Undergraduate study - 2023 entry
Open to the world

MA Celtic and Archaeology

UCAS code: QV54

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Celtic and Archaeology

Leugh an duilleag seo sa Gàidhlig

Uncover Scotland's past and help shape its future. This joint honours programme gives you the opportunity to study Celtic languages, literatures and cultures alongside the archaeology of Scotland and the wider world.

Celtic

In Celtic, we work with the medieval literary tradition in Early Irish and Medieval Welsh (the most extensive in the whole of Europe), as well as Scottish Gaelic from the late Middle Ages to the present. We also explore the rich oral tradition recorded from the 18th century to the present day, and poetry from the 18th century golden age of Gaelic literature.

You will study 19th and 20th century responses to the rapid social, cultural, and linguistic changes in countries where the Celtic languages are spoken. You will also study the writing, song, and media production emerging from the lively and varied contemporary cultural scene in Gaelic Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.

At all levels of study, we offer courses in language, literature, history, and culture. This will enable you to build your programme by developing your own interests in particular areas, periods, and disciplines of Celtic studies. Our expertise extends to:

  • theoretical and practical issues of current sociolinguistics
  • language policy
  • language revitalisation

Language study

You can choose to study Scottish Gaelic from Year 1, and continue to learn about Scottish Gaelic language, literature, and culture throughout your studies.

If you choose this pathway through the programme, it doesn’t matter if you are a complete beginner in Scottish Gaelic; 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). For this path, you will study Celtic civilisation and literature in Years 1 and 2, with texts presented in English translation.

Both Old Irish and Middle Welsh are available, and students may choose to study one, or both.

Archaeology

Your studies in archaeology will take you back in time, and help you to develop a parallel range of skills in the interpretation of social and cultural change.

The programme also enables students to appreciate:

  • the material basis of archaeology
  • the contested nature of objects
  • the social relationships that are spun around objects and the people who use and interpret them

Why Edinburgh

Scotland's capital city, Edinburgh has a long-established Gaelic community and a lively contemporary cultural scene. Its collections are outstanding, as are the University's own resources for the study of Celtic and Archaeology.

Our programme is extremely flexible. In Years 1 and 2, you will choose option courses from a wide range of disciplines, and 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 Archaeology.

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 Gaelic language or 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 deepen your experience of Scottish Gaelic literature and develop your language skills.

Civilisations pathway

The civilisations pathway (courses Celtic Civilisation 1A and 1B) 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 will be 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.

Archaeology

You will study Archaeology 1A and Archaeology 1B.

These courses offer a broad introduction to our human past. You will study crucial events in human history and pre-history, from the evolution of the first humans several million years ago, to the emergence of farming and the development of civilisations in Europe, Egypt and the Near East.

Archaeology 1A and Archaeology 1B cover the key techniques that archaeologists use. These include methods of site discovery and excavation, and methods of recording and analysing artefacts.

You will also cover more recent and innovative approaches to reconstructing the lives of past peoples, including the scientific analysis of animal and human remains.

Fieldwork

Over the long vacation at the end of Year 1, you will be required to undertake three weeks of fieldwork.

Option courses

You will choose one or more option courses from a wide range offered by the University of Edinburgh.

You can, for example, opt to study a European, Asian or Middle Eastern 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
  • Scottish ethnology
  • business, economics and informatics
  • politics, social policy and social anthropology
  • art and architectural history
  • history, classics and archaeology
  • philosophy, divinity and law

Year 2

Celtic

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

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

If you are taking 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, with texts presented in English translation.

Archaeology

You will study the archaeology of Scotland from the earliest evidence of human occupation at the end of the last ice age to the Roman incursion in the early 1st millennium AD.

A field trip to visit archaeological sites and visits to the National Museum of Scotland are core components of this course.

You will also study Archaeology in Action, which:

  • develops your understanding of professional archaeological practice
  • explores exciting innovations in archaeological methods through real-world applications and hands-on practical exercises.

Option courses

As in Year 1, you will also choose from a wide range of option courses offered by the University of Edinburgh.

Year 3

Celtic

This is the first of your ‘honours’ years, when you will specialise in the aspects of Celtic which interest you most by choosing from a range of courses.

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

Advanced language work in Gaelic is aimed at developing your high-level oral and writing skills.

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

Archaeology

You will study Theoretical Archaeology, which explores the history of archaeology from its antiquarian beginnings in the 18th and 19th centuries and its development as an academic discipline.

You will consider the theories that archaeologists have used to understand and interpret the remains that they have found and examine how these ideas have changed over the past 150 years.

You will also study Archaeology in Practice, which focuses on the contemporary practice of archaeology in the UK as well as internationally. You will learn the practical skills required of professional archaeologists.

You will choose one additional course from honours-level Archaeology options.

Year 4

You will choose further specialist, honours-level courses in Celtic and Archaeology and will complete your dissertation.

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 spaces.

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

Take a virtual tour of the Central Area

Libraries, collections and centres

Our resources for the study of Celtic are outstanding. We hold the Celtic Class Library, which comprises a wide range of specialist materials, and the larger Scottish Studies Library. You will also have access to the University’s rare books and manuscripts, such as:

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

One of the University's treasures is the School of Scottish Studies Archives. The Archives contain thousands of hours of recordings of songs, music, stories, rhyme and verse in Scots, Gaelic and English, as well as in dialects now extinct. There are also photographs and rarely-seen historic documents which capture exceptional and everyday aspects of Scottish culture and heritage.

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
  • Faclair na Gàidhlig (a collaborative project to publish a historical dictionary of Scottish Gaelic)

Archaeological research and teaching laboratories include post-excavation processing and wet chemistry labs and a large teaching laboratory for the study of skeletal remains.

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. Archsoc, the Archaeological Society, organises trips to local heritage and excavation sites, among other activities.

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 in Residence, a performer from within the traditional arts in Scotland who works with staff and students on a range of projects and performances.

In the city

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

  • National Library of Scotland
  • 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.

Study abroad

If international travel restrictions allow, there may be opportunities for you to study abroad through the University’s international exchange programme.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Courses are taught through a combination of:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars
  • museum visits
  • fieldwork

In our language teaching, there is an emphasis on interaction and developing fluency, and on building the strong linguistic competencies required for a range of careers.

How will I be assessed?

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

Skills and experience

Graduating with a four-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh shows resilience, flexibility and high-level intellectual strength.

The skills you will be able to demonstrate to employers include the ability to understand, analyse and articulate key concepts, both in print and orally. You will also have experience in working to varied briefs to deadline, independently and as part of a group.

In addition to these qualities, graduating in Celtic and Archaeology 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.

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

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 a taught MSc programme in Archaeology and Masters by Research degrees in both Archaeology and Celtic and Scottish Studies.

Eventually, you may decide to conduct doctoral work, like several of our past students.

Careers advice

We have an excellent Careers Service. Throughout your time with us, we will encourage you to identify and hone your employability skills, including through peer initiatives such as Life After LLC (Literatures, Languages and Cultures) where you can draw inspiration from our graduates.

Be inspired by our alumni

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: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: English at C and a language other than English at B.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: English at C or 4 and a language other than English at B or 6.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: English at 5 and a language other than 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

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

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

Mature applicant qualifications

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.

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
  • SQA Standard Grade at 3
  • 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.

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

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

English language requirements

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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 Archaeology

Additional costs

In Year 1 Archaeology you will contribute to the cost of the vacation field school and fieldwork. Arrangements for the field school are currently under review. Normally the minimum requirement is three weeks of field experience.

After Year 1, you may opt to undertake practical archaeological work during the vacations of Years 2 and 3.

Costs for assignments and other practical archaeological work depend on the type of work chosen and the location, which may vary from Scotland to the Middle East.

There may also be additional costs if you choose to study abroad in Year 3.

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