University of Sydney Handbooks - 2019 Archive

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Celtic Studies

About the minor

A minor in Celtic Studies is centred in the study of the languages, history and culture of the Celtic-speaking peoples from prehistory to the present. This ethnic group has played a highly significant role in the development of European civilisation, particularly in the British Isles.

The Celts may be defined as those peoples who speak or whose forebears have spoken a Celtic language. Early Celtic languages included Celtiberian and Gaulish in ancient continental Europe, Galatian in Asia Minor, as well as British, Goidelic and Pictish in the British Isles. Breton, Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Welsh are the Celtic languages spoken today.

Candidates for the minor take core units in study of Celtic identity and historical influence of the Celtic peoples and Celtic narrative literature. Celtic language units (Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Welsh) develop knowledge of language itself and enhance access to cultural and literary studies. Optional units include further language units. The aim is to enable students who have developed an interest in various aspects of Celtic Studies to pursue study that offers a representative range of subject areas, developing skills and knowledge in the study of a subject that is highly significant to European as well as Australian cultural heritage.

Requirements for completion

A minor in Celtic Studies requires 36 credit points from the Unit of Study table including:
(i) 6 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 6 credit points of 1000-level selective units
(iii) 12 credit points of 2000-level selective units, of which at least 6 credit points must be a language unit of study
(iv) 12 credit points of 3000-level selective units, of which at least 6 credit points must be a language unit of study

First year

The first year in Celtic Studies is centred on a core unit 'Defining the Celts', which introduces the main topics in Celtic Studies and explores the range of factors that are held to define the Celts as a cultural group. There is an emphasis on the changing models of prehistoric and early historic cultures and their relationship to Celtic-speaking groups. Close study of groups such as the Gauls, Picts, and early Irish introduce key concepts in depth, as do case-studies of topics such as Druids, Insular Art and 'Arthurian' sites. A second unit from a selection out of other programmes offers the opportunity to develop complementary skills.

Second year

In second year students complete a core unit centring on the historic Celtic cultures (medieval and modern), with a particular focus on different categories of sources. Students also study at least one Celtic language (Scottish Gaelic or Modern Welsh), which is studied as part of a unit focusing language as well as culture.

Third year

In the final year students take a specialist unit on Celtic literary texts (on the 'Otherworld'- type tale), studied in English translation, and at least one unit of a medieval language (Old Irish or Middle Welsh), in which students are introduced to the grammar of the language and translate a medieval tale from the original language. The third year equips students to engage with some of the iconic sources of medieval Celtic tradition - including motifs that contribute to popular culture - and acquire experience in dealing with the unique questions that pertain to these sources.


Celtic Studies does not offer an Honours program. Students interested in Celtic Studies research are encouraged to contact the Director of Celtic Studies to explore the possibility of taking up the Masters by Research instead.

Example pathways
Sample pathway: Celtic Studies Minor with Majors in English and Linguistics
Year 1  Sem 1 Celtic Studies minor

CLST1000 Defining
the Celts
Linguistics Major

LNGS1001 Structure
of Language
English major

the Fictive Self
ENGL1012 The Gothic Imagination
Sem 2 ARCA1001 Ancient
LNGS1002 Language and
Social Context
LNGS2601 Phonetics
and Phonology
Year 2  Sem 1 CLST2613 Scottish
Gaelic Language
and Culture 1
Grammar in the
World's Languages
OLE ENGL2657 Myths, Legends and Heroes
Sem 2 CLST2605 Celtic
History and Culture
LNGS3605 Describing
a Language
Dynamics of Sound
ENGL2662 Deceit, Disguise
and Medieval Narrative
Year 3  Sem 1 CLST3616 The Celtic
LNGS3703 Language,
Brain and Mind
3000-level Interdisciplinary project unit (English) ENGL3607 Modern Irish
Sem 2 CLST3615 Old Irish 3000-level Interdisciplinary project unit (Linguistics) ENGL3695 Medieval
Tales of Wonder
ENGL3642 Medieval Literature: Dreams and Visions
Contact and further information

Celtic Studies website:
School of Literature, Art and Media website:

Director: Professor Jonathan Wooding
Phone: +61 2 9351 3841