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MA History (Medieval Studies)

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

Annual tuition fees for 2023 entry:
UK: £10,170 full-time
International: £21,150 full-time
More detail.

Explore the complexities and diversity of the medieval period with our specialist pathway in Medieval Studies. This programme is designed to develop your understanding of medieval history, or introduce you to it if you have not studied it before.

The programme offers wide-ranging expertise across the medieval period (c. 300 to c. 1500). It covers the countries of western Europe, Scandinavia, the eastern Mediterranean, and beyond from a broad range of thematic perspectives including religious cultures, socio-economic history, the Crusades, Islamic history, gender, manuscript studies, drama, regional literatures and history (West Midlands, Scotland, Spain, Iceland, Byzantium), material culture, comparative history and the ‘global Middle Ages’.

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

 

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.

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Why study this course?

  • Excellent research reputation - Times Higher Education ranked the Department of History eighth in the country in the Research Excellence Framework exercise 2021 based on Grade Point Average.
  • Global approach - You will have the opportunity to study anything from the Vikings to Islam in Afghanistan. This is unparalleled in the UK. 
  • 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. 
  • Community – You will be able to attend regular seminars delivered by academics from other institutions, organised by the Centre for the Study of the Middle Ages and the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies
  • Research networks - Postgraduate students across several schools run their own research network, the EMREM Forum (Early Medieval - Medieval - Renaissance - Reformation - Early Modern). The EMREM Forum organises regular seminars, training sessions, writing workshops and an annual postgraduate conference that has inspired similar ventures at other universities. 
  • Access to 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.

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

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: 4,000 word review of approaches to one of the themes covered by the module in your own chosen historical field

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: 3,000-word literature review (75%), 10 minute oral presentation (25%)

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: 4000-word essay (100%)

Optional modules

If you choose to study the Medieval Studies pathway you must choose at least 20 credits from the Medieval Studies 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.

Medieval Studies 

  • Medieval Materialities
  • Before and After the Mongols: Political Authority in Islamic Lands, 1000-1600
  • Before Globalization?: Afro-Eurasian World History 500-1800
  • The Global Middle Ages, Conquest, Commerce, and Communication, 750-1350

English, Drama and Creative Studies optional modules:

  • Meeting Medieval Manuscripts
  • Digital Heritage and the Medieval Past
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where They Came From
  • The Figure of the Witch: Witch Writings c. 1400-1700
  • The Work of Giants: Old English Tales and their Afterlives in Fiction and Film
  • Fantasy and fandom: writing back to the medieval in modern fantasy

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 to the total of 40 credits. 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
  • Global Medieval Cities: Rome, Constantinople, Cairo, and Kaifeng after 1000 (Masters) A
  • Global Medieval Cities: Rome, Constantinople, Cairo, and Kaifeng after 1000 (Masters) B

For full module descriptions, see our Medieval Studies modules page

Dissertation

In addition to your taught modules, you will conduct a piece of independent research with the support of a supervisor, culminating in a 15,000-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.

Fees

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2023 are as follows:

  • UK: £10,170 full-time; £5,085 part-time
  • International: £21,150 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.

You will make your application to our MA History programme. If you would like to specialise in Medieval Studies, please indicate that this is your chosen pathway in your application. 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.

How to Apply for a Postgraduate Degree - Taught programmes

Application deadlines

The deadline for International students (requiring a VISA) to apply is 3 July 2023. The deadline for UK students is Wednesday 31 August 2023.

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.

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.

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).

 

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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