English Department - General Information

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  • Application forms
  • Exchange programs
  • Entrance requirements
  • Programs
  • B.A Degree
  • B.A. Degree with Teaching Diploma
  • English for Practical Purpose
  • M.A. and M.Paed. Degrees
  • Work load
  • Books
  • Attendance
  • Location
  • Departmental and Studies Committees
  • The student Society: FÈlag Enskunema
  • Application forms

    Application forms, in English and Icelandic, may be accessed on the web.
    In English:
    B.A. and English for Practical Purposes:
    Masters Programs:
    http://www.hi.is/stjorn/kenn/ensk%20meitara%20og%20doktors.pdf<BR> In Icelandic:
    B.A. and English for Practical Purposes:
    Masters Programs:

    Exhange programs

    Students who wish to do a term, or a year, abroad through the different university exhange programs, and have their courses evaluated into their program in English, should turn to the Office of International Education (alœjÛ•askrifstofa h·skÛlastigsins) for information about the possibilities available. Courses must be selected in consultation with the Chair of the English Department (forma•ur enskuskorar) and the International Officer (alœjÛ•afulltr™i) for the Arts Faculty (heimspekideild).
    Office of International Education, websites:
    In Icelandic:
    In English:
    Information in Icelandic on exchange programs:
    All exchange students are advised to contact the International Officer for the Arts Faculty:
    Gu•r™n BirgisdÛttir, Arts Faculty Office, 1st floor, N›i gar•ur. Office hours: 10:00-12:00 & 1:00-3:00. Phone: 525-4262. Fax: 525-4410. E-mail: gb@hi.is


    The Icelandic matriculation examination (st™dentsprÛf) or its equivalent is the general entrance requirement for the University of Iceland. However, special emphasis on English at pre-university level is essential for the B.A. program, and students whose command of the written and spoken language is weak are warned that they will be at a disadvantage. English for Practical Purposes is recommended for students who need to upgrade their English before entering the B.A. program. All but a few classes (marked specifically) are conducted entirely in English, and students are expected to speak English with the teaching staff. Composition I (05.15.03), taught in the Fall term, is a basic proficiency course and a prerequisite for all further studies at B.A. level.


    The English program at undergraduate level is divided into an academic course of studies, leading to a B.A. degree, and a practical language program, leading to a 45 cr. Diploma. At graduate level there is an academic program leading to an M.A. degree and a research related program leading to an M.Paed. degree.

    B.A. Degree

    The purpose of the study of English at the B.A. level is to acquire a sound knowledge of the major literary works in English and of the linguistic structure of the language, as well as to perfect the skills in English necessary to teaching and writing. The first year is divided almost equally between literature and linguistics. From that time onwards, students may choose to concentrate their studies in either of these two areas.
    The B.A. in English is structured for those with a serious interest in the study or teaching of English language and/or literature, and as preparation for careers where a firm knowledge of English is required (e.g. publishing, library work or the media). The B.A. in English is not recommended for those with a casual interest in improving their language skills.
    Within the Faculty of Arts 93 credits of study are required for the B.A. degree, 3 of which are awarded for a compulsory course in philosophical foundations, (Heimspekileg forspjallsvÌsindi 05.35.00). The degree is normally completed in three years, with students taking 30 credits each year. English at B.A. level may be studied:
    1. as a minor subject (30 cr., 1 yr.). Successful completion of the first-year program is, at present, the only option for a student who wishes to obtain a minor in English.
    2. as a major subject I (60 cr., 2 yrs.). This comprises the successful completion of the first-year program plus 30 credits made up from second- and third-year compulsory and elective courses.
    3. as a major subject II (90 cr., 3 yrs.). This option is an extension of the above, which allows a student to take additional 30 credits in English instead of a minor degree in another subject. With special permission, students may elect to take up to 10 of these additional 30 credits in related subject areas. Application to do so must be made in writing to the Chairman of the English Department.

    First Year
    The first year is structured in such a way that the first semester provides a basis for second semester studies. Mid-year entry (i.e. beginning a degree course in the spring semester) is thus strongly discouraged since it will put the incoming student at an obvious disadvantage. Moreover, since no student will be permitted to continue into the second year before completing all the first year courses, mid-year entry will slow down, rather than accelerate, the completion of the degree program.
    NB Although most students take all 30 credits in their first year, some may choose to extend their studies over a longer period of time. This is a legitimate option, but please note that Composition I 05.15.03 (Fall Semester) must be completed before undertaking Composition II 05.15.13 (Spring Semester) and that no one may embark on second-year studies without passing both courses.

    Second and Third Years
    There are three compulsory courses at second- and third-year level: the B.A. essay (05.15.50); Literary Theory (05.15.18, which must be completed in the second year); and British Literature II (05.15.22, which may be taken either in the second or the third year). All other courses are electives. See below.
    B.A. Essay
    All students majoring in English are required to write a B.A. essay in consultation with a member of staff who will act as supervisor.

    B.A. Degree with Teaching Diploma
    For details on this diploma, which requires a minimum of 15 credits in the Department of Education, see "Uppeldis- og menntunarfrÊ•i" in the Course Catalogue (Kennsluskr·).

    English for Practical Purposes
    The aim of English for Practical Purposes is to provide general language proficiency and training in communicative competence for business and international relations. Students are intended to gain fluency in spoken and written English. This program is suited for people working in the private and public sectors, the media, and in the travel industry. There are 7 compulsory courses (17,5 cr.) and a number of elective courses to choose from (37,5 cr.). A part of the program overlaps with the B.A. program.
    English for Practical Purposes may be studied:
    1. as a minor subject (30 cr., 1 yr.).
    2. as a Diploma program (45 cr., 1_ yrs.)
    3. in preparation for the B.A. degree. May be evaluated into English as a minor or major subject.
    See courses below.

    M.A. and M.Paed. Degrees
    The Masters programs are open to all students who have achieved a minimum grade of 7.25 with English as major at B.A. level from the University of Iceland or who have an equivalent grade point average from another university. Foreign students who wish to enter the Masters programs but do not have English as their native language will be required to complete Composition I or II in the first semester of their studies. The M.A. program requires additional 60 credits after the completion of the B.A. The M.Paed. program consists of 45 additional credits, and a 15 cr. Teaching Diploma in the Department of Education. See courses below.


    The nature of classes will vary. Some will be lectures, while others will consist of discussion (often in special seminar groups) or exercises (including language laboratory work). Whatever the case, students are encouraged to take an active part in class and are expected to read in advance the material to be covered in each teaching session. Those students with a full course-load (15 credits a semester) should regard their university work as a full-time occupation. Students are expected to be computer-literate (which includes familiarity with the Internet) and to hand in home assignments in typed form. Since the University of Iceland grants students access to on-campus computers, there is no reason why students should not be able to fulfil these expectations; all students are allotted an e-mail address upon enrolment.


    All English Department book orders are processed by the University Book Store (BÛksala st™denta) on the main campus, according to information from nemendaskr· (Student Registration Office). In other words, the number of books ordered is registration-specific. Do not purchase any course books until you are formally registered for individual courses since this will deprive registered students of access to compulsory course materials. Reading lists for some courses are provided in this booklet. The University Bookstore posts a complete list for each course at the beginning of each semester. See: http://www.boksala.is/cgi-bin/boksala.storefront


    A student taking 30 credits in an academic year can expect to be attending about 12 - 14 hours a week of classes. Individual instructors may vary their attendance requirements, but they can (according to University of Iceland regulations) insist on up to 80% attendance. Lectures will either consist of the original formulation of the instructor or be the product of interaction between instructor and student, so that those who do not attend classes regularly will inevitably fall behind. The notes written down by other students are not a reliable substitute. In certain courses, the instructor is also at liberty to give unannounced tests on the current reading, which will be counted as part of the student's course grade.


    The English Department is located in N›i Gar•ur (the site of the Faculty Office) on the main campus. No photocopiers or telephones are available for student use in this building, but such machines are located in Oddi, ¡rnagar•ur, the Main Building (A•albygging), and the Student Union (FÈlagsstofnun).


    The Departmental Committee (skorarnefnd), which is responsible for the department's teaching, finances and administration, consists of the full-time staff and two student representatives (elected annually). Sessional instructors may attend these meetings but may not vote on Department matters. In addition to the Departmental Committee, there is a Studies Committee (n·msnefnd), an advisory body whose role is to make comments and proposals on the academic curriculum. The Studies Committee consists of 3 members of staff and 3 students, all elected annually.


    All academic matters, including applications for the assessment of courses, proposals, inquiries and complaints should be directed to the Chairman of the Department (skorarforma•ur) in writing. The current chairman has office hours specifically set aside for this purpose. All Erasmus, Socrates, Nordplus and other foreign students are advised to contact the chairman as soon as possible after their arrival.


    The Student Society of the English Department is responsible for the election of student representatives to the Departmental and Studies Committees. It also arranges social get-togethers and excursions, and edits the student newsletter, Bog Bulletin.
    The website of the Student Society of the English Department, BOG, and the student newsletter, Bog Bulletin, may be accessed at: