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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Anglo Saxon, Norse and Celtic (ASNaC)

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Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Cambridge

This is a unique course, combining as it does historical, linguistic and literary study of the British Isles, Scandinavia and Brittany during the early Middle Ages. In their first year, students can choose to study Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian or Celtic history, and Old English, Old Norse, Medieval Irish or Welsh, or Latin language and literature, or even manuscript studies. There are no compulsory papers, so students can put together their own syllabus, determined by their personal interests. No previous experience of any of our subjects is required, just enthusiasm. In the final year students can specialise in areas which they want to study in depth, for example: Latin writings by, for or about women, law and lawlessness across all the cultures we study, or the editing of medieval texts. A dissertation gives students the opportunity to carry out their own research project at Part II, and is a possibility at Part I as well. The department is small and friendly, and is a hive of activity, both academic and social, throughout the year.

Full details about the structure and content of the course can be found on the Departmental website.

Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (ASNaC) at Murray Edwards College 

We are developing a strong Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic tradition at Murray Edwards. We welcome one or two undergraduate students in ASNaC each year.  Within the College as a whole this means we usually have around three undergraduate students, and sometimes one or two graduate students. These small numbers are pretty typical of Cambridge colleges generally: with only about 25 students in each of the three years, we do not have a huge presence in any college. They also mean that ASNaCs (as we call ourselves) form a closely supportive group within the college (and have little competition for books from the library!). It also means that they make lots of friends in other subjects within the college, as well as from other colleges at the department.

We usually have a dinner in college each year, and tea together at some point during the year. ASNaC students get involved in many activities in college, such as the choir, and in the department, where a Murray Edwards student is currently joint president of the ASNaC Society.

Our students achieve good results (a full house of first-class marks in 2015) and speak highly of their experience: one who graduated in 2015, said:

"Murray Edwards is an excellent choice for ASNaC. The College's unparalleled support and warmth really helped me pursue all academic and extracurricular ambitions. I was lucky to have amazing Directors of Studies who pushed me to become an independent and articulate thinker." Andreea

The Director of Studies in ASNaC at Murray Edwards is Dr Debby Banham, who has interests in Anglo-Saxon history and manuscript studies. She has recently published a book on farming in Anglo-Saxon England, and her other research topics include diet, medicine and monastic sign language. She is about to start a new research project on bread in early England, and she teaches on Papers 1 (England before the Norman Conquest) and 10 (Palaeography and Codicology) in Part I of the tripos. She is keen to maintain a supportive environment for ASNaCs at Murray Edwards.

Applying to study here 

We look for students who are enthusiastic about the early middle ages and keen to learn more, and have demonstrated their academic ability by doing well in their exams to date.  We do not specify an particular subjects at A-level. At interview we do not expect applicants to have any specific knowledge about the subjects we teach, but we shall be looking for evidence of a keen interest, as well as an aptitude for languages, and an ability to think independently. In preparing to apply or for your interview it is a good idea to think about where your particular interests lie, and what you have already done to pursue these, for instance by reading around the subject, or by visiting sites or museums.

We usually set typical/standard offers at A level or their equivalent ie usually A*AA.  Full details of entry requirements and selection processes for ASNC across all colleges can be found on the main University webpages.

Moving into your career 

Our students follow a wide range of careers when they leave: some will want to stay closely involved with their subject interest, while others will be keen to apply the skills and attributes they have developed while studying here to a wide range of opportunities. Recent ASNaC graduates from Murray Edwards College have taken up teaching, both in the UK and overseas, and ASNaCs go into a huge range of careers: many pursue graduate work in the field, but others have become actors, art restorers, authors, film-makers, translators, publishers, IT experts, mathematicians, archaeologists, biologists, lawyers, bed-and-breakfast proprietors, sociologists, senior civil servants, you name it. Current Murray Edwards ASNaCs are planning to go into archaeology and broadcasting.

We support students in developing their skills and in exploring varied career options through our Murray Edwards Gateway Programme.

Find out more

Many students find it helpful to contact us by email or to visit us to find out more. You are welcome to do so.