Postgraduate taught 

Celtic Studies MSc

Finn in Gaelic Literature CELTCIV5027

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course considers the complex Gaelic literary tradition surrounding the legendary warrior Finn mac Cumaill, which encompasses glossaries, genealogies, short tales, poetry and lengthy prosimetric works. The focus is on the medieval and early modern literature composed in Ireland and Scotland, which is encountered through translation, but the modern reflexes of the tradition are also assessed, including Anglophone works such as Macpherson's *Ossian*.


10 one-hour lectures (average of one per week)

6 one-hour seminars (average one per fortnight, including an introductory seminar)

4 one-hour tutorials (at beginning of course; two to support preparation of essay; and one for feedback)

The only shared experience with honours students is the 10 lectures (which are designed to introduce issues and establish critical approaches). The course is at the 'cutting edge', so all students, regardless of level, would sensibly share the same starting points. In the case of MLitt students, the ILOs reflect the higher level attained in seminars, tutorials and written work.

Excluded Courses

'The Finn Cycle' honours course.



seminar paper of 15 minutes on a topic selected by student in discussion with tutor: 30%

contribution to seminars (engagement with discussion and in setting agenda for next seminar): 10%

3,500 word essay: 60%



In accordance with the University's Code of Assessment reassessments are normally set for all courses which do not contribute to the honours classifications. 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 are listed below in this box.

Course Aims

This course aims:

■ to provide a detailed introduction to the complex Gaelic tradition centred on the figure of Finn mac Cumaill and an opportunity for students to situate particular iterations of the Finn tradition within a wider understanding of the development of (Irish and Scottish) Gaelic cultural identity

■ to develop literary critical skills in relation to a wide range of pre-modern Gaelic texts

■ to engage with current debates and methodologies in Celtic Studies

■ to foster deep learning, including through autonomous research, which will be communicated via seminar presentation and essay

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ reflect upon a wide range of critical issues through seminar participation

■ communicate detailed understanding of Gaelic literary tradition, based on a critical engagement with both primary texts and scholarly debates, by means of a seminar presentation

■ conduct independent research into the Finn literature and articulate an argument in a sustained piece of writing

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.