MRes Medieval Literature

This programme offers opportunities to engage in the advanced study of Medieval English texts (or another medieval literature and culture), with options to explore links between medieval writing, cultural production and social processes.

During the programme, you will engage in ‘hands on’ work with original source materials such as the coins in the Barber Institute of Fine Art and the manuscripts and documents in the Cadbury Research Library.

Dr Emily Wingfield

Dr Emily Wingfield

“At Birmingham we aim to show that medieval literature and medieval lives are as relevant today as they were in the past.”

As part of the MRes Medieval Literature you are required to take the following modules:

  • Resources and Methods for Medieval Literary Studies
  • Bibliographical Methods
  • Approaches to Medieval Studies
  • A Topic in Medieval Texts, Cultures and Societies

These modules then provide the framework for a 20,000-word dissertation to complete the programme.

Why study this course

  • The University of Birmingham was ranked 41st in the World for English Language & Literature by the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017. These rankings are compiled annually to help prospective students identify the leading universities worldwide in a particular subject.
  • The department celebrated excellent Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 results. 34% of research at the University of Birmingham for English Language and Literature was top 4* rated ‘world-leading’. A further 53% was rated 3* ‘internationally excellent’.
  • You will have the opportunity to develop your research skills with the supervision of leading researchers and gain a qualification for entry onto a PhD programme or into a wide range of employment.
  • You will take your existing interest in medieval literature to the next level and do a serious piece of research in an area that really engages you. As well as becoming  a member of a dynamic community of staff and postgraduate medievalists.


Resources and Methods for Medieval Literary Studies

This module 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. Classes in language study and transcription will support work on the original texts (you may focus on Old English or Middle English; undergraduate study or equivalent of the variety chosen will be required for registration on the module).

Bibliographical Methods

This module introduces the key bibliographical resources and methods used in working with secondary sources for medieval literature and culture.

Approaches to Medieval Studies

The aim of this module is to enable you to place your core literary studies in relation to approaches to the medieval past from a range of other disciplines (such as archaeology, history, other languages & literatures, art history, etc). You will compare and critically evaluate the different methods, foci and strengths of a range of disciplines concerned with the study of the Middle Ages and appraise the implications of these different approaches and theories to the interpretation of primary source material (such as manuscripts, coins and documents).

A Topic in Medieval Texts, Cultures and Societies

This module offers you opportunities to tackle problems and issues that are at the forefront of current research on medieval texts, cultures and societies. Working independently, but with the regular guidance and feedback of a supervisor, you will research and write an essay on a current problem or issue related to your chosen topic, selected in consultation with the supervisor.  Generally subjects selected for study will be relevant to your proposed dissertation subject. 


Carrying out research for and writing the 20,000 word dissertation gives you the opportunity to develop and put into practice what you have learned on the taught modules. The dissertation is due at the end of the programme and may form the foundation for a doctoral project, or it may serve as a free-standing piece of work. You work under the guidance of a supervisor or joint supervisors (for example, for an interdisciplinary project).

Please note that the optional modules listed on the website for this programme are intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2017/18:

  • Home/EU: £4,195 full-time; £2,098 part-time
  • Overseas: £15,210 full-time

The above fee quoted is for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

Fee status

Eligibility for home/EU or overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students

We can also confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who have an offer to start their studies in 2017-18 or 2018-19 academic years will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time, provided this continues to be permitted by UK law. The UK Government has also confirmed that students from the EU applying to courses starting in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years will not see any changes to their loan eligibility or fee status. This guarantee will apply for the full duration of the course, even if the course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

Paying your fees

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Entry requirements

Our requirements for postgraduate research are dependent on the type of programme you are applying for:

  • For MRes and MA by Research programmes, entry to our programmes usually requires a good (normally a 2:1 or above) Honours degree, or an equivalent qualification if you were educated outside the UK.
  • Applicants for a PhD will also need to hold a Masters qualification at Merit level or above (or its international equivalent).

Any academic and professional qualifications or relevant professional experience you may have are normally taken into account, and in some cases, form an integral part of the entrance requirements.

If you are applying for distance learning research programmes, you will also be required to demonstrate that you have the time, commitment, facilities and experience to study by distance learning.

If your qualifications are non-standard or different from the entry requirements stated here, please contact the admissions tutor.

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Before you make your application

Please refer to our six step process on applying for PhD, MA by Research and MRes opportunities for Arts subject areas.

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Additional Guidance for applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode.

Making your application

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

The MRes Medieval Literature is homed in the Department of English.

Within the Department there is a Medieval English research cluster which offers support to students working in the area, as well as undertaking exciting projects investigating the cultural and material contexts of texts and thus providing a dynamic environment in which research can flourish. 

You’ll also benefit from the Centre for the Study of the Middle Ages (CeSMA) which facilitates academic research into the Middle Ages, from c.300 to c.1500 AD. CeSMA cuts across traditional disciplinary boundaries and unites historians, archaeologists, literary scholars, linguists and students who study medieval societies and cultures, meaning that as well as the support you’ll get from the English Department, you’ll be able to gain insight from a whole host of academics from across the university and have the opportunity to discuss research into medieval studies in the regular conferences held by the Centre.

Over the past five years, over 95% of our English postgraduates have been in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Graduate occupations have included banking, the charity sector, education, higher education, local government, police, PR, and media.

You will also become part of, and contribute to, the lively international community of the College of Arts and Law Graduate School, which offers dedicated research resources and a supportive working environment. Our team of academic and operational staff are on hand to offer support and advice to all postgraduate students within the College.

The University has been recognised for its impressive graduate employment, being named ‘University of the Year for Graduate Employment’ in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016.

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. The University also offers a wide range of activities and services to give our students the edge in the job market, including: career planning designed to meet the needs of postgraduates; opportunities to meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs, employer presentations and skills workshops; individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

University of the Year for employability

Birmingham's English Literature postgraduates develop a range of skills including presentation, communication and analytical skills, as well as the ability to work independently, think critically and develop opinions.

Over the past three years, over 96% of English Literature postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Many of our graduates go on to further study or academia, while others use their transferable skills in a wide variety of occupations including copywriting, PR, marketing, publishing and teaching.

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

In addition to the student groups hosted by the Guild of Students, each school runs its own social activities, research fora, seminars and groups for postgraduates.


Coming to Birmingham to study might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

Support in your studies

We offer an Academic Writing Advisory Service, which aims to help your transition to postgraduate research. The service offers guidance on organising your ideas and structuring an argument, referencing and avoiding plagiarism, being clear and coherent and editing your work for academic style and linguistic accuracy. Individual support is provided by a professional academic writing advisor via tutorials or email, as well as through the provision of online materials.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.