Visit our website for more information on fees, scholarships, postgraduate loans and other funding options to study Early Modern History at Swansea University - 'Welsh University of the Year 2017' (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017).
The MA in Early Modern History offers the study of the period of history that runs from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, and encompasses the Renaissance, Reformation and Counter Reformation, and Enlightenment.
The wide-ranging expertise of Swansea University's early modern historians allows students to study British, European, American or Asian History. The MA in Early Modern History explores the history of art and culture, empire, gender, politics, religion, sexuality and science.
Swansea University has excellent research resources for postgraduate study in the area of Early Modern History. In addition to the general holdings in the University library, the National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth is within travelling distance. The University works closely with the National Galleries and Museums of Wales. There are a postgraduate common room and an electronic resources room available in the James Callaghan Building for students enrolled in the MA in Early Modern History programme.
The College of Arts and Humanities has a Graduate Centre. The Graduate Centre fosters and supports individual and collaborative research activity of international excellence and offers a vibrant and supportive environment for students pursuing postgraduate research and taught masters study. The Centre provides postgraduate training to enhance academic and professional development and facilitates participation in seminar programmes, workshops and international conferences.
The full-time Early Modern History course structure is split across the year with three modules taken in each academic semester (a total of six modules) and then a dissertation over the summer.
Students study three compulsory modules and three optional modules. The dissertation is written on a specialist research topic of the student's choosing.
Part-time study is available.
Students interested in early modern history from a history or related background. Students interested in preparation for postgraduate research, MPhil or PhD, or who wish to develop skills and knowledge related to early modern history.
Modules on the Early Modern History course typically include:
• Historical Methods and Approaches
• New Departures in the Writing of History
• Gender & Humour in Medieval Europe
• From Princely Possessions to Public Museums: A History of Collecting and Display
• Venice and the Sea
• Medieval Manuscripts
• Directed Reading in History
- To acquire advanced knowledge and understanding of a range of topics related to early modern history.
- To develop theoretical and methodological skills relevant to all aspects of the study of early modern history.
- To lay a solid foundation of knowledge and analytical and presentational skills for further research work in the field.
All staff in the Department of History and Classics are research active and publish books and articles in their areas of expertise. Our researchers are involved with the Arts and Humanities research centres: the Callaghan Centre for the Study of Conflict, Power and Empire, the Richard Burton Centre for the Study of Wales and the Research Groups: MEMO: the Centre for Medieval and Early modern Research and GENCAS: the Centre for Research into Gender in Culture and Society. Regular research seminars and lectures are run through these groups and also through the Research Institute for Arts and Humanities (RIAH) which students are encouraged to attend.
Career expectations are excellent for Early Modern History graduates. MA degree holders may move on to doctoral study or enter employment in such areas as museums, heritage and tourism; marketing, sales and advertising; business, art, design and culture; media and PR; social and welfare professions; humanitarian organisations; the civil service, and education.
“I graduated with a First-Class Honours BA History degree and an MA in Early Modern History from Swansea University. My four years of study here were truly the most enjoyable of my life so far! The lecturers, tutors and all members of the History department were also incredibly friendly and always willing to help. The MA was fully funded by a University Alumni bursary. The range of modules available to MA students is exceptional and the facilities here are fantastic. With a designated Arts and Humanities Postgraduate computer room and common-room area, as well as the University’s very own archives, Swansea is a great place to study History.”
Cath Horler, Early Modern History, MA
The MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies is an interdisciplinary MA associated with Durham's Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS), and is currently run from the History Department. The programme is suitable for students whose undergraduate training is in Archaeology, Classics, History, Literature/Languages, Philosophy, Theology, or other related disciplines. The main aim of the programme is to prepare students for doctoral research in the study of the medieval and early modern past by offering outstanding interdisciplinary training to equip students with the skills they need for their future careers. It is taught by specialists who are members of IMEMS, primarily from the departments of Archaeology, Classics, English, History, Modern Languages and Cultures, Philosophy and Theology.
Students are incorporated into the vibrant research communities within departments, IMEMS, and the university. Durham has a large and extremely active postgraduate community, and IMEMS supports the Medieval and Early Modern Student Association (MEMSA), whose members organise regular seminars and conferences. IMEMS has more than fifty staff members from arts, humanities, social science and science departments across the University, all active researchers, and is one of the largest gatherings of scholars in this area in the world. IMEMS is situated in the historic setting of the World Heritage Site, which includes Durham Cathedral, Durham Castle, and the surrounding area. Students of medieval and early modern studies at Durham benefit from the rich archival and manuscript resources in the collections of the University (at Palace Green Library and at Ushaw College) and in the Cathedral Library, while the wider regional resources for study of the period are also highly significant.
All students on the MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies take two core modules, Reading the Medieval and Early Modern Past, and Writing the Medieval and Early Modern Past (30 credits each); both of these run throughout Michaelmas and Epiphany Terms. Students also write a 15,000-word dissertation (60 credits), supervised by one of Durham's specialists, which allows them to focus on a specialist topic of their choice in the period AD 300-1700, which may be interdisciplinary or focused primarily on one of the individual disciplines which make up the programme. They also take two optional modules (30 credits each) which run either in Michaelmas or Epiphany or throughout both terms. These may be content, language or skills modules, and are drawn from the seven participating departments as well as Durham’s other centres and programmes. All elements of the programme have embedded within them a range of content, subject-specific skills, and key skills.
The two team-taught core modules enable students to develop advanced skills in interpreting and usinga range of different kinds of source-material from the medieval and early modern periods, including textual, material and visual culture. They allow students to consider developments over the longue duree and enable a more rounded understanding of how a range of themes, ideas and institutions changed from the end of the classical world, through the Middle Ages and into the early modern era. These modules are intended to guide students whose backgrounds are in a range of disciplinary specialisms towards an understanding of how study of the medieval and early modern past can be nuanced and enhanced by approaches from multiple different disciplines used alongside each other. The modules also help students develop from a more tutor-led approach to independent learning, in order to support their work on their dissertations and their future careers. Reading the Medieval and Early Modern Past takes one key item or body of material (e.g. a text, a site, an archive) as a lens through which to explore different disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to studying the period 300-1700. Students are assessed by a 5000-word essay on a topic of their choice connected with the themes of the module. Writing the Medieval and Early Modern Past focuses on major themes, movements and institutions which can best be examined across the whole medieval and early modern period, and which can best be explained by close study of change and continuity over a long period of time. A number of these themes will invite interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary approaches, and thus will allow students to develop their skills in bringing together different kinds of material for study of the past. Students are assessed for this module by a) a 4000-word essay on a topic of their choice, connected with the themes of the module, and b) a 15-minute presentation.
Students choose two optional modules offered by the departments participating in the programme. These modules are taught by subject specialists and usually involve a series of seminars with an emphasis on close study of original material from the medieval and early modern periods, and provide a ‘step up’ from the level of final-year undergraduate study. The breadth of modules available means that students can develop their skills and research interests according to their own tailored programme and with the advice of their dissertation supervisor, ensuring the best possible preparation for the future. There are also some modules focusing on particular skills-training such as medieval or modern languages or auxiliary skills (e.g. Latin; Ancient Greek; Old Norse; Old English; Academic French; Academic German; Palaeography).
The range of optional modules in each year varies according to staff availability and departmental provision, but as a representative sample optional modules may include the following:
The MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies offers you an opportunity to pursue your interest in the literatures, histories, and cultures of the European Middle Ages and Early Modern periods. Research in this fascinating area has a long and distinguished history at the University of Manchester. We have a lively research culture, with talks, seminars and conferences that you will be able to attend in addition to your taught courses. You will also be able to draw on the expertise of scholars engaged in cutting-edge research at the John Rylands Research Institute, where the programme is based. The John Rylands Library houses exceptional medieval and early-modern treasures (which are currently being digitised) and offers many exciting research and study opportunities. Staff teaching on this MA represent the disciplines of History, Art History and Visual Studies, English, Religions and Theology, Classics, and European Languages. Two pathways are available for students who wish to extend their knowledge in a particular chronological direction: Medieval, and Early Modern.
Find out more about Medieval and early Modern Studies at Manchester: Why Manchester?
Associate Programme Director: [email protected] .
Summative assessment is primarily via extended pieces of written work: the dissertation of around 15,000 words, long essays of around 4,000-6,000 words, and a variety of shorter pieces for palaeography or language classes. There is a pass mark of 50% for all assignments, marks over 60% are given as merit and over 70% as distinction. In addition, depending on the units selected, formative assessment may be based on oral presentation, class discussion, and feedback on written draft material. Assessment varies from course unit to course unit; full details of the assessment procedure for individual units can be obtained from the course director.
Those who only attain 120 credits (out of 180) will be awarded the PG Diploma in Medieval Studies.
The first component takes the form of the compulsory core courses and research training units. These are taken by students on all pathways.
These courses (details below in the course unit list) are designed to introduce you to the basics of interdisciplinary analysis, and to research training skills appropriate to the scope of the course. 'From Papyrus to Print: The History of the Book' and 'Reading the Middle Ages and Early Modern period: Palaeography, Codicology and Sources' are taught in the magnificent surroundings of the John Rylands Library, with the support of specialist library staff. You will get the opportunity to view and handle rare books and manuscripts from across the entire period. The aim is to consider all aspects of book production, from the roll to the codex and from script to print, as well as the uses (practical and symbolic) of texts in medieval culture. You will be introduced to a range of medieval sources, recent theoretical approaches to archival research, and learn methodological skills, such as palaeography and codicology.
'Perspectives in Medieval and Early Modern Studies Studies' aims to explore the methodological, historiographical and analytical choices that shape our study of the medieval and early modern periods. Highlighting the variety of disciplinary approaches that are in use in current scholarship, this module shall investigate a series of relevant themes within the field, and will be taught by specialists from across the School. Students will be encouraged to question issues of historical periodisation, the benefits of interdisciplinarity, and how an intellectual framework for the study of the medieval and early modern periods may be conceptualised.
The second component consists of 60-credits worth of optional modules. These options range widely over the history, literature, art and material culture of the medieval and early modern world. You may also take Latin or Old/Middle English (15-30 credits) - appropriate level taken to be discussed with the Programme Director, in consultation with the relevant department. Options to take other languages, such as Hebrew, Arabic, or Greek can be considered, in consultation with the programme director. A student can take no more than 30 language credits.
Of the optional modules selected, 15 credits must clearly be of relevance to the medieval period.
Early Modern Pathway:
Of the optional modules selected, 15 credits must clearly be of relevance to the early modern period.
Students may choose other relevant options from across the School, subject to approval by the relevant course directors. Details of new available options will appear here. Please check again in June, or contact the course director.
The third component consists of the dissertation, which allows you to research a topic of your choice (60 credits).
Students on all pathways must complete a dissertation.
The dissertation topic selected must lie within the medieval period.
Early Modern Pathway:
The dissertation topic selected must lie within the early modern period.
If you have any further academic queries, please email [email protected] .
Self-funded international applicants for this course will be required to pay a deposit of £1000 towards their tuition fees before a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) is issued. This deposit will only be refunded if immigration permission is refused. We will notify you about how and when to make this payment.
Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: [email protected]
The Early Modern Studies MA offers an innovative blend of skills training (palaeography and historical bibliography), object-based learning and museum visits. The core modules cover a wide range of disciplines, giving you a broad understanding of the early modern period. You can then tailor your programme to suit your interests, with over thirty optional modules, covering early modern culture, history and society.
The MA will teach you critical reading skills, the ability to assess and weigh evidence, and construct persuasive arguments. It combines training in book history, bibliography, and paleography with a range of theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of the early modern period.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of three core modules (45 credits), between two and four optional modules (45 credits) and a dissertation (90 credits).
Optional modules (indicative list)
Students choose up to 45 credits from a list which varies each year. An up-to-date list is available on our department website. Below is an indicative list, showing modules that have been offered previously.
All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 18,000 words.
Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of tutorials, seminars, workshops, presentations, class discussions and library, archive, museum and gallery visits. Assessment is through essays, annotated bibliography and the dissertation.
Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Early Modern Studies MA
Many of our students have been accepted to undertake further study as research students both at UCL and elsewhere, including the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, York and Swansea. In addition our students have been successful in obtaining funding and prizes including the Bryce-Jebb and Doris Russell Scholarships and the prestigious John Edward Kerry Prize awarded by the Malone Society. Graduates may also find careers in the heritage or cultural industries.
Recent career destinations for this degree
This MA will give you a very specific skill set, including manuscript handling and archival research. Depending on the optional modules you select you may also develop language skills and knowledge in information technologies and database use. These transferable skills will make you very employable within the heritage or cultural sectors, as well as library work, the arts, and other roles which require intensive research and/or information management.
Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.
This is a bespoke programme of study, unique to your interests with over thirty optional modules, all taught by leading scholars, in a wide range of subjects including art, history, law, literature, politics and science.
Practical, hands-on modules, with ‘traditional’ skills such as palaeography and textual bibliography are taught alongside the latest techniques in databases and XML. The programme includes field trips to museums, archives and galleries.
Our central London location provides privileged access to a wide range of world-class museums, rare-books libraries and archives. Located in Bloomsbury, it is a short walk to the exceptional resources of the British Library and the British Museum.
The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.
Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.
This degree in Early Modern English Literature is taught with the British Library and provides a unique opportunity to study early modern literary works, including Shakespeare, in the light of recent critical approaches and as print and manuscript material artefacts.
The required module taught at the British Library is specifically designed to teach students how to search collections of early modern manuscripts and rare books held in major research libraries worldwide and how to identify the agents involved in their production, transmission and preservation in libraries and private collections.
Ideal foundation for doctoral work and careers in the arts, education, curatorship and broadcasting.
Our Early Modern English Literature MA is an innovative and exciting partnership between the Department of English at King’s and the British Library.
The course focuses on the transmission of key early modern literary texts, meaning both the circulation of literary texts in manuscript and print as well as the way they were received. The specific process through which a literary text reaches its readers or its audience is central to its interpretation.
You will learn to read early modern handwriting, to transcribe neglected literary manuscripts and rare printed texts, and to edit them for the modern reader. In focusing on transmission, the course explores the impact of the materiality of the text and of the material conditions of its (re) production on the way it is interpreted.
The Material Legacy of Early Modern Literary Texts module, which is taught at the British Library, is specifically designed to teach you how to search collections of early modern manuscripts and rare books held in major research libraries worldwide, and how to identify the factors and people involved in their production, transmission and preservation in libraries and private collections.
Early Modern English Literature is taught with the British Library and provides a unique opportunity to study early modern literary works, including Shakespeare, in the light of recent critical approaches and as print and manuscript material artefacts. Ideal foundation for doctoral work and careers in the arts, education, curatorship and broadcasting.
If you are a full-time student, we will provide you with four to six hours of teaching each week through lectures and seminars. We will expect you to undertake 26 hours of independent study.
If you are a part-time student, we will provide you with two to four hours of teaching each week through lectures and seminars. We will expect you to undertake 13 hours of independent study.
We assess all of our modules through coursework, normally with a 4,000-word essay. For your dissertation module, you will write a 4,000-word critical survey and a 15,000-word dissertation.
King’s College London is regulated by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
The Masters in English Literature: Early Modern Literature and Culture is a flexible, interdisciplinary programme taught by Glasgow’s internationally renowned team of experts. It offers students the practical, historical, and theoretical skills needed for advanced study in this area. The programme’s flexibility means that you can tailor your study according to your own research interests. Students are also able to draw on Glasgow’s exceptional holdings of medieval and early modern manuscript and printed materials.
In this programme you will undertake three core courses and three optional courses. You will also undertake a 15,000 word dissertation.
With the permission of the course convenor, there is also the opportunity to take one of the optional courses available from the other pathways in English Literature and from across the College of Arts.
The two semesters of coursework are followed by one term of supervised work towards a dissertation of up to 15,000 words which you will submit at the beginning of September. The topic normally arises out of the work of the previous two semesters, but the choice is very much open to the student’s own initiative. Your supervisor helps you to develop the proposal and plan the most appropriate reading and methodology.
Part-time students take all three core courses plus one optional course in their first year of study, and two optional 20 credit courses and the dissertation in their second year.
Are you interested in exploring the history of sixteenth-, seventeenth- or eighteenth-century Britain, Europe and the wider world?
The MA Early Modern History, organised by the Centre for Reformation and Early Modern Studies (CREMS), is taught by leading scholars whose expertise covers the Catholic and Protestant Reformations, New World discoveries, and the political, cultural and religious worlds of sixteenth-, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England and Europe. It combines political, religious, social, cultural, material and intellectual approaches to introduce the early modern period in all its richness and complexity, and to equip students with the knowledge and skills to take a fresh look at early modern history.
The enormous breadth of staff expertise gives you a rich variety of options, and a wide range of possibilities for your dissertation topic. The programme also offers comprehensive research training opportunities, providing the ideal grounding to undertake a PhD in this area.
Times Higher Education ranked the Department of History first in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise.
Early modern history has become increasingly interdisciplinary, with researchers drawing on the insights of anthropology, sociology, cultural and literary studies, art history, and musicology, as well as history, when writing about the past.
Topics such as violence, clothing, gender, exploration, art, drama, music, buildings and material culture have come to be seen as crucial to understanding the transformations that were taking place across the period c.1500-c.1700. These new approaches are integral to the teaching and research training provided on this course. There is also an annual field trip, designed to explore key themes and issues outside of the classroom, in the context of key buildings, documents and historical artefacts.
You will study two core modules in early modern history (full descriptions available below):
You will also study the department's core module in 'Historical Methods', take a module in research preparation, and choose from a range of optional modules, including special subjects, advanced options, and further research training.
Modules are typically assessed by written assignment, with the exception of Research Preparation which also requires a presentation. You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation on an agreed topic. The range of supervisory expertise within CREMS means that we can support dissertations in almost any area, so long as there are sufficient historical sources to support your chosen topic. Birmingham provides access to excellent library resources in early modern history, including an impressive range of digitised primary source material, from state papers and archives to printed books and much more.
The Centre for Reformation and Early Modern Studies (CREMS) provides a focus for research in this area at Birmingham.
Its leading members have a high international research profile, making this one of Britain’s largest clusters of expertise in this area. The Centre also has a regular seminar series, which will support and inform your learning. This includes an annual lecture (past speakers have included Diarmaid MacCulloch, Peter Lake, Mark Greengrass, Andrew Pettegree, Ulinka Rublack and Susan Brigden) and an ongoing programme of conferences.
CREMS also has particularly close links with the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon which provides a focus for a full range of seminars, conferences and research activities related to the study of the literary history of Elizabethan and Jacobean England.
During your course, you will receive thorough training in research methods relating to the history of this period, including instruction in palaeography to enable you to read original manuscripts, training in various languages as required, and a regular seminar that explores interdisciplinary approaches to the theory and practice of research.
Support with academic writing
As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.
International students can access support for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).
This course focuses on the history of Britain, Europe and the wider world between c.1500–1800, highlighting themes of political, cultural, religious and social history. The course is taught by experts in the histories of the Reformation and the Enlightenment, gender, the material world of the Renaissance, race and racism, and on Britain, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and the Iberian world, offering you the opportunity to choose from a wide range of modules.
Leads to further research or careers in museums, journalism, finance and the cultural sector.
Our Early Modern History MA bridges the division between British and European history that exists on many courses, focusing on ways in which cultural, political and social themes stretch across the period c.1500–1800.
The course is taught by experts in the histories of the Reformation and the Enlightenment, gender, the material world of the Renaissance, race and racism, and on Britain, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and the Iberian world. Their research connects the political and the social, the cultural and the religious dimensions of the early modern world, and our course will give you interdisciplinary perspectives on early modern history.
You will write a dissertation at the end of your course, but you will begin by testing concepts such as identity, mentality, religion; by challenging models of change including modernization, state-building, the civilising process, reformation, enlightenment and revolution; and by trying out different methodologies such as cultural history, gender, thinking with material objects, global history, using digital data.
Our optional modules offer you different perspectives on religion, society, politics and culture, by examining primary sources of all kinds alongside the most recent historiographical interpretations. We will also develop your practical skills through modules such as advanced historical skills, including palaeography, Latin from beginner to advanced levels, and offer the chance to learn a European language. The flexibility of the course means that you can also take relevant modules from other departments in, for example, early modern English or French literature, the Iberian world and Digital Humanities. You can also attend relevant undergraduate lecture series such as Power, Culture and Belief in Europe 1500–1800 and Early Modern Britain 1500–1750.
You will have access to an excellent range of library resources. Our long-standing expertise in the early modern period means our library has an extensive collection of journals and books in this field. You can also use the British Library, Senate House Library (University of London) and the Institute of Historical Research. We provide access to the most significant online collections of primary printed material, Early English Books Online and the Eighteenth Century Online and to JSTOR and other online resources for secondary material.
The MA Early Modern History course offers a rigorous introduction to the advanced study of early modern history, providing training in the historiographical and technical skills necessary for doctoral study, but is also designed for those who want to deepen their knowledge of the period.
We teach our modules through small seminar groups where we will debate and discuss ideas based on extensive reading.
If you are a full-time student, we will provide you with six to nine hours of teaching each week, and we will expect you to undertake 32 to 34 hours of independent study.
If you are a part-time student, we will provide you with two to six hours of teaching each week, and we will expect you to undertake 14 to 18 hours of independent study.
For your dissertation we will provide you with six hours of one-to-one supervision and we will expect you to undertake 574 hours of independent study.
Typically, one credit equates to 10 hours of work.
We will assess your performance through coursework and occasionally exams. The majority of the history modules are assessed by coursework essay; other optional modules may differ.
King’s College is regulated by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
You have come to the right place in every respect to learn about Medieval and Early Modern Studies. The campus and university were initiated in 1495 so there are plenty of architectural wonders and history to interest you whilst you study in 'Old Aberdeen.' The architecture is truly stunning and totally unexpected as you enter the university from the centre of Aberdeen. As you would expect in a university of this age and rich heritage there are also special collections hosting a variety of cultural artefacts. If you haven't visited University of Aberdeen it is well worth a tour to understand just how much history you get whilst you study. There are obvious connections from the university with many of the periods of medieval and early modern eras you study.
This is an interdisciplinary programme which allows you to connect our contemporary world with the past. You can study a great range of areas in terms of courses that make up your programme and you have the ability to really understand ancient kingdoms and civilisations from the past. You may want to study further after this programme or you may be able to advise within heritage tourism, museums and tourist sites. You may also like to get involved in writing and publishing or a wide range of other careers. Aberdeen provides you with a great teaching experience in an even greater setting which is medieval in origin.
The courses reflect research interests drawn from various disciplines including History, Church History and Divinity, Celtic, English, French, History of Art, Law, Philosophy and Scottish and Irish Studies and is supported by highly specialised teaching and research staff. The MLitt provides ample opportunity to use the large depository of late medieval and early modern materials in the University's Special Collection, which has new state of the art rooms in the new Library.
You must acquire 180 credits (105 credits from courses, 75 dissertation)
Optional Potential areas for study:
Find out more detail by visiting the programme web page
Find out about fees
*Please be advised that some programmes have different tuition fees from those listed above and that some programmes also have additional costs.
Find out more about:
Find out more about living in Aberdeen and living costs