MA in Medieval History

Course Convenor: Mary Garrison

MA in Medieval History

The MA in Medieval History offers an unparalleled opportunity to study at one of the world's leading centres of expertise in medieval history. The degree is equally suitable for students who wish to pursue doctoral research or careers in teaching, public history, or archives, or for those with enthusiasm for the subject but not yet a clear career direction.

Since few students will have had the opportunity to study medieval history in depth at Undergraduate level, the programme offers both wide-ranging training in sources and methods and Option Modules in specialised areas. The University of York’s Medieval MA programmes (in History, Literature, Archaeology, Stained Glass) are some of the most popular and sought after, making York the largest centre in the UK for medieval masters level study across the Humanities disciplines.

This degree offers both thorough research training and the opportunity to explore new approaches to the history of medieval Britain and Europe with seminars led by experts in the area. You will be introduced to a wide range of sources and approaches from across the period. Team teaching on the core and training modules brings the chance to get acquainted with most staff not on leave.

You will be able to participate in the lively scholarly community surrounding the active graduate school, and also have full access to the Centre for Medieval Studies and its active programme of seminars, conferences and reading groups involving both staff and graduate students.

Programme of study

The  MA programme consists of five taught courses (80 credits in total), a 20,000-word dissertation (90 credits), and a Research Training module (10 credits). Note that the most effective means of teaching the specific medieval study skills result in the course being split slightly unevenly in terms of credit-weighting, with students taking 50 credits in Autumn and 30 in Spring.  This will, nevertheless, give students the space to begin thinking about their dissertation earlier in the Spring Term.  

For students registered for full-time study, the programmme runs as follows:

Autumn Term  (October-December)

Autumn Term summary:

All students take the core module, Perspectives on Medieval History. This module introduces students to a diverse range of themes and areas of debate within Medieval History. Students also take an option module chosen from a list approved by the Course Convenor. (When enrolment numbers permit, students may also select options from the Centre for Medieval Studies and its other parent departments as well as from the MA in Public History.)

All students also take the two skills modules, in Latin and Palaeography, and follow a research training module across both terms.

Spring Term (January-March)

Spring Term summary

  • Option Module 2
  • Skills Module 1: Latin
  • Skills Module 2: Palaeography
  • Research Training

During this term, within the required research training programme, there will be specific sessions for Medieval History MA students, which will explore some of the resources available in York and may involve opportunities to handle original source materials.

Students also take a second Option module and continue the two skills modules in Latin and Palaeography. During the spring term, students begin to explore possible dissertation topics and can approach staff members for conversations about their ideas.

Summer Term and Summer Vacation (April-September)

Summer Term summary

During the Summer Term and over the Vacation, students write a dissertation of up to 20,000 words on a subject of their choice and under the supervision of a member of staff, submitted at the end of the academic year. Dissertations should be focused on a well considered research question and should based on primary source material. Students receive generic advice about selecting research topics, setting up the research questions and assembling bibliographies, followed be specialist advice and guidance from an advisor with relevant expertise. The range of expertise of staff members and the wealth of source material available at York enables a wide range of topics, both chronologically and geographically.

How to apply

You can apply for this course using our online application system. If you've not already done so, please read the application guidance first so that you understand the various steps in the application process.

Core course

Optional modules

The precise modules offered for this MA vary from year to year, although almost all staff will be available to supervise dissertations. Modules offered in recent years include:

Click here for more information about Option modules offered by the Centre for Medieval Studies.

Research skills training

The Research Training module provides essential training in graduate-level research skills: large-scale project management; locating secondary and primary materials; storing and ordering findings; and presentation techniques.

Research Dissertation

The 20,000-word dissertation is typically based on extensive research using primary sources. Planning for this large-scale project begins in the Autumn Term and continues during the Spring Term, supported by the Research Training module. Substantive research is normally undertaken in the Summer Term, and findings are written up from July to September. A supervisor supports the research and writing of the dissertation.

Programme specifications

For a concise description of the programme structure, aims and learning outcomes for this MA, view the programme specifications.