certainly nowhere near what the actually useful degrees would give you.
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Anndee
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Cheers for tagging me Snufkin - I did the BA Viking Studies in Nottingham, and I can assure you it is anything but Mickey Mouse. It has also led me to a really good career. I worked in commercial archaeology for a while, which is paid alright but won't make you rich, then I did an MLitt, again Viking Studies, and am doing a fully funded PhD now. All the while, I have been freelancing as a translator and author. 10 years after I started the BA, my student loans are paid off and my husband and me are about to buy a house quite comfortably. The degree itself does not lead into one specific career but can help you go down very different routes, it all depends on the choices you make.

As for the language element, Scandinavian languages are a very niche thing in the UK (and in most places outside Scandinavia). In the translation industry, especially when it comes to literature, you work best when translating into your mothertongue, so for the UK market, being able to translate from Swedish (and thus, with some adjustments, also Danish/Nynorsk/Bokmal) into English would give you a good starting point. No matter how fluent native Swedish speakers are in English, publishers would normally prefer having them translate into Swedish and native English speakers into English. Literary translation from all Scandinavian languages is a big market in the UK, Nordic Noir being a thing and all, so you might well want to look into that.
Other routes, depending on your module choice and career plans, are obviously academia itself, with all the caveats about temporary contracts, job insecurity, pressure etc, the heritage sector, commercial archaeology, and basically any graduate career.
People I studied with have, for instance, gone into teaching (English/History), postgraduate qualifications in Museum Studies, now working for a museum, IT consultancy and some finance thingy in London through a graduate traineeship etc.
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EmilMai
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I'm taking Scandinavian Studies and History. I have been told that a BA is a BA regardless of the subject matter, so it's pretty much the same as eng lit or histroy to an employer. That being said, your a level subjects seem a little geared towards science? It would be vastly different to chemistry (have you maybe considered an archaeology degree?).

Cambridge also offers Anglo Saxon Norse and Celtic. I don't know how that's useful but the uni name may get you far in the employment world, and when I went for a interview they seemed ever so lovely.

I say go with what you're passionate about and a job will follow.
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Snufkin
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(Original post by EmilMai)
I'm taking Scandinavian Studies and History. I have been told that a BA is a BA regardless of the subject matter, so it's pretty much the same as eng lit or histroy to an employer. That being said, your a level subjects seem a little geared towards science? It would be vastly different to chemistry (have you maybe considered an archaeology degree?).

Cambridge also offers Anglo Saxon Norse and Celtic. I don't know how that's useful but the uni name may get you far in the employment world, and when I went for a interview they seemed ever so lovely.

I say go with what you're passionate about and a job will follow.
Ooh out of interest are you at Edinburgh or UCL?
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