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MA Medieval Literatures and Languages

Explore the medieval world through its language and literature

Year of entry: 2021 (September)


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2021 (term dates)

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Study the whole range of medieval English literature — a dynamic, multilingual literary culture in which English interacted with many other languages and literatures.

Taught and supervised by world-leading scholars, with expertise in Latin, Old English, Middle English, Old Norse, Old French, medieval Italian, medieval Arabic, and Palaeography, you'll learn a range of linguistic and technical skills which are essential for further medieval research. You'll apply these skills to a substantial piece of independent work, giving you a foundation for doctoral research, as well as transferable skills for careers in heritage and culture, teaching, publishing, and arts management. ​

You'll be based at the Centre for Medieval Studies, King's Manor, which has a lively interdisciplinary research culture.

You’ll also engage with the wider research culture of the Department of English, one of the UK's largest research centres in English, and there will be a diverse schedule of seminars, conferences and reading groups for you to attend. You’ll be part of the Humanities Research Centre, a vibrant interdisciplinary hub which will enable you to form close social and intellectual bonds over the course of your study.

This MA has hugely expanded my knowledge of the subject itself, the scholarship growing up around it, and endowed me with invaluable experience in researching, writing, delivering seminar papers, and basically being an active postgraduate.
Abigail, MA Medieval Literatures

World-leading research

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, we had the highest proportion of world-leading (4*) research of all UK English departments.

Global top 25

English at York is ranked top 25 in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019.

Study in a historic city

Explore York Minster and medieval art and architecture in the city. Study the exciting collections of medieval texts and images at the King’s Manor Library.

Course content

You'll study two skills modules, and four taught option modules from a wide range of choices offered by the Department of English and Related Literature or the Centre for Medieval Studies. You'll take the skills modules (Latin, Old English, Old Norse, Old French, Palaeography) over the first two terms. 

You can study the literature of medieval England, and explore other medieval European literatures as well.

You'll also study research skills, and complete a research dissertation. The total number of credits for the course is 180.


Skills modules


You'll choose two of the following:

  • Latin 4 levels (10 credits)
  • Old English 2 levels (10 credits)
  • Old Norse (10 credits)
  • Old French (10 credits)
  • Palaeography 3 different periods (10 credits)

Option modules

You'll choose four of the following:

There are also a wide range of further option modules offered across all the Department's MA programmes which are available to you.

You may also choose available modules from other arts and humanities departments.

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.


Your dissertation (80 credits) offers you the chance to examine a topic in depth and to develop your research skills.

In Summer Term and over the vacation you'll work on a 14,000-16,000-word dissertation with regular supervision from a member of staff.

You'll submit your dissertation in September. Recent dissertation examples include:

  • Author, Reader, Translator: Chaucer's Reinvention of the Boethian Orpheus in Troilus and Criseyde
  • Dogs in Middle English Romances: The Context behind Canine References
  • Alcohol as a Literary Device in Early Medieval Literature
  • The Boke of Saint Albans and Female Presence in Early Print Culture
  • Emma of Normandy and Edith of Wessex: Familial Roles and the Legitimacy of Queenship in the Last Half-Century of the Anglo-Saxon Period
  • Finding 'the ryghte waye': Women's Interactions With 'Places' and 'Spaces' in Middle English Romance
  • The Association of Women with Animals in Three Middle English Romances
  • Fishing for Trolls:  Land, Food, and Identity in the Hrafnistumannasogur
  • "Worda and worca": The Function of Speech in Heroic Literature



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:

  • Analyse significant literary and cultural texts from the medieval period closely and critically, interpreting them with reference to their social, political, linguistic and/or cultural contexts
  • Synthesise and interrogate a range of critical sources in a sophisticated fashion, showing awareness of scholarly debate, while evaluating and selecting material to make for convincing and creative argumentation
  • Deploy knowledge of medieval literature in its original contexts, demonstrating specialist skills in medieval languages and/or palaeography
  • Initiate, design, and complete advanced research, drawing on skills honed by graduate-level training, teaching, and independent study
  • Communicate sophisticated written arguments in a clear, accurate and persuasive fashion, to a deadline and to a high professional standard
  • Engage in discussion of literary and scholarly texts, demonstrating versatility and cooperation in the exploration of complex ideas and perspectives
  • Direct their own development, bringing new knowledge and skills to bear upon a range of possible careers and/or further study

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

You'll need copies of the texts set for each module. Where possible, we will provide digital access. We'll let you know which texts and editions you'll need to buy (whether new or second-hand) before the start of each term.

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.

Department scholarship information

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.

Specialist research centre

The Centre for Medieval Studies is one of the world’s leading centres for postgraduate study and research into the Middle Ages. We are one of the largest and longest established providers of Medieval Studies courses in the UK, combining world renowned knowledge, expertise and research from across the University. Combining the disciplines of Medieval Art and Architecture, Medieval Archaeology, Medieval Literature and Medieval History and drawing on the unrivalled resources available in the medieval city of York, the Centre offers you a truly interdisciplinary Medieval Studies experience and a unique MA in Medieval Studies.

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.

Impact of coronavirus (COVID-19)

We hope to deliver this course as advertised for 2021/22 entry, but it’s unclear when we’ll be able to return to a normal timetable. For an idea of how this course might be affected, see our changes for 2020/21 entry.

Teaching format

You'll normally attend two 2-hour seminars each week during the Autumn and Spring Terms. If you are a part-time student you'll attend one 2-hour seminar a week during the Autumn and Spring Terms of Year 1 and Year 2.

Seminar groups consist of fewer than 15 students in most modules, though some core modules may involve a larger number of students. You'll complete essential reading for each seminar, and we encourage you to read more widely around the topic.

You'll attend a series of training lectures and workshops, designed to address presenting your work, writing at MA level, transferable skills, and career development.

Over the course of the year, you'll give regular seminar presentations and attend research seminars and day conferences hosted by the Department. Many of these events will be organised through the Humanities Research Centre, a state-of-the-art facility unique to York.


As a postgraduate student at the Centre for Medieval Studies, you will have access to a wealth of world-class resources to support your studies. These include the King’s Manor library, the Borthwick Institute for Archives, the York Minster Library and Archives, and JB Morrell Library.

These libraries hold a large collection of medieval manuscripts, archives, and early printed books, as well as extensive collections of modern critical books, journals, catalogues, and e-resources. Medieval materials from these libraries are regularly used by staff and students for research and teaching. The libraries also offer a variety of study spaces, for both group work and quiet study.

A short bus trip away from York is the British Library resource at Boston Spa, which offers students an invaluable opportunity to access any document from the entire British Library collection.

But perhaps the greatest resource is the city of York itself. Few cities in the UK can rival York as a place to study the Middle Ages, and teaching and research at the CMS makes full use of it.

Teaching location

You will be based at the Centre for Medieval Studies at King's Manor in the city. Most of your contact hours will be at King's Manor with additional teaching 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'll submit an essay for each module of approximately 4,500 words. The Postgraduate Life in Practice module will be assessed on the completion of a series of tasks connected to your core work for the MA. Your final assessment is a dissertation of 14,000-16,000 words.

Medieval book
King's Manor
The MA in Medieval Literature has been challenging, interesting, and so rewarding. There is never a dull day between the Middle-English romances, Anglo-Norman histories, Viking poetry, and everything else that we get to study.
Ellen, MA Medieval Literatures

Careers and skills

Our postgraduates go on to work in the arts, heritage and cultural sector, public relations, social work, politics, the civil service, and management consultancy. Many alumni have also gone on to become successful novelists, poets and playwrights.

Career opportunities

  • Advertising, marketing, and public relations
  • Arts administration
  • Civil and diplomatic services
  • Film, radio, social media, television, and theatre
  • Journalism and broadcasting
  • Law
  • Government
  • Academia
  • Publishing
  • Teaching

Transferable skills

  • Developing your creativity
  • Improving your ability to filter and analyse complex information
  • Intellectual independence and independent working
  • Time management and people skills
  • Communicating your research
  • Methodological skills
  • Intercultural awareness

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent. You do not need to have specialised in medieval literature at undergraduate level, or already mastered the languages required for the degree as we will provide intensive training during the course. We will consider applications from students with lower qualifications, particularly if you have high marks in relevant modules or appropriate professional experience.
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

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:

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

Centre for Medieval Studies Administrator

Learn more

Department of English and Related Literature

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