We invite students whose interests are not limited to one of the traditional discipline in humanities, but who are interested in combining several disciplines within our study programme.
Good English skills are required, and curiosity, openness to different ways of thinking and desire to find out things for oneself make the experience with us even more worthwhile.
Why study with us?
- The language of our programme is English, making it unique among other Liberal Arts programmes in the nearby region.
- In 2020 our Liberal Arts in Humanities was the second most popular BA programme among the foreign candidates wishing to pursue their undergraduate studies at Tallinn University.
- School of Humanities has excellent competences for making our Liberal Arts programme into an attractive study programme.
- The school has competent teaching staff with expertise in the classical humanities disciplines, such as history, literature, culture, modern languages, etc.
- Our Liberal Arts develops such essential skills as research and critical thinking. It permits to enhance these skills by combining various courses to get diverse views of poignant topics. We promote independent thinking, teamwork and tolerance.
- An excellent Erasmus network permits students to enrich their degree by studying or doing traineeship abroad.
- An ample amount of free electives permits students to create added value to their degree.
- We are also proud to be “on the map”: our programme is part of the European Liberal Arts Initiative (ELAI).
- Students can apply for study fee reduction based on their study results.
- During the 3-year programme you are expected to participate in a number of compulsory and elective courses.
- The studies are organised so that you will be studying closely together with other Tallinn University students, including Erasmus students. This should promote good exchange of ideas.
- You are permitted to take courses from the other Schools of Tallinn University.
- The studies end with a bachelor examination.
Core course components
As a student you will have to pass university-wide courses (Introduction to the Humanities, Critical Thinking) that are taught to all our BA students at Tallinn University.
In addition, you work through a major project course ELU, which is devoted to solving a particular problem in an interdisciplinary team. It employs the method of problem-based learning and develops team-work and problem-solving skills that are essential in the present day job market.
There are courses that help to deepen the understanding of the Humanities, and you will have to engage in practical activities and do an internship.
You will improve your language skills and acquire at least a modest level of Estonian language.
From the second year of studies, you will choose two modules to specialise in, out of the following:
|Literary and Cultural Studies of English-Speaking Countries|
|Russian Language and Culture (advanced)||Russian Language and Culture (beginners)|
Two modules of your choice must be completed in full. In addition, you may choose individual subjects from all the seven modules as free electives.
Open electives enable you to develop unique and meaningful entities of your own.
- The university campus houses a study library, the main university library is situated within an easy reach in the city centre. The National Library of Estonia is also in the city centre. Numerous electronic databases are available through the libraries.
- There are ample opportunities for Erasmus exchange.
Students will have ample opportunities to participate at various literary and cultural events held in Tallinn. Tallinn University Student Union and International Club offer opportunities for getting engaged in diverse activities.
Career and Psychological counselling services are available on-site.
Opportunities for sports and cultural activities.
- Funding information: Study in Estonia
Julia Kuznetski (Tofantšuk) is the Associate Professor of British Literature and the head of the Liberal Arts in Humanities programme. She has taught courses on literature and literary theory (World Literature, British Literature from the Renaissance to the Present, 20th-21st-century British Literature, British Women Writers of the 20th-21st Century, 19th-century British Literature, 19th-century British Art, British and American Art in the 20th-21st Century, etc.), as well as practical English (English C2, Analysis of Academic Texts, Contemporary English, etc.), at BA, MA and PhD level. She has contributed to study programme development on all academic levels and is a member of several professional organisations (ESSE, FINSSE, MLA, ASLE, KAJAK, ENUT) and Advisory Board member of Lexington Books Ecocritical Theory and Practice series.
Julia Kuznetski’s PhD thesis (2007) was on construction of identity in the fiction of contemporary British women writers, for example, Eva Figes, Jeanette Winterson and Meera Syal. She has published articles, book chapters (Routledge, Peter Lang WV, Palgrave Macmillan) and delivered conference papers on gender and identity, transnational feminism, postcolonial and diaspora studies, ecocriticism and ecofeminism, which are her main research interests.
Piret Viires is the Professor of Estonian Literature and Literary Theory at Tallinn University. She received her doctorate on Estonian Literature in 2006 from Tartu University. She has published books on Estonian Literature and postmodernism. The most recently published is Postmodernism in Estonian Literary Culture (2012, Peter Lang Verlag). In addition she has published many articles, edited scholarly publications, organised conferences. She is a member of various scholarly organisations and editing boards. Her teaching assignments and research has taken her to University of Turku (Finland), Eötvös Loránd University (Hungary), Ohio State University (USA). Piret Viires is a member of the board of the Estonian Writers' Union and has published fiction.
Main research interests: Modern Estonian Literature, postmodernism and post-postmodernism, relationships between literature and technology, digital literature.
Natalia Tšuikina is a lecturer of the Russian language. She graduated from Saint Petersburg State University and achieved her doctorate degree (candidate of philological sciences) researching the functioning of the semile in a literary text; in 2002 she started teaching and research in Tallinn University.
Her research interests include not only different aspects of text analyses, but also trends in the modern Russian language orthography and punctuation, she works on questions of language and culture, and language game usage in everyday life. Being a teacher of practical Russian courses, Natalia Tšuikina has paid particular attention to the issues of teaching Russian to foreigners and to those who speak Russian as a heritage language.
Alari Allik (PhD) is a lecturer of Japanese studies. He has studied in Tōkyō and Ōsaka and teaches courses on Japanese literature, religion and philosophy. His research deals with biographical and autobiographical writings and the ways the identity of the authors was constructed in Medieval Japan.
In addition to his research Alari Allik has also translated and commented on classical Japanese literature. His translations of Saigyō's "Mountain Home" (Sankashū) and Fujiwara Teika's small anthology "One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each" (Ogura hyakunin isshu) have been published by Tallinn University Press.
Research interests: Medieval Japanese tales (setsuwa), stories of rebirth (ōjōden), travel diaries (ki), Japanese poetry (waka) and sense of place, biography and autobiography.
Follow his minilecture Can a spider attain enlightenment?
Uku Lember is an Associate Professor of Contemporary History. He graduated with a degree in finance from Tartu University and then studied history at Master and PhD level at Central European University in Budapest. He has received scholarships for studying at Cornell University (USA), University College London (UK) and Uppsala University (Sweden).
Uku Lember’s major research areas are the history of the Soviet Union, memory politics, nationalism and Queer-history. His doctoral dissertation centred around the Soviet-era marriages between Russians and Estonians from the perspective of biographical interviews. Recently, he has engaged in family histories and changing memories in Ukraine during the current military conflict. In the near future, he will collect interviews and work on Soviet era queer histories. In 2015, Uku Lember was nominated a laureate of the young scientists’ competition of the Estonian Academy of Sciences.
Marje Ermel is a Lecturer of Anthropology. She became interested in Social Anthropology while studying in First Nations University of Canada in Saskatchewan where she researched issues of cultural identity of First Nations People. After her studies in Canada, Marje Ermel travelled extensively in Australia and Asia. She did her graduate research in Social Anthropology at Tallinn University and complemented her studies at the University of Aberdeen. Her current research is on the transnational Hare Krishna community in West Bengal, India. This project focuses on the relationship between sound, listening practices, perception, and well-being amongst Krishna devotees.
Research interests: anthropology of sound, sonic ethnography, place and space, body and senses, anthropology of consciousness, anthropology of experience, religion, pilgrimage, story-telling, North-America, India.
Joonas Plaan is a Lecturer of Anthropology. Currently, he is writing his PhD dissertation, studying how climate change affects inshore fisheries in Newfoundland, Canada. Joonas has done fieldwork among the fishing communities and climate activists. Joonas also works at Estonian Fund for Nature as Sustainable Fisheries Expert. Most importantly, Joonas sees himself as an environmental anthropologist, trying to understand human-environment interaction.
Research interests and areas: human-environment interactions, including environmental anthropology, political ecology, environmental history, landscape studies, environmentalism, fisheries, Baltic Sea and North-Atlantic fishing communities.
Application Procedure and Required Documents
In order to apply for admission, the candidate must submit the following documents:
- Letter of Motivation;
- Proof of English Proficiency;
- Secondary School Certificate.
Please find further information here.
The first round of selection is made on the basis of Letter of Motivation, the candidate’s CV and qualifications. Successful applicants are invited to an interview, which is conducted either at Tallinn University or via Skype or Zoom. The interview is conducted based on the applicant’s Letter of Motivation and the compulsory texts they have read prior to the interview.
English Proficiency Requirements
Accepted proof of proficiency, for example: IELTS; TOEFL; PTE academic
More information about language proficiency requirements is available here.
Language test for EU/EEA citizens can also be carried out at Tallinn University.
Students coming from Finland do not have to prove their language proficiency if they have at least cum laude approbatur (pitkä oppimäärä) in their matriculation certificate.
Letter of Motivation
Letter of Motivation (ca 500 words) must be added to your application. The letter must cover the following aspects:
- Why you have chosen to apply for Tallinn University Liberal Arts in Humanities programme;
- Explain in your own words what the Humanities are and why you are interested in them;
- What study areas within the Liberal Arts of Humanities programme you are interested in and why;
- How you are going to benefit from your degree after graduation.
The interview is conducted based on the candidate’s Letter of Motivation and compulsory reading. The texts for compulsory reading and discussion can be found here.
The candidate must choose two texts to read through in full, think of their meaning, why they are important texts in the particular area, how they represent important aspects of culture, history, anthropology, or literature; what important issues they raise and what is your opinion of these issues; have you read something similar before, is it connected to your areas of interest, etc.
For the purposes of identity verification at the admission procedure the Admission Committee has the right to take a screenshot during the oral part of the admission exam carried out via video bridge.
Assessment of the candidates
1. Letter of Motivation: 30 points (min. requirement 20 points)
2. Discussion and Interview: 70 points (min. requirement 46 points), consisting of the general interview component 30 points (min. requirement 20 points) and discussion of the texts 40 points (min. requirement 26 points)
Important! Only applicants receiving minimum of 20 points for the first round (letter of motivation) will be invited for an interview.
What we assess
Letter of Motivation: Ability to justify the choice of the university and the programme, interest in the Humanities and in particular study fields, and ability to comprehend future prospects.
General interview: Ability to justify the choice of the university and the programme, interest in the Humanities and in particular study fields, and ability to comprehend future prospects.
Discussion of reading texts: Ability to understand the meaning and main ideas of the texts, ability to relate the texts to the study area and explain how they relate to culture, history, anthropology, literature et al., ability to discuss the issues in the texts and express one’s own opinion, ability to relate the texts to one’s own fields of interest and to other texts (books, articles) the candidate has read.
Find more information about the deadlines here.
Additional points for volunteer work
Candidates who have work experience as volunteers may receive up to 4 additional points for their activities.
The candidate should add to the application a short description stating the name of the organization, the period of work as a volunteer, how many hours in total, and describe the tasks and duties carried out. A letter of confirmation from the organisation should be uploaded into the application database.
NB! The admission board has the right to decide, whether the candidate will get these additional points and how many points will be given.
I came out of high school with a broad interest in art, literature, languages, social structures, and consistent ways and tools to make sense of our lives as humans. I also wanted to try studying somewhere outside of Russia where I am from. After considering different higher education options, I have chosen the Liberal Arts in Humanities program.
The subjects I majored in were Philosophy and Anthropology. In addition to that, I was able to satisfy my curiosity by taking open elective courses in other disciplines like Psychology, Literary studies, and Linguistics. The program also offered a series of seminars on research methods that are used in Humanities and Social Sciences. Within the framework of these seminars, I was given an opportunity to carefully plan and conduct several pieces of pilot research of my own. It was especially these practical and creative exercises that made me realize that I would like to continue learning and conducting more immersive research on a Master's level.
During my second year of studies, I made use of the Erasmus+ exchange program and have spent one year at Würzburg University. I came there without knowing a single word in German and left with the upper-intermediate level of the language, as well as some experience of local academic approach and traditions.
I think that at this stage in life it was very important for me to be able to try my strength at different disciplines and get a glimpse of what academic and everyday life is like further away from home in Germany. After I graduated at the beginning of 2020 I felt ready to make a well-informed choice regarding what I want to study more in-depth on the Master's level as well as where is the place I would like to do it the most. I am now studying Audiovisual Anthropology here at Tallinn University.
I chose to study in the Liberal Arts programme because it offered a wider range of options and opportunities than regular study programmes. My studies never got boring because there was so much diversity in the courses I have taken. Liberal Arts has provided me with a great platform for future master's degree studies; I was not limited to one subject field but I had multiple choices. Tallinn University is a great university to do these studies because of the easy application process and variety of the studies. Getting to know Tallinn, Estonia, and Estonian culture while studying here has been one of the most rewarding part of my studies.
I was an Erasmus exchange student in the Netherlands for the autumn semester of 2016.
An advantage of doing a bachelor degree in Liberal Arts is the possibility to combine different disciplines in one study programme. I have already a degree in the technical field, but always had a general interest in Humanities as well. The Liberal Arts programme at Tallinn University provides a good opportunity to get an overview of the field and develop a basic understanding of a wide variety of academic disciplines and acquire necessary skills for further studies. Different modules offer a scope to discover new interests and explore them deeper.
However, such a versatile and flexible curriculum brings also some frustration into your life. During my studies here, I had always trouble explaining to my friends that at the end I won’t have a diploma, which endows a particular profession. Liberal Arts means freedom; it is a good start that helps you to find your way and decide about further specialisation. In my case, majoring in Philosophy and Anthropology led me to the field of Cultures of Knowledge and Technology, which brought together my current studies with my previous experience. Nevertheless, it’s quite flexible to make me eligible to apply for almost any master's programme.
Studying in English means that you encounter many international students and have a lot of friends from different countries. You can also spend a semester or two abroad. I went on Erasmus exchange to the Netherlands (autumn 2016 and spring 2017), which benefited my studies by adding a unique cultural experience and courses I could never have at my home university.
When I made a decision to study Liberal Arts at Tallinn University, I didn't have a particular idea of what I wanted to become in the future. I have always been good at humanities and had a general interest in anthropology, so I decided that this course would fit me nicely. My mother had obtained her first degree from Tallinn University back in the 80s, some of my friends had also studied here; thus I imagined that there must be a good level of higher education.
The course had, in fact, exceeded my expectations. I think that an interdisciplinary programme such as Liberal Arts is a good foundation when taken at BA level. It gives you versatile knowledge, and very soon you begin to see that all subjects are connected. Being able to choose your classes is a great chance to work with different professors and make the most of your degree. Moreover, Tallinn University gives you an opportunity to learn foreign languages (for me, it was French).
I am currently doing an MA in Material and Visual Culture at University College London. After obtaining my Master's degree, I plan to continue my studies at the doctoral level.
Graduate career options
Graduates will be equipped to work in any area that requires excellent skills in core competences of a BA graduate. Our graduates will have a better interdisciplinary approach to the issues they will have to tackle.
The prospected career options include areas where independent working skills, a critical mind and teamwork skills are useful. Internship opportunities either during the studies or as a graduate will help to put acquired knowledge into daily use.
Further study opportunities
The graduates will be prepared to continue their studies at MA level, following one of the MA programmes offered by us, or anywhere in the world.
School of Governance, Law and Society
Liberal arts ideology comes from the era of antiquity. It is the idea that a free person must know certain things to be a good member of society. Tallinn University’s liberal arts in social sciences does not teach rhetoric or grammar but does give you all you need to know about social sciences.
School of Humanities
Are you interested in cultures? Are there human traits that transcend cultural difference? What are the conditions under which societies change? How are traditions maintained? How do people engage with the challenges of the contemporary world in their daily life?
School of Humanities
Estonian Studies is a unique MA programme, teaching Estonian language, culture, history, societal and political topics using English.
School of Humanities
Engage in a broadly interdisciplinary study of the relationships between literature, visual culture and film in contemporary and historical contexts. Gain cutting-edge theoretical insights into intermedial aesthetics and into the philosophy of literature, art and film. Equip yourself with critical tools for the cultural analysis of contemporary audiovisual, image, and text-based media.