The Master’s Program in Traditional Arts

Telemark University College, Rauland, Norway

The Master’s Program in Traditional Arts offers focus areas in folk music and folk art (wood, textile, metal, folk art painting etc.) and provides a foundation of knowledge for students interested in a variety of careers. The program is characterized by a unique combination of theoretical and practical coursework, in which the student’s own creative work is at the core of the curriculum. The structure of the program ensures essential areas are covered, while allowing flexibility for students to pursue different personal and professional interests. The theoretical part is concentrated to the first semester and focuses on methodology, aesthetics, cultural theory and communication theory with particular emphasis on the challenges related to the study and dissemination of traditional art. This course prepares the students for the work on the master project, where combination of theoretical and practical elements is central.

The master project consists of an individual written thesis and a performance part. There is great flexibility for each student in designing her/his project. In some cases, the theoretical part is the largest, while in other cases the main focus is on the performance part. The weighting between these two components is negotiable and decided in collaboration between the student and her/his two supervisors. Also, the actual content of the performance part varies a lot between individual projects. Some students focus on artistic development, experimental work and/or innovative design, documented through exhibitions, concerts or recordings. Others are reviving traditional repertoires, instruments, techniques or designs. What unites these different projects is the view of research and performance as integrated, overlapping and mutually enriching activities. In all this, an important pillar is the concept of tradition and the key issues and discussions with which it is associated. What is the role of traditional art in contemporary society, and in what ways can it provide a source of inspiration for artists of today without losing its importance as a mediator between past and present? These are questions that lie at the heart of teaching and learning.

Teaching is organized as lectures, seminars, workshops and consultations. In the first semester, there are regular lectures that have to be attended. During the second semester, there are three seminars (three days each) in which the students present their ideas for the master project, and discuss them with their teachers and fellow students. The third and fourth semesters are primarily devoted to individual work on the master project. Each student has two supervisors to give guidance in the research and design of her/his project, including practical, performance-related issues. In addition, there are performance-oriented workshops and other occasional events in which the students receive feedback on their work.

Career opportunities: The program offers a unique opportunity to earn an internationally accredited master’s degree in Traditional Arts, which opens up a range of possibilities for career development. For some students, the MA in traditional arts has been an important step in the process of pursuing a career as a musician or artisan by virtue of enabling product development in an inspiring and supportive environment. For others, the MA provides a basis for further study at PhD level in a range of relevant subjects. In the latter case, it is crucial that the students have been given the opportunity to acquire a theoretical and methodological basis for developing a research project. Other relevant job opportunities include teaching, cultural politics, media, and work in museums and galleries.

Recreational facilities: Rauland is a small mountain village (700-1100m above see level) that offers excellent conditions for skiing (alpine and cross-country), horseback riding, fishing and much more. There are also a range of cultural events and activities to attend, such as regular concerts, art exhibitions and galleries. The Rauland International Winter Festival deserves special mention: a five-day event of concerts, workshops, seminars and exhibitions with highly acclaimed Norwegian and international artists. Finally, the college at Rauland, which also houses undergraduate students in folk music, folk art and traditional food, offers the students the opportunity to participate in a creative and socially supportive milieu characterized by various and many informal cultural activities. The Department of Folk Art and Folk Music is an integrated part of the decentralized Telemark University College, with a total of approximately 5000 students.

Short info:
Duration: 2 years
ECTS: 120

Obligatory attendance requirements for students: 1st semester: 3 days each week (lectures, workshops and seminars). 2nd semester: 3 seminars, each lasting 3 days.

Main language of instruction: Norwegian. English speaking students are guided through the curriculum by means of translated summaries and individual consultations.

Admission requirements: See the website at

Applications are due April 15th.

Partner universities and international network partners: Students can follow part of their studies at a number of partner institutions around Europe. See the website at for more info.

Housing facilities: Modern, fully furnished student apartments 200 m from campus.

Contact: Bodil Akselvoll, administrative leader ( Mikkel B. Tin, professor in folk art ( Mats Johansson, teacher in methodology and folk music (