The School of Humanities is the biggest faculty in Tallinn University and is a competence centre for a wide range of knowledge and experience in Humanities. This is reflected by our curricula at Bachelor, Master and Doctoral level.

After the structural reform in the university, the departments and curricula of the former institutes were gathered into six study areas: Asian Studies, Estonian Language and Culture, History, Cultural theory, Russian and Eastern European Studies, and Western European Studies.

Asian Studies

In the modern world that is gradually becoming more integrated both politically and economically, we cannot think of Asian and Middle Eastern countries and societies as of something remote and exotic: their influence is detectable in every sphere of our lives. Due to this, researching Asian and Middle Eastern societies, helps us to understand better the history, culture, economy and politics of these different countries.

The area of Asian Studies in the Tallinn University School of Humanities is unique in Estonia. Our distinguished specialists provide the opportunity to gain a broad knowledge of the culture and societies of different countries in East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. In order to research Asian and Middle Eastern culture good language skills are demanded, therefore our curricula have language acquisition as a vital component. During studies a student must acquire skills in either Japanese, Chinese or Arabic, which then helps to conduct independent research. In addition to the main language our students are given the opportunity to learn either Korean or Turkish.

Our study area coordinates exchange programmes with different Japanese universities (Waseda, Gakushuin Joshidaigaku, Tsukuba, Yamagata) where every year some of our Japanese major students are studying. Our students specialising in Chinese have been able to study in the Beijing Language and Culture University and in the National Taiwan University. Students specialising in Middle Eastern languages and culture have opportunities to pursue studies in different Turkish universities using the Erasmus+ programme.

Graduating from our Asian Studies allows a readiness to work in different spheres of life and in various posts that require the knowledge and understanding of Asian and Middle Eastern languages and cultures. Our graduates have been not only employed in teaching languages, as translators and in tourism, but also as employees of various establishments and institutions of foreign countries like embassies, international organisations, and in the private sector.

Head of the Study Area:

Alari Allik, Lecturer of Japanese Studies

Cultural Theory

The study area of Cultural Theory at the School of Humanities in Tallinn University connects five major fields in humanities: Anthropology, Philosophy, Cultural Studies, Urban Studies and Comparative Literature. This interdisciplinary association, uniting internationally valued expertise in culture studies, is unique in Estonia. We are dedicated to researching and teaching both theoretical and practical aspects of how culture works in society. With this aim in mind, we incorporate disciplines like Cultural History, Cultural Geography, Cultural and Social Anthropology, Cultural Philosophy, Cultural Semiotics, Religious Studies and Comparative Literature.

Culture is a complex sign system that surrounds us from birth to death and gives us an ability to make our life meaningful. We truly grow into humans inside culture, it is culture that provides us with the tools for giving meaning to ourselves and to our surroundings. Cultural knowledge and skills are a pre-requisite to manage our lives successfully and to orientate in the world. Significantly, the contemporary and gradually more entwined world expects from us stronger cultural self-identity, the ability to orientate in different cultures, and ability to analyse various types of information quickly and creatively.

The foremost aim of the area of Cultural Theory is to teach how to manage well in our own and in foreign cultures. We value the diversity of cultures and cultural tolerance and consider important both the knowledge of different cultures and the different ways of interpretation that enable us to research and understand cultures fruitfully. This aim is served by the active research of our academic staff: the Area of Cultural Theory has close links with the Centre of Excellence in Cultural Theory, the Tallinn University Centre of Excellence in Intercultural Studies, and the inter-university Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts. Cooperation with the Centre for Landscape and Culture, the Institute of History, Archaeology and Art History as well as with the Semiotics Repository is important for us.

The Area of Cultural Theory values the international academic environment, we have several foreign lecturers and researchers. We are operating one BA programme (Liberal Arts in Humanities) and two MA programmes in English (Anthropology andLiterature, Visual Culture and Film Studies) and have numerous Erasmus+ agreements with our partner universities, we have strong traditions in organising various international research events.

The graduates of our study area will be able to realise their potential in a wide range of spheres wherever good analytical and communication skills, broad mindedness, good adaptability skills and quick acquisition of new knowledge are valued and demanded. Our graduates so far have usually found work in different institutions in the sphere of culture, in journalism, in governmental organisations, in educational establishments and international organisations.

Head of the Study Area:

Eneken Laanes, Associate Professor of Comparative Literary Science and Culture Analysis

Estonian Language and Culture

The study area of Estonian Language and Culture in the Tallinn University School of Humanities combines studies and research on Estonian language, literature and culture. The main branches of research and teaching are related to Estonian language, both as first and second language, Estonian literature and culture, literary studies, linguistics (socio-, general and applied), and with language and social communication.

Our study area provides preparation for Estonian language and literature teachers as well as for teachers of Estonian as a second language.

Our academic study area is also responsible for teaching Estonian language and culture to all Tallinn University non-Estonian students who want to acquaint themselves with these subjects, and for in depth teaching of Estonian as the official language of Estonia.

Our study area is responsible for the Mother Tongue Education Centre, the Tallinn University Centre for Academic Estonian and the Research Centre for Estonian Literature and Culture.

The academic study area has a mission to fulfil the Constitutional goal of the Estonian Republic: to preserve and develop the Estonian language and culture. Our teaching staff and researchers, dedicated to this goal, are distinguished professionals of their field and recognised both in Estonia and abroad.

Compared to the past, the position of the Estonian language and culture is changing due to globalisation and diverse influences. We therefore believe that concentrated yet broad minded analysis is required. One of the aims of the study area is to interpret and give meaning to the role of our native language and culture in the contemporary world, analyse the meaning of Estonian culture and make students to think, what does it mean to be Estonian.

The knowledge of Estonian language and culture and acquired degree guarantees multiple options in the labour market. The practical skills, like correct usage of spoken and written Estonian, skills of compiling and editing texts, language editing skills, skills of social communication, and ability to use language correctly in different situations make it possible for our graduates to find work in editing offices, publishers, in national and other institutions, various organisations and enterprises.

Students, having acquired BA and positive theoretical interests in linguistics or literature may proceed in the academic sphere and pursue postgraduate studies. The study area operates Estonian Studies MA programme based on English.  Teachers of Estonian language and literature are needed in Estonia but increasingly also abroad. We believe that every Estonian citizen would profit from deeper knowledge of the Estonian language and culture regardless of their profession or field of activity. Such knowledge should also be of interest to non-Estonians, living in Estonia or abroad and showing interest in Estonia and our culture.

Head of the Study Area:

Piret Viires, Professor of Estonian Literature and Literary Theory


The academic area of History in Tallinn University School of Humanities covers studies and research in history, visual and material culture (archaeology, ethnology, art history), and environmental history. We are an innovative team working group with strong international orientation and involved in developing new trends in teaching and researching history in Estonia.

Our area of history is engaged in interpreting the societies and people of the past differently from the traditional approaches. The balanced use of written, visual and material sources enlivens the topics covered making them multi-layered drawing attention to the use of multi-disciplinary approaches in the research of history. The courses we teach have both regional (local) and global dimensions, the topics covered comprise the most current subject fields of contemporary humanities and social sciences: studies in nations and nationalism, memory studies and mnemohistory. We help to open the door to the wide and fascinating world of contemporary history writing.

We have also turned our attention to natural sciences, since the key to understanding history is detectable in the natural environment. Therefore, environmental history as a new and rising research area in the world is represented.

One of the most important characteristics of our area of history is the strong integration of teaching and research: the majority of our teaching staff are active as researchers in the Institute of History, Archaeology and Art History, which is the biggest research centre in the School of Humanities. The researchers of the centre also contribute towards the fulfilment of our curricula. This gives us a very sound foundation for the operational management of our PhD curriculum in History. In addition we are involved in two research networks: the Centre of Medieval Studies, which unites the medievalists of Estonia, and the Centre of Environmental Studies, which has international dimensions.

Our students have wide opportunities to gain practical work experience in different museums, in the Tallinn University Archaeological Research Collection, in the National Heritage Board, in the Archives and participating in archaeological fieldwork. We are actively participating in Erasmus+ exchange and welcome students and post-doctoral applicants within the frameworks of other projects.

Our graduates are highly valued as history teachers, museum curators, archivists, active heritage protectors and leaders of NGO-s. Our graduates can be found holding high posts in governmental bodies as well as in the private sector. Several of our graduates have continued their studies abroad (incl. Heidelberg, Vienna, Cologne, Paris).

Head of the Study Area:

Ulrike Plath, Professor Baltic-German Studies and Environment History

Russian and East European Studies

The area of Russian and East European Studies in Tallinn University School of Humanities focuses on training Russian philologists, teachers of the Russian language and literature for schools where the language of tuition is Russian, Russian as a second language for teachers, experts in Slavonic cultures, and employees in the Russian language media sphere in Estonia both at the Bachelor and Master level. On the doctoral level the area is responsible for the module of Slavonic languages and cultures in the curriculum of Studies of Cultures. We also offer subjects that can be chosen as minors like Russian language editing and Estonian-Russian translating. We provide lessons in other Slavonic languages.

The research interests of the Russian and East European studies area concentrate mainly on 20th and 21st Century Russian literature and culture, Russian culture in Estonia, and literary and cultural connections between Russian and other Slavonic languages. A prominent position in our research is topics like Russian language media in Estonia, issues connected to teaching Russian, and Estonian-Russian comparative linguistics. Our study area is one of the most renown centres for researching Mikhail Bulgakov’s life and works. We are one of the few research and study centres that continuously researches the issues of the Russian diaspora in cooperation with European, American and Russian universities and research institutions. Our research appear as articles, monographs and popular books promoting research in all the areas of our research interests.

Our Russian and Eastern European area has connected its activities closely with shaping and developing local Russian intellectuals. This aim is supported by our integrated research and teaching. The research papers of our students are often related to our research projects, and our students organise annual international conferences for young philologists, and an electronic publication Studia Slavica that is related to these activities has already gone through thirteen issues.

The students and lecturers of our area actively participate in international programmes and research projects in Europe and beyond. Due to our aims of internationalisation we have been and hope to continue as an attractive place for work and study for post-doctoral students and lecturers who can complement their knowledge on the topics researched by us.

Our graduates have always been welcome at schools, and as editors in publishing houses, translators and journalists.

Head of the Study Area:

Natalia Tšuikina, Lecturer of Russian

Western European Studies

The area of Western European studies collocates students, lecturers and researchers who teach, study and research Spanish, English, Italian, Portuguese, Swedish, German and Finnish and the cultures connected to these languages in Europe as well as North and South America. The study programmes develop specialists in European and American history, societies and culture, language researchers and teachers, as well as translators and interpreters.

Head of the Study Area:

Daniele Monticelli, Professor of Italian Studies and Semiotics