Medieval Literature and Culture (MA)

Year of entry


Start date

September 2017


Central London


Fully Approved


One year full-time or two years part-time


Two to three evenings a week full-time or one to two evenings a week part-time

This programme offers the opportunity to make a special study of the medieval period, considering the richness and diversity of its literature, art and history. It is possible to study in either an interdisciplinary or a more literary way; you can study either full-time over one year or part-time over two years.

A combination of taught core and option modules with an independent research component enables you to tailor the programme to your personal interests. The programme allows you to engage with advanced work at Master's level and is also an excellent preparation for doctoral research.

Students have access to some of the best resources in the world for medieval research, being close to many renowned research libraries, galleries, museums and manuscript repositories. This programme teaches the skills which are needed to explore those riches in original and scholarly ways.

To find out more, read our programme handbook.

Read more

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

  • Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 11th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2015-16 World University Subject Rankings.
  • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), English Language and Literature at Birkbeck achieved 100% for a research environment conducive to producing research of the highest quality, while 91% of eligible staff submitted research, of which 75% was recognised as world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • Draws upon Birkbeck's strengths in literature, art, history and archaeology to explore the social, cultural and intellectual life of medieval Europe.
  • We are based in Bloomsbury in central London and the unrivalled resources of the British Museum and the British Library are nearby, alongside a host of other world-renowned libraries, museums and galleries.
  • You will receive personal tuition from Birkbeck's research-active lecturers, who are themselves using specialist local libraries and other resources.
  • The Department of English and Humanities has an outstanding reputation for offering imaginative, critical and creative programmes designed and taught by leading academics and practitioners in the field, within a learning environment supportive of the needs of students from a wide range of educational backgrounds.
  • We have a thriving research culture, with student-led reading groups and a regular programme of major visiting speakers, including the Birkbeck Medieval Seminar and the Material Texts Network.
  • Opportunity to apply for a research internship placement at the Globe Theatre.
  • Watch videos of our postgraduate students discussing their experience of studying at Birkbeck.
Book an open evening Order a prospectus Contact us

Course structure

The programme has two core modules - Medieval Material Texts and Medieval Text and Intertext - which run in alternate years. You will take one of these, depending on your year of entry. Both modules explore resources for studying medieval literature and demonstrate their use in higher-level postgraduate research work. The other core module will be offered as an option to part-time students in their second year.

Medieval Material Texts will be the core module for 2017-2018 and alternate years thereafter.

Medieval Text and Intertext will be the core module for 2018-2019 and alternate years thereafter.

You will also study the module Approaching Research in Medieval Literature and Culture, which covers study skills. Classes may include fieldtrips to local archives and workshops on describing manuscripts and good writing.

Option modules will reflect the research interests of Birkbeck staff from the Department of English and Humanities, but also from the disciplines of history, archaeology and art history.

These will variously cover:

  • Middle English and Anglo-Saxon literature and books
  • Religious, cultural, political and gender history
  • Visual and literary theory
  • The archaeology of a number of different parts of Europe
  • European architecture and art.

To find out more, read our programme handbook.

Read more about modules

Option modules vary from year to year.

You may also choose other modules from the MA Renaissance Studies (or, by arrangement, other Birkbeck MA programmes).

In any term, instead of a taught option module, you can opt to do a module of directed reading. This would suit a student who has a particular interest which is not covered by the offered options. You would work with a supervisor towards an independent research essay of 5000 words.

Visit the Department of English and Humanities