MRes Medieval History

Image for Medieval History MRes

Designed to develop your understanding of medieval history, or introduce you to it if you have not studied it before, this is a research degree with some provision for taught modules. It provides an exciting opportunity to research a medieval topic of your own choice and helps you to develop your research and related skills, as well as allowing you to study broader historical subjects with other postgraduates.

The Department of History was ranked first in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Combined research and taught

Study Options: Full time, part time

Duration: 1 year full-time; 2 years part-time

Start date: September


The degree consists of three elements which make a total of 180 credits:

• Core modules - normally Approaches to Medieval Studies (20 credits) and Research Skills for Medieval Studies (20 Credits)
• Optional module, such as Historical Methods, chosen from an extensive list of modules offered across History's MA courses (20 credits)
• Thesis of 20,000 words (120 credits)

The courses are assessed in various ways – by examination, coursework and attendance.


Why study this course

“What I’m really interested in is what was being used as money before coins came into common use in England. Being part-time I have limited time at the university, but the events that I’ve attended, and more especially the people that I’ve met, have more than made up for the limited opportunities to talk and socialise. The conferences, occasional lectures and presentations and the field trips that I’ve attended have helped me to view my own research differently, suggesting new avenues of research and reinforcement of what I’ve been doing. That the approach has been cross-disciplinary has been very useful, as it’s far too easy to compartmentalise when involved in a specialist field. When I started out, what I really required was some mental stimulation, and this I’ve found in the company of people who also really enjoy learning and who are friendly, constructive and open-minded about their subjects.”

[Mark Errington (part-time), who is researching money and money-equivalents in seventh- and eighth-century England.]

 “I chose Birmingham and this course for two reasons. First and foremost there was the option to study part-time, which was essential for me with my family commitments and not being resident in Birmingham. Secondly, once I began making enquiries it became apparent that the staff members I was dealing with were interested in my background as a mature student, and seemed willing to tailor their input to suit my needs. This has continued to be the case: I came to Birmingham with clear ideas about what I wanted to research, and although they have been modified as I’ve learnt more about the medieval period, I’ve never felt that I was being pushed into a mould. In my experience the programme is about learning how to do your own research, in an encouraging and stimulating environment. Everyone I’ve met, both staff and fellow postgraduates, has been willing to share expertise - as often over coffee in the Common Room as in the weekly Research Seminars.”

[Katherine Lack (part-time), who is researching the life of Duke Robert Curthose and the impact of 'political propaganda' in the eleventh-century Anglo-Norman succession disputes.]


Core Modules

The following two modules form represent the core of the taught component of this course:

Approaches to Medieval Studies

Medieval Studies is a field to which many different disciplines contribute; the aim of this module is to expose students to approaches to the medieval past from a range of disciplines (such as archaeology, history, language & literature, art history, etc), in order to enable them to discuss and compare various approaches, and critically assess their utility for the students' own research.

Students will use key texts and case studies on important themes in the study of the Middle Ages (such as gender, space, the life-cycle, social groups, the nature of power) and each session will be led by two tutors, each from a different discipline, allowing students to directly compare different disciplines' approaches and methods. Seminars will also deal with a selection of contemporary critical and cultural theories and associated modes of analysis. 

Research Skills in Medieval Studies

This module aims to equip students with the skills necessary to proceed to postgraduate dissertation research with confidence. In the first term students will meet for a fortnightly seminar that will consider themes that may include: (1) building a bibliography; (2) academic writing; (3) footnotes and citation; (4) writing and delivering academic papers; (5) reviewing. In addition, students will meet with their dissertation supervisors once in the Autumn and four times in the Spring for one-to-one tutorial meetings to discuss their chosen research topic and to develop a bibliography of primary and secondary materials as appropriate.

Optional Module

One further 20 credit module must be chosen from the school of History's extensive suite of taught-MA modules, such as:

Historical Methods

This module introduces you to the major developments in historical approaches since the Second World War and to some of the major schools of, or tendencies in, historical research such as the Annales School, the English historians’ response to Marxism, cultural history, the linguistic turn, gender, history of science and critical social theory (Geertz and Foucault). The focus is on the application of the ideas to historical practice then and now.


Under the guidance of your academic supervisor, you will complete a dissertation of up to 20,000 words on a subject of your choice, providing an exciting opportunity to research a medieval topic of your own choice and helps you to develop your research and related skills, 

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2015/16 are currently as follows:

  • Home / EU £4,052 full-time; £2,026 part-time
  • Overseas: £13,195 full-time; £6,597.50 part-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.

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments.

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

Learn more about postgraduate tuituion 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.

Birmingham Masters Scholarship Scheme

For 2015 entry the University has 224 new £10,000 scholarships available for Masters students from under-represented groups. These scholarships have been jointly funded by the British Government; the allocation of the awards, which is the fourth highest in the UK, further cements Birmingham?s place amongst the very best higher education institutions for postgraduate study. The application deadline is 31 July 2015.

Entry requirements

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

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

Learning and teaching

The Medieval History MRes forms part of 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 History 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 history in the regular conferences held by the Centre.


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 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.

Birmingham’s History graduates develop a broad range of transferable skills that are highly valued by a range of employers. These skills include: familiarity with research methods; the ability to manage large quantities of information from diverse sources; the ability to organise information in a logical and coherent manner; the expertise to write clearly and concisely and to tight deadlines; critical and analytical ability; the capacity for argument, debate and speculation; and the ability to base conclusions on statistical research.

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.