MA Medieval and Early Modern Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course description

Our MA Medieval and Early Modern Studies master's course will give you the opportunity to pursue your interest in the literatures, histories and cultures of the European Middle Ages and Early Modern periods.

Research in this area has a long and distinguished history at The University of Manchester. We have a lively research culture, which takes place with the support of the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies  (CMEMS).

All MA students are members of MEMS for the duration of their studies, and are welcome to attend talks, seminars and conferences, in addition to taught courses.

You will also be able to draw on the expertise of scholars engaged in cutting-edge research at the John Rylands Research Institute, where the course is based.

The John Rylands Library houses exceptional medieval and early-modern treasures and offers many exciting research and study opportunities.

Staff teaching on this MA represent the disciplines of History, Art History and Visual Studies, English, Religions and Theology, Classics, and European Languages.

Two pathways are available for students who wish to extend their knowledge in a particular chronological direction: Medieval, and Early Modern.

Learn more about studying Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Manchester on the MEMS website  or contact the Programme Director, Professor David Matthews

Teaching and learning

Depending on the units you take, you will learn through a variety of teaching methods, including seminars, lectures, workshops and e-learning.

The Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies teaches the MA in conjunction with the John Rylands Research Institute.

Coursework and assessment

Summative assessment is primarily via extended pieces of written work: the dissertation of around 15,000 words, long essays of around 4,000-6,000 words, and a variety of shorter pieces for palaeography or language classes.

There is a pass mark of 50% for all assignments. Marks over 60% are given as merit and over 70% as distinction.

In addition, depending on the units selected, formative assessment may be based on oral presentation, class discussion, and feedback on written draft material.

Assessment varies from course unit to course unit; full details of the assessment procedure for individual units can be obtained from the course director.

Those who only attain 120 credits (out of 180) will be awarded a PGDip in Medieval Studies.

Course unit details

Compulsory units

These include the compulsory core course units and research training units, and are taken by students on all pathways.

These units (details below in the course unit list) are designed to introduce you to the basics of interdisciplinary analysis, and to research training skills appropriate to the scope of the course.

'From Papyrus to Print: The History of the Book' and 'Reading the Middle Ages and Early Modern period: Palaeography, Codicology and Sources' are taught in the magnificent surroundings of the John Rylands Library, with the support of specialist library staff.

You will get the opportunity to view and handle rare books and manuscripts from across the entire period. The aim is to consider all aspects of book production, from the roll to the codex and from script to print, as well as the uses (practical and symbolic) of texts in medieval culture.

You will be introduced to a range of medieval sources and recent theoretical approaches to archival research, and learn methodological skills, such as palaeography and codicology.

'Perspectives in Medieval and Early Modern Studies' aims to explore the methodological, historiographical and analytical choices that shape our study of the medieval and early modern periods.

Highlighting the variety of disciplinary approaches that are in use in current scholarship, this unit will investigate a series of relevant themes within the field, and will be taught by specialists in a range of fields.

You will be encouraged to question issues of historical periodisation, the benefits of interdisciplinarity, and how an intellectual framework for the study of the medieval and early modern periods may be conceptualised.

Optional units

You will be able to take 60 credits of optional units. These options range widely over the history, literature, art and material culture of the medieval and early modern world.

You may also take Latin or Old/Middle English (15-30 credits) - appropriate level taken to be discussed with the Programme Director, in consultation with the relevant department.

Options to take other languages, such as Hebrew, Arabic, or Greek can be considered, in consultation with the Programme Director. You can take no more than 30 language credits.

Medieval Pathway:

Of the optional units selected, 15 credits must clearly be of relevance to the medieval period.

Early Modern Pathway:

Of the optional units selected, 15 credits must clearly be of relevance to the early modern period.

You may choose other relevant options from other subject areas, subject to approval by the relevant course directors. Details of new available options will appear here. Please check again in June, or contact the course director.


The dissertation allows you to research a topic of your choice (60 credits). Students on all pathways must complete a dissertation.

Medieval Pathway:

The dissertation topic selected must lie within the medieval period.

Early Modern Pathway:

The dissertation topic selected must lie within the early modern period.

If you have any further academic queries, please email Professor David Matthews ( ).

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Perspectives on Medieval and Renaissance Studies SALC70031 30 Mandatory
Reading the Middle Ages and Renaissance: Palaeography, Codicology, and Sources SALC70040 15 Mandatory
Medieval and Early Modern Studies Dissertation SALC70050 60 Mandatory
From Papyrus to Print: The History of the Book SALC72110 15 Mandatory
Art of Medieval Manuscripts AHCP61642 30 Optional
Intensive Latin 1 CAHE70171 15 Optional
Intensive Latin 2 CAHE70182 15 Optional
Shakespeare: Theory and the Archive ENGL60492 15 Optional
Wondrous Transformations: Translating the Medieval Past ENGL60872 15 Optional
Old English: Writing the Unreadable Past ENGL61162 15 Optional
Vital Matters ENGL64111 15 Optional
Approaches to Literary Studies: Historicism and the Archive ENGL71822 30 Optional
Wonders, Miracles & Supernatural Landscapes in Medieval & Early Modern Europe HIST63192 15 Optional
Jews among Christians and Muslims RELT71152 15 Optional
Displaying 10 of 14 course units

Additional fee information

Self-funded international applicants for this course will be required to pay a deposit of £1000 towards their tuition fees before a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) is issued. This deposit will only be refunded if immigration permission is refused. We will notify you about how and when to make this payment.


Manchester is home to a wealth of archives, libraries, museums and research institutions to help with your studies and research, including the John Rylands Library and Chetham's Library.

Learn more on the Facilities page.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: