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Studying for a PhD at the Centre for Medieval Studies

Why apply for a PhD at the CMS?

York's Centre for Medieval Studies is the oldest interdisciplinary centre for postgraduate study of the Middle Ages in Great Britain, and it is also one of the most respected centres in the world.  It is one of the few institutions in the world where postgraduate students undertake interdisciplinary research in Medieval Studies. The faculty are world experts in their fields, the whole atmosphere is friendly and supportive, and a PhD from York is well regarded throughout the world when you move on to seek academic employment.

What can I study?

Students studying toward the PhD in Medieval Studies work on research projects that span or blur traditional disciplinary boundaries, and are supervised jointly by staff specializing in two different subject areas. Subject areas include Archaeology, Art and Architectural History, History (social, economic, political, cultural, ecclesiastical, intellectual and gender) and Literature (including Old and Middle English, Old Norse, Latin, Italian, French), Viking studies, codicology and palaeography.

They meet their supervisors together regularly, and are active participants in the research life of the Centre. Research students at the CMS are introduced to the benefits of collaborative work from an early stage in their research careers. To find out more about the kind of research that goes on at the CMS, have a look at staff research interests and what current students are working on: Staff research interests | Current PhD projects

What skills can I learn?

Tuition can be offered in medieval languages (Medieval Latin, Old English, Old French, Old Norse). Palaeography and Diplomatic are taught by specialists in the early, high and late Middle Ages. Modern language teaching can be provided by the university's Languages for All centre.Many PhD students take the opportunity in the second or third year to gain some undergraduate teaching experience in their area of interest.

What if I want to specialize in one discipline?

Students who prefer to specialize in only one discipline are very much part of life at the Centre (and their supervisors are often based there). They will be registered with one of the departments whose staff make up the CMS, so they will need to apply directly to the Archaeology, English, History, or History of Art departments themselves.

What's research life like at the CMS?

PhD students at the CMS are active contributors to the research life of one of the most vibrant communities of medievalists in the world, whether they are registered at the CMS itself or in one of the individual departments, whose medieval students participate in the academic and social life of the Centre as well as in their own Departments.

They convene research groups where they share their research in the company of teaching staff and fellow students, they participate in the regular research seminars, and they frequently attend talks given by visiting speakers.

Besides supervisions, research groups and seminars, research students have frequent and informal contact with members of staff and fellow students to discuss areas of mutual interest.

PhD students are provided with a dedicated workroom, with desks, wi-fi, and printing facilities. Many students appreciate the supportive environment it provides while working on their projects.

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.

We invite applications from candidates wishing to work in all the major areas of interest covered by the department's research expertise. The particular interests of individual staff are outlined on our staff pages, and this often includes recently supervised research topics.

Preliminary enquiries are welcomed and should be made as early as possible. Before writing your research proposals, we advise you to consult the list of staff research interests and try to identify potential supervisors in the Centre. They will be pleased to give you advice on the feasibility of your research ideas and offer feedback on a draft proposal. When making their application, candidates are advised to make their research proposals as specific and clear as possible.


Student in library