Study plan

Master in Social Science

Choose study year

Programme description

The Master's degree programme in Social Sciences comprises 120 ECTS credits, which is the equivalent of 2 years full-time study. The programme offers two specialisations; Social Work, and Arctic Societies and Climate Change. The master's thesis comprises 30 ECTS credits and is written in the final semester of the programme.

The specialization courses comprise 30 ECTS credits taken in the first two semesters of the programme (autumn and spring). The specialization courses are mandatory for students on the respective specialisations. The course `Introduction to Circumpolar Studies, which is a part of the specialization in Arctic Societies and Climate Change, is offered at the University of Akureyri, Iceland. There are also two mandatory courses, common for both specialisations, during the first study year - Social Science Analysis and Quantitative and Qualitative Methods I.

During the third semester, both specialisations offer specialisation-related courses comprising 30 ECTS credits. The specialisation in Arctic Societies and Climate Change also offers the opportunity for an exchange semester abroad during this semester, provided that there are exchange student places available at partner institutions.

Courses with less than 10 registered students will be provided as reading courses.

Study model

You have chosen:
Expand all

Course id Course name ECTS Credits
(click to choose)
(click to choose)

Choose specialisation

Choose course

Learning outcomes


Upon successful completion of the programme, the student will have:

  • Thorough knowledge of social sciences and his or her selected specialisation, as well as a reflective attitude towards this knowledge
  • Thorough knowledge about scientific theory and research methods, and the ability to apply this critically and in keeping with his or her own competence
  • The ability to analyse professional issues based on a social science perspective


Upon successful completion of the programme, the student should be able to:

  • Bring forth and discuss ethical issues in social sciences and in society at large
  • Apply methods and perspectives of social sciences on practical challenges and specific tasks
  • Keep him- or herself updated on new and relevant research, and to apply this on his or her own academic work and professional practice

General competences

Upon successful completion of the programme, the student should be able to:

  • Use his or her own competence to interpret a single phenomenon in a broader social science context
  • Develop, plan and conduct research work in accordance with academic requirements to methods and content that lead to new and relevant knowledge and understanding
  • Communicate, argue and present his or her knowledge and skills


Description of the different specialisations with each their learning outcomes:

Specialisation in Social Work with a Comparative Perspective

This programme is based on an analytical approach to the practise of social work, such as being able to apply other people's research and conduct own research in order to improve practical social work. It is built on an understanding of social work as both a national and international field. Social work and local community development take place in a contextual, historic, socio-political, economic and cultural context. The limited success of many models and practices for development in order to reduce exclusion and poverty make constructing alternative models and developing social sciences a demanding challenge. The dialectic between the local and the global requires the social worker to combine a local as well as a global perspective in his or her work. This requires an understanding of how micro, mezzo and macro level factors influence the lives of the people with whom the social worker works.

Engaging in local communities through initiating the developing of better conditions for individuals, families, groups, organisations and local communities is a core vision of social work. Social work also focuses on developing peaceful co-existence, human rights, social justice and equality for individuals on a local, regional, national and international level. The programme aims to identify and elaborate on challenges and perspectives with a particular relevance to the High North. Key emphasis is placed on a contextual and comparative perspective in order to develop an understanding for special needs related to social work in various contexts.

This specialisation may give students interesting job offers both nationally and internationally, and it prepares candidates for working in both the public and the private sector.


Learning outcomes for the specialisation in Social Work


Upon successful completion of this programme the candidate should:

  • Have advanced knowledge in social work as well as specialised expertise in a limited area of research
  • Have an thorough knowledge of the scientific theory and methods of social work
  • Be able to apply knowledge onto new areas of social work
  • Have knowledge and understanding of social science theories and research traditions in the areas covered by his or her selected area of investigation


Upon successful completion of this programme the candidate should:

  • Be able to analyse existing theories, methods and interpretations in the field, and to work independently with the development of new knowledge and understanding of social work
  • Be able to independently understand, critically assess and apply relevant methods for research and professional development work
  • Be able to find, assess and refer to information and professional literature, and also present this in a way that informs an issue
  • Master relevant professional tools, techniques and expressions

General competence:

Upon successful completion of this programme the candidate should:

  • Be able to analyse relevant academic, professional and research ethical issues
  • Be able to apply his or her knowledge and skills to new areas in order to conduct advanced tasks and project
  • Be able to communicate extensive independent work and master the expression of the field
  • Be able to communicate about academic issues, analyses and conclusions in the field


Specialisation in Arctic Societies and Climate Change

The Arctic is a hot-spot for change. The region is experiencing rapid and diverse changes in social, economic, cultural, political and climatic conditions. There are multiple Arctics with major differences within and between each of the eight countries that comprise this circumpolar region. There are abundant natural resources attracting significant international industrial interests, rural communities experiencing increased outmigration and rapidly growing urban areas. Climate change is one of the most important issues humanity faces today and the Arctic is key to understanding major challenges affecting our global community.

This specialization will provide basic knowledge of how climate change is dealt with by national leaders and politicians, and how this affects human agency in adapting and transforming to a low-emission society. Climate change is typically understood as a scientific or environmental problem that requires economic or technological solutions, but in this course we will look at it as a social, cultural and political phenomenon.

How we understand climate, weather, nature and the environment in combination with society, politics, and culture are crucial for understanding how it affects communities and the globe alike, and for how to adapt, transform and mitigate greenhouse gases. People in the Arctic have historically and culturally adapted to change, including climatic, but the rate and magnitude of the current changes are bringing new challenges and opportunities to the communities. This specialization will focus on the many aspects related to continuity and change, and examines the interconnections between climate change, community development, and politics and ultimately how these impact and shape local communities and individuals in the Arctic.

Students will interact with a broad range of materials, including academic texts, commentary in mainstream media, and policy reports. It is designed to equip students with a conceptual and methodological toolkit for interpreting and making sense of the cultural, political, economic and societal, aspects of multiple and interacting changes. Climate change is often associated with intense political arguments, and the students will explore the consequences of multiple factors, such as climate change and increased activities in the Arctic for policy, community development, governance, security, resource use and well-being. Concepts such as adaptation, adaptive capacity and transformation are central to studying the complex challenges and opportunities currently facing the Arctic.

This specialization is a part of the two international initiatives; the West Nordic Studies Master Programme, a collaboration between Nord University, the University of Iceland, the University of Akureyri, the University of Greenland, and the University of the Faroe Islands; and The International Northern Development collaboration between Nord University and University of Northern British Colombia (UNBC) in Canada, giving the students an unusual opportunity to tap into broad international networks of scholars. The two international university networks provide opportunity for engaging in theoretical and empirical comparisons through the opportunity of an exchange semester in the third semester either at UNBC (Canada), the University of Iceland, the University of Akureyri, the University of the Faroe Islands or the University of Greenland. The specialization also offers an introductory course, at the University of Akureyri, Iceland, in the beginning of the first semester.

Please note that participation in the exchange semester is contingent upon the number of exchange student places available. If there are more applicants than places available, selection will be based on grades and study progression from the 1. semester.

Learning outcomes


Upon completion of this study programme the students will:

  • Have general knowledge and comparative understanding of communities and peoples of the circumpolar North and the different social, cultural and political systems.
  • Have a solid understanding of climate change as a field of study in social sciences. Understand the combined impacts of climate change and other factors, on Arctic societies, and adaptation strategies, adaptive capacity and transformative measures to such changes.
  • Have general knowledge and understanding of social science methodology and theories and research traditions in a multi-disciplinary field necessary for understanding the social, historical and political aspects of climate change and community development.
  • Be introduced to key areas of contemporary scholarly thinking in environmental sociology, science and technology studies (STS) and political ecology.
  • Have specialized knowledge and understanding of a chosen topic researched in the master thesis.


Cognitive skills:

  • Upon successful completion of this study programme students will:
  • Reflect critically on social science questions relevant to climate change impacts and northern development.
  • Have acquired skills that enable articulation of students own views on critical issues.
  • Identify and discuss normative questions and dilemmas in social and political institutions.
  • Interpret and make critical judgments as well as engage in research. 


General skills:

Upon successful completion of this study programme students will:

  •  Be able to formulate precise analyses in written form.
  • Develop, plan, and implement a larger piece of written research work in accordance with academic standards, leading to new and relevant knowledge and understanding.
  • Have gained critical analytic skills in textual analysis and evidence gathering.
  • Have had a chance to practice basic techniques of research paper writing and oral presentation of arguments.

Admission requirements

Higher education entrance qualification

Documented proficiency in English language

Completed Bachelor degree of 180 ECTS, or equivalent education of minimum 3 years duration, with an average grade of C, which also meets the criteria for the chosen specialization.

Necessary prerequisites in social science methods/research methods equivalent to 10 ECTS Social Science method

For vocational backgrounds, the average is calculated based on relevant subjects in the transcript. For other applications, the average is calculated from the major (min. 80 ECTS) plus research methods. Improvement of marks or other relevant education may be calculated in the average.



Arctic Societies and Climate Change: Relevant bachelor within Social Sciences.

Social Work with a Comparative Perspective: Relevant bachelor within Social Work or related areas



If there are more qualified applicants than the amount of places available, the applicants will be ranked on this basis:

Calculating of weighted average for the topics included in the calculation basis (included improvements of grades)

If an applicant has more than one admission criteria, the best admission criteria will be calculated.

Applicants with foreign education will be considered individually

In order to run the Master in Social Science in Fall 2019, there must be at least 25 qualified applicants who accepts an offer of place in the programme.

Further education

A completed master with a specialization in Social Work could provide a basis for admission to the doctoral (PhD) at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Nord University. Students taking the specializations in Arctic Societies and Climate Change, who wishes to have the opportunity to have a basis for admission to the PhD, will have to select ME321S Quantitative and qualitative methods II in the third semester. For more information about admission criteria, please see Nord's (FSV) supplementary guidelines for the PhD programme.

Study abroad

In the third semester is a possibility for an exchange semester, to one of the partner institutions, for the specialization in Arctic Societies and Climate Change. It's a pre-condition that there are sufficient available exchange places at the partner universities in order for students to go on exchange. If there are more applicants than available slots then the selection will be based upon grades and study progression from the 1. Semester

The specialization in Social Work does not ordinarily offer an exchange opportunity.


No tuition fees. Costs for semester registration and course literature apply.

Students opting for the specialization in Arctic Societies and Climate Change who choose to go on exchange abroad should be aware that additional costs will incur if and when they go abroad. Such costs include traveling, accommodation, visa if required as well as insurance. Partner universities abroad may require tuition fees and this is subject to change from one year to the next. Please that extra costs may incur for some nationalities related to travel and accommodation in relation to visiting a biometric collection services point for visa to Canada.

Examination regulations, assessment and grading

The Norwegian system for grading and assessment using the letter grades A - F, in which A denotes the best/highest grade and F denotes "not passed". Work can also be assessed as "passed", "not passed", "approved" and "not approved".

Refer to applicable legislation, rules and regulations

Assessment methods

The study programme will be evaluated through various forms of examinations and according to NOKUTs regulations.

Graduation requirements

Final graduation examination for the study programme is the Master thesis.

Programme evaluation

The programme is evaluated via student questionnaire, as well as by the programme director. The evaluations form a part of the University's quality assurance system.

Qualifications requirements and regulations

Refer to applicable legislation, regulations and related guidelines
ECTS Credits 120 Study level Master's degree (2 years) Teaching language
Faculty of Social Sciences
Course location Bodø