921 MA Traditional Arts, master

Target Group and Admission Requirements

In order to be admitted to the Master’s degree programme, the student must hold a Bachelor’s degree comprising 80 ECTS in folk arts or folk music. Individuals with a relevant and closely-related background, such as music or arts and crafts, may submit a special request to be admitted to the Master’s programme. In this case, the university college will expect the student to familiarise himself/herself with the basic approaches to traditional arts. Those who are not able to demonstrate formal practical-aesthetic skills within the field of folk arts or folk music may, under very special circumstances, be subjected to a specialised admission test. The Examen Philosophicum is not required, though it is preferred that the student has passed this examination before embarking upon this Master’s degree programme.

Aim of the Programme

The Master’s-degree programme has two aims, one theoretical, and the other theoretical-practical:

  • Students should acquire insight into the cultural background of traditional arts. They should be able to evaluate the particular nature of traditional arts and to critically evaluate the ways in which they are cultivated, practiced, transmitted, renewed and interpreted in various environments.
  • Students will gain insight into scientific methods, and through practicing traditional arts, experience how these arts serve as a source of understanding. They will also become familiar with various approaches to the concept of tradition and gain an understanding of the various aspects of present-day dissemination.

Further Education opportunities

Students who complete the Master’s-degree programme will acquire the title of Master’s Degree Candidate in Traditional Arts. Students who, in addition, have completed their post-graduate teacher’s education will become qualified lecturers, and will be able to apply for teaching posts at various levels within the education system. This Master’s degree may also prove useful in a number of other fields; for instance, it may provide a solid platform for various career opportunities in the media and cultural sectors, or in private and public institutions which disseminate culture and the arts. Master’s degree candidates may also find employment as consultants. In addition, some candidates will be able to use the skills and knowledge provided by the Master’s degree as a basis for establishing themselves as practitioners of the arts in which they have specialised, and be able to produce folk art or practice as folk musicians.

Curriculum and structure

Obligatory courses
Code Course title Credits O/V *) Credits pr. semester
  S1(A) S2(V) S3(A) S4(V)
30MASTFD General Theoretical Part 30.00 O 30,0      
Total: 30,0 30,0 30,0 30,0
*) O - Mandatory course, V - Optional course

The subject material of the Master’s degree programme falls into two parts: the Joint Theoretical Component (3.1) and the individual practical-theoretical part, which includes the Master’s Degree Project and Preliminary Project (3.2).

The Joint Theoretical Component:

There will be a common theoretical introduction covering four topics. These will, to a degree, overlap with and influence each other; the common theoretical background will be built on four topics:

Art theory and traditional arts (3.1.1.); culture and identity (3.1.2.); communication and passing down traditions (3.1.3); and scientific theory (3.1.4).

Art theory and traditional arts: Students will gain a general understanding of the central aspects of the history of aesthetics and learn to discuss the concept of art and the basic problem-solving approaches to aesthetic research. Particular emphasis will be placed on folk art, and how it changed as popular art forms diverged from the more aristocratic art forms as a distinctive and “inferior” cultural tradition. Therefore, the growth of popular arts from the Renaissance to the present will be of interest. Students must also acquaint themselves with some of the more prominent stages of the developments of Norwegian folk music, and examine how Norwegian composers began to emphasise folk music in the 1800s and after this period.

Culture and identity: Students should be able to discuss the concept of culture, and how culture has developed in the Western world. They must also be familiar with today’s cultural scene. An important topic will be the discussion of the various perspectives that lie behind the divisions between folk culture, mass culture and popular culture. Students will receive an introduction to the theoretical frameworks upon which these cultural approaches are based. Other important topics are class-consciousness and nationalism, and questions about how Norwegian identity became associated with folk culture and rural Norway.

Traditions and communication: Students will gain insight into aspects of the concept of tradition, and be able to discuss this concept. One important aspect of this discussion will be considered in the context of concepts taken from the sphere of hermeneutics: Which elements are essential and which are more relative, and how do they affect the processes of passing down traditions? Students will also learn about the principal ways in which traditional arts are passed down, and how the methods of mediation have changed, particularly during the last century.

Scientific theory: The theories of art and culture have emerged in the intersection of the theories of the humanities and the social sciences. In this context it is therefore important that students are given an introduction to central theoretical concepts such as the hypothetical-deductive method, hermeneutics and phenomenology, in order to provide them with a solid overview of traditional art. Emphasis will be placed on methodological problems which will prepare students for work on their preliminary and Master’s degree projects, where a combination of theoretical and practical aspects will be emphasised.

Weighting and Evaluation:

The Joint Theoretical Component comprises 30 ECTS. Students are required to submit work in the middle of the first semester, which must receive a passing grade in order for students to continue with their studies; the Joint Theoretical Component is concluded with a 6-hour written examination. The examination is assessed on a scale A-F, where E is the lowest passing grade, and F a failing grade. This grade counts for 25 % of the total grade for the Master’s degree.

Master’s Degree Project including the Preliminary Project and Prospectus


Students will complete a large project which will include a practical part and a theoretical part (written presentation). The various components included in the project may be of varying size, but it is a requirement that the practical and theoretical parts comprise a whole. It follows from the characteristics of the study programme that the projects may be of various types, depending on what the student decides to place emphasis on; for instance, documentation; theory related to art, culture, or tradition; practical execution; or dissemination. However, a project will not receive approval if practical aspects are not made clearly visible, or if it does not include theoretical aspects.

In other words, students’ Master’s degree projects may vary considerably; but before students commence on the work it is important that they first agree with their supervisors on a project plan. Despite the fact that students’ projects may vary, they should all contain the following basic aspects: students should acquire experience in working systematically with material from traditional arts and employ appropriate methods to obtain the relevant knowledge. Various methods for testing hypotheses are common in the majority of projects, as well as elucidating the background material and context. It is also important that students use the knowledge which may be acquired by practising the traditional arts. The presentation should be clearly presented and well documented so that other students at a similar academic level will be able to evaluate the work.

The Master’s Degree Project is started in the first semester through students’ work on the Preliminary Project (3.2.1). One part is common for the whole of traditional arts, and some of the material will be examined in scientific theory (3.1.4). In addition, individual supervision will be offered. During the second semester teaching in methodology will be given, and work on the project plan will also constitute a central part. The Preliminary Project comprises two obligatory seminars which will be followed up by a final prospectus at the end of the second semester. Participation by means of presentation during the two semesters, as well as the final prospectus must be approved before the student will be given permission to start on the course and work on the final Master’s Degree Project (3.2.2).

Weighting and Evaluation:

The two presentations and the prospectus in the second semester comprise 30 ECTS. The actual Master’s Degree Project is written in the third and fourth semesters and comprises 60 ECTS. In other words, the Master’s Degree Project – including the Preliminary Project and the prospectus –comprises 90 ECTS in total . The whole of the second semester is arranged as a process in which students prepare for their Master’s Degree Project. During this process work the grades pass or fail will be given for the following three stages: 1) the first presentation, 2) the second presentation and 3) the final prospectus, which includes the final plan for the Master’s Degree Project.


The project and supervision will be adapted to the individual student and will be related to the source material the student will be working with. This source material will usually be found within the field of Norwegian traditional arts; however, students will also be encouraged to acquire insight into other traditional cultures, for instance, through study periods abroad. Further, foreign students would most likely take their own national culture as their starting point.

The content of the theoretical/written part, and the practice-based part includes:

  • Formulation of problem
  • Choice and explanation of strategies and methods
  • Elucidation of relevant material and principal concepts
  • Execution of a project with the aid of sources, observations and practice
  • Relevant documentation, both theoretical and practical-aesthetic
  • Discussion of results

As a supplement to the Master’s Degree Project a written summary of 1-2 pages must also be drafted, which will be included in a database of research projects.

Preliminary Project, including Prospectus

Before students embark on their Master’s degree projects it is important that they use time to delimit the material and topic, and clarify problem approaches and methods. This work is called the Preliminary Project, and involves students demonstrating how documented and collected material may be used with regard to developing a realistic project question. In connection with work on the Preliminary Project, students will be expected to find theoretical references that are of special relevance to their Master’s degree projects.

The work on the Preliminary Project is embarked on during the first semester. This will take as its starting point the instruction in scientific theory, i.e. 3.1.4, and will be followed up through a more practical-oriented methodology seminar in the second semester, which will include a discussion of the various projects. The Preliminary Project should be finished during the last part of the second semester with a prospectus, i.e. an overview of 8-10 pages regarding work on the Master’s Degree Project. In addition, the prospectus should also include a progress plan for the work on the Master’s Degree Project. The presentations during the two semesters, as well as the written prospectus, must be approved before the student may have his/her topic and plan for the final Master’s Degree Project approved, and be allocated a supervisor.

Master’s Degree Project

Master’s degree projects are developed individually by each student and will cover a broad spectrum of topics within the field of traditional arts. Since some projects will be theory-biased and others practice-biased, there will be great variation in content and in the forms of presentation. It is therefore difficult to say much in general about the content of the Master’s degree project. The general aspects primarily concern methodology, which involves working systematically and scientifically to acquire knowledge, and students may also attain knowledge from both theoretical and practical sources. Knowledge relating to archives, collections and technical aids will also be necessary for the majority of projects.


The Master’s Degree Project should be started with documentation work. Students who require instruction in basic technical skills will be given the opportunity to learn these skills when starting their projects; for instance, related to the use of sound, images, objects and processes.

Folk music:

Basic technical knowledge

Many folk music students will need to gain insight into the technical foundation for various sound and image formats, such as paper, film, celluloid film and various digital formats. They must be acquainted with the relevant differences between the various technical documentation alternatives that are available today.

Information and bearers of information

In many projects it will be important for students to understand how traditions can vary over a period of time, from area to area, between different performers, and with regard to performers during the course off their own lives. Various technical aids (various recording methods) in registration and documentation may also result in different information being recorded with regard to the variations in traditional expressions. It may also be necessary to take a critical stance to information bearers and traditional expressions.

General overview of archives

It is important to have knowledge of the public archives system, as well as the most important private archives in the country. In addition, knowledge is needed with regard to how students may use the various archives, and the current rules for making archive material available to the public.

Folk arts:


In many of the folk arts’ projects it may be important to acquire knowledge of various forms of registration and documentation of folk arts’ objects and work processes related to wood, textiles and metal. The student must often document and register basic material within the area in question. The basic material should not be too comprehensive, because this material should be used, disseminated and analysed within reasonable practical and theoretical frameworks.

Museums and collections.

In many of the projects within the field of folk arts it will be necessary to have access to the various public institutions that are responsible for preserving folk art and cultural objects. It may be of importance to know why these institutions were founded, and how they have functioned up until the present day. Knowledge of private institutions may also be of importance. In such cases it may be useful for students to become acquainted with the various methods of registration and cataloguing which are useful, as well as the relevant rules and guidelines for using / loaning, and making the material available to the public.

Practising / performing

Practising the arts should also be part of the Master’s degree project. Students should experience and have an understanding of how knowledge is gained by practising the traditional arts. Other practical aspects may also be included as a secondary part of some of the projects, such as collecting material, archive skills, computer processing and knowledge of media etc.

In some projects, primarily those with a practising element, artistic instruction may be necessary. For instance, folk musicians may require instruction on their main instrument; whereas, folk artists may require instruction in the work with the material they have chosen, techniques and artistic expression etc. This type of instruction would constitute part of the supervision; in such a case it is the supervisors who decide whether or not time allocated for supervision should be used in this way.


The Master’s Degree Project should include dissemination, but in some projects this part will receive more emphasis than in others. This should be made clear when the students are preparing their prospectuses. In addition, the student, in consultation with the supervisors, evaluates which approach should be chosen for the dissemination, as well as the theoretical and practical extent of the part which will be disseminated.

Teaching and Learning Methods

The Joint Theoretical Component:

The programme includes lectures and seminars with both regular teachers and guest lecturers. Some of the teaching sessions during each semester will be more intensive than others. Assignments and information will be given during the course of the programme. A good deal of the instruction will naturally be aimed at the Master’s Degree Project, which will always constitute a principle part of the Master’s degree programme.

The Preliminary Project and Master’s Degree Project:

The Preliminary Project will be focused on as early as during the lectures of the Joint Theoretical Component. This will be especially evident in the course 3.1.4 on scientific theory. The project seminars will be given during the second semester; the teachers will mainly participate in these. However, if the need arises, guest lecturers will also be invited from other university colleges and universities. The aim will be to provide students with help in solving specific problems which they may experience when drafting their project plans. It is also important that students form study groups which will give them the opportunity to discuss their work with each other. Individual supervision is also one of the teaching methods that will be used.

Individual supervision constitutes the most important teaching method during the course of the Master’s Degree Project. However, meetings will also be arranged where students and teachers will be able to meet each other and discuss the progress they are making on their projects. In addition, students will be able to receive any necessary information about their studies via the Internet.

Assessment Methods

The Master’s degree programme in Traditional Arts comprises 120 ECTS and consists of two main examinations and a passing point.

Written examination

  • The examination for the Joint Theoretical Component (30 ECTS): Midterm-submission

(pass/ fail) and written final examination (6 hours).

Passing point

  • The Preliminary Project consists of two obligatory oral presentations and submission of the written prospectus together counting for 30 ECTS. These will be assessed pass/fail.

Practical / theoretical examination

  • The Master’s Degree Project (60 ECTS): This is divided into two parts, both practice and theory; both will be evaluated:

1) Practice: Performing and disseminating parts.

2) Theory: Documentation and presentation of material from the field of the traditional arts. This may consist of a written dissertation along the lines of the thesis-variant common in Anglo-American MA studies (equivalent to a thesis [ hovedoppgave] in the earlier Norwegian degree [ hovedfagsstudiet]). However, it is also possible for students to meet requirements through presentation and documentation, for instance, by using video, DVD, and sound recordings (audio cassettes or CDs), images with commentary notes, the documentation and reporting of exhibitions, and reports on concerts etc.

It is important for the evaluation that the practical and the theoretical components constitute a whole. Ideally, the two parts should be equal, but it is also possible to emphasise one of the components more than the other, if the project’s problem approach calls for such a solution. The Master’s Degree Project will be concluded by an oral examination, where the student will be examined in both the practical and the theoretical components. The final grade will be given after the oral examination for the Master’s Degree Project, including the Preliminary Project (90 ECTS).

The Joint Theoretical Component and the Master’s Degree Project will be assessed on a scale A-f, where E is the lowest passing grade, and F is a failing grade. Separate grades will not be given for the Preliminary Project and the prospectus, but these must be approved by the teacher before students may begin on their Master’s Degree Project; this constitutes a necessary introductory part of the Master’s Degree Project. The foundation course counts for 25%, and the grade for the Master’s Degree Project counts for 75% of the Master’s degree’s grade. In other words, the Preliminary Project including the prospectus will be considered together with the Master’s Degree Project when allocating a final grade.

If the student passes all the examinations he/she will receive a grade from A to E. Each course unit must receive a passing mark if the major course unit can receive a passing grade. In addition, please refer to Telemark University College’s examination regulations.

Minor adjustments may occur during the academic year, subject to the decision of the Dean

Publisert av / forfatter Frode Evenstad <Frode.EvenstadSPAMFILTER@hit.no>, last modified  - 19/03/2009