Structure of the Course

The main component of the M.Phil. course is a dissertation of between 10,000 and 15,000 words in length (including tables, footnotes and appendices, but excluding bibliography), written in accordance with an approved style-sheet on an approved subject within the field of Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic. The dissertation accounts for 50% of the final mark for the course and candidates are expected to be working on it throughout the year. During the Easter term, candidates give a 20-minute presentation on their dissertation work to the M.Phil. Research Forum and they are required to hand in a full draft of their dissertation to their supervisors three weeks before the formal submission-date in order to allow time for feedback and revision.

Candidates will meet their appointed M.Phil. supervisors in the first week of Michaelmas term to confirm the topic for their dissertation and to plan the stages of their research and drafting, including the preparation of their review of scholarship. The review of scholarship is an essay not exceeding 5,000 words in length (including footnotes but excluding bibliography) which demonstrates candidates’ familiarity with the scholarship in the area of their dissertation topic and which situates their own research in relation to existing knowledge and debates. In order to encourage the habit of producing good quality draft work well before deadline, candidates will also be required to give their supervisors a draft of their review two weeks before it is formally due. The Michaelmas-term exercise also serves to alert candidates to the Department’s expectation of a high standard of accuracy in referencing and of clarity of expression in the work of its graduates.

At the initial meeting between candidates and supervisors, specific areas of study for the written exercises will also be identified. Candidates choose two written exercises, to be sat at the end of the Lent term, in a language or other subject taught within the Department, including palaeography. The written exercises are designed to test students’ acquisition or improvement of particular scholarly skills over two terms of class-work. Teaching in languages, palaeography and historical subjects is provided through Part I and Part II Tripos classes and lectures. M.Phil. students are expected to attend and prepare work for all classes and lectures in their chosen subject for the sixteen weeks of Michaelmas and Lent terms. A preliminary indication of the subjects of written exercises is required early in Michaelmas term, with confirmation early in Lent term. Dissertation topics must also be confirmed during Lent term (forms will be provided).

Teaching in the M.Phil. commences at the beginning of full Michaelmas term, usually the first or second week in October. In addition to classes and lectures in the subjects which candidates have chosen for their written exercise(s), candidates are required to attend the weekly M.Phil. seminar in Michaelmas and Lent terms and the Research Forum in Easter term. Apart from two Q&A sessions on the Review of Scholarship (Michaelmas) and the Take-home Essay (Lent), the seminar is effectively a reading-group, for which students will be required to read (in translation) and discuss a sequence of prescribed texts. These texts consist of a selection of key Latin and vernacular texts chosen from all the fields within ASNC, preceded by a group of earlier works which provide the intellectual background to the medieval world. These seminars are compulsory and students are expected to have read the assigned texts and to come prepared to participate in discussion. Assessment of this part of the course takes the form of a take-home essay not exceeding 3,000 words, on a topic chosen from a list made available from noon on the first Thursday of Easter full term, with essays then due for submission the following Monday. The topics are broad and intended to encourage comparative discussion, and candidates are required to write about at least three of the texts read during the year's seminars.

In addition, students taking the M.Phil course are expected to attend the Department's Graduate Seminar, which meets two or three times a term, and consists of a mix of guest lectures by distinguished scholars visiting Cambridge, and papers by ASNC's doctoral students. In Easter term, the Department holds a weekly Graduate symposium at which all students are invited to give short presentations, grouped into panels which devise their own theme for the session, appoint a chair and respondents. M.Phil students are expected to attend these as well, and may offer papers or act as respondents if they wish (but are not obliged to do so).

The examination of the M.Phil may include a via voce examination on the dissertation, which is compulsory for those who have been accepted to continue to Ph.D at Cambridge, and for any candidate with a marginal fail mark in one item of course-work; a viva for other candidates is at the discretion of the examiners. Students will be advised of timetabling for the vivas in the Easter term, but candidates should be ready to make themselves available up until the examination process has been completed. Procedures to be followed by students wishing to continue to a Cambridge Ph.D. are available from the Degree Committee Office of the Faculty of English (F-R24; telephone: 01223-335076).