Gaelic MA

The Finn Cycle CELTCIV4034

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course considers fíanaigecht, the complex Gaelic tradition surrounding the figure of Finn mac Cumaill. The focus will be on the medieval literature composed and/or circulated in Ireland and Scotland, which will be studied in translation.


2 classes a week, each 1 hour long, over 10 weeks.


The mark for this course will be determined on the basis of an essay worth 25% of the total, a seminar worth 20% of the total (which breaks down as a written summary worth 15% and 5% for the oral presentation), a mark for class preparation and participation worth 5% of the total and a two-hour degree examination worth 50% of the total.

Essays: The essay should be a formal essay, of no less than 2000 words, and should comply with guidelines for essay completion given in the Celtic and Gaelic Honours Coursebook.

Seminars: All students will be expected to present a topic during a seminar. This will consist of introducing the topic or question to the class, describing the basic concepts and data involved, and leading discussion on the topic. Students will also submit a written summary (1500-2000 words) of their presentation, which will be assessed. In addition, all students are expected to contribute to discussion during the whole range of seminars.

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

The aims of this course are:

■ to develop the intellectual and analytical skills acquired during the first and second years, whether in Celtic or elsewhere

■ to introduce a range of past scholarly methodologies, as well as to new ideas derived from current research, as applied to a specific subject area and to invite students to evaluate the merits of the various approaches

■ to encourage the development of transferrable skills by fostering individual initiatives, personal choice and group discussion

■ to foster an understanding of pre-modern Gaelic culture through detailed analysis of an extensive literary corpus approached diachronically

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ give a detailed account of the development of Gaelic literature centred on the figure of Finn mac Cumaill from the earliest extant sources into the early modern period

■ situate, broadly, the pre-modern Gaelic tradition of Finn with relation to more modern reflexes of the tradition, such as vernacular Irish and Scottish folklore counterparts and Ossianic literature

■ discuss critically a wide number of primary texts, accessed in translation, including their literary features, in so far as this can be achieved with reference to translated texts

■ relate their understanding of the themes and debates in scholarship on the Finn Cycle to literary criticism of the wider corpus medieval Gaelic texts

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.