Any Questions?

If you have any questions about the Department, about the nature of the course, about any aspect of the application process (e.g. your A-level subjects and grades, your choice of colleges, and the admissions interview), or anything else, please feel free to contact the Departmental Secretary, who will happily put you in touch with the person best able to help.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do we look for in our applicants?
A genuine interest in the past, specifically in the history and culture of some or all of the various peoples of Britain and Ireland in the early Middle Ages. An enthusiasm for our range of subjects and a desire to find out more in an intellectually challenging, stimulating environment. Evidence of aptitude in the Arts and Humanities and of your ability to do well at Cambridge.

Who can apply?
We welcome applications from the brightest and the best irrespective of educational background. The basic requirements are that you should have outstanding intellectual potential, that you should be driven by natural curiosity, and that you should enjoy a challenge.

Should I already have studied some of the subjects taught in the course?
No prior knowledge or experience of any of the subjects that we cover is expected: all courses are taught from scratch, and all students start on equal terms, with a willingness to learn and a readiness to enjoy. A few students may have had the opportunity to study subjects such as Latin, Welsh or Medieval History and they can certainly use the knowledge already acquired but you do not need to have studied any of our subjects previously.

What subjects should I have studied?
Most students come to us with A-levels [or equivalent] in standard humanities subjects, like English, History, or a foreign language, but many other combinations are also possible, including subjects in the sciences. The important thing is that you should be genuinely interested in the kind of thing that we do, and eager to learn something new.

Is it necessary to have studied a language to an advanced level?
A language at A-level or equivalent is not necessary but learning a medieval language (or more) forms part of the course and if you have not studied a language to an advanced level we look for other evidence of linguistic aptitude, e.g. a language to GCSE or equivalent or by probing your linguistic ability at the interview.

How should I refer to ASNC in my personal statement?
Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic is a unique course and we appreciate that you will be applying for other courses at different universities and that your general statement will reflect this. Your general interest in history, literature, languages, archaeology etc. is important and we will use your general statement to explore these interests further at the subject interview. In addition, you will have an opportunity to tell us more about your specific interest in ASNC in the Cambridge ‘Supplementary Application Questionnaire’.

What are we looking for in submitted work, if required?
Some Colleges will ask you to submit written work and this should be work you have completed already; you do not need to write something especially for the application. In your essays we look for good written English and the ability to pursue an argument fully and effectively. Be prepared to talk about the subject matter of the work you have submitted in the interview.

What will we talk about at interview?
You and your interest in and motivation for our subject. We will also talk about what you have mentioned in your personal statement and ‘Supplementary Application Questionnaire’; what you have studied in the past and what you have read in connection with the Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic course. We may also discuss your submitted work. We may show you an image or a piece of text in translation to gauge how you think about it. The important thing is that we wish to hear you talking about the things that interest you, and why they interest you. We will not ask you difficult questions about our specialised subjects, because that would be quite unreasonable in subjects which you have not studied previously. But we do need to explore whether you are well suited to the course, and to ensure that your interest extends beyond the passing fancy – since this is a subject where we work hard, dig deep, and enjoy the process of discovery. 

Who will interview you?
You will be interviewed by the Director of Studies in ASNC in the College to which you have applied, together with another senior colleague in the Department. Depending on the College, you may also have a general interview conducted by an academic not in the field.

How should I prepare for the interview
No specific preparation is necessary. However, we assume that your interest in the range of subjects in ASNC will be reflected in some of your reading and will explore that on the day. Do also read back over your personal statement, your ‘Supplementary Application Questionnaire’ and your submitted work to remind yourself what you wrote.

If you have any further questions, please contact us via e-mail at or by telephone at 01223-335079. We look forward to hearing from you.

We hope that you have enjoyed following some of the links in this section, and that you will apply to read Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Cambridge!