ASNC Tripos, Part I

The three year ASNC tripos is divided into two main academic phases - Part I (described here) and Part II. Part I spans two years and consists of the 'Prelim to Part I' year (first year of study) and the 'Part I' year (second year of study). Students then move onto Part II (the third and final year).

Prelim Candidates

'Prelim to Part I' candidates must offer six papers chosen from Papers 1-10 below. Two of these will be Assessed by PATs (Preliminary Assessment Tests) in the Lent Term, the remaining four will be examined in the Easter Term.

'Prelim to Part II' candidates (for example, those on the two-year ASNC Tripos having completed Part I of a different Tripos), are subject to special regulations (available to view here).

Part I Candidates

Part I candidates must offer six papers, or five plus a dissertation. These candidates have a wider selection of papers to choose from - as well as Papers 1-10 below they have the additional option of 'borrowing' a maximum of two papers from among Papers 11-15 below (as part of their choice of six).

 

Part I Papers

  1. England before the Norman Conquest
  2. Scandinavian history in the Viking Age
  3. The Brittonic-speaking peoples from the fourth century to the twelfth
  4. The Gaelic-speaking peoples from the fourth century to the twelfth
  5. Old English language and literature
  6. Old Norse language and literature
  7. Medieval Welsh language and literature
  8. Medieval Irish language and literature
  9. Insular Latin language and literature
  10. Palaeography and codicology
  1. Dissertation

Borrowed papers for the academic year 2013-14

  1. Early medieval literature and its contexts 1066-1350 (Faculty of English, Part I, Paper 10)
  2. Love, Violence and Power in France, 1100-1500 (MML, Department of French, Part IB, FR3)
  3. Paper not available for this year
  4. The archaeology of Europe: Europe in the 1st Millennium AD I: Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England (Division of Archaeology, Part IIA, A25)
  5. The archaeology of Europe: Europe in the 1st Millennium AD II: Scandinavian Archaeology (Division of Archaeology, Part IIA, A26)



  1. England before the Norman Conquest

    PAPER COORDINATOR: PROF. SIMON KEYNES
    The course covers English history from c. 400 to 14 October 1066. The period witnessed many of the major developments which were to determine the political form of the medieval kingdom of England, and which are reflected in the society and culture of the English people. Among the major themes covered are: the Anglo-Saxon settlements in the fifth century; the emergence of the several kingdoms of the so-called 'Heptarchy' in the sixth century; the conversion to Christianity in the seventh century; the political supremacy of the Mercian kings in the eighth century; the effects of and response to the Viking invasions in the ninth century; the unification of England and the monastic reform movement in the tenth century; and the political complications which led to the Norman Conquest in the eleventh century. Among the major persons considered are: Offa, king of Mercia; Alfred the Great, king of Wessex; and Æthelred the Unready, king of England.

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  2. Scandinavian history in the Viking Age

    PAPER COORDINATOR: DR ELIZABETH ROWE
    The course is devoted to the history and culture of the Scandinavian peoples during the Viking Age (from the last decade of the eighth century to the second half of the eleventh), in their homelands and in some of their ventures abroad. Viking activity in Anglo-Saxon England and in the Celtic world is excluded, since it is dealt with in Papers 1 and 4; but we follow the Vikings west to Iceland, Greenland and America, south to the Frankish empire, and east to Russia. The Vikings were notorious raiders and plunderers, but they were also merchants, settlers and explorers, skilled seamen and shipbuilders; and of course they had their own patterns of society, law and religion. The sources of Viking history are tricky because the Vikings were largely illiterate in our sense of the word, and so information on them is either (a) foreign and biased, or (b) Scandinavian and late; hence source criticism is an important part of the preparation for this paper. So is the archaeological record, which supplies material not recorded in any other way.
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  4. The Brittonic-speaking peoples from the fourth century to the twelfth

    PAPER COORDINATOR: DR PHIL DUNSHEA
    This course investigates the history of Wales, the northern British kingdoms, the Picts, Cornwall, Brittany and the Isle of Man from the decline of Roman imperial control to the twelfth century. These diverse territories sustained speakers of Brittonic languages. The period covered by the course has long inspired painters and poets, who have crafted a romantic image of the ‘Arthurian’ world. However, the political, social and economic developments that occurred amongst the Brittonic-speaking peoples are equally compelling. On the one hand, the mysteries of the Picts remain to be unravelled from the symbol stones that were erected in their territories, on the other hand, a wealth of information is available about relations between Welsh rulers and Anglo-Norman settlers during the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

    Indeed, Anglo-Norman influence on Wales is a key theme of the course, but the interactions of the Brittonic-speaking peoples with other external territories are also investigated. The Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia and the border regions of Wales had a volatile relationship, which sometimes spilled over into warfare. Links between the various Brittonic-speaking territories are also discussed, notably the relationship between Britain and Brittany. Internal developments also command attention: the flourishing of Christian institutions and their personnel are well-attested, as is the emergence of extensive kingdoms and hegemonies.

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  5. The Gaelic-speaking peoples from the fourth century to the twelfth

    PAPER COORDINATOR: DR PHIL DUNSHEA
    This course provides an introduction to the history of the peoples of Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man, from the advent of Christianity to the twelfth century.
    Early-medieval Ireland is proverbially known as ‘the island of saints and scholars’, and western Scotland witnessed a similar flourishing of ecclesiastical activity during the period. Yet the secular world of the Gaelic-speaking territories also underwent striking developments. Consequently, the course focuses on the exercise of power: the close alliance between secular and ecclesiastical interests is probed, the shifts in influence between major dynasties are sketched, and the activities of overlords and high-kings are investigated. The economic underpinnings of society also merit consideration: how was the wealth created which is manifested in the exquisite works of art for which the Gaelic-speaking territories are renowned? These fine objects include intricately decorated reliquaries and brooches.

    Another theme that the course pursues is the impact of external forces, notably viking raids and colonisation. These occurrences affected the coastlines of western Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man profoundly, and their ramifications were also felt inland. The peoples of western Scotland also became preoccupied with the Pictish kingdoms to their east, and the creation of the kingdom of the Scots in the eleventh-century entailed the assimilation of territory to the south of the Forth and the Clyde.

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  7. Old English language and literature

    PAPER COORDINATOR: DR RICHARD DANCE
    The purpose of the course is to acquire knowledge of the varieties of the English language used in its earliest known period, approximately from the eighth century to the eleventh; it involves the study of the English prose and poetic literature of the period, including the historical source documents written in the vernacular, and the study of the origins and development of the early English language. The course should therefore appeal to students with literary, historical or philological interests. But these aspects of the subject are necessarily related to each other, and none can be usefully studied without some understanding of the others. While set texts are of course studied in the original, students should seek wider knowledge of the subject, perhaps through discriminating use of the recommended translations. No previous knowledge of the language is expected, or necessary: elementary teaching of the language is given in the first year, together with the study of some prose and shorter poems, such as The Dream of the Rood and The Battle of Maldon. A useful introduction is Bruce Mitchell, An Invitation to Old English & Anglo-Saxon, and initial acquaintance with some of the poetry can be made using A Choice of Anglo-Saxon Verse, ed. and translated by Richard Hamer.

    Since Old English literature includes the only surviving epic poem in any early Germanic language, Beowulf, it is usefully studied in the contexts of other early heroic literatures, for instance the related literatures of Old Norse (Paper 6), or those of Medieval Welsh and Medieval Irish (Papers 7 and 8); its learned aspects can also be studied in the context of contemporary Latin literature (Paper 9). And since substantial historical texts survive in the language, for instance the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, laws and legal documents, it is usefully studied with Anglo-Saxon history (Paper 1) and Palaeography (Paper 10). As an early Germanic language, it gives important evidence for the origins and development of our family of languages, as does Old Norse (Paper 6), and, more widely, the early Celtic languages, Welsh and Irish (Papers 7 and 8).

    1. Old Norse language and literature

      PAPER COORDINATOR: DR JUDY QUINN
      The aim of this course is for students to acquire knowledge of the Old Norse/Old Icelandic language of the thirteenth century - the period in which many of the classic texts of Old Norse literature were preserved - and to become acquainted with the literature of the period. The recorded corpus of Old Norse literature is extensive and includes the Icelandic sagas, and eddic and skaldic poetry. The sagas form one of the finest prose literatures of European culture. Eddic poetry gives access to the remote legends of an heroic past, and contains the only surviving primary accounts of pagan Germanic mythology. Skaldic poetry forms a highly concentrated means of self-expression, and to some extent documents the Viking period from the viewpoint of the Vikings themselves. The broad cultural context of the emergence of these literary genres in twelfth- and thirteenth-century Iceland is an important focus of the course. Knowledge of the language is developed through the study of a selection of literary and historical texts - including examples of sagas and poetry - and extended through enquiry into the origin and development of the language. This paper can therefore be usefully studied with other early literatures, of Old English (Paper 5), Medieval Welsh (Paper 7) and Medievel Irish (Paper 8). As well as the poetry, those sagas which portay past events can usefully be studied for historical purposes, in conjunction with the course on Scandinavian history in the Viking Age (Paper 2), and more widely with that on Anglo-Saxon England (Paper 1). As an early Germanic language, Norse gives important evidence for the origins and development of our family of languages, as does Old English (Paper 5).

      Set texts are studied in the original, but students are encouraged to broaden their knowledge of the subject trhough wide reading in the critical literature and in the recommended translations. No previous knowledge of Old Norse is required. The text book is A New Introduction to Old Norse (Part 1 Grammar, ed M.Barnes; Part II Reader, ed. A. Faulkes). In both first and second year, language and text classes are supplemented by a series of weekly lectures on Old Norse literature, given over a two year cycle, on Eddic Poetry, Snorra Edda, The Icelandic Sagas and Skaldic Poetry. In addition to the formal lectures and classes in Old Norse, a course in Modern Icelandic is provided by the Department and all students are encouraged to attend it. A knowledge of Modern Icelandic, while by no means essential, can be helpful, since the modern language largely maintains the grammatical system of Old Norse. Funds are also available to support visits to Iceland, and other Scandinavian countries.

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    3. Medieval Welsh language and literature

      PAPER COORDINATOR: PROF. PAUL RUSSELL
      The first-year course (leading to Prelims) begins with elementary Middle Welsh grammar and prose texts (e.g. from the 'Mabinogion'), taught through weekly classes throughout the year. There are also eight lectures on aspects of literature; these change from year to year and are therefore attended by first- and second-year students. In the second year, a number of poetic texts are studied. Students are encouraged to read outside the set texts both in the original and in translation. Over the two years Directors of Studies usually arrange eight supervisions, for which you prepare essays on literary and (if you wish) linguistic topics of your own choosing.

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    5. Medieval Irish language and literature

      PAPER COORDINATOR: DR MÁIRE NÍ MHAONAIGH
      The purpose of the course is to introduce students to the language and the literature of the Medieval Irish period, from roughly the beginning of the eighth to the twelfth century. It should appeal to students with literary, philological, or historical interests. Elementary teaching of the language is provided in the first year, together with the study of some short poems, a saga and early religious texts. In the second year, further saga texts are read in class. These set texts are of course studied in the original, but students are required to seek wider knowledge of the literature of the period, through discriminating use of the recommended translations. In addition, a series of lectures on aspects of literature is given each eyar. Over the two years Directors of Studies usually arrange about eight supervisions, for which you prepare essays on literary and linguistic topics.

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    7. Insular Latin language and literature

      PAPER COORDINATOR: DR ROSALIND LOVE
      During the early Middle Ages Latin was the language of the Church: the language of the Bible, the language of the Mass and of all other Christian sacraments. During this period, therefore, education implied the ability to read and write Latin. By the same token, the majority of the literature composed at that time is in Latin. Accordingly, if we are properly to understand the culture of the early British Isles, our study must begin with the Latin texts which were read and composed then; Latin, in other words, is central to our understanding of early Insular culture.

      Insular Latin literature has a fascination in its own right. Ireland and England were the first countries of Europe to be converted to Christianity which had not been part of the Roman Empire, and where there was no tradition of Roman schooling or Latin speaking. Early Irish and Anglo-Saxon scholars were therefore obliged to learn Latin as best they could (there were no elementary Latin grammars to help them in this task), and it is not surprising that their Latin is not always 'correct' by classical standards; on the other hand, they took to the task of learning Latin with such enthusiasm that their literature frequently reveals an engaging flamboyancy of expression - a love of obscure, learned sounding words, long complicated sentences, verbosity for its own sake.

      There survives an impressive range of Insular Latin literature, in a variety of literary forms no longer familiar, such as hagiography (saints' lives) or colloquies (classroom dialogues) as well as in forms familiar, such as biography, narrative history, poetry. With the exception of Bede, most of the Insular Latin authors studied in this paper will be unknown (although some of them, such as Aldhelm and Alcuin, were reckoned among the most learned and influential men of the early Middle Ages); the paper thus offers the possibility of a journey of exploration into largely unfamiliar territory, together with the confidence that study of Insular Latin literature will provide the indispensable background against which the history and vernacular literatures of the period are to be understood.

      Many students taking this paper to have at least GCSE or A level Latin. However, it is also possible to take it without previous knowledge of Latin, as classes for beginners are offered in all three terms of the first year. Such beginners are strongly advised not to take Insular Latin for Prelims.

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    9. Palaeography and codicology

      PAPER COORDINATOR: DR MÁIRE NÍ MHAONAIGH
      A large number of manuscripts survive from the early and central Middle Ages, providing important evidence for early Insular culture; almost all surviving vernacular and Latin literature, as well as the historical documents on which our knowledge of the period is based are preserved for us in medieval manuscripts. And by a happy chance, many of the manuscripts from Britain and Ireland are now house in Cambridge (in college libraries and in the University Library). It is the aim of this course to provide an introduction to the script history and manuscript culture of each of the areas studied in the Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic Tripos. As well as providing an overview of script history in Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia, the paper also acquaints students with the particularities of each range of sources through four themed series of lectures: Codicology and the Cultural Context of Manuscript Production; Textual Artifacts; Function of Texts; and Manuscript Use and Transmission. By the end of the course, students should have gained an understanding of the early manuscript culture in Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia Students should also be familiar with the ways in which a medieval codex was produced, the ways in which script and image could be used to a variety of effects, and the different modes of compilation and transmission of manuscripts.

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    11. Early medieval literature and its contexts 1066-1350

      Borrowed from

      Faculty of English Part I, Paper 10 (2nd Years - Old Regs)
      (NB this will change to English Part I, Paper 2 in 2014-15)

      Paper co-ordinator: 

      Dr James Wade (jpw49@cam.ac.uk)
      or Dr. MEJ Hughes (mejh4@cam.ac.uk)

      Initial meeting in Michaelmas:

      Initial meeting in Michaelmas: Wednesday 9 October at 1.45pm with Dr. Hughes in the English Faculty GR-03.

      Timetabled teaching:

      There are both core and optional courses which support teaching for this paper - see Notes on Courses (on CamTools)

      • 6 Lectures in LT ‘Introduction to Post-Conquest Literature’ – Fridays 11am
      • Lecture series in MT, TBA
      • Latin language (optional) teaching in MT, TBA
      • Middle English (optional) teaching in MT, TBA
      • Anglo-Norman language (optional) teaching in LT, TBA

      Organisation of supervisions:

      Supervisions will be co-ordinated by the Medieval Subject Group (contact Dr. Hughes mejh4) for any DoS who requests this – before 2 October 2013.

      Typical pattern of supervisions:

      Literature supervisions (approximately) MT 4, LT 4, ET 2, in groups of 2-4. Plus up to 6 language classes (Early Middle English, Medieval Latin or Anglo-Norman options) in groups of up to 10 (across MT and LT).

      Link to course description:

      Click here to see the CamTools site for this paper (Raven Password protected - you must be signed up to the 'English Library' CamTools site to view this page)

      Click here to see the Faculty of English 'Notes on Courses' (Raven Password protected - you must be signed up to the 'Faculty of English' CamTools site to view this page)

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    13. Love, Violence and Power in France, 1100-1500

      Borrowed from:

      MML, Department of French, Part IB, FR3

      Paper co-ordinator: 

      Miranda Griffin (mhg11@cam.ac.uk)

      Initial meeting in Michaelmas:

      At first lecture of Michaelmas term (11am on Wednesday of week1); or make your own arrangements with a supervisor.

      Timetabled teaching:

      • 8 lectures in MT, 8 lectures in LT and 2 seminars in ET - Wednesdays 11am.
      • The special topic ('The postcolonial Middle Ages'), the commentary section of the exam and the section on individual authors and texts are all covered during supervisions and lectures.
      • Students may opt to submit a portfolio of essays in place of the exam for this paper. The portfolio consists of six essays, showing broad coverage of the field, of which three are marked and must conform to the rubric of the exam (i.e., one essay on the special topic; one essay on a text, author or genre; one commentary).

      Organisation of supervisions:

      DoSs to contact a supervisor over the summer vacation: Dr Miranda Griffin (mhg11@cam.ac.uk ), Prof Sylvia Huot (sh225@cam.ac.uk ), Dr Eliza Zingesser (ez222@cam.ac.uk)

      Typical pattern of supervisions:

      3-4 supervisions per term, plus two on commentaries just before the exam (if the student is taking the exam).

      Link to course description:

      http://www.mml.cam.ac.uk/french/courses/ugrad/new_fr3.html

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    15. The archaeology of Europe: Europe in the 1st Millennium AD I: Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England

      Borrowed from:

      Division of Archaeology, Part IIA, A25

      Paper co-ordinator: 

      Catherine Hills (ch35@cam.ac.uk)

      Initial meeting in Michaelmas:

      First lecture: Tuesday 15th October 11am, department of archaeology, South lecture room.  

      Timetabled teaching:

      • 8 seminars in MT, 8 in LT and 2 in ET - Tuesdays 11am.
      • 4 practical sessions - Wednesday afternoons 2-4 (TBA)
      • Assessment by exam and practical project (3000 words on a specific aspect of Anglo-Saxon material culture, i.e. brooch, burial group, church, coin –  submitted by the end of Lent term. The project counts for 20%).

      Organisation of supervisions:

      Arranged by Catherine Hills after the first lecture, 12am Tuesday 15th October, in Dr Hills’s office, dept of archaeology. Another time could be arranged for those who cannot make that time.

      Typical pattern of supervisions:

      3-4 per term

      Link to course description:

      http://www-teaching.arch.cam.ac.uk/courses/?course=200&year=1112

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    17. The archaeology of Europe: Europe in the 1st Millennium AD II: Scandinavian Archaeology

      Borrowed from

      Division of Archaeology, Part IIA, A26

      Paper co-ordinator: 

      James Barrett (jhb41@cam.ac.uk)

      Initial meeting in Michaelmas:

      First lecture: Thursday 17th October, 11 am, Dept of Archaeology, South lecture room

      Timetabled teaching:

      • 8 seminars in MT and 8 in LT - Thursdays 11am.
      • Also 2 or 3 practical sessions in LT - Wednesday afternoons (TBA)

      Organisation of supervisions:

      Arranged by James Barrett after the first lecture, 12 am Thursday 17th October, in Dr Barrett’s office, McDonald Institute

      Typical pattern of supervisions:

      3-4 per term

      Link to course description:

      http://www.asnc.cam.ac.uk/currentstudents/undergraduates/descriptions/Borrowed%20A26%202013-14.pdf

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