The survival of Welsh in the modern era – both as a living language and a dynamic literary medium – is a truly remarkable story. As Wales gradually evolves into a vibrant bilingual nation, there has never been a more exciting time to study the language and its literature at postgraduate level. Bangor University is located in the county of Gwynedd, where around 70% of the population speak both Welsh and English. No other university offers such a unique linguistic environment to study a living Celtic language and its literature.
Follow the links below for information on our Postgraduate courses:
- Welsh and Celtic Studies at Bangor (Why Bangor?)
- What can I study here?
- What prior experience must I have?
- Can I study as a mature student?
- What if I don’t know much Welsh?
Welsh and Celtic Studies at Bangor (Why Bangor?)
Bangor’s contribution to the growth of modern Welsh scholarship and learning has been immense. Contributing to Europe-wide scholarship at universities in Britain (most notably Oxford) and further afield (perhaps especially Germany and France), it was here in Bangor that John Morris-Jones compiled his monumental Welsh Grammar (1913). This cleared away numerous misconceptions and fabrications, and forms the basis of the modern literary language.
Between the 1930s and 1960s, it was at Bangor that Ifor Williams produced the first modern scholarly editions of the earliest Welsh poetry (arguably the earliest poetry of all Britain). Bangor also had an instrumental role in the production of three of the outstanding reference works of contemporary Wales, The Welsh Academy English-Welsh Dictionary (1995), Dictionary of the Place-Names of Wales (2007), and the Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales (2008).
At present, the School of Welsh at Bangor has expertise in all major fields of Welsh literature, and among its staff are some of contemporary Wales’s leading writers and creative practitioners, in both prose and poetry.
What can I study here?
Wales has an unbroken literary tradition that extends back to such medieval highlights as the tales of the Mabinogion (which include the Welsh Arthurian legends), the heroic poetry of the Book of Aneirin and the love and nature poetry of Dafydd ap Gwilym. During the twentieth century, writers such as T. Gwynn Jones, Saunders Lewis, Kate Roberts and T.H. Parry-Williams gave a dynamic new direction to the literature of Wales in the Modern period, experimentation which continues, ensuring that the unique Welsh aesthetic makes a vital contribution to local and international cultural concerns.
You may have an interest in the social history of minority languages and the manner of their survival in the modern world. How did Welsh survive the industrial revolution? What was the fate of the Welsh diaspora in north America and its own Welsh-language literature? What of the Welsh communities in Patagonia, Argentina? What is the connection between Welsh and the growth of nationalism in modern Wales? How does the Welsh literary tradition develop in recent times of multiculturalism and devolution? If you are intrigued by such questions, please get in touch with us.
What prior experience must I have?
If you have experience of studying literature or comparative literature at undergraduate level, we would be very interested in hearing from you. It is not necessary to have a degree in Welsh itself: many of our students come from other disciplines. Equally, you might be returning to study after some time away.
Can I study as a mature student?
Absolutely – many of our students come to us having spent time working in a range of professions.
What if I don’t know much Welsh?
We cater fully for students with little or no Welsh. The School of Welsh at Bangor works in close partnership with the University’s Welsh for Adult Unit, which has a host of courses and opportunities for students wishing to learn the language. Your language tuition needs will be assessed as part of the application process. Before embarking on your postgraduate course, you may well decide to take advantage of the Welsh for Adults Unit’s intensive three-week summer school for beginners. Written work may, as required, be submitted in English.
The great merit of our main MA is its flexibility and the fact that it allows a free choice of topics within the broad parameters of the discipline. If, for example, you are primarily interested in medieval literature, your course will be structured accordingly. If, on the other hand, you wish to undertake a study of modern Welsh literature, or, if you wish to pursue the social history of Welsh, our MA course will be able to accommodate your academic interests. In Part One of the MA scheme – the Diploma – your assessment will be based on three course essays (4,000 words each), and a significant proportion of your tuition will be delivered through weekly one-to-one sessions with your course supervisor. In Part Two (assessed by dissertation) you have the opportunity to research a topic of especial interest to you. The Welsh MA course is a 12-month course, but it can also be followed over two years on a part-time basis. See further here.
Research for the degree of MPhil or PhD may be conducted in the main fields of Welsh literature from the medieval period to the present, e.g. early court poetry, Welsh saga poetry, the tales of the Mabinogion, Dafydd ap Gwilym, the poets of the Welsh gentry, literature and society 1500–1900, the Welsh diaspora and Welsh culture of north America, the modern Welsh novel, modern Welsh poetry, the modern Welsh theatre, etc. We also welcome enquiries from students who are interested in the social history of Welsh, language and nationalism, language revival, corpus planning and place-name studies. Students who wish to conduct comparative or interdisciplinary research are especially encouraged to get in touch with us. See further here.
The Celt (MA)
An interdisciplinary MA, with modules taught by experts across Schools. With attention to literature, archaeology, religion, mythology, history, art history and music, we investigate the culture and identity of the Celtic peoples from the hillforts of prehistory through the cultural wonders of the Middle Ages to the devolved and independent parliaments of today. See further here.
For further details, contact:
Professor Gerwyn Wiliams (Postgraduate Tutor) or
Professor Peredur Lynch (Head of School)
School of Welsh