Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic

Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (ASNC) is a course about the history, culture, languages and literature of the British Isles and Scandinavia from the fifth to eleventh centuries. This is a unique and exciting course which will appeal to students with a wide range of interests in languages and humanities. The range of options is not available in courses at any other university, and ASNC students enjoy the opportunity to discover new areas of interest and the flexibility to place the emphasis of their studies where they please.


Course Structure

Over the course of the degree, most students will select a combination of historical and literary options. In this way, budding historians will learn to handle the various kinds of evidence at their disposal and to read primary sources in the original languages. Students whose primary interest lies in language and literature will be able to place the literature of their choice in its historical context and to study it against its cultural background and in comparison with other literatures.

For students with more specific interests, it is also possible to select a range of mainly historical or mainly literary and linguistic courses, or to concentrate on either the 'Celtic' or 'Germanic' peoples.

ASNC at King's

The department is small with about 25 students in each year, and the ASNC community is very friendly and sociable. As no College has many ASNC students, you will quickly make course friends from other Colleges. At King's, you will find a lot of students with overlapping interests in history, anthropology, sociology, linguistics, literature of all kinds and a range of European, Asian and Middle-Eastern languages. The College offers a supportive and stimulating community for students with a very wide range of specialisms.

Like a number of smaller subjects at Cambridge, ASNC is taught in a department-based manner. Undergraduates work with experts across the University, carefully supported by a Director of Studies who organises supervision teaching and oversees academic progress at College level.

Senior Lecturer

Judy is a Fellow of Newnham College who acts as Director of Studies at King's. Her research focuses on Old Norse language and literature.

Affiliated Lecturer

Debby is a Research Associate in ASNC who acts as a Special Supervisor at King's. She is interested in Anglo-Saxon medicine, diet and farming.

Applying to ASNC at King's

We welcome suitably qualified applicants from all backgrounds, all over the world.

Subject Requirements

There are no subject requirements for the ASNC course. Many students find subjects such as English (language or literature), History, a modern or ancient language, or other humanities subjects helpful.

Written Work

Once candidates have applied through UCAS they are normally asked to submit one recent essay written for school or college work and marked by a teacher.


Most (but not all) candidates are invited for an interview with two Fellows in King's.

The subject choices that you make at school can have a significant impact on the course options available to you at University - find out more.
Find out about how to register for your pre-interview assessment and see specimen papers from previous years.
It's completely normal to be nervous about coming to interview, but here's some practical advice about how to prepare for the process.
Candidates for some subjects are required to submit written work as part of the application process - see more here.

Student Perspectives

Rebekka and Tom have written about their experiences of studying Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, including what attracted them to the course, how supervisions work, and how they prepared to apply. These accounts are well worth reading to get a sense of what studying ASNC at King's is really like.

Rebekka is from Zurich in Switzerland. She studied for the Swiss Matura, and studied Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic from 2015-18.
Tom grew up in Lincolnshire and studied an undergraduate degree in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic from 2012-15.

Reading, Resources, and Events

There is no required reading material for ASNC applicants, however you may find the introductory reading suggestions useful and you might like to listen to some ASNC languages on the Spoken Word website. Useful phone apps for ASNC include LP Old English, LP Old Norse and a number of Memrise resources (available both online and as apps). You may find others too!

Events which may be of interest in the year before you apply (year 12 in the UK) include Oxford and Cambridge Student Conferences in March, Subject Masterclasses, the ASNC Faculty Open Day in June, and King's Open Days. Students from backgrounds where there is little tradition of entry to Higher Education might like to think about applying for the Sutton Trust Summer Schools or the CUSU Shadowing Scheme.

Preparatory reading for applicants who have already been given an offer, or prospective students thinking of applying.
Find out more about our Open Days, visiting King's at other times and informal meetings with our Admissions team, or take the virtual tour!

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