Department of Semiotics

The Department of Semiotics at the University of Tartu is one of the most important centres of semiotics in Europe, with deep roots for cultural semiotics and biosemiotics. Names and works of Jakob von Uexküll and Juri Lotman, founder of world-renowned Tartu-Moscow school of semiotics, form the cornerstone of the Department of Semiotics at the University of Tartu. In 2006, the library of the Department of Semiotics received as a donation the Thomas A. Sebeok memorial library, including his personal collection of biosemiotics literature.

The Department of Semiotics offers a creative research environment and a fascinating group of scholars bringing together a wide range of research themes in semiotics. The library holds an excellent collection of semiotic literature in English as well as in Russian.

Masters' programme (English language)

Academic calendar

Staff of the Department of Semiotics

What do we teach?

The department offers semiotics studies based on 4 different curricula. These include studies on all levels - BA, MA and PhD - in Estonian, and a full-time international MA programme in English. We also admit international PhD students to our doctoral programme, as we offer courses in English also for doctoral students. Several students who have graduated from our international MA programme continue their studies on PhD level. Semiotics doctoral programme in Tartu lasts 4 years and gives altogether 240 ECTS.

The 2-year Master’s programme in Semiotics provides interdisciplinary background and gives a theoretical base for application of semiotic ideas to a wide variety of disciplines and scientific studies. The programme binds together the theory of semiotics and three core modules - cultural semiotics, biosemiotics and sociosemiotics. The programme also combines the major semiotic traditions of Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles S. Peirce with the leading contemporary and innovative thought.

Tartu Summer School of Semiotics

Social media channels


The PhD programme lasts for 4 years. Application is possible to a state-financed study place. There is no tuition fee and the state-financed study place will provide a monthly stipend by the University of Tartu. However, there is usually very high competition for the state-financed study place. For admission, a doctoral thesis project is required. When preparing it, a candidate is required to consult the potential supervisor from the Department of Semiotics (K. Kull, P. Torop, M. Lotman, T. Maran, A. Randviir, E. Sutiste, T. Remm, R. Magnus, S. Salupere or A. Ventsel) who will help in preparing the project. In addition to the supervisor in Tartu, a student may have a consulting supervisor (or co-supervisor) from any university of the world.

Abstracts of the presentations "Challenges of interdisciplinary research from the perspective of philosophy of science" - workshop

”Imperialistic asymmetries in interdisciplinarity” Uskali Mäki TINT, University of Helsinki
Naine ja kellad

Challenges of interdisciplinary research from the perspective of philosophy of science - workshop

Tartu Ülikooli Narva kolledži õppehoone

Call for Applicants: Oct 30, 2023 “The Semiotics of Political and Strategic Communication” Advanced Interactive Winter School