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Durham University


R9K807 Medieval and Early Modern Studies MA Postgraduate Taught  2020


Degree MA
Mode of study Part Time + Full Time
Duration 1 year (full-time) or 2 years (part-time)
Start Date October 2020
Location Durham City
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Department(s) Website

Course Summary


The MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies is an interdisciplinary MA run by Durham's Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS), with support from the History Department. The programme is suitable for students whose undergraduate training is in Archaeology, Classics, History, Literature/Languages, Philosophy, Theology, or other related disciplines. The main aim of the programme is to prepare students for doctoral research in the study of the medieval and early modern past by offering outstanding interdisciplinary training to equip students with the skills they need for their future careers. It is taught by specialists who are members of IMEMS, primarily from the departments of Archaeology, Classics, English, History, Modern Languages and Cultures, Philosophy and Theology.

Students become part of the vibrant research communities both within departments and IMEMS. In particular students become members of the Medieval and Early Modern Student Association (MEMSA), which organises regular seminars, conferences and social events. Situated in the historic setting of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, which includes Durham Cathedral, Durham Castle, and the surrounding area, IMEMS has one of the largest gatherings of medieval and early modern scholars in the world. Students benefit from the rich archival and manuscript resources in the collections of the University and Cathedral, the world-class Oriental Museum collections, as well as highly significant wider regional resources for study of the period.

All students on the MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies take two core modules, Reading the Medieval and Early Modern Past, and Writing the Medieval and Early Modern Past (30 credits each). Students also write a 15,000-word dissertation (60 credits), supervised by one of Durham's specialists, which allows them to focus on a specialist topic of their choice in the period AD c.300-c.1800, which may be interdisciplinary or focused primarily on one of the individual disciplines which make up the programme. They also take two optional modules (30 credits each). These may be content, language or skills modules, and are drawn from the seven participating departments as well as Durham’s other centres and programmes. All elements of the programme have embedded within them a range of content, subject-specific skills, and key skills.

Course Structure

Our two core modules, Reading the Medieval and Early Modern Past, and Writing the Medieval and Early Modern Past, develop advanced skills in interpreting and using a range of different kinds of source-material, including textual material and visual culture.

Optional Modules available in previous years include: Palaeography, Latin for Research, Old Norse, Warrior Poets, Archaeology of the Book, England's Religious Revolution 1640-62, Cultural Exchange in Seventeenth-Century Europe.

Course Learning and Teaching

The MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies is delivered through a range of tutorials, seminars and practical hands-on workshops with subject experts. Students also receive one-to-one supervision through focussing in detail on a particular aspect of medieval and early modern history, literature, society or culture in their dissertation.

Admissions Process

Subject requirements, level and grade

  • A 2:1 or equivalent
  • A 500-word personal statement which should include the following:
    • An outline of your interest in an interdisciplinary MA programme in medieval and early modern studies
    • What skills and knowledge you would bring to the course
    • What skills and knowledge you would hope to acquire
    • An indication of your planned area of research
  • Two academic references from people who are familiar with your work, commenting on your suitability for the programme
  • A 2000-word sample of your written work, which could be an essay, an extract from your dissertation, or something you have written in pursuit of your further studies, preferably on a topic linked to medieval or early modern studies.

English Language requirements

Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.

How to apply

Fees and Funding

Full Time Fees

EU Student £9,000.00 per year
Home Student £9,000.00 per year
Island Student £9,000.00 per year
International non-EU Student £20,000.00 per year

Part Time Fees

EU Student £5,000.00 per year
Home Student £5,000.00 per year
Island Student £5,000.00 per year
International non-EU Student £11,000.00 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and funding

Career Opportunities

Department of History

For further information on career options and employability, including the results of the Destination of Leavers survey, student and employer testimonials and details of work experience and study abroad opportunities, please visit our employability web pages.

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies

The MA is an excellent springboard for continuing your studies at PhD level, or moving on to a range of different careers. From the outset, you will be integrated into the wider IMEMS research community. You are encouraged to attend our lively programme of events, join our vibrant postgraduate student group, MEMSA, and access a variety of extra-curricular training opportunities, such as workshops and masterclasses with visiting subject experts and industry professionals.

Open days and visits

Pre-application open day

Overseas Visit Schedule

Postgraduate Visits


Department Information

Department of History


Durham University attracts some of the best postgraduate students from the UK and internationally, and within the History Department we support these students to develop themselves and their careers.
Our postgraduates are an important part of our research community and we place an extremely high value on the contribution that they make to the Department. As a postgraduate student, you will benefit from working with staff with areas of expertise including medieval, early modern and modern history, African history and modern European history. Postgraduates also benefit from opportunities for interdisciplinary research conversations through research institutes and centres here, such as the Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the Centre for Nineteenth Century Studies and the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture. Durham University is exceptionally well provided with libraries, providing access to a huge collection of material. Durham is also home to an unusually extensive and diverse range of archives and special collections, from Magna Carta to the Sudan Archive.


Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies


Set at the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a medieval Castle and Cathedral, the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS) is an international centre for research. 

Our postgraduates, drawn from all over the world, are an important part of our research community, and they make an extremely valuable contribution to the research culture of the Institute and to Durham more generally through the Medieval and Early Modern Student Association (MEMSA), which is run by the students with the aim of sharing ideas and learning from one another. 

Durham has outstanding libraries and collections, comprising the world-class Oriental Museum, rare books and manuscripts at Durham Cathedral, Palace Green with its fully preserved seventeenth-century Cosin’s Library, and Ushaw College, with thousands of medieval and early modern books, manuscripts, and artefacts. IMEMS provides an inspiring environment in which to research these rich and unique resources.

We have an impressive range of research expertise: geographically, the main focus is on Europe, but extends across the Arab world to South Asia and to China. We have strengths in all periods from the fourth to the eighteenth centuries, embracing a wide range of disciplinary and methodological approaches. Among the less common areas of expertise are interdisciplinary projects bringing together humanities scholars and scientists, research-led performance practice, and investigation of the social and economic impact of heritage sites.