Viking portrayal in popular culture to the explored

Avengers Assemble Chris Hemsworth, left, as Thor in new film Avengers Assemble

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Studies of how the Vikings are portrayed in films, comics, music and the media form part of a university's new postgraduate qualification.

The MLitt has been developed by the University of the Highlands and Islands' Centre for Nordic Studies, which is based on the Northern Isles.

Other modules will explore Viking history, runes and place names.

Places on Orkney and Shetland and in parts of the Highlands have their roots in Norse.

The new qualification can be studied online.

Course leader Dr Donna Heddle said: "The Vikings have been incredibly influential in world history and culture.

"It's great to be able to use the Centre for Nordic Studies' recognised expertise in this area to create this unique and exciting course on offer to students all over the world."

Jenny Colgan Novelist Jenny Colgan's new Doctor Who book features Vikings

The launch of the qualification is timely, with Norse god Thor portrayed as a superhero in new movie Avengers Assemble.

Based on Marvel Comics' character Thor, he is played in the film by Chris Hemsworth.

A new Doctor Who story written by Ayrshire-born novelist Jenny Colgan also has the Time Lord have a close encounter with Vikings on the Western Isles.

In March, the Centre for Nordic Studies started work with staff and students from Oxford, Cambridge and Nottingham universities in an effort to expand knowledge of Viking culture.

The project will include seven-day field trips for students to Viking sites on Orkney.

The Northern Isles and the Highlands and Islands are rich in Viking and Norse sites and remains.

Last year, a 12th Century Viking shipbuilding yard was documented on Skye.

The UK mainland's first fully intact Viking boat burial site was also uncovered in the west Highlands.

The site, at Ardnamurchan, is thought to be more than 1,000 years old.

Artefacts buried alongside the Viking in his boat suggest he was a high-ranking warrior.

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