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master celtique
Master in celtic studies

General presentation

An International Master’s degree
The Centre for Breton and Celtic Research (University of Western Brittany, Brest) is pleased to present its two-year, European-Union certified Master’s degree course entitled “Celtic languages and Cultures in Contact”.

Celtic languages and cultures in contact

The CRBC, Centre for Breton and Celtic Research (University of Western Brittany, Brest) offers a two-year, European-Union certified Master’s degree course entitled “Celtic languages and Cultures in Contact”.
Located in Brest, Finistère ("Penn ar Bed in Breton, meaning literally the “end of the world”), the University of Western Brittany is situated in one of the most attractive regions in France. Furthermore, Brest is a couple of hours away from Rennes and Nantes, less than four hours from Paris by train and six hours by ferry from Devon, England.

An International Master’s degree

Thanks to our partnerships with the University of Ulster (Coleraine), University College Dublin and Aberystwyth University (Wales), this Master’s degree programme is one of a few in the world to offer students the possibility of learning most of the Celtic languages, medieval or modern. These languages will be studied over three semesters.

An opening onto Celtic countries

For the fourth and final semester students may choose to specialize in one of the medieval or modern Celtic languages and spend a semester abroad to do so. Students who prefer to concentrate on Breton have the choice of remaining in Brittany to perfect their linguistic skills and delve more deeply into the local culture.

Two strands: Medieval and Modern Celtic Worlds

Students registering for this Master’s have the choice of following one of two strands: “Medieval Celtic Worlds” or “Modern Celtic Worlds”. As the title implies, the first strand focuses on the study of medieval Celtic languages (Old Irish, Middle Welsh, Middle Breton) as well as their respective literatures and cultures. Medieval Latin and Old French are also on offer. Old French texts (in the original language) relating to the Arthurian Cycle and the Matter of Britain more generally are taught by specialists.

The focus of the second strand is on the modern Celtic languages (Irish, Welsh and Breton), their literatures and cultures. A little known fact is that Brittany, along with Wales, has the greatest number of native speakers (with over 200,000) of any of the living Celtic languages. A large spectrum of subjects ranging from ethnology, Celtic oral traditions to sociolinguistics and dialectology are on offer to those registering for this strand.

Common core curriculum

In addition to language study, students registered in either strand will also follow common courses in the history of the Celtic languages, mediaeval and modern Celtic literatures, as well as the history of the Celtic countries.

All students registered for this Master’s will also take compulsory courses in research methodology, digital humanities and will engage in internships (for example, translating research articles, participating in ongoing research projects in the CRBC archives…). For an overview of the students’ projects, visit their blog

Languages of instruction

During the first semester, a majority of classes will be taught through the medium of English. Nevertheless, some classes will be taught in French. It is therefore necessary to have at least an intermediate level of French and English to apply for the Master’s degree (Levels B1+ / B2 at the very least). Students may have the possibility to take extra courses in French or English to perfect their speaking and writing skills over time.

Breton: a Neglected Celtic Tongue

Because Brittany has long been geographically, culturally and linguistically isolated from the other Celtic-speaking nations, where English generally serves as the lingua franca between them, contacts with Brittany have only been sporadic since the 19th century Celtic Renaissance.

For this reason, of all the Celtic languages, Breton is perhaps the least known by Celticists around the world. Yet, the depth and variety of Brittany’s cultural and linguistic traditions are acknowledged by all specialists. We are confident that the strong Breton component in this Master’s degree programme will provide a unique dimension which is currently lacking in most other Celtic Studies curricula elsewhere in the world.

One of the great advantages of studying in Brittany (or at other universities elsewhere in France) is the low-cost of tuition / registration fees. UBO fees are around 250 euros.
While the cost of a university education continues to grow to high levels in many countries outside Europe, students at graduate and doctorate-level should be aware that there is another alternative.

The catholicon, 1464, the first trilingual dictionary in the world featuring Breton, Latin and French entries - Wikimedia Commons


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