MRes Medieval Studies

This programme offers opportunities to engage in 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.

Your studies will be tailored to your particular interests and needs. You will benefit from the unique variety and extensive range of expertise in medieval studies across the disciplines at the University of Birmingham. 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 Medieval Studies MRes 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.

Why study this course

  • Develop your research skills with the supervision of leading researchers
  • Gain a qualification for entry onto a PhD programme or into a wide range of employment
  • Spend two thirds of your time on your dissertation and one third being taught the basics you need for your project
  • 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
  • Become 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. Topics for which supervision is normally available include: Chaucer and Dante: Modern Receptions; Chaucer and Dante: Response, Reaction, Assimilation; Courtly and Popular Song in the Middle Ages; Editing the Medieval Text in the Electronic Age; History, Chronicle and Annal in the Middle Ages; Medieval English Romance; Medieval German Adaptations of French Literature; Medieval German Courtly Romance; Medieval German Epic; Piers Plowman: Manuscripts, Texts and Contexts; Symbolism and Allegory in the Middle Ages; Text and Image in the Middle Ages; Women and the Early Printed Book; Writing, Religion and Politics in Late Medieval England.


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).

Related staff

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2016/17:

  • Home / EU £4,110 full-time; £2,055 part-time*
  • Overseas: £13,680 full-time

For part-time students, the above fee quoted is for year one only and tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

* For UK/EU postgraduate research students the University fee level is set at Research Council rates and as such is subject to change. The final fee will be announced by Research Councils UK in spring 2016.

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

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

Entry requirements

Our typical entry requirements are a 2.1 or first undergradute degree in a relevant degree subject.

Learn more about entry requirements

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

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

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

The department celebrated excellent Research Assessment Exercise 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’.

Within the Department there is also 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 vibrant 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.

In addition, the global edition of The New York Times has ranked the University 60th in the world and 9th in UK for post-qualification employability. The rankings illustrate the top 150 universities most frequently selected by global employers and are the result of a survey by French consulting firm Emerging and German consulting firm Trendence.

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

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.

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.

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.