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MA Medieval Studies

1 year 2-3 years School of History and Heritage Lincoln Campus [L] Validated

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Lincoln’s long and fascinating history, along with its range of medieval resources, make it an ideal location in which to undertake an advanced study of the Middle Ages.

This course is designed to develop the critical understanding and extensive analytical skills that may be particularly beneficial to careers in the heritage sector, museums and teaching. Core modules look to provide a grounding in the skills needed for advanced study. Students can also choose from an exciting palette of optional modules: these vary from year to year, but can include Intermediate Medieval Latin, Reason and Rebellion, and Public and Private Emotions in the Middle Ages.

You will have the opportunity to develop skills such as palaeography and to utilise historical archives to explore the economic, social and religious history of England. Some modules are supported by the wealth of literary manuscripts at Lincoln Cathedral, including one of only 50 full manuscripts of The Canterbury Tales, and The Thornton Romances, which contains the earliest known accounts of King Arthur’s death.

How You Study

Modules are taught in two-hour group seminars. Students will be able to select from a number of the modules detailed in the Modules tab.

Students on this course should expect to receive 3-4 hours of contact time per week. Postgraduate level study involves a significant proportion of independent study, exploring the material covered in lectures and seminars. As a general guide, for every hour in class students are expected to spend two - three hours in independent study.

How You Are Assessed

Most modules are assessed through written work, usually essays, projects or critical commentaries. Palaeography and Latin are assessed by in-class exams. To obtain the MA students must submit a 15,000 to 20,000 word dissertation.

The University of Lincoln's policy on assessment feedback aims to ensure that academics will return in-course assessments to you promptly – usually within 15 working days after the submission date (unless stated differently above).

Interviews & Applicant Days

There are no formal interviews but students interested in taking the course will be invited to have an informal conversation with the programme leader, if this is possible, or to have an email conversation.

Entry Requirements

A minimum 2:2 honours degree in a relevant subject.

International Students will require English Language at IELTS 6.0 with no less than 5.5 in each element, or equivalent.

Key Contacts

Dr Robert Portass
+44 (0) 1522 837734

+44 (0)1522 886644

Master's Level

Cosmos and Chronology (Option)

The predominant chronological device in the medieval world was dating by the year of an office, such as a king's reign. The medieval calendar included the annual commemorations of religious and civil events and changes in season, while the past was often organised into epochs, parallel realities, and myth histories drawn from a variety of ancient sources and remodelled to fit with the medieval world view.

Medieval cartography, art and architecture made use of the same parallel realities and myth histories to create the rules and geometric conventions governing the depiction and design of physical space. This module uses current historical, cartographical, anthropological and art theories, considering documentary sources, images, buildings and the locality with a particular focus on Lincoln, to explore how changing conceptions of historical time and geographical space impacted on medieval perceptions of the present and its complex relation to the timeless past.

How the West was won: Bishops, barbarians and the transformation of the Roman world, 300-600 (Option)

This module aims to address a pivotal moment in the transition from the ancient to the medieval world: the ‘fall’ of the Roman Empire in Western Europe in the late fifth century. The module encourages students to conceptualise the end of Roman power in the West as a process that had its roots much further back in Roman history and that had long-term effects well beyond the late fifth century.

Introducing Medieval Latin (Core)

All students on the MA course have the opportunity to have some basic Latin training within their MA research methods module. For those students who already have some Latin, however, and for those who otherwise prove to learn quickly, this module will provide the opportunity to develop this essential skill for medievalists within a supportive context. The course aims to provide students with the confidence to engage directly with the original sources.

Medieval Iberia: People, Power and Place (Option)

Few places in Europe experienced as culturally diverse and politically complex a medieval past as did the Iberian Peninsula. Indeed, as Janna Bianchini has pointed out, the study of medieval Spain and Portugal obliges us to confront ‘the rich and sometimes violent interchange of (at least) three cultures and religions.’

This module allows students the opportunity to explore multiple aspects of the history of Spain and Portugal from 500 to 1300. This module is team taught, making use of Lincoln's research cluster in medieval Iberian studies, with the aim of ensuring that students are at the forefront of the discipline.

Medieval Palaeography and Diplomatic (Core)

The module is designed to provide an introduction to the practical techniques of reading medieval documents, including the use of standard abbreviation forms in documents, the use of standard phrasing in administrative documents, and the development of this practice in large administrations (including royal and ecclesiastical chanceries). This module introduces an essential skill for medievalists, that students have the chance to gain confidence in and the opportunity to engage with medieval sources in their original form.

North by Northwest: Comparative Perspectives on Northern Europe from 750 to 1000 (Option)

This module looks at some of the major developments of medieval northern European history – developments that are too often studied in isolation. Frequently divided into either the Age of Charlemagne and his successors, or the period which saw the emergence of an English Kingdom (and perhaps, people), or an era of violence and trade given its primary impulse by Viking activity, the period from 750 to 1000 is best understood in all its complexity by means of a comparative approach.

The module’s comparative framework will also provide the opportunity to develop a crucial contextual knowledge for students looking to go on to PhD level. Equipped with this knowledge, students can realise that no single interpretative paradigm of the period can do justice to the plethora of social, political, economic and cultural changes that took root in the period in question.

Playing fast and loose with history: Repackaging the past in medieval and modern culture (Option)

Everybody knows what ‘medieval’ suggests. And yet when more than one person’s idea of ‘what everybody knows’ is compared to another’s, very different notions of the ‘medieval’ emerge. For some, for example, it was a time of damsels and chivalrous knights. For others, it was a time of conspiracy – often engineered by machiavellian and corrupt churchmen – and political instability in which the ruthless could prevail.

For others still, it was bloody, lawless, and violent – perhaps barbaric. This module aims to build upon the respective research expertise of medieval and medievalism scholars, not least of those here at the University, in order to develop an academic ‘conversation’ of this nature.

Students can be be immersed in an exciting scholarly exchange at its outset in which they will be expected to play their own part in outlining and contributing to the emerging scholarship.

Public and Private Emotions in the Middle Ages (Option)

This module aims to introduce students to some of the key issues posed by studying the history of emotions, particularly for the medieval period. This is a subject that has only recently attracted scholarly attention.

A general introduction to the methodologies used in this field will be provided, focusing especially on how historians do or should approach texts that include emotions. Love, friendship, hatred and betrayal are some of the themes that will be discussed in the context of Western Europe and the Mediterranean between 1000 and 1400, a period when their meanings and values were sometimes astonishingly different from our modern conceptions. Primary sources consulted will include epistolary exchanges, philosophical and medical treaties, narrative and literary sources, ecclesiastical writings, as well as visual art and material culture, among others.

Reason and Rebellion (Option)

The English rebellion of 1258 to 1265 is usually given the adjective baronial: but the barons involved were not only the secular Lords. This module looks in particular at the bishops of Worcester, Chichester, Lincoln, London and Winchester in this period. In doing so it reveals the role of the thirteenth-century bishops within English Society and the important theological, philosophical and legal ideas of the day.

Research Methods (Core)

This module is designed to introduce a range of research methods used within medieval studies, and focuses on active engagement with the processes of gathering, evaluating and analysing data of various sorts. Students will also have the opportunity to develop familiarity with, and the chance to be able to evaluate, different approaches to the analysis and interpretation of historical and literary data. The module will also seek to introduce students to rudimentary Latin, both to give them the opportunity to develop some basic ability in an important language for medieval studies and to aid them in their palaeography work in the next core module.

Robin Hood and the Outlaw Tradition (Option)

This module examines what the figure of the outlaw meant to the people of Britain in the Middle Ages, especially in the post-Conquest period, as well as how he was, and still is, connected to history and myth in literature. Students will consider the glorification of crime associated with outlaw narratives and the resistance of primarily clerical and state authority, as well as the underlying issues of friendship and loyalty that these narratives evoke. They will also examine other themes prevalent in outlaw legends, such as nature, human and animal relations, gender, religion, tricksters and trickery, class, warfare and weaponry. Finally, it assesses how outlawry and outlaw figures (especially Robin Hood) have been transmitted, as a type of ‘medievalism,’ to later periods and what the outlaw figure means in contemporary society. Overall, students will examine representations of outlaws in a range of genres, from chronicles, ballads, and dramatic texts to children’s literature, film, and television.

Saints and Scholars: History and Hagiography in the Middle Ages (Option)

This module explores narratives concerning two central components of medieval communities’ self-perception and interactions with other communities: history and sanctity. Such narratives were for a long time dismissed by historians as inaccurate, biased, and of little scholarly value for any but scholars of literature. Recent decades, however, have seen fruitful research which considers the material through different lenses. This module allows students the chance to explore the contention that there is no better way of understanding any culture than analysing how it imagines itself to have come into being and to be.

The end of the world as we know it: The chroniclers of barbarian history and the birth of the medieval order (Option)

Chronicles were without doubt the dominant form of historical writing throughout the medieval period. This research-based module is designed to introduce students to these neglected sources, to their origins in the historiographical thought-world of the ancient and early Christian worlds, and to the key chronicle writers of the early Middle Ages.

Special Features

Visiting Lecturers

The course makes use of visiting lecturers when possible. Students are invited to attend the University’s Annual Medieval Lecture. In addition, the School of History & Heritage’s visiting professor in Medieval History provides an annual seminar, lecture or masterclass for graduate students in Medieval Studies, as does the School’s annual international visiting fellow in Medieval History. Other visiting lecturers, from the UK, Europe and North America, have also previously given lectures and seminars for students.

Career and Personal Development

This course aims to develop the critical understanding and extensive analytical skills that may be particularly beneficial to careers in the heritage sector, museums and teaching. Some choose to progress their study at doctoral level.

Careers Services

The University Careers and Employability Team offer qualified advisors who can work with you to provide tailored, individual support and careers advice during your time at the University. As a member of our alumni we also offer one-to-one support in the first year after completing your course, including access to events, vacancy information and website resources; with access to online vacancies and virtual and website resources for the following two years.

This service can include one-to-one coaching, CV advice and interview preparation to help you maximise your future opportunities.
The service works closely with local, national and international employers, acting as a gateway to the business world.

Visit our Careers Service pages here

Other Costs

For each course you may find that there are additional costs. These may be with regard to the specific clothing, materials or equipment required. Some courses provide opportunities for you to undertake field work or field trips. Where these are compulsory, the cost for travel and accommodation will be covered by the University and so is included in your fee. Where these are optional, you will normally be required to pay your own transport, accommodation and general living costs.

With regards to text books, the University provides students who enrol with a comprehensive reading list and you will find that our extensive library holds either material or virtual versions of the core texts that you are required to read. However, you may prefer to purchase some of these for yourself and you will be responsible for this cost.

Tuition Fees

  2017/18 Entry*
Home/EU £7,300
(including Alumni Scholarship** 30% reduction)
(including Non-Alumni Scholarship** 20% reduction)
International £12,600
(Including International Alumni / Global Postgraduate Scholarship** £2,000 reduction)
Part-time Home/EU £41 per credit point
Part-time International £70 per credit point

* Academic year September- July
** Subject to eligibility


A new system of postgraduate loans for Master's courses will be introduced in the UK, beginning from the 2016-17 academic year. Under the new scheme Individuals will be able to borrow up to £10,000 for the purpose of completing an eligible postgraduate Master's qualification.


As a postgraduate student you may be eligible for scholarships in addition to those shown above.

Guidance for Part-time Postgraduate Fees

To complete a standard Master's Taught programme, you must complete 180 credit points.

Full time students will be invoiced for the programme in full upon initial enrolment.

For part-time students, tuition fees are payable each credit point enrolled. To calculate your part-time fees, multiply the part-time fee per credit point by the number of credits you intend to complete within that academic year. This is usually between 60 and 90 credit points per year.

For example, if the fee per credit point for your programme is £38, and you enrol on 60 credits, the tuition fee payable for that academic year will be £2280.

For further information and for details about funding your study, scholarships and bursaries, please see our Postgraduate Fees & Funding pages [].

The University intends to provide its courses as outlined in these pages, although the University may make changes in accordance with the Student Admissions Terms and Conditions.