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Approaches to an Interdisciplinary Methodology


The Core module is designed to introduce students to at least one new discipline and progressively, to interdisciplinary research and its methodologies, as well as to the practicalities, challenges and pleasures of postgraduate level independent research. 

The Core Course is team taught and runs through the Autumn Term from weeks 2-8 with a Poster session at the end of term in week 10. The teaching is divided into two units, and students choose from one option in each. Teaching is delivered in 2-hour seminars for which you are expected to read, discuss and sometimes present your findings to tutors and peers. 

An Introduction to Interdisciplinary Methodology will introduce you to a variety of topics in medieval studies, but its emphasis lies less on content per se and more on research methodologies: the technical knowledge and interpretive approaches characteristic of the disciplines that make up the Centre for Medieval Studies, as well as their eventual interdisciplinary combination. The module begins with single disciplines, and then moves into interdisciplinary work, presented through themed units that explore the possibilities - and sometimes the challenges - of bringing together the methodologies employed in archaeology, art history, history and literature in interdisciplinary research. 

Module Structure

The module is split into two units:

Unit 1: Disciplinary Methodologies (Weeks 2-4)

Using Archaeology Aleks McClain and Stephanie Wynne-Jones
Introduction to History of Art Tim Ayers and Jeanne Neuchterlein
Reading Published Medieval Texts Jeremy Goldberg and Christine Williamson


Unit 2 Interdisciplinary Methodologies, Weeks 6-8

The Later Medieval Home Jeremy Goldberg, Rachel Delman, Kate Giles
Norman England Tim Ayers and Elizabeth Tyler
Physics in the Ancient and Medieval World Tom McLeish and Mary Garrison


Unit 1 (three seminars, wks 2-4) is designed to introduce students to basic skills in a discipline that is new to them. The focus for these three weeks will be on the methodologies that apply to a particular discipline or type of material: how archaeologists work with people, places and objects; how art historians work with visual material; how texts are interpreted by historians and literary scholars. We recommend that students choose a subject in which they do not already have extensive experience.

Unit 2 (three seminars, wks 6-8) focuses on an integrated examination of particular topics or themes. Seminars are taught by a pair of staff from different disciplines, who will each teach first individually and then in tandem for a final interdisciplinary seminar. The purpose of this unit is to explore how two or more different disciplines might each approach a particular topic, and then what happens when these disciplinary perspectives are brought together.

There will also be an introductory lecture in Week 1, and a session on preparing poster presentations in Week 5, facilitated by the Chair of the Board of Studies. This will allow the seminar group to think about how to identify and develop a suitable topic within the themed unit that can be used to generate a poster for the poster presentation session in Week 10.


Assessment for this module will be pass/fail, by means of the poster presentation in Week 10. Research posters combine images, graphics and text to communicate research findings/ideas in a compact but effective manner. Poster presentations are becoming increasingly common at conferences in the humanities as well as the sciences, so this is a useful skill to begin to learn, as well as an excellent means of demonstrating, by the end of the core module, your understanding of how interdisciplinary approaches might be used in researching medieval material.

Within each themed Unit 2, you will be divided into small groups, and each group will be asked to develop a conference-style poster taking an interdisciplinary approach to a set topic, which you will present to the full group in week 10. Possible topics may emerge during discussion with tutors or colleagues on the course, and the poster planning session in Week 5 will provide a useful opportunity to think about audience, design and content.

Teaching methods 2020/21

More details coming soon on the teaching for Autumn 2020/21 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.






Module: MST00004M 

Convenor: Aleks McClain 

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