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Medieval Studies MA

Course Description

Serious study of the Middle Ages must be interdisciplinary, and accordingly our programme allows you to gain interdisciplinary skills while studying a discipline-specific pathway at an advanced level, providing you with a solid grounding for your further studies or future career. We offer pathways in history, literature, Byzantine Studies and archaeology, and can offer additional expertise in art history, music and numismatics, all taught by scholars enjoying international recognition in their fields.

Our collective interests are uniquely wide ranging, covering the whole medieval period from c. 300 to c. 1500, and all the countries of western Europe, Scandinavia, the eastern Mediterranean, Central Asia and China, with thematic interests including religious cultures, socio-economic history, the Crusades, gender, manuscript studies, drama, regional literatures and history (West Midlands, Scotland, Spain, Iceland, Byzantium, Bactria, northern Eurasia), material culture, comparative history and the ‘global Middle Ages’. Accordingly we can supervise a wide range of dissertation topics. We encourage students to take language options relevant to their interests, with offerings that include Latin, Greek, Old and Middle English, modern European languages, Arabic, Chinese and Japanese. Our programme thus also provides a strong foundation for those who wish to go on to doctoral research.

Course details

Students engage in advanced study of their chosen discipline through a core module in their field, taken alongside a multi- and interdisciplinary core module that brings together all the students on the programme for comparison of methods and a wide range of case studies. Research skills are taught in a dissertation-focused module, and students take three optional modules, usually including at least one language. In all teaching students are encouraged to apply class material to their own specific research interests and their dissertation.

The programme is made up of three elements:

Three core modules (two interdisciplinary and one for your pathway)
Three optional modules (usually including a language)
A 15,000-word dissertation, supervised by a specialist in your chosen field

You’ll study these core modules on all pathways:
Approaches to Medieval Studies
Research Skills for Medieval Studies

The Medieval Literature pathway - Resources and Methods for Medieval Literary Studies introduces the key resources and methods used in working with original medieval literary sources. You will be introduced to the examination of medieval manuscript books and to the principles and practices of editing texts from manuscript.

Your three optional modules across the Autumn and Spring semesters can be chosen from a wide range of options. You may choose to study one of the core modules from the other pathways as one of your options.


The University of Birmingham has been ranked 8th in the UK and 60th in the world for post-qualification employability in the latest global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School.

Over the past five years, over 92% of History postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Some of our History postgraduates go on to use their studies directly, for example in heritage, museum or archivist work. Others use their transferable skills in a range of occupations from finance to civil service to fundraising. Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include: Alcester Heritage Network; HSBC; KPMG; Ministry of Defence; and the National Trust.

Explore postgraduate study at Birmingham at our on-campus open day (Friday 4 March 2016). Register to attend at: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/pgopendays

If you can’t make it to one of our on-campus open days, our virtual open days run regularly throughout the year. For more information, please visit: http://www.pg.bham.ac.uk

Visit the Medieval Studies MA page on the University of Birmingham website for more details!

Entry Requirements

An honours degree in a subject related to the chosen pathway, such as History, English, Archaeology or Theology, is required, normally upper second class level (2.1) or its equivalent for overseas applicants. Graduates without these qualifications (for example with a lower second class degree, or a degree in a different subject) are very welcome to apply and their application will be considered on its merits. Applicants may be asked to submit written work and/or attend an interview. For some pathways evidence of relevant linguistic ability may be required.

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