MRes Medieval History

Start date
September
Duration
Full time: 1 year
Course Type
Postgraduate, Combined research and taught
Fees

Annual tuition fee for 2020/21: £6,120
International: £17,880
More detail.

Designed to develop your understanding of medieval history, MRes Medieval History combines independent research with 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.

Times Higher Education ranked the Department of History first in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise.

College of Arts and Law postgraduate scholarships available

The College of Arts and Law is offering a range of scholarships for our postgraduate taught and research programmes to ensure that the very best talent is nurtured and supported.

Learn more about our scholarships

Birmingham promotes the sort of academic culture which brings out the best in you and everyone is encouraged by the community of scholars around them. The vibrant research environment means that there's always something to get involved in or someone to share your experiences with.

Liam

Why Study this Course?

  • Specialist academic staff: 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.
  • Research expertise: Times Higher Education ranked the Department of History first in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise. There is a global approach to history as students can study anything from the Vikings to Islam in Afghanistan. This is unparalleled in the UK.
  • Preparation for further research: Students can use this programme as a launch pad for further doctoral research, obtaining a firm grounding in historical research methods, and a broad knowledge of relevant topics through course work and engaging with the academic community at Birmingham and beyond.

The postgraduate experience

The College of Arts and Law offers excellent support to its postgraduates, from libraries and research spaces, to careers support and funding opportunities. Learn more about your postgraduate experience.


Modules

MRes programmes offer a unique opportunity to deepen and develop your knowledge of the subject by combining taught elements with research training and a 20,000 word research thesis. supervised by a member of academic staff. 

They can lead to doctoral research, and will also provide the chance for you to undertake scholarly research as an enrichment of undergraduate study or for career development purposes.

Core modules

You will study two core modules:

Approaches to Medieval Studies

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

You 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 you 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. 
Assessment: Two 2,000-word essays

Research Skills in Medieval Studies

This module aims to equip you with the skills necessary to proceed to postgraduate thesis research with confidence. In the first term, you 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, you will meet with your thesis supervisors once in the Autumn and four times in the Spring for one-to-one tutorial meetings to discuss your chosen research topic and to develop a bibliography of primary and secondary materials as appropriate.
Assessment: 3,000-word essay and oral presentation

Optional modules

You will choose one 20-credit module from a range which typically includes:

Creating Europe: Complex Societies 1000 BC-AD 1000

This module explores the nature of complex societies in Europe from the Iron Age to the early medieval period, and their interactions with the state-organised societies of the Mediterranean. It is organised thematically and chronologically, focusing on interpretations of complex societies, large-scale economic and political systems, ethnicity, elite culture, chiefdoms, state formation, empire, urbanism, coinage, and long-term change. Case studies are drawn from a wide range of cultural contexts in north-west and central Europe, using both archaeological and historical evidence.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

History Advanced Options

A range of topics are available and vary from year-to-year. Recent options available to medieval studies students have included:

  • The Black Death in Medieval Europe: Disaster, Change and Recovery - this introduces you to the historiography of different aspects of the Black Death and the short, medium and long term effects of the arrival of the disease on a myriad of aspects of society. This is done by drawing on a wide range of primary and secondary sources, which will be examined critically in depth.
  • After the Mongols: Political Authority in Islamic Lands, 1200-1600 - How do ruling elites cope when they are conquered by people whose world views are so different from their own? This module examines the bases of political authority in Islamic lands between the 13th and 16th centuries to try to answer this question. The Mongol elimination of the Abbasid Caliphate in the 13th century posed fundamental challenges to Islamic notions of rule. For the first time in its history sedentary Islamic society was faced with the reality of non-Muslim rule and the pre-eminence of Turko-Mongol political culture with its emphasis on a pastoralist ethos. Over the course of the next three centuries Muslim scholars and rulers struggled to develop new ideas of political authority which could address the shifting political realities of their day. Such ideas ranged from resistance to accommodation and, over the centuries, they resulted in new ways of doing things. A consideration of these changes allows us to understand the ideological foundations of the early modern empires which dominated West and South Asia into the modern era.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay

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.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Meeting Medieval Manuscripts

From the sole-surviving manuscript of Beowulf to William Caxton’s introduction of the printing press to England, this module is designed to open up the fascinating world of medieval manuscript studies and book history. Throughout the semester we’ll use new online and digital resources to explore a series of key manuscripts and printed books from the eleventh century through to the early sixteenth century. Each week we’ll teach you how to read and transcribe different types of medieval handwriting (a skill known as palaeography) and introduce you to some of the central features of manuscript production (codicology) and early printing. We’ll focus week-by-week on a specific manuscript or type of manuscript (e.g. chronicles, book of hours, copies of The Canterbury Tales) and also discuss themes related to the study of the material text, including illumination and decoration, dialect, the production of miscellanies/anthologies, and digitisation. 
Assessment: 3,000-word essay and transcription assessment


Please note that the optional module information listed on the website for this programme is 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

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2020/21 are as follows:

  • UK/EU: £6,120 full-time; £3,060 part-time
  • International: £17,880 full-time

The above fees quoted are 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 UK/EU or international fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students


For EU students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the gov.uk website.

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.

How To Apply

Application deadlines

The deadline for International students to apply is Wednesday 1 July 2020. The deadline for UK/EU students is Thursday 10 September 2020.

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, which includes detailed advice on research proposals and how to write them.

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

Our Standard 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.

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 by holding an English language qualification to the right level; for this course, we ask for IELTS 6.5 with 7.0 in reading and 6.5 in all other bands.

International Requirements


Research in the Department of History has unique chronological and geographical depth, covering a wide range of British, European and world history from the early medieval period to the present, so we are able to provide expert supervision across a variety of topics.

Please contact a staff member working in your area of interest in the first instance. A summary of our key research areas, and staff working within those, can be found below.

 

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.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for your future career, but this can also be enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University and the College of Arts and Law.

The University's Careers Network provides expert guidance and activities especially for postgraduates, which will help you achieve your career goals. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated  careers and employability team who offer tailored advice and a programme of College-specific careers events.

You will be encouraged to make the most of your postgraduate experience and will have the opportunity to:

  • Receive one-to-one careers advice, including guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique, whether you are looking for a career inside or outside of academia
  • Meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs and employer presentations
  • Attend an annual programme of careers fairs, skills workshops and conferences, including bespoke events for postgraduates in the College of Arts and Law
  • Take part in a range of activities to demonstrate your knowledge and skills to potential employers and enhance your CV

What’s more, you will be able to access our full range of careers support for up to 2 years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: History

Our History postgraduates 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 5 years, 81% of History postgraduates were in work and/or further study 6 months after graduation (DLHE 2012 - 2017). Some of our History postgraduates go on to use their studies directly, for example in heritage or in museums. Others use their transferable skills in a range of occupations including finance, marketing, teaching and publishing. Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include Royal Air Force, Ministry of Defence, University of Birmingham, Royal Air Force Museum and University of Oxford.