MA Celtic Studies

  • MA Celtic Studies

The MA in Celtic Studies is a unique distance learning programme which offers students interested in Welsh and Celtic Studies the opportunity to study various aspects of the history, literature and cultural heritage of the Celtic regions in their own homes.

You’ll be able to choose from a wide range of interesting topics and choose to specialise in a pathway that suits you. Since the course is a distance learning programme, you do not need to move to Lampeter and sacrifice your day job, as you can study from the comfort of your own home using our VLE (virtual learning environment) and the course content and reading material we provide.

We’ll guide you through some of the most important texts ever written in the Celtic languages and help you read critically. You’ll learn where to find the most important sources on the Celtic peoples, Arthurian literature, modern folklore, druids and Celtic saints and how to question the various versions of the past that have been put forward by historians, linguists, folklorists and archaeologists. You’ll also gain research skills which will be a sound basis for further study, as well as a range of important skills which can be easily transferred to the workplace.

Key Facts

Course Length:
Between one and four years

School/Faculty:
Faculty of Humanities and Performing Arts
Contact Name:
Prof Jane Cartwright
Contact Email:
j.cartwright@uwtsd.ac.uk
Language Choice
English   Welsh

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Postgraduate Funding



This multidisciplinary Master's degree allows students to study a wide variety of subjects in the following fields: early and late medieval history and literature, folklore, gender studies, the sociology of language, Arthurian literature, religion, spirituality and iconography.

In Part One students will be introduced to the study and research methodology skills required to undertake a postgraduate programme and they will complete modules on the history of the Celts and the legends of the Mabinogi. In addition to these three compulsory modules students will choose from one of the following pathways:

  • Culture and society (Welsh Folk Life, the Sociology of the Welsh Language)
  • Medieval (the Celtic Arthur, Women in the Middle Ages: sources from the Celtic regions)
  • Sanctity and Spirituality (The Cult of Saints in Wales, Celtic Otherworlds – from the druids to the monastic voyage tale)

Students will then be allowed to take any other module from one of the above pathways or Beginners' Welsh (a total of six modules in all). In Part Two students are given the opportunity to research in detail a topic which has particularly appealed to them and write an extended dissertation. They will be allocated a supervisor to help guide them through their dissertations.

No previous knowledge of the Celtic languages is required for this programme, as students study texts in translation and the programme is taught through the medium of English. However, students may choose to study Welsh as part of the programme and it is also possible for students who are fluent in Welsh to study their modules entirely through the medium of Welsh (see MA Astudiaethau Celtaidd) or receive supervision and communication in Welsh, but opt to write their assignments in English.

CYCS7020 Conceptualizing the Celts provides students with a critical understanding of the wider context and background of Celtic identity, language and history and enables students to critically assess and evaluate differing interpretations of the cultural identity of the Celts.

CYCS7015 Y Mabinogi provides students with a systematic understanding of the content, context, cultural and historical importance of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi.

CYCS7021 The Celtic Arthur and the Matter of Britain examines the context of the figure of Arthur as known from Celtic sources, up to and including the large body of material directly dependent on Geoffrey of Monmouth.

CYCS7005 Women in the Middle Ages: sources from the Celtic regions provides students with an advanced knowledge of the complex range of extant sources relating to medieval women’s lives in the Celtic regions.

CYCS7004 Welsh Folk Life gives students an appreciation of the following topics: popular culture; tales and legends; calendar customs; festivals; life-cycle customs; children’s games; material culture and folk music.

CYCS7016 The Sociology of the Welsh Language ensures students have a deep understanding of the past and current state of the Welsh language thereby facilitating their ability to measure and evaluate its future prospects.

CYCS7007 The Female Saints of Wales provides students with an advanced knowledge of the extant literary and historical sources relating to the saints of Wales including saints’ lives, medieval poetry, historical documentation, folklore and oral tradition, as well as archaeological and visual sources.

CYCS7019 Celtic Otherworlds – from the druids to the monastic voyage tale considers the representation of ‘otherworlds’ in accounts of pre-Christian Celtic religion, as well as Irish Christian monastic texts.

CYCS7018 Welsh for Beginners allows students to develop an understanding and appreciation of Welsh grammar, syntax and lexis and acquire general communicative skills in the Welsh language.

If you would like to work quickly, you can register on the programme on a full-time basis, but if you have a full-time job and family commitments, you can complete as few as two modules per year. This also allows you to spread the cost over a number of years and makes the course very affordable. If you are interested in learning one of the Celtic languages, you can choose to learn Welsh with us and you will be able to attend our intensive language residentials if this suits you.

We have students in America, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Belgium and Mongolia, as well as many in Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland. You do not have to come to Lampeter to follow this course, but you are always very welcome to come and meet your tutors. We also collaborate with the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies and some of our MA students are supervised by staff from the centre who also offer great expertise in Celtic Studies.

Key features of this MA programme:

  • a postgraduate qualification which allows you to study at a time that suits you in your own home
  • interesting modules taught by experienced university lecturers who are specialists in their fields
  • a multidisciplinary programme which spans a wide range of different subjects including history, literature, religion, sociology, language, myth and folklore
  • an opportunity to study and research a topic of your choice in considerable detail (while preparing for the dissertation)
  • an excellent introduction to research skills

The modules are assessed by a variety of assessment methods: 5,000-word essays, short assignments, linguistic exercises, reviews, reports and one 15,000-word dissertation.

Normally the entry requirement for this degree is a first class or upper second class undergraduate degree. In addition, enquiries are also welcome from students with an equivalent and appropriate professional qualification or significant and relevant professional experience. If you are unsure whether you would be accepted onto the MA you should contact the Programme Co-ordinator for an informal chat.

This course is ideal for those who want to learn more about the history, literature and cultural heritage of Wales and the Celtic regions in order to improve their job prospects. Many of the students who undertake the course on a part-time basis are already in employment and wish to gain a postgraduate qualification as a possible means to promotion or change of job role. Former students include journalists, writers, storytellers, teachers, lecturers, editors and people who work in the tourist or heritage industries. Many of our students have also gone on to further research in Celtic Studies at PhD level.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to speak any of the Celtic languages to take this programme?

No, you don't need to speak any of the Celtic languages to take this programme. Texts are studied in translation, but students who wish to learn Welsh can study Welsh as part of the English-medium programme and students who are fluent in Welsh can study their entire MA programme through the medium of Welsh: see MA Astudiaethau Celtaidd.

Would I need to come to Lampeter if I wanted to learn Welsh?

The entire programme is taught via distance learning and you are not required to attend any lectures in Lampeter. The Welsh language module is taught via our VLE and Skype seminars, so you are not obliged to come to Lampeter and many of our students live in other countries (e.g. America, Canada, Australia and Europe). We do arrange intensive residential language courses at Lampeter twice a year and our MA students are encouraged to attend these if they are learning Welsh, but they are not compulsory.

I would like to learn Welsh, but I don't live in Wales or have much opportunity where I live to practice my Welsh. Can I still choose the Welsh language module?

Yes, you can. Many of our students have learnt Welsh successfully via our distance-learning course. Wherever you are, you will be able to access material on Moodle and the language tutor will contact you via Skype as a group.

I am fluent in Welsh, but my first degree is not in Welsh and I studied through the medium of English. Should I choose to study my MA through the medium of Welsh?

Yes, if you are fluent in Welsh, you would be encouraged to study for your MA through the medium of Welsh. If you are unsure you can contact the Programme Director to discuss this in more detail.