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Studying Swedish within European Languages and Cultures

Bachelor’s degree programme in European Languages and Cultures

Sweden is the country of Stieg Larsson, Astrid Lindgren, Per Olov Enquist and Henning Mankell, as well as the cradle of H&M and Ikea. It is a country that is actively recruiting emigrants from the Netherlands. And Sweden has much more to offer, as you will discover if you choose the Swedish specialization within European Languages and Cultures.

Swedish looks a lot like Dutch – but not quite enough for a Dutch person to read or understand the language, which is what a lot of Dutch people soon find out when they emigrate to Sweden to start up a farm, campsite or flower shop. The demand for courses and lessons in Swedish is so high that a lot of University of Groningen students of Swedish already have part-time jobs as a teachers during their studies.

Why Swedish?

You may have visited Sweden, or perhaps you are addicted to the Wallander books, and there may be plenty of other reasons to study this language. The Swedish specialization within the degree programme in European Languages and Cultures studies Swedish language, culture and politics not only from a European perspective but also within a Scandinavian context. The languages and cultures of Scandinavia are strongly interrelated – once you have learned Swedish you will also be able to read and understand Norwegian and Danish relatively easily.

However, Swedish is unique in several respects, as you will find out by comparing certain characteristics with those of other languages. For example, more Medieval texts exist in Swedish than in any other Scandinavian language except Icelandic. Laws, which were traditionally transferred orally, were written down at an early stage and form a beautiful source for studying early language and culture in Sweden. From the period before this, after about 800 AD, over 4000 runestones have survived, each of which tells its own story.

If you choose the Politics and Society profile, you and your fellow students of other language specializations will see how Sweden takes an interesting position in Europe. Although this prosperous, modern, multicultural society has its problems, the country’s unique solutions to them often work very well.


In addition to the profile course units in the fields of language, literature and politics, you will also follow course units on Scandinavian linguistics, literature and culture, which will discuss the rich source tradition as well as Swedish grammar. Why do the Swedish say ‘house-the’? And did you know that there are not nearly as many English loan words in Swedish as in Dutch? For example, the Dutch call a computer a computer but the Swedish have their own word: ‘dator’, which translates to ‘data processor’.

You will also learn more about the backgrounds to the popularity of Scandinavian genres such as crime literature (both in books and TV series), drama and children’s literature in Europe.

Your stay at a university abroad will boost your language proficiency. The University of Groningen has contacts with universities in Gothenburg, Lund, Stockholm, Uppsala and Åbo, a Finnish city where Swedish is spoken.

The Swedish specialization within European Languages and Cultures will qualify you for a wide range of careers and jobs, varying from translation agencies to publishing houses, embassies, cultural organizations or the EU. You can also become an academic researcher or Swedish teacher, and a lot of international companies are in dire need of people who speak Swedish. Several alumni have found jobs in Scandinavia.

Back to European Languages and Cultures .


Marjoleine Gaastra (student of ELC Swedish)

Sweden is a beautiful country! The nature, the language, the cities... I would love to get to know and understand the country better. Now that I am studying Swedish as a specialization within European Languages and Cultures, I am learning a lot about Sweden and the Swedish language, but also about the position of Sweden within Europe.

Just like myself, most students choose the degree programme in European Languages and Cultures simply because they are interested in their chosen language and country. And this is reflected in the fun and commitment they show during class.

I find learning the language the most challenging part of my studies. When I started in September, I didn’t speak a word of Swedish, but I’ve already learned a lot. The course units I am now following are also very interactive, which means you don’t just listen to the lecturer but you actively participate, and you are encouraged to speak Swedish as much as possible in class. My fluency is improving very rapidly.

Last modified:03 July 2019 10.53 a.m.
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