Department of English

Celtic Studies

The Celtic Section at Uppsala University is the only one of its kind in Scandinavia, and has been in existence since 1950, providing courses in Celtic languages, literature and history from all periods. All our courses are taught through English. Several of the courses are offered as web-based distance courses.

Celtic studies is a so called minor subject, which means it is not possible to get a degree in the subject. However, Celtic Languages may be taken as a minor subject in a bachelor’s degree. A minor in Celtic Languages is an excellent complement to degrees in subjects such as English, History, Linguistics, Nordic Languages, Modern Languages, Archaeology, Librarianship and Archiving..

Courses

We offer three 30-credit courses in Celtic studies, Celtic Studies A1-C1. All modules in these courses are offered as individual 7.5-credit courses and are taught on campus or as web-based distance courses.

You may study modern Irish or Welsh to the level och B1 competency (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). Students of Old Irish on the higher levels will read mythological tales in the original. You may also take one of our survey courses in Celtic literature och Celtic history and culture.

Please note that course offerings may vary depending on available resources.

Undegraduate level

Celtic Studies

Contact

Office Hours
Tuesday, Thursday: 09.30 - 11.30

Telephone
Tuesday, Thursday: 13.00 - 14.00

Celtic Studies at Uppsala University

Celtic Studies is a term used to describe the academic study of the language, literature and history of the countries where Celtic languages are spoken, or have been spoken in the past. The Celtic group of languages belongs to the Indo-European language family and although ‘continental Celtic’ only survives in early inscriptions, the Celtic languages spoken on the Atlantic western seaboard survived into the modern period. These languages may be divided into two groups: (1) Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Manx (Goidelic languages); and (2) Welsh, Breton and Cornish (Brythonic languages).

At Uppsala University, it is possible to study Modern Irish, Modern Welsh and Old Irish. The Celtic languages contain a number of linguistic features that make them very interesting to students with an interest in comparative linguistics, while Old Irish is one of the oldest written vernacular languages in Europe. With its archaic structure and vocabulary, it is a key element in the study of comparative Indo-European linguistics. In addition to having many interesting linguistic features, a Celtic language provides a unique window into understanding the culture of the country in question. Students who pursue studies in Modern Irish, Welsh or Old Irish to C-level will have the opportunity to read poetry and prose in the original language.

In addition to the language courses offered, students may study aspects of the rich history, literature and culture of the Celts without any knowledge of the Celtic languages by taking introductory courses in Celtic history and in medieval Irish and Welsh literature. In these courses, students learn about the archaeological, historical and linguistic evidence for the existence of the Celts in Europe. They also learn about the rich vernacular literary tradition in Ireland and Wales by studying mythological tales and courtly love poetry in translation. Taken together with the language courses to constitute a minor in Celtic Languages, these courses provide a thorough grounding in Celtic Studies that may enable further higher-level study at universities in Ireland and the UK. On their own, individual 7.5 credit courses may provide a comparative study for those with an interest in other medieval languages and cultures, especially Norse; they may provide cultural and historical context for those with an interest in the English-language literature of Ireland and Wales; or they may provide an opportunity to learn a new and exciting language.

Students with an interest in Celtic Studies also have the opportunity to join the student-run society, ‘Cairde na gCeilteach’ / ‘Friends of the Celts’.

Two of our students have written about their experiences of learning Irish at the Celtic Section:

Learning a language like Irish can be a challenge, as it is quite different from what we are used to, but at the same time it is incredibly rewarding and a lot of fun. In our experience, learning Irish has been so much more than vocabulary and grammar. It has been a unique way of connecting with the Irish culture and the history of the language, especially when studying Old Irish and being able to see the historical development. Studying a language such as Irish allows you to gain great new experiences as you travel the country or meet Irish people. Although Irish is an official language, next to English, the future of the language is threatened as more people use English in their everyday lives. Therefore, coming to Ireland as ‘outsiders’ being able to speak the language, presents a rare opportunity of connecting with the people, especially being in the position of trying to aid the survival of the language from the ‘outside’.

We learned that there was going to be an Irish weekend course held at Oideas Gael in Gleann Cholm Cille, in the northwest of Ireland, and we decided to go. When we first arrived, it was pitch black, but the next morning as we opened the drapes we were stunned by the beautiful landscape. The trip was a great experience for us as we got see the country, use the language with both other students and fluent speakers, meet new people with common interests, and got to take part in the Irish culture. Going to the classes there, we realised how lucky we were having done the university courses as our grammatical understanding helped us a lot, and we were able to communicate on a higher level than we had expected.

We have really enjoyed all the courses at the Celtic Section, and would strongly recommend them to anyone interested literature, languages and Celtic culture.

Joanna Pettersson and Mona Aowad, January 2016.