MA in Renaissance Literature, 1500-1700

Convenor: Brian Cummings (Autumn Term), Richard Rowland (Spring and Summer Terms)



Welcome to one of the most exciting periods of English literature and history. The transformations in religion, politics, the technologies of writing and publication, science, and global exploration that took place during these turbulent years, and which continue to resonate today, prompted some of the most vibrant, difficult, and rewarding writing ever produced.

The teaching staff in the department encourage us to follow our passions and provide the space to do so

MA in Renaissance Literature, 1500-1700

We invite you to join a team of world-leading scholars, working at the cutting edge of our discipline to explore this extraordinary world, and trace some of its local, European, and global contexts. In our core seminars, research events, trips, and collaborations you will build up a comprehensive set of research skills, whilst our ambitious and imaginative option modules will extend your current interests, and open up a novel set of perspectives upon both canonical and little-known texts.

York’s long history and prime location makes it an excellent place to study this period, and you can choose to take classes in the beautiful Minster Library, learn palaeography in one of the biggest archive repositories outside London, study Latin or a range of other languages or join us for trips – destinations have included a behind-the-scenes look at the Castle Museum, and the magnificent Fountains Abbey, Castle Howard, Burton Agnes Hall, and Hardwick Hall.

You will have the opportunity to work with distinguished scholars across a variety of fields.  In particular, we specialise in:

  • History of the book and textual cultures
  • Religion, literature, and politics
  • The reception and transformation of the Classics
  • The poetics and pragmatics of translation
  • Shakespeare, Heywood, and the drama of the English Renaissance
  • The history and literature of science and medicine
  • Material culture
  • Women and literary production
  • The history of emotions

Many of our students go on to PhD study; others have pursued a diverse range of careers including publishing, arts management, librarianship, and education.


  • Four assessed essays of 4,500 words
  • A 14,000-16,000 word dissertation, written in consultation with a supervisor on an agreed topic



The programme is fully modularised and divided into 4 taught modules (one compulsory, three option), a research skills training programme, and a research dissertation.

Click here for all 2017/18 modules


Our team-taught core module gets to grips with modern and early modern theories of the text, and is designed to equip you with a rich critical vocabulary, skill-set, and analytical approach.

Shakespeare (PDF  , 174kb)Shakespeare (MS Word  , 65kb)


Some of the modules are offered within the Renaissance School itself; others are drawn from other MA courses in English and related disciplines (including the MA in Early Modern History, the History of Art MA, and the interdisciplinary MA in Renaissance & Early Modern Studies).

Available option modules may include:

Further options, including interdiscplinary modules, may be offered by the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies

Option modules will vary from year to year according to staff availability, and will run subject to minimum numbers. Option modules may also be taken in other arts and humanities departments.

Minster Library Atlas - York (detail)

Who to contact

For more information on this MA, please contact:

Richard Rowland (MA Convenor)

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.