Master of Arts in Humanities - Semiotics
The 2-year Master’s programme in Semiotics provides interdisciplinary background and gives a theoretical base for application of semiotic ideas to a wide variety of disciplines and scientific study. The programme binds together the theory of semiotics and three core modules - cultural semiotics, biosemiotics and sociosemiotics. The programme also combines the major semiotic traditions of Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles S. Peirce with the leading contemporary and innovative thought.
Semiotics is the general study of sign processes, or semiosis. Semiosis makes the world meaningful. Today’s world, where processes have a disbalance of global and local dimension, challenges us to understand the need of individuals and societies for defining their identity. Semiotics is centrally relevant to achieve this understanding.
The Department of Semiotics at the University of Tartu is one of the most important centres of semiotics in Europe, with deep roots for cultural semiotics and biosemiotics. Names and work of Jakob von Uexküll and Juri Lotman, founder of world-renowned Tartu-Moscow Semiotics School, form the cornerstone of the Department of Semiotics at the University of Tartu. The Department of Semiotics also holds the memorial library of Thomas A. Sebeok, which was received as a donation.
Why study semiotics?
- The tradition of excellence in semiotic theory in Tartu was established by Juri Lotman in 1960s, the founder of semiotics of culture and the Tartu-Moscow Semiotic School, as well as the oldest journal of semiotics, Sign Systems Studies.
- The University of Tartu is one of the few institutions in the world teaching full Master’s and PhD degree programs in semiotics since 1993.
- As one of world’s major centres of semiotics, the University of Tartu collaborates and is regularly visited by professors from all around the world: Myrdene Anderson, Paul Bouissac, John Deely, Dinda Gorlee, Jesper Hoffmeyer, Winfried Nöth, Roland Posner, Frederik Stjernfelt, Eero Tarasti, and many others.
- The finest collections of semiotic materials in Tartu include the memorial library of Thomas Sebeok, one of the world leaders in the 20th century semiotics, and the Centre of Jakob von Uexküll, a Baltic German whose works have been very important to the development of biosemiotics.
- Graduates can apply their expertise in the professions that require a complex knowledge of cultural analysis, i.e. semiotic consulting companies, marketing or media.
- Practical applications of semiotics include translation and science writing, design and architecture, advertising, and communication strategies.
- Employees of international organizations, e.g. embassies, where tolerance and conflict management skills are vital, can improve their professional education.
- Programme graduates can continue on to doctoral studies and research. Semiotics is particularly relevant to advanced study in the life sciences, where biosemiotic understanding and semiotical interpretation is proving to be of remarkable value.
- Title: Semiotics
- Degree awarded: Master of Arts in Humanities
- Faculty/College: Faculty of Arts and Humanities
- Language of instruction: English
- Length: 2 years, including three semesters of study, one semester writing the Master’s thesis
- Location: Tartu, Estonia
- History of Semiotics: Basic Concepts and Classical Works
- Tartu-Moscow Semiotic School
- Readings of J. v. Uexküll and J. Lotman
- Methodology for Semiotic Analysis
Module - Semiotics of Culture
- Cultural Semiotics and Theories of Culture
- Semiotics of Translation
- Semiotic Analysis of Art and Multimedia
Module - Biosemiotics
- Ecosemiotics: Cultural Interpretations of Environment
- Zoosemiotics: Umwelt and Animal Communication
Module - Sociosemiotics
- Sociosemiotics and Societal Theories
- Communication and Power
- Semiotic Analysis of Subcultures
Optional courses - can be freely chosen from all the courses currently available at the University of Tartu.
Master’s thesis - Individual research paper, written under the supervision of a professional semiotician.
TOTAL 120 ECTS
See further information about the curricula and syllabi.
General admission requirements
- Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in social sciences, natural sciences or humanities.
- English language requirements
Application process for international candidates
- Submit the online application. You will receive an applicant code, which gives access to your account to track your application status. We ask you to upload the electronic copies of all the required documents to your application. This makes the pre-processing of your application quicker and is especially important for candidates applying to more than one programme.
- Mail the printed and signed application (do not send any documents by e-mail) with all the required documents by the indicated deadline to: International Student Service, University of Tartu, Ülikooli 18, Tartu 50090, ESTONIA.
International Students Service
University of Tartu
Tartu 50090, Estonia.
Applicants will receive confirmation upon receipt of their application and its status. Completed applications will be considered by the Admission Commission and students accepted into the program will be notified of their admission soon after.
Motivation letter requirements for Semiotics
The motivation letter must be submitted with your application package by 15 April 2016 at the latest.
Please write a brief motivation letter (in English, maximum of 4600 characters with spaces) based on the following points:
- describe what skills and knowledge you have acquired through previous education and working experience;
- analyze how the master's programme in Semiotics can contribute to your personal development;
- describe your current ideas about a research topic you would like to focus on during your master's studies
- fluency of written English (30%)
- analytical and argumentation skills (70%)
The maximum score for motivation letter is 100 points and the result is positive only if the applicant gains 66 points or more.
The application round for the study year 2016/2017 opens on January 4, 2016.
The deadline for the application is April 15, 2016. Please make sure that you have uploaded your online application and sent the application package via regular post by that date!
NB! Applicants with diplomas issued later than the set deadlines (e.g. in July), please send the application form and the most recent Transcript of Records by the required deadline. Indicate to the International Student Service when your diploma will be issued.
Tuition fees and scholarships
15 students will be admitted to the Master's programme in the 2016/2017 academic year and tuition-waiver scholarships are available for 10 of them!
Students receiving this scholarship do not have to pay the tuition fee if they complete a full-time study load (30 ECTS per semester). Those who do not complete full-time study load per semester have to pay tuition fee per missing credit point below the required 30 ECTS. Price per credit point is 59 euros.
Semester fee for tuition fee paying students is 1760 euros.
See also: When will I have to pay the tuition fee?
Info on other scholarships is given here
Announcement of admission results
The university`s Admissions Committee will announce final admission results, including info on tuition waiver scholarships by 15 June. Admission notifications are sent by e-mail. All admitted students must inform the university of their decision to accept or decline the admission offer.
Please note that the decision regarding admission can only be taken if all required documents have been sent to the university!
Online info session for applicants to the master's programme in Semiotics (2016)
Questions concerning the semiotics program:
Ms. Liina Sieberk (tartusemiotics [ät] ut.ee)
International Curriculum Coordinator
Department of Semiotics
University of Tartu
Questions concerning application documents and language requirements:
Piret Saluveer (Piret.Saluveer [ät] ut.ee)
International Student Service
University of Tartu
Ülikooli 18, 50090 Tartu
International students about the University of Tartu:
A Remarkable Studying Experience - A short film by Remo Gramigna