MA History (Medieval and Early Modern History)

Start date
1 year full-time; 2 years part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught

Annual tuition fees for 2024 entry:
UK: £10,530 full-time
International: £23,310 full-time
More detail.

Explore the complexities and diversity of the medieval and early modern periods with our specialist pathway in Medieval and Early Modern History. This programme is designed to develop your understanding of medieval and early modern history, or introduce you to these if you have not studied them before.

The programme offers wide-ranging expertise across the medieval period (c. 300 to c. 1500) and early modern period (c.1500 - c.1800).

It covers the countries of western Europe, Scandinavia, the eastern Mediterranean, America, South Asia and beyond from a range of thematic perspectives including religious cultures, socio-economic history, material culture, and comparative history.

The School of History and Cultures has multiple research centres dedicated to medieval or early modern history, including: the Centre for the Study of the Middle Ages (CeSMA), the Centre for Reformation and Early Modern Studies (CREMS), and the Birmingham Eighteenth-Century Centre

In all teaching you are encouraged to apply class material to your own specific research interests and your dissertation.

Scholarships for 2024 entry

The University of Birmingham is proud to offer a range of scholarships for our postgraduate programmes. With a scholarship pot worth over £2 million, we are committed to alleviating financial barriers to support you in taking your next steps.

Each scholarship has its own specific deadlines and eligibility criteria. Please familiarise yourself with the information on individual scholarship webpages prior to submitting an application.

Explore our scholarships


At Birmingham, Postgraduate Taught and Postgraduate Research students also have the opportunity to learn graduate academic languages free of charge, to support your studies.

The School of History and Cultures hosts workshops and seminars throughout the year in which students are invited to come and listen to the leading experts in respective fields discussing their work. They actively encourage student engagement, which creates a lovely sense of participation and contribution.


Why study this course?

  • Excellent research reputation – The Department of History is ranked eighth in the country in the Research Excellence Framework exercise 2021 based on Grade Point Average, according to Times Higher Education. 
  • Engage in research networks – You will be able to attend research seminars delivered by academics from across the institution and beyond, organised by the Centre for the Study of the Middle Ages (CeSMA) and the Centre for Reformation and Early Modern Studies (CREMS).
  • Join an active postgraduate community – Our postgraduate students also run their own research network, the EMREM Forum (Early Medieval - Medieval - Renaissance - Reformation - Early Modern). EMREM organises regular seminars, training sessions, writing workshops and an annual postgraduate conference.
  • Access academic support services - As a postgraduate student you will have access to services such as the Academic Writing Advisory Service and the Bank of Assessed Work which will aid your transition from undergraduate to postgraduate level, or back into academia after a time away.
  • 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. 

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.


Core modules

You will study three core modules:

Historical Approaches

This module provides students with an advanced introduction to some of the ways in which historians have approached a range of prominent themes within the modern historical discipline, such as religion, gender, race, class, community, and conflict.  The module introduces these themes through a mixture of case studies and background reading and information, with an emphasis on historiographical development and a range of different theoretical, methodological and interdisciplinary influences, such as sociology, anthropology, the material turn, etc.  Each week students are guided in reading influential texts that relate to one of these key themes, and students then meet in small seminar groups to discuss a mixture of historiographical case studies and additional theoretical background.
Assessment: 3,000 word assignment (100%)

Research Preparation

This module is designed to deliver three complementary strands, with the ultimate aim of supporting students on the MA History to design, plan and research an ambitious dissertation topic. The first strand is a series of lectures on key research skills in the historical discipline, ensuring that students are confident when it comes to aspects of research design such as defining a topic, reviewing secondary literature, identifying and accessing appropriate primary sources, etc. The second strand is a series of seminars designed to support specialist sub-disciplinary skills relating to (for example) chronological period or a particular geographical area or methodological approach. The third strand is a series of one-to-one supervisions with an academic advisor, to offer the student guidance and feedback as they devise their own unique research project, and lay the groundwork for their masters dissertation. The module also helps students to develop important skills in presenting and articulating their research to a larger non-specialist audience.
Assessment: 2,000-word literature review (75%), 10 minute oral presentation (25%)

Plus one of the following 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 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. In the first half of the semester, students will directly compare different disciplines' approaches and methods, using 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). In the second half of term, seminars will focus on contemporary critical and cultural theories and associated modes of analysis.
Assessment: 3,000-word essay (100%)

From Reformation and Revolution - an Introduction to Early Modern History 

This module offers a broad introduction to some of the most significant themes in early modern history, focussing on key historiographical debates while at the same time training students in practical and methodological approaches to a broad range of primary sources, ranging from legal sources and printed texts to visual and material sources. It will introduce students to a wide variety of topics important to the understanding of Early Modern History such as Church, Household, Revolution and the Self. Through such thematic topics, it will provide a broad knowledge base to draw upon both for students specialising in Early Modern History and for students on the general MA history as they begin to think about areas of interest on which to focus for the dissertation.
Assessment: 3,000-word essay (100%)

Optional modules

If you choose to study the Medieval and Early Modern History pathway you must choose at least 20 credits from the History Optional Modules or Special Subject lists below. This may include up to 40 credits of appropriate level language modules. 

These lists are indicative; not all modules will run each year depending on staff availability.

History optional modules

  • Before Globalization?: Afro-Eurasian World History 500-1800
  • The Global Middle Ages, Conquest, Commerce, and Communication, 750-1350
  • Messiahs and Monarchs: Islam and Early Modern Iran
  • The Making of England, 850 - 1100
  • Faith and Fire
  • Capital Lives: Experiencing the City in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth- Century Britain
  • Experts, Scholars, and Spies
  • Gender and the Making of Modern Britain
  • Women Behaving Badly in Tudor and Stuart England

English, Drama and Creative Studies optional modules:

  • Meeting Medieval Manuscripts
  • Digital Heritage and the Medieval Past

Language modules:

  • Latin 1
  • Latin 2
  • Latin 3
  • Latin Texts

Special Subjects

If you choose a Special Subject as an option, you must take two co-requisite modules, 20 credits in each Semester. This list is indicative; not all modules will run each year depending on staff availability.

Topics available in recent years have included:

  • 1066, 1099: Chronicling Conquest on the Frontiers of Medieval Europe (Masters): A
  • 1066, 1099: Chronicling Conquest on the Frontiers of Medieval Europe (Masters): B
  • Games without Thrones? North Atlantic Societies in the wake of the Vikings, c.800-c.1200 (Masters): A
  • Games without Thrones? North Atlantic Societies in the wake of the Vikings, c.800-c.1200 (Masters): B
  • Beauty, Blood, Sweat and Tears: The Body in Britain, c1680-1820 (Masters): A
  • Beauty, Blood, Sweat and Tears: The Body in Britain, c1680-1820 (Masters): B
  • A History of the Tudors in 100 Objects (Masters): A
  • A History of the Tudors in 100 Objects (Masters): B
  • Gunpowder, Treason and Plot: England under Elizabeth I and James I (Masters): A
  • Gunpowder, Treason and Plot: England under Elizabeth I and James I (Masters): B

Any remaining credits can be taken from the wide range of History options. It is also possible to select options offered by other departments such as African Studies, Classics and Ancient History, Cultural Heritage, Modern Languages, Art History or English - with the approval of the Programme Director. See an indicative list of options.


In addition to your taught modules, you will conduct a piece of independent research with the support of a supervisor, culminating in a 12,000-word dissertation. Your dissertation must be on a topic within the pathway area of specialism.

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 2024 entry are as follows:

  • UK: £10,530 full-time; £5,265 part-time
  • International: £23,310 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 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.

Are you an international applicant?

All international applicants to this course will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of £2,000 on receipt of an offer, to secure their place.

Find out more about the deposit >>.

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

Please review our Entry Requirements before making your application.

Application deadlines

The deadline for International students (requiring a VISA) to apply is 30 June 2024. The deadline for UK students is 30 August 2024.

Making your application

You will make your application to our MA History programme. If you would like to specialise in Medieval and Early Modern History, you will indicate this at the module choice process upon entry onto the programme.

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate taught programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the taught programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

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.

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: for this course, we ask for IELTS 6.5 with 7.0 in reading and 6.5 in all other bands. If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional course – if you successfully complete the course, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without retaking a language qualification.

IELTS 6.5 with 7.0 in reading and 6.5 in all other bands is equivalent to:

  • TOEFL: 88 overall with no less than 23 in Reading, 22 Listening, 22 Speaking and 22 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE): 67 overall with 76 in Reading and no less than 67 Listening, Speaking and Writing
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): 176 overall, with no less than 185 in Reading, and no less than 176 in Listening, Speaking and Writing

As the English language requirement for our specialist pathway in Medieval Studies is higher than for other MA History pathways, please indicate that this is your chosen pathway in your application so we can confirm that you meet the entry requirements, before an offer is made. Our MA History is a flexible programme and should you wish to change to another pathway, you can do this at the module choice process upon entry onto the programme.

Learn more about international entry requirements.

International Requirements

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

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.

Course delivery

We have two teaching semesters per year, the autumn semester and spring semester. Semester dates can be found on our website. 

As a full-time student, you will typically take three modules in each semester, followed by your dissertation. Depending on the modules you take, you can typically expect six to nine hours of classroom time per week, two or three per module. If you are a part-time student, you will typically take three modules across each year, followed by your dissertation. 

Each module represents a total of 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, homework and assignment preparation.

Teaching year

We have three teaching terms per year, the autumn, spring and summer terms. Term dates can be found on our website.

As a full-time student, you will typically take three modules in each of the first two terms, followed by your dissertation. If you are a part-time student, you will typically take three modules across each year, followed by your dissertation.

Each module represents a total of 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, homework and assignment preparation.

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 for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).


The University of Birmingham is the top choice for the UK's major employers searching for graduate recruits, according to The Graduate Market 2024 report.

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.

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.