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Postgraduate Study

I completed the ASNC MPhil in 2021–22 and found the course to be incredibly enriching. The department, as its name suggests, is one-of-a-kind (bar the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, which also dons the ASNC-acronym). To be surrounded by professors and peers whose research interests relate, be it closely or tangentially, to your own is a bit of a dream, especially for anyone interested in the deceptively vast remit of the Insular early-medieval world. The unique combination of faculty members who specialise in Old Norse literature, Anglo-Saxon numismatics, Old Irish language, Carolingian palaeography, to name just a few, means that students not only have the ability to really home-in on their desired area of ASNC, it also allows for a broadening of knowledge and a richer understanding of the period. The course seems designed to do exactly this. It introduces graduate students to texts outside of their niche through the weekly MPhil seminars and to a diverse and interdisciplinary line-up of scholars through invited lectures. The MPhil also provides boundless opportunities to engage with medievalists both within and beyond the ASNC-sphere through an array of lecture series and the Cambridge Colloquium in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic. Crucially, it is never difficult to find someone eager to discuss some ASNC-aspect over a cup of tea and a baked good.

 

At the crux of the MPhil is the potential to improve upon existing skills and to learn new ones. I studied palaeography for the first time and was able to put my newly-acquired skills to the test during a visit to the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek’s Manuscripts and Rare Books Reading Room in Munich. The written papers each differ from one another, allowing students to flex strengths and confront weaknesses. The literature review prepared me to question existing scholarship and to address differing opinions in my dissertation, essential pieces of analysis that seemed daunting before putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and realising, early on, the range of conclusions that related to my project. Opportunities also abound to grow one’s research repertoire outside of the graded assignments: I audited Old High German classes, attended reading groups, and discovered digital map-making through a department-sponsored class. After ten short months, I feel generally more confident in my research and presenting abilities and am much better prepared to tackle the PhD in the Fall.

Emma Claire Geitner (June 2023)

I am currently a second-year PhD in ASNC, which I started after getting an MPhil here in 2020–2021. Since my undergraduate degree was not in ASNC or even at Cambridge, I was not sure I was going to fit in, but as it happens, the ASNC department is one of the most inclusive in Cambridge, academically and otherwise. It’s also one of the smallest, which means that there is a close bond between students and academics, so we all managed to get to know each other quite well, even though most of the course ended up being over zoom because of the COVID pandemic lockdowns. Despite its small size, ASNC is home to a wide range of disciplines, which is reflected in the MPhil course: even if you are working on a very niche area within ASNC, the Text Seminar challenges you to engage with texts beyond your usual reading, all taught by leading specialists in their field. The fast pace and academic rigor of the course are extremely valuable for more advanced research. Working towards a PhD, I really appreciate how the MPhil course combined all the essential skills for academic work and taught me to pursue my own research without neglecting other developments in the field and outside of my immediate area of expertise. The technical skills that you acquire during the 9 months of the MPhil, including reviewing secondary sources, writing to a high standard, and effectively communicating your research, are invaluable for academia and beyond. And doing all this in a friendly, encouraging atmosphere made the MPhil an even more enjoyable experience.   

Alexandra Zhirnova (June 2023)

I continued to a PhD at ASNC, having done the MPhil here in 2013–14. I arrived as a slightly terrified teenager, uncertain as to what it would be like to join a different university and department. Fortunately, it just so happens that ASNC is one of the most welcoming and inclusive departments anyone could hope for. It’s one of the smallest departments in the university, and, partly because of this, there’s a strong camaraderie between all levels of the department: academic staff, administrative staff, graduates and undergraduates.
The cohesive nature of the department also contributes to the high level of interdisciplinary interaction. Not only are all members of staff leading experts in their fields, they’re also extremely approachable and generous with both knowledge and time. This can have a direct impact on the research of graduate students – there aren’t many departments in the world where a student researching Old Irish literature, for instance, has access to leading specialists in Old Norse literature as well. There’s also a broad range of research and specialisations within the graduate community itself, making it another useful source of stimulation and advice. To be an ASNC student is to be immersed in a melting pot of medieval goodness. The ASNC MPhil course is rigorous and challenging. But undergoing these challenges is extremely rewarding. Having continued into the PhD after my MPhil, I’ve experienced first-hand just how important each aspect of the MPhil was in training me in some of the most crucial skills required in academia. Knowing how to produce different types of written work, including reviewing existing scholarship, is essential. Knowing how to interact with primary texts of different genres and origins is essential. Being able to divide time between numerous academic commitments is essential. Within nine months, the MPhil course trained me to do all of these things – and more – to the level expected of a PhD student.

Jonathan Hui (April 2016)

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Key Information


9 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic This course is advertised in multiple departments. Please see the Overview tab for more details.

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Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2024

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
May 16, 2024
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Course Funding Deadline
Jan. 4, 2024
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.


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