MA Medieval Studies

Designed to develop your understanding of medieval history, or introduce you to it if you have not studied it before, this is a taught degree with some provision for dissertation research.

We offer uniquely wide ranging expertise across the whole medieval period, from c. 300 to c. 1500. We cover all of the countries of western Europe, Scandinavia, the eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia and China, and have a broad range with thematic interests including religious cultures, socio-economic history, the Crusades, Islamic history, gender, manuscript studies, drama, regional literatures and history (West Midlands, Scotland, Spain, Iceland, Byzantium, Afghanistan, northern Eurasia), material culture, comparative history and the ‘global Middle Ages’.

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

Full module descriptions available below.

Why study this course

  1. Excellent research reputation – you will study alongside some of the finest minds in History. The Department of History was ranked first in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.
  2. Global approach - you will have the opportunity to study anything from the Vikings to Islam in Afghanistan. This is unparalleled in the UK. 
  3. Employability - You will be able to use this programme as a launch pad for further careers within or outside of academia, obtaining a firm grounding in historical methods, and a broad knowledge of relevant topics through coursework and engaging with the academic community at Birmingham and beyond. 
  4. Research networks - Postgraduate students across several schools run their own research network (Early Medieval, Medieval, Renaissance, Reformation, Early Modern c400-c1700, or EMREM), which organises regular seminars, training sessions, writing workshops and an annual postgraduate conference that has inspired similar ventures at other universities. Visiting postgraduate students have been inspired by the "highly organised, independent, go-getting atmosphere among students" and have been "hugely impressed by the EMREM postgraduate conference" and at the year-round programme of "highly organised, professional, and well-attended" events.
  5. Access to a wide range of services – As a postgraduate student you will have access to services such as the Academic Writing Advisory Service and the Bank of Assessed Work. You will be supported throughout your time at Birmingham – if that be aiding your transition from undergraduate to postgraduate level, or back into academia after a time away and making sure you develop as an academic writer. 


You’ll study these core modules on all pathways:

  • Approaches to Medieval Studies
  • Research Skills for Medieval Studies 

In addition, you will choose one pathway-specific core module:  

Medieval Archaeology pathway - Creating Europe: Complex Societies 1000 BC-AD 1000

This module provides an advanced overview of approaches to the archaeology of Europe, from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia, across a period extending from prehistory and the earliest historical times to the threshold of the Middle Ages.  

Medieval History pathway - Historical Methods

This module focuses primarily on the development of history writing since the Second World War. You will be introduced to some of the major schools of or tendencies in historical research in turn, in all of which medievalists have played a significant role: 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).

Byzantine Studies pathway - Methodologies in Byzantine Studies

This module provides an introduction to predominant research methodologies in Byzantine studies. You will be given introductory training in a variety of subject areas, such as historical writing, charters and documents, art history, numismatics, epigraphy and sigillography.  

Medieval Literature pathway - 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. 

You will also study three optional modules across the Autumn and Spring semesters. You may choose to study one of the core modules from the other pathways as one of your options, and you can choose from a range of other modules such as:

For full module descriptions, see our Medieval Studies MA modules page. Please note: modules and courses are constantly updated and under review. As with most academic programmes, please remember that it is possible that a module may not be offered in any particular year. The University of Birmingham reserves the right to vary or withdraw any course or module.

Related staff

Fees and funding

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

  • Home / EU: £6,570 full-time; £3,285 part-time
  • Overseas: £14,850 full-time

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

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 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

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.

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

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.

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

Birmingham has an outstanding reputation for research and teaching in medieval studies, which it has maintained for well over fifty years.

We have been rated highly in all three of the UK’s Research Assessment Exercises (RAE) and our library is one of the leading research libraries in the country, with exceptionally good medieval holdings. 

To support your studies, we have regular research seminars where visiting and Birmingham speakers present their research. The university’s Centre for the Study of the Middle Ages (CeSMA) acts as a focus for interdisciplinary research projects and events which feed into our teaching. In addition to this we have a large number of postgraduate students in medieval studies so you’ll have a supportive and sociable environment for your studies.

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.

Support with academic writing

As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.

International students can access support through the English for International Students Unit (EISU).

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.

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.

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.