The three year ASNC tripos is divided into two main academic phases - Part I and Part II (described here). 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).

Part II Candidates

Candidates for Part II must offer four papers, chosen from Papers 1-18 below, plus a compulsory dissertation; no more than one paper may be chosen from among Papers 13-18. As one of their four papers, candidates may offer one paper from Papers 1-10 of Part I, provided that the choice complies with certain regulations.

It may be possible for students who have successfully completed Part I of a different Tripos to take ASNC Part II over two years; there are special regulations for this.

Full course descriptions are available for current students on the Part II paper options Moodle site (Raven access only for university members).

Part II Papers

  1. A subject in Anglo-Saxon history: Saints and Farmers: Economy and Society c. 950–1050
  2. A subject in Scandinavian history of the Viking Age: Rethinking the Viking Age
  3. A subject in Celtic History: Sea Kings and the Celtic Speaking World, c.1014-1164
  4. A subject in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic History: Law and Lawlessnes
  5. A subject in Old English literature: Beowulf
  6. Advanced medieval Scandinavian language and literature
  7. Advanced medieval Welsh language and literature
  8. Advanced medieval Irish language and literature
  9. A subject in Insular Latin literature: Writing Women
  10. Textual criticism
  11. Germanic philology
  12. Celtic philology
  1. Dissertation [compulsory]

Borrowed papers for the academic year 2021-22

  1. Medieval English literature, 1066-1500: Medieval Supernatural (Faculty of English, Part II, Paper 6)
  2. The 'Angevin Empire', 1150s-1230s (Historical Tripos, Part II, Special Paper Option B) - NOT RUNNING IN 2021-22
  3. a) Historical Linguistics (MML, Linguistics Tripos, Part II, Paper 11 - NOT RUNNING IN 2021-22
    b) The History of the English Language (MML, Linguistics Tripos, Part II, Paper 13)
  4. Paper not available for this year.
  5. Paper not available for this year.
  6. Topics in Medieval Studies: Defining the Human (MML, Department of French, Part II, FR7)
  7. England before the Norman Conquest (ASNC Part I, Paper 1)
  8. Scandinavian history in the Viking Age (ASNC Part I, Paper 2)
  9. The Brittonic-speaking peoples from the fourth century to the twelfth (ASNC Part I, Paper 3)
  10. The Gaelic-speaking peoples from the fourth century to the twelfth (ASNC Part I, Paper 4)
  11. Old English language and literature (ASNC Part I, Paper 5)
  12. Old Norse language and literature (ASNC Part I, Paper 6)
  13. Medieval Welsh language and literature (ASNC Part I, Paper 7)
  14. Medieval Irish language and literature (ASNC Part I, Paper 8)
  15. Insular Latin language and literature (ASNC Part I, Paper 9)
  16. Palaeography and codicology (ASNC Part I, Paper 10)

     


1. A subject in Anglo-Saxon History: Saints and Farmers: Economy and Society c. 950–1050

PAPER COORDINATOR: DR RORY NAISMITH (rn242@cam.ac.uk)
An advanced topic in the history and civilisation of England from the age of the Anglo-Saxon settlements to the Norman Conquest. Students will be required to use primary sources in the original language or in translation.

Set for this year: Saints and Farmers: Economy and Society c. 950-1050

This paper takes an in-depth look at how later Anglo-Saxon (c. 950-1066) society operated in the region around the monastery of Ely. It considers how people in this part of England adjusted to wider political changes, but also looks at local economic and social structures in themselves. Gender, family, status, landscape and towns will all be considered, as students build up expertise in how late Anglo-Saxon society worked on the ground. Key sources will include rich texts from Ely and neighbouring monasteries that illuminate how these institutions inserted themselves into the landscape of eastern England, together with laws, charters, coins, place-names and other forms of archaeological and material evidence. Students are encouraged to think critically and imaginatively about how these various categories of evidence intersect.

    Reading List


 

2. A subject in Scandinavian history: Rethinking the Viking Age

PAPER COORDINATOR: DR ELIZABETH ROWE (ea315@cam.ac.uk)
An advanced topic in the history and civilisation of Scandinavia in the Viking Age, and of Scandinavian expansion, except in so far as that is included in Papers 1 and 4of Part I or Papers 1 and 4of Part II. Students will be required to use primary sources in the original language or in translation.

Set for this year: Rethinking the Viking Age

Our understanding of the Viking Age and the Viking world—from Vinland in the West to Baghdad in the East—is changing rapidly thanks to new archaeological discoveries, new theoretical perspectives, and new historical frameworks. Yet one thing that has not changed is a personal investment in or identification with the subject of study, and just as nationalism (for example) shaped earlier understandings of the Viking Age, so too identity politics and feminism (for example) might be shaping our understanding of the Viking Age now. This course scrutinizes aspects of the Viking Age that are hotly debated today, and through rigorous source criticism, fully informed historical scholarship, multi-disciplinary evidence, and interrogation of the premises of contemporary theory, reaches independent and solidly grounded evaluations of the historical plausibility and significance of the debated phenomena. The course builds upon the historical background acquired by students who have taken Part I, Paper 2 ‘Scandinavian history in the Viking Age’, but that paper is not necessarily a prerequisite for this course, provided that the novice is willing to work hard.

    Reading List


3. A subject in Celtic history: Sea Kings and the Celtic Speaking World c. 1014-1164

PAPER COORDINATOR: DR ALISON BONNER (acb64@cam.ac.uk)

Set for this year: Sea Kings and the Celtic Speaking World, c. 1014-1164

This course is aimed at students who have taken either the History of the Brittonic-speaking peoples or the History of the Gaelic-speaking peoples (or both of these courses) at Part I. It will provide such students with an opportunity to study in greater detail a number of the territories which they have already encountered, through the medium of a range of primary sources. By the end of the course, it is hoped that students will have acquired a detailed knowledge of the history of the Irish Sea region and the Isles, a broad understanding of the European historical context, and the ability to deal with a wide range of evidence including texts, place-names, personal names and coins.

The history of the Irish Sea region, the Hebrides and Argyll in the eleventh and twelfth centuries is an enigmatic, but engaging, topic. The area’s history is punctuated by the stories of colourful characters. The Welsh king Gruffudd ap Cynan grew up in Dublin after his father was expelled from Gwynedd, but Gruffudd and his Hiberno-Norse allies launched an attack on Gwynedd in order to reclaim his inheritance. The Gaelic-Scandinavian dynast Somerled held sway over a seemingly autonomous kingdom which comprised coastal areas of mainland Scotland and numerous islands. Yet texts written in milieus favourable to the king of Scots presented Somerled as a rebellious traitor. The extraordinary story of Bishop Wimund, a monk of Furness and bishop of Man, also draws our attention. This cleric raised a fleet to attack the Scottish kingdom, claiming that he had an ancestral right to lands there.

These stories illustrate trends which can be plotted throughout the period. The eleventh and early twelfth centuries witnessed the growth of the kingdom of the Scots, and consolidation of widespread political power in Ireland in the hands of a select few dynasties. In Wales, an extensive hegemony developed under the aegis of Gruffudd ap Llywelyn. Yet the sea-kings managed to preserve some autonomy, even in the face of these developments. The cultural milieus in which the sea-kings operated also bear consideration: a complex mixture of Gaelic-, Brittonic- and Norse-speaking populations dwelt in Galloway and Strathclyde, but these territories nevertheless produced coherent political entities.

The primary sources which will be studied during the course are available in print, and most of them exist in recent and accessible editions and translations. The last two decades have witnessed a steady flow of publications on the topic, with the result that the body of secondary literature is now fairly extensive. These works will aid Part II students, but they will also find that this paper offers considerable scope for original thought and research.

    Reading List

 


4. A subject in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic History: Law and Lawlessness

PAPER COORDINATOR: DR ALISON BONNER (acb64@cam.ac.uk)
This course will provide students with an opportunity to study in greater detail a theme which is touched on by many of the Part I papers, namely how the behaviour of individuals and groups of individuals was moderated and controlled in medieval societies. The following questions may be considered: Who exerted control and how? What were the limits of that control? What happened when the limits were exceeded? What sanctions could be applied, and by whom and to whom? How are these legal institutions represented in our sources and how far can they be seen to change over time?

    Reading List

     


     

5. A subject in Old English literature: Beowulf

PAPER COORDINATOR: PROF RICHARD DANCE (rwd21@cam.ac.uk)
The work of an author or a group of authors, or a group of texts, or a literary topic or genre within the field of Old English literature, will be prescribed for special study. Students will be required to use primary sources in the original language.

Set for this year: Beowulf.

This course is devoted to the study of the poem Beowulf, and students will be expected to get to know the poem fully. The course tackles the poem from various different angles: the date and circumstances of composition; literary analogues from other Germanic and Anglo-Latin literature; presentation of themes such as religion, kingship, ethics, the heroic ideal, and much more.

Reading List

     


     

6. Advanced medieval Scandinavian language and literature

PAPER COORDINATOR: DR JUDY QUINN (jeq20@cam.ac.uk)
In this course students will study Old Norse Poetics and Old Norse prosimetrum in depth. Texts, including legendary sagas, kings' sagas and family sagas will be read, along with a range of poems and verses. Students will be required to translate extracts from these set texts, to translate unseen passages, and also to write essays on selected topics in medieval Scandinavian literature.

    Reading List

 


7. Advanced medieval Welsh language and literature

PAPER COORDINATOR: PROF PAUL RUSSELL (pr270@cam.ac.uk)
Welsh language and literature from the beginnings to the end of the Middle Ages are studied. There will be set texts in Old and Middle Welsh. Candidates will be required to translate extracts from these set texts and to translate unseen passages from Middle Welsh. There will be a further group of set texts, in medieval Breton and Cornish. Candidates will be required to translate and comment on extracts from these texts. They will also be required to write essays on selected topics in medieval Welsh, Breton, and Cornish language and literature.

Reading List

 


8. Advanced Medieval Irish language and literature

PAPER COORDINATOR: PROF MAIRE NÍ MHAONAIGH (mnm21@cam.ac.uk)
Irish language and literature from the beginnings to the end of the Middle Ages are studied. There will be set texts in the original language. Students will be required to comment on extracts from these set texts and to translate unseen passages, and also to write essays on selected topics in medieval Irish literature.

    Reading List

 


 

9. A subject in Insular Latin literature: Writing Women

PAPER COORDINATOR: PROF ROSALIND LOVE (rcl10@cam.ac.uk)
A subject in Insular Latin literature. The work of an author or a group of authors, or a group of texts, or a literary topic or genre within the field of Insular Latin literature, will be prescribed for special study. Students will be required to use primary sources in the original language.

Set for this year: Writing Women .

This course focuses on Insular Latin texts written by, for, and about women, and will include study of primary sources from a variety of literary genres, including letters, hagiography, secular biography, handbooks of spiritual guidance, and biblical commentary. The texts to be studied will cover both Anglo-Latin and Celtic Latin, and will range in date from the seventh to the eleventh century. Students will be required to translate and comment on extracts from the set texts, and also to write essays on selected topics relating to the sources studied during the year, including matters such as genre-expectation, audience, attitudes towards women’s status, images of female sanctity, misogyny.

    Reading List

 


10. Textual criticism

PAPER COORDINATOR: PROF ROSALIND LOVE (rcl10@cam.ac.uk)
An introduction to the processes by which extant sources written in the languages studied for Papers 5-9 have been transmitted, and of the scholarly methods by which these sources are converted into a readable form. The various editorial and diplomatic approaches and techniques are studied. In the exam, students will be required to answer a compulsory practical question and to write essays on selected topics.

 

    Reading List

 


 

11. Germanic philology

PAPER COORDINATOR: PROF RICHARD DANCE (rwd21@cam.ac.uk)
The history and grammar of the Germanic languages will be studied, in relation to one another and to their Indo-European background. Candidates will be required to comment on passages in any two of Old English, Old Norse, Gothic and Old High German, and to write essays on selected topics.

    Reading List

 


 

12. Celtic philology

PAPER COORDINATOR: PROF PAUL RUSSELL (pr270@cam.ac.uk)
The history and grammar of the Celtic languages will be studied, in relation to one another and to their Indo-European background. Students will be required to write essays on selected topics.

    Reading List

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