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MRes Medieval History

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

Annual tuition fee 2022 entry:
UK: £6,540 full-time; £3,270 part-time
International: £19,800 full-time
More detail.

Develop your understanding of Medieval History by completing your own independent research project within the prestigious Centre for the Study of the Middle Ages (CeSMA), while undertaking essential training to support your project.

You can complete your research project in any aspect of Medieval History, as agreed by your supervisor, while the taught component will allow you to develop your research skills.

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

What is an MRes?

An MRes is a programme that will help you develop the skills for both doctoral study and a future career. You will complete a major individual research project, supervised by a specialist in the field of study, and a taught component that develops research and analytical skills. If you are interested in applying, we strongly encourage you to contact the admissions tutor or a member of staff with interests in your field to discuss your application in general and your proposed research topic in particular.

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.


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.


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:  4,000-word essay

Research Skills in Medieval Studies

This module will equip you with the skills necessary to proceed to postgraduate dissertation research with confidence. Themes studied will include: building a bibliography; academic writing; footnotes and citation; and writing and delivering academic papers. You will also meet with your dissertation supervisor for a number of 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:

History Advanced Options

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

  • 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
  • Before Globalization?; Digital Heritage and the Medieval Past - Digital Heritage and the Medieval Past explores different forms and issues relating to digital interpretations of the medieval past as heritage. It explores interpretative approaches to medieval ruins, contemporary landscapes defined by medieval legends, museum collections, archives, and the reconstruction of medieval performance, drawing on the uses of augmented reality, virtual access (including virtual pilgrimage), online exhibitions, digital editing, and digital representation in film, social media, and gaming (both educational and recreational).

    Students will be introduced to strategies of public communication alongside the wider considerations of heritage interpretation, including an introduction to writing for a general/public audience. They will engage with medieval legacies in the digital age, alongside the dangers of misappropriation of the medieval past, and the question of how we define ‘heritage’ (who decides what is valued, what stories are told, and why?). Assessments are intended to be rooted in practical experience, acquired in the context of module workshops, informed by theoretical considerations rooted in the study of heritage and medievalism explored in seminars.
    Assessment: 4,000-word essay
  • Latin and Greek language modules 

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

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.


We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2022 entry are as follows:

  • UK: £6,540 full-time; £3,270 part-time
  • International: £19,800 full-time

Fee status

Eligibility for UK or international fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students

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 (including EU) to apply is 1 July 2022. The deadline for UK students is 31 August 2022.

Six easy steps to apply for a postgraduate research course in the College of Arts and Law

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.

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.


As an MRes Medieval History student, you will become 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.

You will conduct your thesis research independently, guided by a supervisory team (usually a lead supervisor and co-supervisor) selected for their expertise and experience relevant to your research project, with supervisory meetings taking place on a regular basis. 

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.

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