Philologists engage in research that seeks to explain and interpret literature in order to increase general literary understanding and interest.

Philologists can work in many diverse fields. Examples include teaching at all school levels as well as working at science and research institutes, advertising agencies, book publishers, libraries, the media, and theaters. The theoretical knowledge of philologists is also useful in writing and publishing.

Philologists often specialize in certain branches of literature, such as individual periods, genres, or authors.

Main tasks

– literary research
– writing
– editing and preparing manuscripts
– brainstorming and text creation and advice on writing
– creating study materials
– translations and proofreading

Competence requirements

A philologist must have good writing skills, a good command of the Icelandic language and a considerable knowledge of English. It is also desirable to be able to understand texts in Nordic languages and French or German. Initiative and discipline are important qualities, as well as being able to work as part of a team. It is a plus to have an interest in literature, writing, drama, poetry and cultural history.


Comparative literature is taught at the University of Iceland. Undergraduate studies for a BA degree are three years, but postgraduate studies are also offered in the field.

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