Undergraduate study | Celtic
Uncover Celtic's rich languages, literatures, histories and cultures as part of a single or joint honours degree.
Why study Celtic in Edinburgh?
Celtic has been taught at Edinburgh since 1882, making us the longest-established department of our kind in Scotland.
Our award-winning community is small and friendly. We teach Celtic in multiple degree combinations, so you can take it as a single honours degree or jointly with other subjects.
Celtic civilisations produced the earliest vernacular literature in Europe after Latin and Greek. Today Celtic languages and cultures continue to flourish in writing, song, theatre, the media and more, with a broad international reach and a steady stream of enthusiastic new speakers, audiences and career opportunities.
Based in a city with a long-established Gaelic community, and with strong links to Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Celtic at Edinburgh leads the way for future language planning and maintenance, particularly for Scottish Gaelic. We work at the cutting edge of linguistic and sociolinguistic research in the Celtic languages and reflect this innovation in our teaching.
On campus and in the city
We are based in the historic heart of a world-leading festival city, close to the National Library of Scotland and National Museum of Scotland.
The Main University Library is just across the square from us, as is the School of Scottish Studies Archives. From ancient manuscripts to contemporary recordings, these give you access to a treasure-chest of Gaelic stories, songs, customs, and beliefs.
In addition to the summer and winter festivals, Edinburgh has a lively year-round contemporary cultural scene.
There are conversation groups for practicing Gaelic socially, fèisean for performers, and an annual festival, Seachdain na Gàidhlig.
Studying Celtic at Edinburgh has allowed me to explore different areas of interest both medieval and modern and get a well-rounded understanding of the subject by connecting with Celtic speaking cultures throughout history - there is always something fresh and engaging on offer.
You’ll complete a four-year Master of Arts (MA) honours degree. You can take Celtic as a single honours degree, or jointly with one of a range of other subjects. Each year, your courses will give you 120 credits.
- You can take a language or non-language pathway through the Celtic programme. If you choose to study Scottish Gaelic, it doesn’t matter if you're a complete beginner; you’ll always be taught at a level that meets your needs. Alongside language skills, you’ll learn more about Scottish Gaelic’s literature, culture, and linguistic structure. You can study the Medieval Celtic languages and literatures at honours level.
- If you’re taking the non-language pathway, you’ll study Celtic civilisation and literature. You will study Celtic in its historical and contemporary context, and gain an overview of key literary genres and texts from Gaelic Scotland, Ireland and Wales from the early medieval period to the present, with texts presented in English translation. You can choose to learn the basics of the Scottish Gaelic language.
Years 1 & 2
- Our programmes are very flexible. In your first two years, you'll likely get to choose option courses from a wide range of subjects alongside Celtic and any partner subject. This gives you a broad knowledge base and transferable skills. It may also enable you to change the focus of your degree going into your final two (honours) years, which is when you start to specialise.
Years 3 & 4
- On most programmes, you’ll typically spend your third year in Edinburgh - though it’s possible to study elsewhere through the University’s Study Abroad programme. However, if you’re doing a joint degree with French or Scandinavian Studies, you will spend your third year abroad.
- You will learn how to undertake your own research to the level of completing a dissertation or long essay in your final year. This is your chance to focus on a topic, period or discipline that’s of particular interest to you. We have an extensive range of honours courses to choose from.
Teaching, assessment and support
- Celtic is taught by an award-winning group of staff who are immersed in Celtic culture and the development of Gaelic beyond the classroom.
- Courses are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, e-learning, practical language classes, grammar workshops, reading classes and conversation classes.
- You’ll be assessed through a combination of exams and coursework. If you're studying abroad in your third year, you will either be assessed by your host university or will submit written assignments to us, depending on your placement.
- There are lots of support systems to help, from your Personal Tutor to our web-based hub, Support for Success in LLC.
In the 2023 to 2024 academic year, you can take Celtic as a single honours degree, or study any of the following joint honours degree combinations...
|Celtic and Archaeology||Scottish Ethnology and Celtic|
|Celtic and Scottish Literature||Celtic and Scottish History|
|Celtic and French||Celtic and Scandinavian Studies|
|Celtic and English Literature||Celtic and English Language|
|Celtic and Linguistics||Law and Celtic*|
We also support the delivery of two degree programmes in Primary Education with Gaelic: one for fluent speakers; and one for learners.
* Please note that this degree combination does not have the same structure as all the others, though it is still a four-year degree with a study abroad element.
There’s lots of information about our undergraduate Celtic programmes on the University of Edinburgh Degree Finder. For example, you can find out about:
- entrance requirements
- English language requirements
- fees and funding opportunities
If you’d like to study on any of our undergraduate programmes, you must apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.
Applications to begin studying in September 2023 are now OPEN.
Skills and experience
Graduating with a four-year honours degree from the University of Edinburgh shows resilience, flexibility and high-level intellectual strength. For instance, you will demonstrate that you have the ability to understand, analyse and articulate key concepts, and to work to varied briefs to deadline, both independently and as part of a group.
In addition to these qualities, graduating in Celtic indicates that you have a nuanced understanding of other cultures and societies and how they shape our world. This gives you the Intercultural Competence that is so valued by employers internationally. Particularly if you choose a language pathway through your programme, you will also sharpen your written and oral communications skills.
Opportunities at home and away
Thanks to an ever-broadening international reach, Celtic languages, literatures and cultures have a steady stream of enthusiastic new speakers and audiences.
In Scotland, particularly, developments such as the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005, the creation of BBC Alba (the Gaelic digital television service), and the ongoing expansion of Gaelic-medium education have increased demand for highly-educated Gaelic speakers and specialists in Celtic culture.
Employment prospects are particularly high within:
- Education, outreach, advocacy and training
- Journalism, broadcasting and media
- Politics, policy work, diplomacy, civil service and law
- Publishing, culture, heritage and the arts
In some areas, there are more Gaelic-related jobs than there are people qualified to fill them.
Your transferable humanities skills and Intercultural Competence will also set you apart in sectors such as:
- Business, finance and commerce
- Communications, marketing, advertising and public relations
- Leisure, tourism and travel
- Research, development and venture acceleration
- Translating and interpreting
The enhanced research skills that you develop on a four-year programme, particularly in your honours years, are valuable assets if you wish to continue studying at postgraduate level. At the University of Edinburgh, for example, you can take a research-led Masters in Celtic or Scottish Ethnology, or an interdisciplinary taught Masters programme, for example in Comparative Literature, Film, Exhibition and Curation, or Intermediality. Eventually, you may decide to conduct doctoral work on Celtic languages and cultures, like several of our past students.
Get to know us better
Thinking of joining us this year or next? Explore what it's like to study and live in Edinburgh.
- Take a Virtual Visit - Celtic and Scottish Studies
- Look inside 50 George Square
- Join us for an Open Day or Online Information Session
Talk to a current student
QS World Rankings by Subject 2022
The University of Edinburgh is ranked 3rd in the UK for Modern Languages.
We are also 3rd in the UK in the broad subject area of Arts & Humanities.
Globally, we’re in the World Top 10 for Arts & Humanities (9) and Modern Languages (10).
The Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings are based on the results of major global surveys of employers and academics, along with research citations.
They are International Ranking Expert Group (IREG) approved.
Other ways to learn Scottish Gaelic at Edinburgh
If you're not on one of our degree programmes, you can still learn Scottish Gaelic with us!
As an undergraduate student of most subjects at the University of Edinburgh, you can take Scottish Gaelic as an outside subject in one or both of Years 1 and 2 of your programme, depending on your timetable.
Gaelic is also available as a Short Course through the Centre for Open Learning . These courses have a fee, but students get a 33% discount. Classes are in the evening, and there are options for complete beginners.