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MA Medieval Literatures and Languages

Explore the medieval world through its language and literature

Year of entry: 2024 (September)


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2024 (semester 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

Global top 40

English at York is ranked 34th in the world and 11th in the UK in the QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2024.

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 modules from a wide range of choices offered by the Department of English and Related Literature or the Centre for Medieval Studies. 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.


Reading the Middle Ages skills options

Our skills modules give you the choice of studying two European medieval languages, a language and palaeography, or Arabic.

Options typically include Latin (4 levels), Old English (2 levels), Old Norse, Old French, and three different periods of palaeography.

Either: Reading Medieval Texts or Multilingual Middle Ages or Arabic for Research

Option modules

Option modules may cover topics such as:

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.

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff, and in line with Department/School academic planning.


Your dissertation offers you the chance to examine a topic in depth and to develop your research skills. You'll work on a 14,000-16,000-word dissertation with regular supervision from a member of staff.

You'll submit your dissertation at the end of your course. 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 understanding of the period's multilingual textual culture (medieval languages and/or palaeography). 
  • Initiate, design, and complete advanced research, drawing on knowledge and 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 2024/25

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £10,590£23,900
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.

Students on a Student 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.

  • UK (home) fees may increase in subsequent years (up to a maximum of 2%).
  • International fees may increase in subsequent years in line with the prevailing Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate (up to a maximum of 10%).

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 2024/25 throughout the year.

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

Funding opportunities

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.

Teaching format

You'll normally attend two 2-hour seminars each week. If you are a part-time student you'll attend one 2-hour seminar a week.

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. 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 into a wide variety of industries, from arts administration to law. Many alumni have also gone on to become successful novelists, poets and playwrights.

Career opportunities

  • English teacher
  • education coordinator
  • full time writer
  • private tutor
  • museum and gallery assistant
  • bookseller

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

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

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 (Academic and Indicator) 7.0, minimum 6.5 in each component
Cambridge CEFR C1 Advanced: 185, with 176 in each component
Oxford ELLT 8, minimum 7 in each component
Duolingo 130, minimum 120 in all other components
LanguageCert SELT C1 with 33/50 in each component
LanguageCert Academic 75 with a minimum of 70 in each component
KITE 495-526, with 459-494 in all other components
Skills for English C1: Pass overall, with Pass in each component
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 haven't 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 online. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

Apply for this course

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Get in touch if you have any questions

Gillian Galloway
Brittany Scowcroft

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Department of English and Related Literature

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