About the course
The MSt in Celtic Studies is designed to give students the opportunity to concentrate on the study of aspects of the history and culture of Celtic-speaking peoples from antiquity to the present day. Options in language, literature and linguistics form the core of the degree, while a range of optional subjects in these areas and beyond is also available. The MSt in Celtic Studies is suitable both for students wishing to proceed to a research degree and for those who wish to spend only one year at Oxford.
This is a nine-month course designed to help those who already possess a good knowledge of Welsh, Irish or another Celtic language to acquire a grounding in areas of Celtic studies which were not part of their first degree course. Alternatively, it can be a path for those who wish to deepen their knowledge in a particular area of Celtic studies.
The MSt in Celtic Studies provides an appropriate introduction for you if you are contemplating higher research in a DPhil or PhD programme in this area.
Generally, student numbers in the MSt programme are relatively small and this allows the teaching to be tailored to the particular choice you may make. Teaching is provided through a mixture of classes and tutorials. A core course provides an introduction to the medieval Celtic languages through the close study of texts in class, while other areas are taught through tutorials which may be supplemented by lecture series. A weekly Celtic research seminar brings all students together with talks by invited, mainly external speakers, run jointly in collaboration with the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, Aberystwyth.
Students take two papers, either two options from a choice of: (i) Celtic linguistics; (ii) medieval Irish literature; or (iii) Welsh literature, or one option from these subjects and one paper on a special subject to be chosen from each year's course handbook. You will write a dissertation on an approved topic normally arising from one of the options studied, and will also be required to develop a reading knowledge of a modern Celtic language which you have not previously studied at degree level.
Teaching for the course is shared among three faculties, English, History and Linguistics. Faculty members with particular expertise in Celtic topics include Prof David Willis (course director; Celtic linguistics, Welsh language and culture); Prof Mark Williams (medieval Irish and Welsh literature; modern reception of Celtic literature); Dr Conor O’Brien (early medieval history of Britain and Ireland); Dr Holly Kennard (modern Breton linguistics); Nora Baker (Irish language instructor); and Llewelyn Hopwood (Welsh language instructor).
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Humanities Division and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Humanities Division.
The course assessment consists of the following elements:
- two essay submissions for each of the core option papers
- a dissertation on an approved topic.
The option papers allow you to study both Irish and Welsh or only one of the two. If you wish, you may also select aspects of the history of the Celtic-speaking peoples, as well as linguistic and literary options. Although the regulations are flexible enough to allow for individual preferences, there is also a compulsory language element requiring the close study of texts in the original language(s).
Many MSt students proceed to doctoral degrees at Oxford or at other universities. Other graduate destinations include teaching, journalism, law, publishing, and the civil service.
Changes to this course and your supervision
The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic, epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.
Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.
Entry requirements for entry in 2024-25
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours as a minimum, in a relevant course of academic study, such as Welsh, Irish or Celtic studies, linguistics, literature or history.
Degree-level competence in at least one Celtic language is a requirement for admission to the MSt. Applicants selected for this course will have shown clear evidence of linguistic ability and a serious interest in acquiring new knowledge and skills.
Entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a high first-class degree or the equivalent.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.75 out of 4.0
If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.
GRE General Test scores
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
Details of any publications would be of interest to the assessors and should be included in the application.
English language proficiency
This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'
(Institution code: 0490)
*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
†Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.
Declaring extenuating circumstances
If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.
You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process. However, MSt candidates may be interviewed in order to clarify aspects of their application. Any interviews will be held as soon as possible after the closing date, either in person, by telephone, or online.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published under that heading.
References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process. Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed.
Shortlisting and selection
Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:
- socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
- country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
- protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.
Processing your data for shortlisting and selection
Admissions panels and assessors
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
Other factors governing whether places can be offered
The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
- the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
- minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.
Offer conditions for successful applications
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about offers and conditions.
In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:
If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.
Disclosure of criminal convictions
In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.
Opportunities for interdisciplinary exchange are provided by the communities fostered within individual colleges, which also offer you dedicated support by means of personal advisors. The Oxford Centre for Research in the Humanities (TORCH) offers a stimulating range of interdisciplinary activities.
Graduates in Oxford are fortunate in having access to over a hundred libraries. The University's core research resource in the humanities are the Bodleian Libraries, whose combined collections contain more than 11 million printed items, in addition to more than 50,000 e-journals and a vast quantity of manuscripts, maps, music and other materials.
The Bodleian has been a library of legal deposit for 400 years. The Bodleian Libraries’ Special Collections Department attracts scholars from all over the world. Further strengths include the countless databases and digital resources currently offered by the Bodleian and being developed through Oxford’s Digital Humanities programme.
You are also able to draw on the specialist resources offered by the libraries of participating faculties, which provide dedicated support and training courses for all graduates. For Celtic studies, the main libraries are the Taylorian Library, which has a substantial collection of Celtic books and other resources, and the Celtic Library, located in Jesus College, which is open for reading and borrowing to all Celtic studies students. Students also have access to the many college libraries and to college archives which can house significant collections of personal papers and institutional records dating back to the Middle Ages, as well as manuscripts and early printed books.
Humanities interdisciplinary courses
The Humanities Division offers a number of courses that are delivered jointly by several humanities faculties.
As a student in the Humanities Division, you will have access to an immense range of research material, including digital resources. These resources are provided through Oxford’s impressive library system, based on the central Bodleian libraries, through the work produced by the University's research projects, and through the rich and diverse holdings of its museums.
In addition to materials and support focused on conveying subject-specific knowledge, there is a wide range of facilities aimed at the personal and professional development of students; strengthening their existing skills and developing new skills, and preparing them for careers after they have completed their studies.
The University expects to be able to offer over 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2024-25. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential.
For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources.
Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:
Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the Humanities division website.
Annual fees for entry in 2024-25
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Information about course fees
Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges.
Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.
There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs. However, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.
In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2024-25 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,345 and £1,955 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our living costs page. The current economic climate and high national rate of inflation make it very hard to estimate potential changes to the cost of living over the next few years. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2024-25, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of around 5% each year – although this rate may vary depending on the national economic situation. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.
Students enrolled on this course will belong to both a department/faculty and a college. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 43 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as societies and permanent private halls (PPHs).
If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. Before deciding, we suggest that you read our brief introduction to the college system at Oxford and our advice about expressing a college preference. For some courses, the department may have provided some additional advice below to help you decide.
The following colleges accept students on the MSt in Celtic Studies:
Before you apply
Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance.
Application fee waivers
An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:
- applicants from low-income countries;
- refugees and displaced persons;
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and
- applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.
You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.
Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?
You are encouraged to communicate with the faculty in order to refine your application, using the contact details provided on this page. However, it is not a pre-requisite to an application.
Completing your application
You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents.
For this course, the application form will include questions that collect information that would usually be included in a CV/résumé. You should not upload a separate document. If a separate CV/résumé is uploaded, it will be removed from your application.
If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.
Three overall, of which at least two must be academic
Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.
At least two of your references should be academic; the third may be professional but it should nevertheless speak to your ability to study your proposed course.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement and motivation.
Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.
More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.
Statement of purpose/personal statement:
A maximum of 700 words
Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in. The statement should be written with reference to the course structure of the MSt.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
The statement will be assessed with reference to:
- your reasons for applying
- the coherence of the statement
- evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
- the ability to present a reasoned case in English
- commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
- preliminary knowledge of research techniques
- capacity for sustained and intense work
- reasoning ability
- the ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.
Your statement should focus on your academic qualifications to the extent that they are relevant to your academic plans, rather than on personal achievements, interests and aspirations.
Two single-authored essays of a maximum of 2,000 words each
Academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification, written in English or a Celtic language, are required. Clearly highlighted extracts of the requisite length from longer work are also permissible. Where necessary, a cover note may be attached placing an extract in a larger context.
At least one piece of work should relate closely to the proposed area of study. The word count does not include any bibliography or brief footnotes.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This will be assessed for comprehensive understanding of the subject area; understanding of problems in the area; ability to construct and defend an argument; powers of analysis; and powers of expression.