Postgraduate study

Celtic Studies and Scottish Studies PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Doctorate-level study is an opportunity to expand upon your interests and expertise in a community that really values research; and to make an original, positive contribution to learning in Celtic Studies and Scottish Studies.

We specialise in the languages, literatures and cultures of the Celtic and in particular the Gaelic peoples, from Iron Age Europe to the present, and Scottish Ethnology, the study of Scotland's traditions, belief systems, and forms of cultural expression.

Research community

Based in Scotland's capital and festival city, our research community is at the forefront of policy development and cultural innovation.

We work at the cutting edge of linguistic, cultural, literary, and sociolinguistic research in the Celtic languages, with a particular focus on Scottish Gaelic. We play a leading role in relation to language planning and maintenance, particularly for Scottish Gaelic.

Join our community and undertake a specialised research project under the guidance of experienced and well-published supervisors.

Celtic studies

Our Celtic studies expertise covers:

  • Old Irish and Middle Welsh language, literature and culture
  • Scottish Gaelic and modern Irish language, literature, and culture
  • Celtic sociolinguistics and language policy

Scottish studies and ethnology

Our Scottish studies and ethnology expertise covers:

  • oral narrative
  • song and instrumental music
  • material culture
  • social organisation
  • custom and belief
  • place names

Interdisciplinary research

Working with colleagues elsewhere in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, and across the wider University, we are able to support PhD theses crossing boundaries between disciplines and/or languages.

Your thesis

Over the course of your PhD, you'll be expected to complete an original body of work under the expert guidance of your supervisors leading to a dissertation of between 70,000 and 100,000 words.

You will be awarded your doctorate if your thesis is judged to be of an appropriate standard, and your research makes a definite contribution to knowledge.

This programme includes training on research skills, methods and problems in Celtic Studies and Scottish Studies using a combination of traditional and innovative methods.

You will be encouraged and supported to make direct contact with original sources and to gain hands-on experience, whether in reading medieval manuscripts or in handling electronically-stored data.

Between the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), the Careers Service and the Institute for Academic Development (IAD), you'll find a further range of programmes and resources to help you develop your postgraduate skills.

You will also have access to the University's fantastic libraries, collections and worldwide strategic partnerships.

Part of a community

As part of our research community, you will be immersed in a world of knowledge exchange, with lots of opportunities to share ideas, learning and creative work.

Activities range from a regular seminar series (with talks by staff, research students and visiting speakers), the annual O'Donnell Lecture, performances and traditional music sessions, and a range of conferences, including a colloquium series with Scandinavian Studies on Thinking About Mythology in the 21st Century.

Our graduates tell us that they value the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures' (LLC) friendliness, the connections they make here and the in-depth guidance they receive from our staff, who are published experts in their field.

Our research resources and facilities are outstanding. We hold the Celtic Class Library, which holds a wide range of specialist materials, and the larger Scottish Studies Library.

We are ideally placed to explore the theory and practice of working with archives, drawing extensively on an unrivalled range of sound, video, film and photographic resources in the School of Scottish Studies Archives.

You will also have access to the University's many collections, including of rare books and manuscripts, such as the Carmichael-Watson Collection, the Donald MacKinnon Collection, and the David Laing Collection.

Affiliations

We are founding members of Soillse, the National Research Network for the Maintenance and Revitalisation of Gaelic Language and Culture, the Gaelic Algorithmic Research Group, and Faclair na Gàidhlig, a collaborative project to publish an historical dictionary of Scottish Gaelic.

We are also home to the European Ethnological Research Centre which has led the Regional Ethnology of Scotland Project since 2011 and publishes the multi-volume Scottish Life and Society: A Compendium of Scottish Ethnology.

Passionate about music, literature, song and storytelling, we have strong links with the National Library of Scotland, the Scottish Storytelling Centre and National Museum of Scotland, all of which are located close to our buildings in Edinburgh's historic city centre. We also work closely with Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the national Gaelic development agency.

These entry requirements are for the 2022/23 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2023/24 academic year will be published on 3 October 2022.

A UK 2:1 honours degree and a masters degree, or their international equivalents, in a related subject. We may also consider your application if you have equivalent qualifications or experience; please check with your potential supervisor before you apply.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 23 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 with at least 176 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: 70 overall with at least 62 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

(*Revised 17 November 2021 to add accepted PTE Academic qualifications.)

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhD3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhD6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

There are a number of scholarship schemes available to eligible candidates on this PhD programme, including awards from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Please be advised that many scholarships have more than one application stage, and early deadlines.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH
Programme start dates Application deadlines
12 September 2022 31 July 2022
9 January 2023 31 October 2022

We strongly recommend you submit your completed application as early as possible, particularly if you are also applying for funding or will require a visa. We may consider late applications if we have places available.

You must submit two references with your application.

The online application process involves the completion of a web form and the submission of supporting documents.

For a PhD programme, you should include:

  • a sample of written work of about 3,000 words (this can be a previous piece of work from an undergraduate or masters degree)
  • a research proposal - a detailed description of what you hope to achieve and how

You will also need to supply two references.

Before you apply, you should also look at the interests and expertise of our research community on the programme website. This will help you decide if this programme is right for you and your supervision needs.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH