Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (ASNC)

The Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic Tripos is concerned with the history, languages and literature of the different peoples of the British Isles and related cultures in a period from the end of the Roman Empire to the end of the early Middle Ages. It is a course which should appeal to anyone with a special interest in the relevant early languages or in medieval literature or history.

ASNC at Cambridge

The history, languages and literatures of various peoples - Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian and Celtic - are studied separately and in relation to each other. The course provides the opportunity to acquire, develop and apply expertise in some or all of a number of different, though complementary, disciplines, through first-hand exposure to, and direct analysis of, primary evidence. The University has exceptional resources in its various libraries. It is possible to concentrate mainly on history on the one hand, or literary and linguistic aspects on the other; though most students enjoy combining both.

ASNC is a very small subject and a great deal of the teaching is organised centrally within the Department. Like most other colleges, Fitzwilliam does not have annual quotas for ASNC places and numbers admitted vary, reflecting the quantity and quality of the field. We might typically admit one or two undergraduates per year; applicant numbers are nearly always under five.


No particular A level subjects are stipulated. A proven ability to learn a foreign language is desirable but not a prerequisite. Many candidates have English Literature, History and/or a foreign language at A level. No previous knowledge of the subjects studied on the course is required, though you may wish to sample a few of the books listed in the Department's Guide in order to assess your suitability for the course. The typical A Level offer for ASNC is A*AA. The standard IB offer is 40-42 points with 776 at Higher Level.

The admissions process consists of two interviews. One will be with our Director of Studies and one with an interviewer from a cognate subject. Beforehand, candidates are asked to submit two pieces of written work as part of the application process. Interviews, which will be conducted in a friendly and informal manner, aim to find out about your motivation and aptitude for the course.

Applicants will also be required to sit the ASNC written admissions assessment prior to being called for interview. More information can be found on the University website.

Director of Studies

Professor Paul Russell - Celtic philology and linguistics; early Welsh orthography; Old Welsh; Middle Welsh translation texts; medieval Welsh law; early Irish glossaries

More information

A booklet entitled A Guide to the Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic Tripos is published by the University Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic, Faculty of English, 9 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DF. Copies are available on request. It can also be found on the Department website, which also contains further information including details of the Department's Open Day.