2024 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

MA Celtic and French

UCAS code: QR51

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Celtic and French

Leugh an duilleag seo sa Gàidhlig

The relationship between Scotland and France, two nations with Celtic roots, stretches back many centuries.

This joint honours programme gives you the opportunity to study the languages, literatures and cultures of the Celtic and French-speaking worlds, which today extend to countries in Europe, Africa and the Americas.

Study with us and you will gain advanced language skills while learning about extraordinarily rich cultures, from the Middle Ages to the 21st century. You will spend Year 3 either studying or working in France.

Our courses explore contemporary issues such as language policy and revitalisation, colonisation and decolonisation.

Celtic

At all levels of study on this four-year, joint honours programme, we offer courses in the languages, literatures, histories, and cultures of the Celtic world.

You have the option to study Scottish Gaelic and build up to advanced competency in the language.

A choice of pathways through the programme enables you to develop your own interests in particular areas, periods and disciplines of Celtic studies.

Our expertise covers:

  • Scottish Gaelic from the late Middle Ages to the present, including language policy and revitalisation
  • the medieval literary tradition in Early Irish and Medieval Welsh - the most extensive in the whole of Europe
  • the rich oral tradition recorded from the 18th century to the present day
  • poetry from the 18th century golden age of Gaelic literature
  • 19th and 20th century responses to the rapid social, cultural, and linguistic changes in countries where the Celtic languages are spoken
  • the writing, song, and media production emerging from the lively and varied contemporary cultural scene in Gaelic Scotland, Ireland, and Wales

Celtic language study

If you choose to study Scottish Gaelic, it does not matter if you are a complete beginner; we stream our Year 1 classes to suit all levels of prior knowledge or none.

You can also learn a medieval Celtic language at honours level (Years 3 and 4). Both Old Irish and Middle Welsh are available. For this path, you will study Celtic civilisation and literature in Years 1 and 2, with texts presented in English translation.

French

At Edinburgh, you will study the French language in the context of the diverse countries, cultures and societies in which it is spoken.

Over the course of your four-year programme, you will have the opportunity to acquire near-native fluency in French while gaining the broad cultural education valued by graduate employers.

We will introduce you to the extraordinary richness and variety of the French-speaking world through the study of:

  • literature and cinema
  • political history and social movements
  • philosophical ideas

Our courses cover material from the Middle Ages to the 21st Century and include specialist options taught by leading experts in key disciplines, including post-colonial studies and gender studies.

###Why Edinburgh

As a world-leading festival city, and Scotland's capital, Edinburgh is a fantastic place to study Celtic alongside a global language in cultural context.

We are unique in Scotland in offering students a full academic year abroad within the four-year honours programme, regardless of whether you spend the year studying or working.

Our programme is extremely flexible. In Years 1 and 2, in addition to your core courses, you will choose option courses from a wide range of disciplines. You will then specialise as you progress through your honours years.

When you graduate, you will have the combination of broad cultural education and specialist knowledge valued by employers worldwide.

One of the most attractive characteristics of this four-year programme is its flexibility.

In Years 1 and 2, your pre-honours years, you will choose option courses from a wide range of disciplines in addition to your core subjects of Celtic and French.

As well as broadening your education and skill set, this may enable you to change the focus of your programme in Years 3 and 4, your honours years.

Year 1

Celtic

In Year 1 of your Celtic studies, you can choose between studying the Scottish Gaelic language and Celtic Civilisation.

Language pathway

If you are taking the language pathway, your course will be determined by how much Scottish Gaelic you already know.

If you have no previous knowledge, you will gain confidence in written and spoken Scottish Gaelic by taking our Gaelic 1A course.

If you are an advanced speaker, our Gaelic 1B course will develop your language skills and deepen your experience of Scottish Gaelic literature.

Civilisations pathway

The civilisations pathway (our Celtic Civilisation 1A and 1B courses) seeks to place the Celtic languages of the past and present into wider historical and contemporary context.

You will consider the impact of modern Celticness on how the past has been understood and introduced to Celtic Studies in the medieval and modern periods.

There is also the opportunity to combine the study of Celtic Civilisation with our basic language learning course, Introduction to Gaelic Language and Culture.

French

If you have limited knowledge of French, you will take French 1A, an intensive language course that also introduces you to French culture.

If you have studied French beyond National 5 (SQA) or GCSE level, you will typically take French 1B. As well as developing your written and spoken language skills, this course focuses on modern French literature, culture and civilisation.

We will introduce you to the extraordinary richness and variety of one of the world's great civilisations by focusing on social and political events from the Second World War to the 21st century.

These include:

  • resistance and collaboration
  • the Fifth Republic
  • May 1968
  • feminism
  • colonisation and decolonisation

Option courses

You will complete your Year 1 studies with option courses chosen from a wide range offered by the University of Edinburgh.

You can, for example, opt to study another language. We offer one of the widest ranges of languages of any UK university. The majority are suitable for complete beginners and include cultural study.

Other options include, but are not limited to, courses in:

  • linguistics and language sciences
  • business, economics and informatics
  • politics, social policy and social anthropology
  • art and architectural history
  • history, classics and archaeology
  • Scottish ethnology
  • philosophy, divinity and law

Year 2

Celtic

You can choose between continuing to study the Gaelic language, or studying Celtic Literatures.

If you take the language pathway, you will refine your language skills and learn about linguistic structure. You will also learn more about Scottish Gaelic culture and literature, exploring verse and prose.

If you take the literature pathway, you will gain an overview of key literary genres and texts from Gaelic Scotland, Ireland and Wales from the early medieval period to the present. Texts are presented in English translation.

French

You will further develop your language skills in French, including in writing, translation and grammar. You'll gain confidence talking in French on a variety of topics relating to contemporary France and the Francophone world.

You will take a course in French and Francophone literature and culture. This course will introduce you to the most important authors at key points in French literary and cultural history, from the 12th to the 21st century.

You will study work by Montaigne, Racine, Molière and Baudelaire alongside texts that have been considered marginal to French culture for reasons of gender or colonial politics.

Option courses

As in Year 1, you will complete your studies with option courses chosen from a wide range offered by the University of Edinburgh.

These option courses include a great selection in European languages and cultures that explore literature, film and theatre in themed and comparative contexts.

Typical options include:

  • Cultural Responses to War
  • Migration, Exile, Diaspora
  • Crime and Detection in Literature
  • Gender and Culture
  • The Coming-of-Age Narrative
  • Introduction to European Cinema
  • Dynamics of Language and Power
  • Languages Beyond University

You will also have the chance to take a course in the Politics and Institutions of Contemporary France.

Year 3

International travel restrictions permitting, you will spend Year 3 in a French-speaking country, turning classroom learning into living engagement with Francophone culture.

Whether studying or working (for example, as a teaching assistant in a school), our graduates have told us how much the year abroad has broadened their life experience and skills.

During your year abroad, we will aim to ensure your experience is as beneficial as possible to your final year, as well as to your wider language learning and cultural awareness.

You will complete prescribed work in both Celtic and French. For example, you will take an e-learning language course which will count as part of your third year mark and prepare you for your final year French courses.

If international travel is not possible, you will be offered an alternative means of engaging with your subjects, enabling you to meet your learning outcomes and preparing you for your final year.

Year 4

You will develop advanced language skills in spoken and written French. These are core courses.

You will also choose specialist, honours-level courses in both Celtic and French, and complete a dissertation or long essay.

Celtic

Modern courses explore literary, cultural, and historical aspects of Gaelic Scotland and Ireland (such as linguistics and sociolinguistics) from around 1600 to the present day.

If taking advanced courses in Scottish Gaelic, you will learn to talk and write confidently in the language about a variety of topics including current affairs and cultural issues using appropriate vocabulary, grammar and idiom.

Medieval courses introduce the Early Irish and Medieval Welsh languages and develop your study of literature, history and culture.

French

Taught by experts in their field, these courses cover topics such as:

  • Autobiography
  • Contemporary French Crime Fiction
  • Documentary forms in French and Francophone Culture
  • Exploring Belgian Identities through Literature and Film
  • Film at the Margins
  • French theatre and the making of revolutions
  • Images of Japan in French and Francophone Culture from the 19th to the 21st Century
  • Literature and Film: The Challenge of Adaptation
  • Love and Melancholy in Early Modern France
  • Medieval Bodies
  • Recognition Struggles in Contemporary France
  • Simone de Beauvoir
  • The Francophone Black Radical Tradition
  • The Modern City: Paris

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2023/24)

Our facilities

On campus

When you are on campus, you can expect to spend most of your time in the University of Edinburgh's Central Area - in class, in the library, or in one of the University’s many social and support spaces.

The Central Area is located on the edge of Edinburgh's historic Old Town, surrounded by lots of green space.

Libraries and collections

Our resources for the study of Celtic and French are outstanding. They are largely held over three sites clustered around George Square in the University's Central Area:

  • The Main University Library and its Centre for Research Collections
  • The School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) and its Celtic Class Library
  • The School of Scottish Studies Archives and its Scottish Studies Library

Across these sites, you will find:

  • academic books, journals and databases, including over 118,500 books and 25,500 journals in French
  • more than 400,000 rare books
  • six kilometres of archives and manuscripts
  • 33,000 recordings of songs, music, stories, rhyme and verse in Scots, Gaelic and English, as well as in dialects now extinct
  • thousands of works of art, historical musical instruments and other objects
  • thousands of photographs and rarely-seen historic documents which capture exceptional and everyday aspects of Scottish culture and heritage
  • correspondence and papers relating to the French Revolution and French politics
  • films, newspapers and other media

Highlights for the study of Celtic include:

  • the Carmichael-Watson Collection
  • the Donald MacKinnon Collection
  • the David Laing Collection

Many of the University's Special Collections are digitised and available online from our excellent Resource Centre, computing labs and dedicated study spaces in LLC.

Centres for research, teaching and outreach

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

Through the Gaelic Algorithmic Research Group (GARG), an international team researching modern technologies for Gaelic, we have led the development of the world’s first working Automatic Speech Recognition system for Scottish Gaelic.

Established in 1995, our Centre de recherches francophones belges promotes the teaching of francophone Belgian literature, and hosts a range of activities for students and the public. Since 2018, the Centre has been partnering with Wallonie-Bruxelles International (WBI) to bring Francophone Belgian culture to Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

We also play a key role in the Diaspolinks network, with brings together researchers with a shared interest in the growing field of Diaspora Studies, especially anglophone and francophone diasporas. The international network is unique in comparing the various diasporic communities’ responses to issues of identity, belonging and relocation in the context of British, French and Canadian immigration policies.

Events and activities

The Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) supports more than 300 student-led societies and clubs, and promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.

An Comunn Ceilteach (The Highland Society) is the University’s oldest student society and organises the city’s largest annual cèilidh.

The French theatre society - Les Escogriffes - typically stages a play in French each year, with opportunities to direct, act, produce and promote.

Passionate about music, literature, song and storytelling, we regularly hold events for staff, students and visiting guests to speak, perform or present research.

We also have a Traditional Artist and Gaelic Writer in Residence, a composer/musician and a writer who work with staff and students on a range of projects and performances.

If you love to write, our online creative writing magazine Babble is the place to publish your:

  • prose
  • poetry
  • drama
  • non-fiction

Babble goes out twice a year and includes work written in French and eight other European languages. You can get involved in the editorial committee, and launch nights typically include readings and performances.

In the city

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city filled with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections.

The city's resources for studying literatures, languages and cultures are exceptional, and its world cinema scene is particularly strong.

Many national collections are located close to the University's Central Area, making them easy to access between classes. Highlights include the:

  • National Library of Scotland, which has one of the best French collections in the UK
  • National Museum of Scotland
  • Scottish Poetry Library
  • Scottish Storytelling Centre

The city has a long-established Gaelic community and a lively contemporary cultural scene. For example, there are conversation groups for practicing Gaelic socially, fèisean for performers, and an annual festival, Seachdain na Gàidhlig.

There is plenty to see and do throughout the year, including a rich programme of cultural events at the nearby Institut français d'Ecosse.

As well as the city's main summer festivals, the Edinburgh French Film Festival and Africa in Motion bring the latest and best francophone cinema to Edinburgh each winter. There are also various food festivals.

Study abroad

International travel restrictions permitting, you will spend Year 3 (a minimum of 30 weeks) in a French-speaking country.

This is your chance to immerse yourself in Francophone culture, and to develop your broader life experience and skills towards life after university.

How will I learn?

University is a place to plan your own goals under expert guidance, study independently and in groups, and reflect upon your learning throughout your degree.

Our approach to learning and teaching is active, inclusive and question driven, so it may be different to your experiences at school. It will help you gain the skills for life after university, and we will guide you through the steps from one phase to the next.

Depending on the size of your year group, and which option courses you take, your classes will typically fall into three categories:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars

In addition to these classes, and to get the most out of your courses, you will need to read widely.

We make extensive use of our audio and visual resources, and you’ll also be encouraged to use online materials.

Lectures

Lectures are taken by all students on a course, typically at the same time. They are delivered as interactive presentations which may involve audio-visual material.

Lectures are given by an experienced academic. They are designed to guide you through the background, questions and debates related to the topic you are studying.

Tutorials

Tutorial groups are smaller. They are also led by an academic, but here the emphasis is more on what you think about the topic yourself. So, tutorials are your chance to discuss and expand upon what you have learned in a lecture.

Language tutorials give you the opportunity to develop your linguistic skills in a range of real-world tasks under the supervision of an experienced language teacher.

These classes typically cover skills such as reading, writing, listening and speaking – all of which involve learning and applying grammar.

Seminars

Seminars blend features of lectures and tutorials. Again, they are designed to encourage and enable your active participation in learning.

On some courses, you will have seminars instead of lectures, especially in your honours years (Years 3 and 4).

Support

As well as the teaching and other staff you will meet day-to-day, there are lots of ways to get help with your learning, including through the University’s Institute for Academic Development (IAD).

Additionally, the Students’ Association facilitates a peer support scheme for French, bringing together students across year groups to help each other with specific study skills, topics or themes.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a combination of coursework and exams.

Coursework is generally completed throughout the year, while exams take place at the end of a teaching block.

Coursework may take a range of forms to give you the opportunity to practice different skills. For example, you may be asked to:

  • write an essay, review, blog post, opinion piece or learning journal
  • respond to a piece of writing, film, or other media, including through close reading
  • give a short talk or presentation
  • record a podcast or video
  • design a poster or presentation

Exams will include oral exams to test your spoken language skills.

Depending on where you go and what you do on your Year Abroad, Year 3 may include being assessed, in part, by a host university.

In your final year, you will also complete a dissertation or long essay.

Skills and experience

Studying languages and cultures to degree level demonstrates that you are a good communicator, and someone open to other cultures and new ideas – what employers value as Intercultural Competence.

Beyond the language skills you will develop on this programme, and the nuanced understanding you will gain of diverse cultures and societies, graduating with a four-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh shows intellectual maturity, resilience, and flexibility.

The skills you will be able to demonstrate to employers when you graduate include the ability to:

  • understand, analyse and articulate complex issues and concepts
  • manage your time to meet deadlines on different types of project
  • work independently and as part of a group

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.

Graduating with French too, you will be near-fluent in a major language of international communication, one of the most widely spoken in the world.

You will be well-placed to seek opportunities in the 29 countries where French is an official language, and the many multinational companies and institutions for which it is a working language, including the European Commission.

For language graduates, employment prospects are particularly high within:

  • education, outreach, advocacy and training
  • journalism, broadcasting and media
  • communications, marketing, advertising and public relations
  • politics, policy work, diplomacy, civil service and law
  • publishing, culture, heritage and the arts
  • translating and interpreting

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
  • leisure, tourism and travel
  • research, development and venture acceleration

Further study

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, we typically offer:

  • Masters by Research degrees in Celtic and Scottish Studies and in French
  • Taught MSc programmes in Comparative Literature, Intermediality, and Translation Studies

These programmes are good stepping stones to a PhD, but are equally of value as stand-alone qualifications.

Careers advice

Throughout your time with us, we will encourage you to identify and hone your employability skills.

LLC has a dedicated Careers Consultant within the University's excellent Careers Service.

Through our careers service you can:

  • book one-to-one appointments and practice interviews
  • access a range of online resources
  • attend themed fairs such as the Creative and Cultural Careers Festival

Popular peer support includes Life After LLC, a panel event where you can draw inspiration from our recent graduates.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: Gaelic or French at B. National 5s: English at C and French at B (if not at Higher).
  • A Levels: French at B. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: French at 5. SL: English at 5.

Additional requirements

Language requirement

For degrees that have a subject requirement of a language other than English, students may not use their own native language to meet this requirement. In these instances, English or an alternative language other than native will be acceptable.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

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

SQA, GCSE and IB

For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

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

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

(Revised 29 August 2023 to remove PTE Academic Online)

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA Celtic and French

Additional costs

As long as international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad. The costs you have to pay will depend on where you decide to go, and how you spend your time.

Some study placements at language schools may charge a fee, but we will normally refund you for tuition costs as long as your activity has been approved. You will be responsible for associated travel costs such as flights and visas.

Funding

For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding