Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic

Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (also known as ASNaC) offers a unique opportunity to study the history, languages, literatures and cultures of the different peoples of Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia in the earlier Middle Ages.

Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic (ASNaC) is a degree course unique to Cambridge. Students can study an evenly balanced combination of literary and historical subjects, or they may choose to specialise mainly in languages or mainly in history.

All languages are taught from scratch. Available languages are Old English, Old Norse, Insular Latin, Medieval Welsh and Medieval Irish, and the areas covered in the course include Anglo-Saxon England, the Celtic world (Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany) and Viking-Age Scandinavia.

The Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic is one of the smallest and friendliest departments in the University. However, the department of ASNaC is an integral part of the Faculty of English, which is one of the biggest faculties in the University. ASNaC usually admits around 25-30 new undergraduates each year across the University. 

Academic Requirements:

No particular A-level subjects are required and applicants come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Combinations normally include English, History and/or a foreign language at A-level or equivalent. 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. A proven ability to learn a foreign language is desirable but not a prerequisite. 

See also Entrance requirements for additional advice about general requirements for entry, qualifications and offers.

What we are looking for:

We are looking for evidence of general ability in, and enthusiasm for, the kind of things we do in the Tripos: learning new languages, studying literature, analysing historical documents.

We expect candidates to have begun their own exploration of early medieval literature or history. For some this will mean reading medieval texts translated into modern English; for others this will mean reading and exploring medieval history or archaeology; others again might build on their interests in Latin or perhaps linguistics. All of these, if approached thoughtfully and ambitiously, can provide an excellent route into the ASNaC course.


Candidates who are invited to interview will be asked to submit two marked essays or other written work. These should be in a related discipline which the candidate is studying/ has studied.

Applicants to Wolfson College will not be required to sit a pre-interview assessment in Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic. Applicants invited will be asked to sit a written assessment on the day of their interviews. This assessment will last no longer than one hour, and will be similar in content and format to the assessment used by other colleges prior to interview. 

Director of Studies: 

Dr Elizabeth Rowe

Find out more about the ASNaC course on the department website, and the University Undergraduate Prospectus

Student profile:

Photo of Anne

"The ASNC Course delivers exactly what I had hoped: a uniquely, holistic view of the Anglo-Saxon period of our history. It is much more than history or literature. For this very complex time to be appreciated it does need to be seen in context with what was happening in Wales, Scotland and Ireland, and with the Vikings. I have the opportunity to pursue a long-held interest, attend lectures and one-to-one sessions with people who are extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic, to say nothing of enjoying the music, theatre and other facilities available here - what's not to like!"

Anne has since successfully completed the ASNaC course and graduated.