About the Department

The Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic is one of the smallest and friendliest departments in the University. There are normally between 20 and 30 undergraduates in each of the three years (giving a total undergraduate population of about 50), about 30 postgraduates (doing one-year MPhils or three-year PhDs), a couple of post-doctoral research officers (working on major research projects within the Department), and 8 senior members (responsible for the teaching, and also active in research). It is an integral part of the Faculty of English which is one of the biggest faculties in the University.

We welcome applications from anyone, irrespective of educational background. The basic requirements are that you should have general intellectual ability, that you should be driven by natural curiosity, and that you should enjoy a challenge. Most students come to us with A-levels [or equivalent] in standard humanities subjects, like English, History, or a foreign language, though we have seen many other combinations (often including a subject in the sciences). The important thing is that you should be familiar with the kind of thing that we do, and eager to learn something new. We are not English, or History, or Classics, or Modern & Medieval Languages, or Archaeology & Anthropology, or Theology, or History of Art. Much of what we do would be at home in one or other of these Triposes, but in effect we combine elements of all these major subjects, and add a few more which you won't find elsewhere.

The teaching of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic subjects at Cambridge has a distinguished history, stretching back to the mid-seventeenth century. To cut a long story short, the ASNC Tripos in its present form was introduced in 1970, as a (single-part) two-year course, which was usually combined with a part of another Tripos (to make up the two parts necessary for the standard BA degree). In 1992 this two-year course became Part I of the new ASNC Tripos, which was itself extended and thereby improved by the addition of a one-year Part II.

The majority of the senior members of the Department have been appointed to their posts relatively recently; so we like to think that we are a young and vigorous team (some more so than others). We offer a high quality of teaching to our students. We scored 23 out of 24 in a review by the Quality Assurance Agency, in February 2001.

The Department also prides itself on the quality of research and publication across a wide field. We scored the maximum rating of 5* in the Research Assessment Exercise, carried out in 1996; and we scored the same maximum rating of 5* in 2001. In 2008, the Department was ranked first in the Celtic Studies field and was among the highest-ranked Departments and Faculties in the University. For further details, see Assessments.

Needless to say, students at Cambridge have access to some extraordinary resources, including the outstanding collections of the University Library (and its renowned tea-room), and all the modern facilities which you would expect to find in a university which is rated the best in the UK (at least to judge from this morning's Sunday newspapers). We hope at the same time that you will take full advantage of the huge variety of activities available to all students in Cambridge, whether in the college of your choice or in the University as a whole.