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The MA Medieval History at Birkbeck is led by world-class academics, bringing their cutting-edge research into the classroom through a variety of ground-breaking subjects. The MA is distinguished in the UK by its global reach, and local depth: our expertise ranges from the Indian Ocean in the early middle ages, the archaeology of the high medieval Silk Road, and late medieval Italy, Germany, the Low Countries, France and the UK. The programme is unique in its emphasis on writing histories of the middle ages that cross disciplinary boundaries - including archaeology, history, literature, art history and musicology - and in equipping its students with skills to analyse a vast range of sources, including castles, cathedrals and caravan inns, coins, pottery, clocks, bells and burial sites,
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Our standard postgraduate entry requirement is a second-class honours degree (2:2 or above) from a UK university, or an equivalent international qualification. We offer a one-year Graduate Certificate in History, which can be used as a conversion course if you want to study history at postgraduate level, but have a degree in a significantly different discipline.
She says: ‘I found I was reading a lot of historical biographies and particularly medieval history. I had enjoyed history at school, but at 18 an academic choice wasn’t so appealing. However, with a degree in drama, I knew I needed to carry on studying, and an MA in something I was really interested in was the next step.’
‘I also knew I could only afford to do an MA if I worked at the same time. Birkbeck was great - it gives you that opportunity because you can work full time. I was determined to have no loans and no debt from doing this degree, and I knew that if I got the MA it would be a great stepping stone to working in a history-related field.’
Rachael got her first proper office job, as an administrator at a sports betting software company, to fit in with that aim. She started an MA in Medieval History at Birkbeck a year or so later, in October 2011.
She says: ‘Working while studying led to me getting my current job. After the software company I went to work for a football club as a PA, where I learned great skills for my CV and gained more experience in an administrative environment.’
‘I am now assistant to the director of the V&A Museum of Childhood – a job I love! I had to have a history degree to do the job, and I really enjoy working with people who are interested in culture, who read books and who are interested generally in the same things as me.’
Being an MA student at Birkbeck was a “fantastic experience”. Rachael adds: ‘As a Master’s student you have to take responsibility for your own reading and don’t expect to be led by the hand, but the support was always there. I have great respect for my tutors, and really enjoyed the modules and lectures. I sometimes found it difficult to balance work and study when writing essays and doing my dissertation – but I got there!’
‘I am on the first rung of my career now. I applied about 20 times for jobs like this previously, but I found the museum culture impossible to get into without a history degree. My MA helped me get my foot in the door.’
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