Liberal arts

Liberal Arts in Social Sciences

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.

Study level Bachelor's Studies

Duration of study 3 years

Language English

Study form Regular studies

Cost per semester 1650

The program looks into various social sciences and teaches the student how to find common ground. Students can create their major via electives after the core courses have introduced the different social sciences. The program includes practical training so the graduates obtain some work experience for the real world within their chosen field, and analytical and writing skills necessary for future studies in Estonia or elsewhere.

The program consists of mostly compulsory core courses divided between six semesters. Students can create their own major with various electives that they find interesting in university. The program councils students to make sure choices are well thought out but offers the students a chance to still design their own future. Program also includes various writing and methodology courses, finally culminating with a big research paper that is similar to a bachelor’s thesis. Program includes compulsory practical training and an interdisciplinary project, both providing practical skills. The program ends with an interdisciplinary exam that cover the core of the program and all the acquired skills.

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Who are we looking for?

Liberal arts in social sciences is looking for prospective students who would be interested in society and how to analyse it. Students are expected from all over the world, from different backgrounds. The program suits students who are still wondering what social science would work for them but also for students who have a clear vision but would like to have a wider view to go with their focused studies. The program suits students who are just out of secondary school, eager to start but also for older students who might already have a degree or just life experience. The program has always had a versatile student body; all are welcome.

Why study with us?

Liberal arts in social sciences is the best program for those interested in social sciences in general. It offers a chance to get a wider view of society and its analytical sides. It also provides a rare opportunity to get acquainted with the idea of interdisciplinary studies. Program includes a chance to see the connections between courses and practice interdisciplinary research. Liberal arts has something for those with clear interests but also for those who are still seeking. After students have finished their studies, with right choices the doors are open to master’s programs and to the employment market.

Course outline

Liberal Arts in Social Sciences is a program designed to teach students about different social sciences, give them research and practical skills, and prepare them for future studies or the labour market. The program lasts six semesters, each building on the previous. Students start off aqcuiring basic skills for learning, research and writing along with introductions to core topics in social sciences like law and society. Over the next semesters each field introduces their own topics including sociology, politics, international relations, economy, management, demographics, psychology and others. The student will acquire knowledge on all interesting fields and via electives and open electives they choose their favourite. University offers many more courses on each of the introduced field so as the student progresses through their studies, they can decide for themselves, what they would like to focus on and where to move forward.

The program includes multiple methodology courses that give the research skills suitable for a bachelor's student. The program offers both qualitative and quantitative methods' courses taught by the people using them everyday in their own research. The students aquire new skills that are already practised during the studies as the content courses require a lot of reading, writing and analysis. This culminates with a final research paper supervised by the experts in the field, similar to bachelor's thesis. 

A good bachelor's education is more than just research and knowledge, it should also give practical skills. The Liberal Arts program has a practical training module that requires students to put their university-learned minds to use in the real world. Students can do practical training in the field of their interest. So those interested in sociology can not only take additional sociology courses, they can also go and do practical training in that exact field. 

All students also need good teamwork skills and skills how to work in an international and interdisciplinary environment. The Liberal Arts program also includes an interdisciplinary project that can be chosen by each student themselves form the dozens of projects offered in the university each semester. 

Liberal arts in social sciences organises its classes during daytime on weekdays. Classes are usually planned between 10 and 16, with a few exceptions. Students are expected to participate in classes and seminars but leave plenty of time in between for other activities.

Study programme

Academic Staff

The program’s courses are taught by experts in their respective fields, both from SOGOLAS and outside. 2015/16 survey among visiting Erasmus students listed four lectures are the best for international students. Three of them teach in the Liberal Arts program in Tallinn University

Catlyn Kirna is the curator of the program and lecturer of international relations. Catlyn Kirna is from Estonia and taught both at Tallinn Univeristy and Tartu University. She teaches introductions to international relations and European Union but also courses related to her own interests such as foreign policy, regionalism and interdisciplinary issues. Her interdisciplinary interests are to do with interdisciplinary teaching and bringing disciplines together. She is both finishing her PhD and working on her third master’s degree (in education technology). Catlyn’s previous degrees are international relations from University of Tartu and a translation degree from Tallinn University.

Check out the one minute lecture "Why Are Small States Awesome?" by Catlyn Kirna. 


Zsolt Bugarszki is a lecturer of social policy. Zsolt Bugarszki is from Hungary and before Tallinn University has taught at ELTE University in Budapest, as well as worked extensively in the field. One of his focus is on the increasingly important topic of social entrepreneurship and conducts projects related to it. He teaches also other aspects of social policy as well as economics and European Union social affairs. Zsolt is interested in how social communities function and how social problems affect society in general.

Read Zsolt Bugarszki's article about his "Expectation to Turn the University Into a Creative Hub".


Matthew Crandall is an associate professor of international relations and the curator for the international relations’ MA program. Matthew Crandall is from United States and has studies in different universities both in USA and Estonia.  He teaches introductions to international affairs, organisations and security but also more complex courses based on his main interests that include small states, their security and security theories and issues in general.

Admission Requirements

General requirements:
Entrance exams:
  • The entrance exam consists of written assignment (written answers to the questions concerning their motivation and desire to study at the programme) and an interview with the admissions committee via Skype.
  • 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.

  • Maximum number of points is 100 (50% written, 50% oral part).
  • Students receiving minimum 30 points of the written part, are allowed to the oral interview.
  • BA:  Minimum programme enrollment threshold: 65 points out of 100.
  • Written assignment. Please submit a motivation letter (800-900 words), answering the following questions:

    1. The choice of the study programme: What makes you interested in this programme? What courses specifically?
    2. Previous experience and studies: What have you done before applying here? Where and what have you studied? Any work experience?
    3. Your plans after BA studies: What do you plan to do after your BA? How will this degree help?
    4. Knowledge of the field: What are the biggest social science issues around the world right now? How would you go about solving them if they are solvable?
    5. How do you plan to finance your studies?

Post-graduate destinations

Angel Casal (Argentina, graduated 2017)
"I confess TLÜ was my life-changing investment career-wise and the place where best memories and connections are formed, 
a place where I could express my opinions without pre-judgment broadening my perspective on the world and getting ready to engage
 with challenging future paths. I enjoyed the variety of fields of study at Tallinn University believing that to differentiate myself in the labor 
market I need a competitive side, the one that TLÜ has equipped me with while championing my independent thinking as student."

Petr Erlygin (Russia, graduated 2014)

"Liberal Arts degree offers a unique opportunity to study multiple disciplines within one program. I would recommend it to anyone who has diverse academic interests and could not yet find the narrow field for pursuing a degree in it. I also believe this program helped me to understand better in wich academic direction I should move further."


Annina Närhi (Finland, graduated 2015)
"After high school, I wasn't sure what to study, so the liberal arts program seemed really fitting. It is a broad program which provides a good basis for many Master's Programs, so you can try different things for your BA before focusing on something more specific for your MA. Tallinn is a great place to study - the city is small but vibrant, there's always something to do. The international commuity is welcoming and you meet people from all around the world."  


Arta Balode (Latvia, graduated 2016)

"Liberal Arts was the program that gave me an insight into different study fields at once. If you have wide variety of interests, this choice will let you combine varied professional industries at one. Liberal Arts - the program where media meet politics, films meet psychology, anthropology meets literature, so on, and so on...

When I look back I feel super happy about my time in Tallinn. City that definitely took my heart with its beautiful sea side where having a break between lectures, taking long walks at Kadriorg and exploring hidden streets at Vana Tallinn. Memories of those 4 years are filled with great moments both at university and constantly active dormitory life with other students at Karu. Place where I met some truly inspiring lecturers and international friends for life time."


Jyri Jäntti (Finland, graduated 2017) 

The wider the knowledge base of a student or a researcher the easier it is to come up with new ideas based on combining different fields. Of course there is always overlap between sciences, but the better the basics on multiple scientific fields, the more coherent ideas one can come up with. Also gathering the basic knowledge on multiple field is extremely helpful in finding out in which field the specialization of the student in the future might lay."

Why School of Governance, Law and Society?

Liberal arts in social sciences is curated by the International Relations and Future studies field within the School of Governance, Law and Society (SOGOLAS). The school includes various fields of social sciences like law, international relations, social work, sociology, governance, politics and demographics. The program offers courses from outside the school as well but as most social sciences are inside the school, the program keeps a tighter connection between the fields and offers a chance for more interdisciplinary research. SOGOLAS also includes the interdisciplinary lifetime research centre and also hosts the contact point to the European migration network. The school offers various MA programs, including international relations in English as well as multiple PhD programs.

Extracurricular Activities

School of Governance, Law and Society Facebook group.

Both SOGOLAS and Tallinn University in general offer many ways students can have an interesting social life. SOGOLAS’ students have a student representation organisation Civitas that takes care of students’ educational and social needs. Institute includes many topical student organisations, for example the International Relations’ Society. University offers even more possibilities: from choir singing and gym practice to various social clubs and student organisations. SOGOLAS organises conferences every year, open to both students and researchers; as well as many public lectures every other week.

Environment

Tallinn University has a modern urban campus located in the center of the city. Our students have access to physical and online libraries, computer labs, cafeterias and cafes. Further, the university has all the facilities necessary for a productive learning environment and ample opportunities for leisure, sports, and social activities, all leading to an exciting and well balanced student life. Take a walk around our campus via the virtual tour!

Liberal arts in social sciences has a student body from all over the world. Closely connected to other English programs and classes are often with visiting Erasmus students so day-to-day student life is always international. Tallinn University has a modern campus, situated right in the city centre. The students have access to computer classes, and both the physical and online library. University offers a chance for leisure, sports, learning, and social affairs. Tallinn University has all the facilities necessary for a productive and exciting student life.

Contact us

  • Specific questions regarding the programme should be directed to Tallinn University School of Governance, Law and Society:
    E-mail: anna-stina.kangro@tlu.ee
    Phone: +372 6409 382
  • For additional guidelines regarding admission procedure please contact the international admission specialist.
    E-mail: admissions@tlu.ee

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