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MA Renaissance and Early Modern Studies

Immerse yourself in the cutting-edge research that makes the study of this period so dynamic.

Year of entry: 2021 (September)


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2021 (term dates)

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Cultivate a wide-ranging and cross-disciplinary perspective on this exciting period.

Through seminars and workshops with leading academics, you'll develop methodical research and archival skills to complement your specialist knowledge in this fascinating field, from visual and material culture to the history of religion, politics and political philosophy via music and the history of space/performance

You'll become part of the lively community of the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies (CREMS), interacting with peers from many different disciplines and bringing new perspectives to your work. Staff from eight departments come together to make CREMS the largest centre of its kind in the UK, and allows you a truly interdisciplinary experience.

As well as regular research seminars, students have their own postgraduate forum (Cabinet of Curiosities), which hosts socials, invited speakers, symposiums and film nights. By the time you graduate you'll have a rich expertise in your chosen field, and superbly positioned to pursue PhD research or develop a career in the heritage and cultural sector.

Although it was initially daunting stepping into an English or History of Art seminar, I have found this a welcome challenge that stretches me academically. It is surprising how much overlap there is between the disciplines, so you shouldn’t be afraid of a lack of knowledge when applying. Everyone brings a different and welcome perspective to discussion.
Catherine , MA Renaissance and Early Modern Studies

Interdisciplinary research

Academic expertise from across our faculty of Arts and Humanities, ranked in the UK top 10and 45th in the world (Times Higher Education World University rankings 2021).

Unrivalled resources on your doorstep

You'll have access to the largest cathedral library in the UK, and the largest Records Office outside London.

Course content

You'll take one core module and a total of three option modules: one in Autumn Term and two in Spring Term. These modules are taken from one of our eight contributing departments: English, History, History of Art, Archaeology, Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media, Music, Philosophy and Politics. Topics could range from historic building analysis to early modern fashion, and Shakespeare to the representation of women.

You'll also complete parts I and II of the Department of History's research training programme - this will equip you with the skills you need to complete an extended research project.

In the Spring, with support from the Research Training Programme, you'll decide on a topic that you'd like to study to a much greater depth, and in Summer Term and Summer vacation, using the skills you've acquired through the first two terms, you will complete your dissertation.

Throughout your time at CREMS, you'll also have access to optional classes in Latin, palaeography and modern languages.


Core module

Option modules

You'll take three option modules over the course of your degree. Our option modules vary from year to year, depending upon the interests and availability of staff. Recent modules have included:

The Department of History also offer 10-credit skills modules in the Spring Term - you can choose to take two of these in place of one 20-credit module:

Research Training

In the first two terms, ahead of your dissertation, you'll complete the Department of History's research training module.

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.
Our course structures are changing in September 2023. Find out more about how this course may be affected.


  • Dissertation (90 credits)

In Summer Term, you'll complete a research dissertation of 15-20,000 words. With support from the Research Training Programme, you'll decide on your topic and submit a proposal during the Spring Term. You'll then be assigned a dissertation supervisor, who will discuss and guide the direction of your research.

During Summer Term you will attend dissertation workshops where you'll have the opportunity to discuss your work with fellow students, overseen by members of staff with relevant experience.

Recent dissertation titles have included:

  • Hadephobia and the Servants of Hell: Poetic Theology and the Function of Myth in the Art and Literary Culture of Renaissance Europe.
  • The Representation of Regnal Authority during the Reign of Mary I in English Chronicles and Ballads.
  • The printing of Greek books in 16th century England: more than an experiment?
  • The 'Restoration' of the Tower of London: public perception and propaganda in the reign of Charles II.
  • Magic on the Jacobean Stage: Witchcraft, Theurgy and Gender in 17th-Century England

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • ​Understand in detail the overlapping intellectual, political, artistic, literary and spiritual cultures of the Renaissance and early modern period
  • Identify and articulate the central research questions of their chosen field, and to choose, apply and extend relevant critical approaches and methodologies in the face of challenging questions
  • Demonstrate a wide range of research and transferable skills, including presenting material in written and verbal forms, constructing a compelling and well-researched argument, and identifying and summarising relevant information
  • Locate, read and interpret a broad range of primary materials, discriminating on the basis of relevance, scholarly impact, and argument
  • Deploy a wide range of scholarly tools, and digital, archival, library and museum resources, and to deploy an in-depth knowledge of cutting-edge scholarship
  • Undertake interdisciplinary research, demonstrating a high capacity for independent thought and action, take responsibility in challenging situations, and make decisions in the face of complexity and uncertainty
  • Communicate their findings imaginatively, lucidly and succinctly, in the form of extended essays, literature surveys, and an independent, original and timely dissertation
I had such a brilliant year in CREMS! The opportunity to spend a term within the Department of Music was fantastic. In fact, the interdisciplinary perspective of CREMS was so inspiring that I decided to stay on and completed a PhD at York, exploring Music and the English Catholic Community.
Emilie, MA Renaissance and Early Modern Studies

Lecturer in Early Modern History

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2021/22

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £8,440£18,700
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.

Students on a Student Visa (formerly Tier 4 Visa) are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

For courses which are longer than one year, the tuition fees quoted are for the first year of study. Fees for subsequent years are subject to increase (no more than 2% each year).

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

Additional costs

There is no obligation to purchase books or other texts - all core texts and resources will be available in our library or online.

There are normally one or two field trips, which CREMS will usually fund, but you may be asked to pay an admission fee to sites visited.

You'll be expected to pay for your own photocopying.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2021/22 throughout the year.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies awards

The Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies offers four scholarships for the MA Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, each worth £1,000 towards fees. All successful applications received and accepted by the end of June will be automatically considered, unless another major award has already been allocated. There is no requirement to apply separately. The CREMS awards are open to all prospective students from the UK, EU and overseas.

Only students who have been successful will be notified directly. If you have not heard by the end of July, please assume you have not been successful on this occasion.

Applicants for the MA in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies are also eligible for bursaries offered by the Department of History. 

If you have any questions, you can contact our Centre Administrator at

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Coronavirus (Covid-19): changes to courses

We've made some changes to the way our courses are delivered to minimise potential disruption from the ongoing global pandemic.

Teaching format

Most of your modules will consist of weekly two-hour seminars. The research training module will be taught through three-hour workshops. You will normally work in small groups of fewer than 20 students.


CREMS is based in the University's purpose-built Humanities Research Centre (HRC) at the heart of Campus West. The HRC is a hub for collaboration between scholars of different disciplines and provides unrivalled facilities for postgraduate study with dedicated space for research students, seminar and meeting rooms, a state of the art lecture theatre and various coffee lounges.

You'll have access to a wealth of resources, including the York Minster Library, the Borthwick Institute for Archives, the National Centre for Early Music and some of the UK's finest surviving early modern houses, including Hardwick Hall, Bolsover Castle, Haddon Hall and Burton Agnes.

Teaching location

The Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies is located in the Humanities Research Centre on Campus West.

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You will submit an essay for each module of approximately 4,000 words. You'll also have the opportunity to submit formative essays, which do not count towards your final degree mark, but will give you valuable feedback for you to apply to your final assessed essays.

The research training module is assessed by your 500 word dissertation proposal, on a pass/fail basis.

The staff have been very helpful, welcoming and eager to impart their knowledge. I have made great friends in my programme and together we’ve had fantastic opportunities through classes to tour local sites, like York Minster and the Borthwick Institute for Archives on campus.
Kirstie, MA Renaissance and Early Modern Studies

Careers and skills

The research, analysis and presentation skills that you'll gain from this course are applicable to a diverse set of careers, and will also leave you well prepared to continue on to PhD study. Graduates of this course have gone on to work in a wide range of sectors, including journalism, heritage, research, education, law, libraries, museums and government.

Career opportunities

  • Researcher for TV and Film
  • University lecturer
  • Museum and gallery curator
  • NGO sector
  • Book and magazine publishing
  • University administration

Transferable skills

  • Time management
  • Archival skills
  • Digital skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Presentation skills
  • Problem solving
  • Statistical skills
  • The production of maps for historical purposes

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent in an appropriate subject.
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

Additional requirements

You will need to submit examples of written work with your application. Please see our guidance on submitting written work.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Minimum requirement
IELTS 7.0, minimum 6.5 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 185, minimum 176 in each component
Duolingo 120, minimum 110 in all other components
PTE Academic 67, minimum 61 in each component
TOEFL 96, minimum 23 in each component
Trinity ISE III Distinction in all components

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

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Next steps

Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions

Professor Simon Ditchfield

Learn more

Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies

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