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Reproduced from an original in the Borthwick Institute, University of York. Reference TAK/1/28, Takamiya Manuscripts Collection.

MA Medieval Studies

(Including Medieval Islamic Cultures pathway)

Explore all facets of global medieval life and culture, from 400 to 1550, studying in the heart of England's medieval capital.

Year of entry: 2024 (September)


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2024 (semester dates)

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As part of the MA in Medieval Studies, we offer a Medieval Islamic Cultures pathway so you can choose to focus your studies in this specialist area.

The Centre for Medieval Studies (CMS) is the UK’s oldest and largest centre for the interdisciplinary study and research into the Middle Ages. Our expertise spans over 1,000 years and multiple disciplines and faculties, offering dedicated skills training in palaeography, diplomatic and medieval languages.

New disciplines will complement your existing experience, offering you bespoke interdisciplinary modules as well as world-class teaching in the subjects of Archaeology, Literature and Language, History, History of Art. You'll learn to recognise how geographies, chronologies and sources of evidence are interrelated, while exploring the fields of study that most interest you. Our global range of research and teaching extends across medieval Britain, Scandinavia (the Vikings).

Our new interdisciplinary pathway examines the cultures of the Islamic world through the prism of literature, history, archaeology, art and architecture. Drawing on the wide-ranging experience of our staff, you can create a bespoke programme that demonstrates the close connections across the medieval Mediterranean and beyond into Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Anatolia, Central Asia and East Africa.

In the medieval city of York, inspiration is everywhere, and you'll have access to some of the UK's most important medieval archives and museums, including York Minster Library and Archives, the Borthwick Institute for Archives, the Yorkshire Museum, and Jorvik Viking Centre.

Our graduates go on to work in a wide range of professions, including academic teaching and research, archives, libraries, museums, galleries, publishing companies and the heritage sector.

The CMS has been a fantastic place to study with a vibrant and inclusive community. The staff are extremely supportive and happy to discuss ideas, while the centre's profoundly interdisciplinary character means that I have found new, exciting and sometimes unexpected approaches to my research.
Luke, PhD student

Four times the expertise

Work with specialists from the Departments of Archaeology, English, History and History of Art for a truly interdisciplinary experience.

A city full of resources

Access state-of-the-art resources, including research centres, archives and libraries.

Skills training

Unparalleled practical skills training in palaeography, diplomatic and medieval languages.

Course content

You'll take a core module that will introduce you to the methodologies and approaches of interdisciplinary study, as well as training you in the use of research resources.

We offer a broad range of modules ranging in date from Late Antiquity to the late Middle Ages, and geographically from England, Scandinavia and Europe to North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia, enabling you to explore a cosmopolitan and connected global medieval world.

You'll also develop specialist language and palaeographic skills, streamlined according to your knowledge and experience. You can focus on Medieval Arabic, on two European languages, or on a language and palaeography, with options in Latin, Old English, Old Norse and Old French, and in administrative hands, and early or late Book hands. These will equip you with the skills required to read and interpret original texts from the Medieval Period.

You'll choose a topic for your dissertation, and in the spring semester, start working on your dissertation, to continue through the summer. During this time, you'll attend dissertation workshops, research seminars and one-on-one consultations with your dissertation supervisor.

Medieval Islamic Cultures pathway

You must take the Core interdisciplinary module ('Islamic Worlds'), at least one other Islamic-related option module, and Arabic for Research, and complete your dissertation on an Islamic topic.

If you choose the Medieval Islamic Cultures pathway you will graduate with a degree title of MA in Medieval Studies.


Core module

Option modules

At least one option module must be a CMS interdisciplinary module, one a 'Reading the Middle Ages' skills option, and those remaining must be from different disciplines. If you are on the Islamic Cultures pathway, you take Islamic Worlds and at least one other Islamic-related option module, in addition to the Arabic for Research skills option.

You will study four option modules in total, one of them a 'Reading the Middle Ages' skills option. Examples from previous years have included: 

CMS Interdisciplinary modules

Interdisciplinary modules are team-taught by a number of staff from our parent departments.

Islamic-related option modules:
Single-discipline option modules
Reading the Middle Ages skills options

Skills options will see you working closely with two medieval languages, or with a language and palaeography. Those on the Islamic Cultures pathway choose the Arabic for Research option.

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


At the end of the programme, you will submit a 14,000–16,000-word dissertation on a topic anywhere within the chronological period 400–1550. You'll develop your proposal during semester one, in consultation with CMS staff. You can choose whether to write a dissertation that engages with several disciplines, or to specialise in just one. Although you’re not required to choose an interdisciplinary topic, many students find this a rewarding option.

If you are on the Islamic Cultures pathway, you must complete your dissertation on an Islamic topic.

During semester two and the summer, you’ll meet regularly with advisor who will help to structure your research programme, suggest reading, and provide feedback on your written work. There will dissertation events, including workshops, to provide extra support. The  dissertation accounts for 57 per cent of your final mark.

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:

  • Demonstrate in-depth understanding of current research, theoretical approaches, context, sources, and advanced scholarship at the forefront of medieval studies.
  • Critically evaluate a range of complex scholarly arguments and primary sources, informed by systematic knowledge of relevant disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary approaches within the early, high and later Middle Ages.
  • Independently analyse and interpret diverse forms of medieval primary sources, texts, objects and data to high academic and professional standards.
  • Confidently, clearly and persuasively engage audiences via written work, oral presentation, discussion, and visual media.
  • Demonstrate originality through the application of knowledge and skills from disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary contexts, in individual and group work, and where possible generate new contributions to scholarly understanding.
  • Informed by learning and research, reflect critically and constructively on a range of personal and professional skills, identifying opportunities for personal and collective development, to enhance employability both within and beyond academia.
The Centre for Medieval Studies is a very supportive community, both staff and students. Everyone is easy to talk to, discuss and share ideas with. It is a fantastic place to study.
Stefan, MA Medieval Studies

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 will be expected to meet printing costs associated with the submission of assignments. It may be recommended that you buy textbooks for language courses, but it is not essential, and the courses are designed so that no books need to be purchased.

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

The Centre for Medieval Studies will have a limited number of scholarships to award this coming year, to support students who fall into the following categories:

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.

Teaching format

The core module is team-taught by experts from our parent departments. You'll attend weekly two-hour seminars, where you'll be expected to read, discuss and present your work to your seminar group, culminating in a poster session. Language and palaeography teaching is also delivered via a weekly class in each chosen skill.

You'll engage regularly with our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), where you'll access weekly teaching content as well as further reading and resources.

The Centre for Medieval Studies is part of a vibrant research community, and you'll be expected to regularly attend the seminars, workshops and research groups that run throughout the year. In particular, the York Medieval Lecture is given by a distinguished external speaker, giving you a unique opportunity to learn from and engage with the wider academic community.


You'll have access to a wealth of resources including the Minster Library and Archives, the King's Manor Library and the Borthwick Institute for Archives.

You'll have use of our dedicated Humanities Research Centre on Campus West, as well as the Department of Archaeology's BioArCH lab and experimental archaeology facilities.

We have good working relations with institutions around York, such as English Heritage, the Council for British Archaeology and the York Archaeological Trust.

Teaching location

The Centre for Medieval Studies is located in King's Manor, in the city centre. Almost all of your teaching will take place in the Centre.

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 be assessed using a range of methods, including 4,000-word essays, skills tests, written exams and group poster presentations, as well as completing a dissertation. You will have the chance to get useful feedback on draft work ahead of your final submission.

Your coursework is weighted at 43 per cent of your final mark, to encourage you to experiment with unfamiliar disciplines. Your dissertation makes up the other 57 per cent.

Careers and skills

This course has successfully launched students into careers with a huge range of organisations involved in investigating and interpreting the Middle Ages, including English Heritage, the National Trust, archives, libraries, museums, galleries, publishing companies, television companies and the media.

Career opportunities

  • Historic properties steward
  • Museum education officer
  • Civil servant
  • Editorial assistant
  • Curation and collections
  • Higher education research and teaching

Transferable skills

  • Digital literacy, including use and management of electronic research resources
  • Presentation skills
  • Time management
  • Formation of original arguments
  • Analysis and interpretation of a diverse range of sources
  • Ability to carry out independent research
  • Communication skills
York is a beautiful city. It’s quite a privilege to spend your days encountering that history, stumbling around incredibly long cobbled streets! I really miss it as a place. That’s why I’ve loved coming back for the past nine years to give talks – it feels like coming full circle.
Greg Jenner
Public Historian & Podcast Host

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent in a relevant subject.
Other qualifications and experience If you don't have experience of undergraduate study we may consider your application if you have a suitable professional background.
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:

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.

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Gillian Galloway
Brittany Scowcroft

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Centre for Medieval Studies

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