This programme opened in 2017 with the mission of training specialists, who are well versed in scholarly approaches to folk culture and cultural heritage, and competent to use this expertise creatively in academia and beyond. Heritage has emerged as a key category shaping the ways in which individuals, communities and regional as well as state-level actors relate to the past and imagine the future, while making and re-making themselves in the present. As more states worldwide join the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the need grows for specialists capable of analysing cultural heritage and using it responsibly as a social and economic resource.
The programme is affiliated with the UNESCO Chair on Applied Studies of Intangible Cultural Heritage, established as part of the Institute for Cultural Research in 2019. Only eight UNESCO Chairs dedicated to intangible cultural heritage have been established so far and the UNESCO Chair on Applied Studies of Intangible Cultural Heritage at the University of Tartu is one of them.
The aim of the UNESCO Chair is to conduct research on cultural heritage, prepare students for their future in the field of cultural heritage, and collaborate with heritage professionals near and far. More information about the UNESCO Chair and its activities can be found here.
“Folkloristics and Applied Heritage Studies” is one of the few master’s programmes to offer a specialisation in the study and application of the heritage of crafts.
Students develop a solid basis in the study of folklore and critical heritage studies as well as many transferable skills, which enables them to:
UT provides a broad, yet rigorous approach to cultural heritage and vernacular cultural practices. Three UT units specialise on distinct aspects of this field: Departments of Ethnology and Folklore, and the Department of Native Crafts of the UT Viljandi Culture Academy. The programme is affiliated with the UNESCO Chair on Applied Studies of Intangible Cultural Heritage
The faculty-student ratio is low and students are given individual attention. International meetings, autumn and winter schools, journals, guest lectures, exhibitions as well as cooperation with memory institutions and enterprises allow students ample opportunity to gain diverse hands-on experiences and network.Many students tap into the diverse study abroad opportunities offered by the UT
Upon completing the programme, students have acquired valuable analytical, writing and communication skills as well as multifaceted practical experiences that they can apply in many areas in the public and non-governmental sectors as well as in business. This programme trains experts in folk culture who are knowledgeable about the functions and application opportunities of tangible and intangible cultural heritage and familiar with processes of cultural policy.
Graduates are capable of guiding the development of the field and acting as mediators between communities, officials, enterprises, memory institutions and other participants in the process of heritage production. They are able to plan and carry out research and business projects pertaining to cultural heritage. As more states worldwide join the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the need grows for such specialists capable of analysing cultural heritage and using it responsibly as a social and economic resource. Graduates also are qualified to continue their studies at doctoral level.
The tuition fee for fee-paying students is 4,000 euros per year. Altogether 15 study places are available on the programme. On the basis of the admission results 6 best applicants (regardless of citizenship) will be given tuition-waiver scholarships. Applicants do not have to apply for the tuition-waiver separately, as they will be considered automatically for the competition.
Information about the rules and conditions for tuition-waiver scholarships as well as tuition fee payments is given here. Information about other scholarships is available here.
This two-year programme is designed to enable students to pursue their professional aspirations. The curriculum consists of six modules, and students collaborate with the faculty to tailor much of its content towards their chosen career path. The programme offers two specialisations to choose from: “Analysis of folklore and cultural heritage” and “Study and application of the heritage of craft”. Students also choose to complete their studies with a Master’s thesis or a more practically oriented Master’s project and design modules to support their individual professional goals. Built into the curriculum are internships and other opportunities for students to combine theory with practice.
See courses for an overview of the modules, courses, and their distribution across semesters.
"I have a BSc in Geography from the University of London, but on completion decided that I wanted to continue my studies in a direction which would allow me to pursue my interest in Gender Studies and Cultural Anthropology. I am particularly interested in the gender narrative of fairy tales and ghost stories, which has also led me to an interest in the manufacturing of heritage and the inevitable ethical conundrums there. I was attracted to Tartu by the supportive staff who have not let my science background hold me back, as well as the diverse community environment here, and the beautiful physical environment Estonia has to offer. The university also encourages a diversity in interests which they allow you to reflect in your module options, allowing you to create a base of knowledge tailored to your interests."
Lily Jane Cartland
An artisan in leather and metal and returning student, I came to the program from the United States. I'm presently fulfilling my dream of exploring the intersection of vernacular religion and material culture.
Jerry “Tam” Iverson
"I have a professional BA degree in Material Design and Technology from Riga Technical University. I've always been very curious about different cultures, their traditions and world-views, and I love photography and writing. I was looking for an MA program where I could see all my interests overlapping, so I found Folkloristics and Applied Heritage Studies in Tartu. My current research interests focus on Pamirs, Tajikistan. In addition, I'm very interested in folk music and I play in the Latvian post-folklore band "Daba San"."
"I obtained my BA degree at the University of Augsburg in European Cultural History. During my Erasmus+ semester I discovered Estonia and its beautiful university city Tartu and knew I wanted to come back for my Masters. My research interests are centered around the Baltic-Germans in Estonia in the 19th century, in particular, the collected folklore materials of the Learned Estonian Society. Through computational folkloristics, I am trying to establish an accessible database of the archival materials."
"Studying foreign languages and intercultural communication as major subjects for my BA degree, I caught myself at a thought that we often know a lot about others and so little about ourselves. That is how my interest to Belarusian traditional culture began. After working as a research fellow in a local crafts centre, doing internship in an open-air museum in Germany, participating in several public initiatives related to folk culture, I decided to continue my academic education in this field. Being particularly interested in crafts and trying to balance on a point where academia and everyday life meet, I find Tartu and this particular program to be a perfect choice for studies in terms of both theory and practice."
"Earlier I graduated from the Moscow State University and the Russian State University for the Humanities. I have a philosophical background and I am also interested in religious studies and folk beliefs. Here, at the University of Tartu, I am doing my MA thesis about magic practices and magical thinking in contemporary Armenia. For those who interested in folklore, craft and anthropology a really recommend this MA programme!"
"I have an MA in French Philology from the Polar Academy in Saint Petersburg. My research interests include folklore, vernacular religion, and socio-cultural transformations in Inner Asia, especially in Southern Siberia and Northern Mongolia. In the past, I have conducted editorial work at the Tuva Institute of Natural Resources of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences."
"I got my BA degree in Art History from the University of Belgrade. My research interests revolve around the cultural heritage of Balkans, particularly Serbian. Currently, I’m focused on understanding processes of UNESCO intangible heritage nominations, nationalization of folklore, relations between heritage and identity and political folklore. Not only that switch to a field of folklore is enriching my research tools but is also facilitated by thoughtful and helpful teaching stuff and well-designed study programme."
"I got my Bachelor’s Diploma in Liberal Arts Faculty at Saint Petersburg State University in Russia. My research interests are related to vernacular religion in the Republic of Dagestan and to the modern life and oral history of remoted communities at the North of Russia."
"I am from Karbi Anglong district of Assam, India. I have a BA in Sociology from the Hindu College, Delhi University. I have been pursuing music and performing folk music over the years. My MA thesis focuses on funeral practices among Karbis of Northeast India and on re-cremating the dead, in particular. It is really exciting to be in this programme and to learn more about my own culture. The teachers are very kind, resourceful, supportive and patient. Tartu is really beautiful, peaceful and serene, the right space for any aspiring scholars pursuing higher studies."
"My research topic is vernacular journalism in interwar Western Belarus. While studying in Tartu, I have been receiving a lot of help and support from my mentors. Also cold weather is great at keeping me home and studying."
"I'm from Hawai'i, USA and obtained my Humanities BA at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Some of my research interests consists of group memory in relation to landscape and food, how food is enacted as a means of political statements and movements, sense of belonging, manifesting and maintaining identity as well as a means of communicating with others, ourselves and the environment. The Folklore and Applied Heritage Studies program is an innovative and exciting program, from the content to the brilliant professors. Tartu is a small though welcoming and active city that it is easy to find oneself having a full schedule of school and other activities."
Nichole Pono Weimer
"My research focuses on woodworkers, their economical network, group identity, lifestyle and relationship to wood as a material. I am also studying how craftsmen and woodworkers present their work: how the tradition is presented. In addition, I am interested in the protection of heritage, especially in problems related to illicit trafficking in conflict zones. I chose this program because it has a practical outcome and I trust the teaching quality. !
"Being in Tartu and doing folklore studies changed my way of thinking. It is only there that I realized that folklorists do real work by going out and talking to people, dealing with real concerns and problems. They provide an opportunity for what often remains marginal, yet important to all of us, such as rumours and beliefs, to be heard. Few people can boast of doing what they love, but I definitely can. "
Anastasiya Astapova, PhD, Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore, University of Tartu