Medieval Literature and Culture (MA)

Year of entry


Start date

September 2018


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 degree offers you the opportunity to make a special study of the medieval period, considering the richness and diversity of its literature, art and history. This course runs alongside the MA Medieval History, and we have close links to other departments at Birkbeck. So you will be able to tailor this course to suit your personal interests by choosing to study relevant option modules and pursue an independent research component.

You can also choose to study in either an interdisciplinary or in a more literary way, and use this course as preparation for doctoral research.

As a student at Birkbeck, you will have access to some of the best resources in the world for medieval research - we are close to many renowned research libraries, galleries, museums and manuscript repositories. On this course, we will teach you the skills you need to explore these riches in original and scholarly ways.


Read more


  • Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 13th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2016-17 World University Subject Rankings.
  • English Language and Literature achieved 100% for a research environment conducive to research of the highest quality, while 91% of eligible staff in our Department of English and Humanities submitted research, of which 75% was recognised as world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • The Department of English occupies houses in Gordon Square that are associated with the members of the Bloomsbury Group: 46 Gordon Square was the family home of Virginia Woolf, her brothers and her sister, Vanessa, until the latter's marriage to the art critic Clive Bell in 1907. It was later occupied by the economist John Maynard Keynes.
  • 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. You will also be able to access the unrivalled resources of the British Museum and the British Library, alongside a host of other world-renowned libraries, museums and galleries.
  • 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.
  • There is an opportunity to apply for a research internship placement at the Globe Theatre.
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Course structure

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

You will also study the module, Approaching Research in Medieval Literature and Culture, which covers study skills. Classes may include field trips 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 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).


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