Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic

The Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic Tripos (‘ASNC’) is concerned with the history, languages and literature of the different peoples of the British Isles and related cultures in a period from the end of the Roman Empire to the end of the early Middle Ages. It is a course which should appeal to anyone with a special interest in the relevant early languages or in medieval literature or history. The history, languages and literatures of various peoples – Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian and Celtic – are studied separately and in relation to each other. It provides the opportunity to acquire, develop and apply expertise in some or all of a number of different, though complementary, disciplines, through first-hand exposure to, and direct analysis of, primary evidence. The University has exceptional resources in its various libraries. It is possible to concentrate mainly on history on the one hand or literary and linguistic aspects on the other, though most students enjoy combining both.

College Teaching

ASNC is a very small subject and a great deal of the teaching is organised centrally within the Department. Like most other colleges, Pembroke does not have annual quotas for ASNC places and numbers admitted vary, reflecting the quantity and quality of the field. We might typically admit one or two undergraduates per year; and we usually receive about two or three applications a year.

Our Director of Studies is Dr Elizabeth Ashman-Rowe, Reader in Scandinavian History in the department.  Also, as Director of Undergraduate Studies at ASNC, Dr Rowe is eminently qualified to maintain the recent record of success in the subject at Pembroke.

Admissions

No particular A-level (or equivalent) subjects are stipulated. A proven ability to learn a foreign language is desirable but not a prerequisite. Candidates may typically be studying subjects like English Literature or Languages, History and/or a foreign language. No previous knowledge of the subjects studied on the course is required, though you may wish to sample a few of the books listed in the Department’s Guide in order to assess your suitability for the course. Some undergraduates reading ASNC at Pembroke take a year off after completing school before coming up to university, and the College is very happy with this, although understanding that it is not always possible or desirable.

The admissions process consists of a pre-interview assessment (see the University of Cambridge website for details), followed by two interviews. One will be with our Director of Studies and another member of the Department, and one with an Admissions Tutor or another non-subject-specialist tutor in Pembroke. Beforehand, candidates are asked to submit two essays of their choice written for their school subjects. Interviews, which will be conducted in a friendly and informal manner, aim to find out about your motivation and aptitude for the course.

Further information

To read a ‘day in the life’ of one of our current students, Tonicha, please click here.

A booklet entitled “A Guide to the Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic Tripos” is published by the department: Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, Faculty of English, 9 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DP.  Copies are available on request. Full information can be found under ‘Admissions’ on the Department website including details of the Department’s Open Day.