Master Thesis

Heraldry – a theme in university essays and doctoral theses, and a subject that motivates to life-long self-learning

Master thesis at the Mälardalen University, Department of social and behavioural science

Davor Zovko


The aim of this study was to describe the way heraldry affects self-learning in the subject and makes some of the self-taught individuals choose the subject as a theme in their university essays and their doctoral theses.

The method was qualitative and the phenomenological case study has been done with qualitative surveys as well as additional qualitative surveys. The study’s population consists of people who have written college essays with heraldry as main theme. Almost all individuals in the population answered the questionnaire.

The results show that the heraldry is perceived as an aesthetic subject and as an art. Heraldry is perceived as a way to show ones own identity to other people. Respondents perceive heraldry also as a link to their ancestry, their social class or culture. Respondents feel that heraldry led to some personal growth: the individuals achieved different new skills and made many new personal contacts. Heraldry is perceived by history’s help science but also as an aid in graphic design, as well as a clear pictorial language. It may be heraldic books, own genealogy research or historical interest that aroused curiosity about heraldry. Most of the respondents perceive themselves as self-taught in heraldry.

Conclusions are that heraldry as a subject satisfies various human needs. Needs to be satisfied are: the need for affiliation, aesthetic and cognitive needs, from Maslow’s motivation theory. Heraldry as subject activates the driving forces for enjoyment, sensory stimulation, imagination, creativity, knowledge, understanding, skills, exploration, as well as universal, cultural and personal meaning, from Maccoby’s motivation theory. Strong internal motivation is created, leading to long-term self-learning in the subject. Minor factors, such as books and contacts, are also important in self-learning. These minor factors are used differently by the self-taught individuals, depending of needs and progress of the self-learning process, but they can also be motivating per se.

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