Master in Coastal Communities and Regional Development


Read more about this program on the institution's website

Program Description


Coastal Communities and Regional Development is an international, multidisciplinary master’s program on the development of rural and remote areas in the past and in the future. It focuses on coastal communities along the North Atlantic and the Arctic, although theoretical foundations might be found in other regions.

The program is specially built on the principle and practices of sociology, macroeconomics, and geography/planning. By the end of the program, students understand the changes and challenges of coastal communities' development and have versed themselves in methods and skills to predict their development and manage it. The language of teaching and general communication is English. The program is offered by the University Centre of the Westfjords in Ísafjörður in co-operation with the University of Akureyri. Teaching takes place in Ísafjörður.


The program consists of 120 ECTS at the master’s level; this includes 75 ECTS in the form of courses and 45 ECTS in the form of a thesis. All courses are taught in modules. The program starts in the autumn semester and the first year is made up of core courses and elective courses from the teaching schedule.

In order to complete 75 ECTS in one academic year, courses are taught in intensive modules from August through July of the next year. Courses are weighted from 1 ECTS to 8 ECTS and range from half a week to four weeks in length. Each ECTS is expected to involve approximately 25-30 hours of student work. On average students take 2 ECTS a week which corresponds to no less than a 50-hour workload per week.

After the courses finish, at the end of June/beginning of July, more of the students’ attention moves to the 45 ECTS thesis. According to the above work time calculation, the 45 ECTS should be equivalent to 1.5 semesters’ work. Students are free to choose whether or not they stay in the Westfjords to complete their theses.

These are submitted for marking and defense at the beginning of the spring semester the next year. In this manner, it is possible to complete the whole program in 18 months. No provision for a summer holiday is made, however, if this pace of study is chosen. It is also possible to submit theses in April and the program then takes 21 months.

While the program covers a wide arc of geographical and development-related areas students can specialize within this sphere through elective courses and with their choice of a topic for their thesis. Students are welcome to take elective courses at other universities, with the Master’s program committee's approval.


Entry Requirements

Conditions for acceptance into the Coastal Communities and Regional Development program are that the applicant must have completed an undergraduate university degree, regardless of if it is a BA, BSc, or BEd. Applicants fill out an application form and return it together with a cover letter.

Candidates can come from diverse education and work backgrounds, as the interdisciplinary nature of the study is based on many fields; especially in geography, social sciences, and macroeconomics.

English is the communication and the educational language of the program. It is anticipated that applicants from Iceland, Scandinavia, and the English-speaking countries possess adequate skills in the language. The same applies to students from universities where all instruction is in English. Other applicants must demonstrate sufficient English skills with recognized tests such as TOEFL, or equivalent.

Last updated Dec 2020

About the School

The University Center of the Westfjords is a non-profit organization established in March 2005. It has 40 founding members, including all of the country's institutions of higher education. The Center ... Read More

The University Center of the Westfjords is a non-profit organization established in March 2005. It has 40 founding members, including all of the country's institutions of higher education. The Center began operations in Vestrahús in Ísafjörður in January 2006. The same building houses offices of the Marine Research Institute, the Icelandic Fisheries Laboratories, and the Icelandic Snow Avalanche Research Center, among others. The Westfjords Regional Development Center is also located here, and all of the organizations represented in the building share common reception facilities. Read less