Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic

  • UCAS Code: QQ59 BA/ASNC
  • Campus Code: 4
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Places per year: 1-2

The course in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (ASNC) offers a unique range of options, not available in this combination at any other British university, or probably in the world. It is designed for studying the languages, literature and history of peoples who inhabited the British Isles and Scandinavia in the earlier Middle Ages – particularly the literature and history of Anglo-Saxon England and of medieval Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Iceland and mainland Scandinavia. Beowulf, the Vikings, Irish legends and early British history (before the Norman Conquest) are just some of the things that fall within our scope.

The Department is one of the smallest in Cambridge, and prides itself on its friendly and informal atmosphere among undergraduates, postgraduates and staff. Because there are usually only one or two ASNaCs (as undergraduate students in the Department are known) per year at any particular College, the Department itself has a strong sense of identity and intercollegiate cohesion.

Course Overview


You may wonder what this unusual course leads to for students after graduation. Obviously, opportunities for further study and research are open to students, but ASNaCs tend to go on to the same range of careers as graduates from, say, English or History, but with the additional cachet of having read a very unusual subject (one which makes many people say, ‘You studied what?’). In recent years, several ASNC graduates have gone on to successful careers in law, others to the media, computing and administrative posts; and a high proportion go on to academic careers.

Although it is perfectly possible to study only history, or only language and literature, it is part of the intellectual commitment of the Department that the two complement each other. Most undergraduates find a combination of these two elements more satisfying, in that studying the history of a particular people informs your study of their literature, and vice versa.

How You Learn

The course lasts for three years, and as it covers subjects not taught at all in most schools, all students start the undergraduate course at the same level and almost from scratch.

For the first two years (Part I) you will study six subjects from a range of ten taught within the department, including history and language-and-literature topics, with additional choices available from a selection of papers in related fields borrowed from other courses (archaeology, medieval literature, etc.). And for one of these subjects you may substitute a dissertation, if you wish.

In the third year (Part II), you consolidate your knowledge by developing some of those subjects in far greater depth, or you may extend it by adding wholly new ones. You take four papers out of a range of seventeen and you write a dissertation.

Typical Offer Conditions




41-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level


See the University’s Entrance Requirements page

Subject Requirements 



A languages or humanities subject