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Course content

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:  .

Coursework and assessment

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.

Course unit details

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.

Medieval Pathway:

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.

Medieval Pathway:

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   .

Additional fee information

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.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: 

Visit the Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MA) page on the University of Manchester website for more details!




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