Medieval Literature and Culture (MA)

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.

Highlights

  • Arts and humanities at Birkbeck are ranked fifth best in London, 18th in the UK and 87th globally in the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject. 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.
  • The School of Arts is an official partner of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London. Opportunities for students have included a year’s free membership of the ICA, private views, discounts on all talks and events, free members' screenings and £3 cinema tickets on Tuesdays, up to 25% off ICA Artists' Editions and a monthly e-newsletter.

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 Approaching Research in Medieval Literature and Culture, which covers the skills you will need in preparation for writing your dissertation. Classes on this module 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:

  • Old English, Middle English, and Old Norse literature and books
  • religious, cultural, political, and gender history
  • visual, literary, materially, and ecologically-engaged theory
  • the archaeology of a number of different parts of Europe
  • European architecture and art.

    Module groups

    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).

    To find out more, read our programme handbook.

    • Entry Requirements

      Entry requirements

      Our standard postgraduate entry requirement is a second-class honours degree (2:2 or above) from a UK university, or an equivalent international qualification.

      We will review every postgraduate application to Birkbeck on its individual merits and your professional qualifications and/or relevant work experience will be taken into consideration positively. We actively support and encourage applications from mature learners.

      On your application form, please list all your relevant qualifications and experience, including those you expect to achieve.

      Apply now to secure your place and allow enough time for the application and enrolment process. You do not need to have completed your current qualification to start your application.

      Course specific entry requirements

      A good second-class honours degree in a relevant subject.

      If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this course is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each of the sub-tests.

      International Entry Requirements

      Our standard postgraduate entry requirement for international students is a second-class honours degree (2:2 or above) from a UK university or an equivalent international qualification.

      Find details of entry requirements and equivalencies for over 120 countries worldwide.

      If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests. Some courses may require higher scores, particularly in the following subject areas:

      • arts management
      • cultural studies
      • development studies
      • English literature
      • film and media
      • geography
      • history
      • history of art
      • law
      • organizational psychology
      • psychology.

      Please carefully check the Course-Specific Entry Requirements on your chosen programme for details of higher English language entry requirements.

      If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

      Visa requirements

      If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

      The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

      • Courses of more than six months' duration.
      • Courses of less than six months' duration.
      • Pre-sessional English language courses.

      International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our full-time courses (with the exception of modular enrolment certificates of higher education and graduate certificates), as these qualify for Tier 4 sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

      For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

      Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

      If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

      Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

    • Fees

      Fees

      Part-time home/EU students: £4175 pa
      Full-time home/EU students: £8350 pa
      Part-time international students: £7600 pa
      Full-time international students: £15200 pa

      Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

    • Teaching and assessment

      Teaching

      At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

      Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading. Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

      Our distance-learning and blended-learning courses and modules are self-directed and we will provide you with interactive learning opportunities and encourage you to collaborate and engage via various learning technologies. These courses involve limited or no face-to-face contact between students and module tutors.

      In addition, you will have access to pastoral support via a named Personal Tutor.

      Methods of teaching on this course

      You usually have a 90-minute or two-hour seminar, with some individual instruction for essays and the dissertation. Where student demand is high, however, a mixture of lectures and small discussion groups may be used.

      Contact hours

      On our taught courses, you will have scheduled teaching and study sessions each year. Alongside this, you will also undertake assessment activities and independent learning outside of class. Depending on the modules you take, you may also have additional scheduled academic activities, such as tutorials, dissertation supervision, practical classes, visits and fieldtrips.

      On our taught courses, the actual amount of time you spend in the classroom and in contact with your lecturers will depend on your course, the option modules you select and when you undertake your final-year project.

      On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, discussion, collaboration and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students are encouraged and enabled through various learning technologies, but you may have limited or no face-to-face contact with your module tutors.

      Timetables

      Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

      Indicative class size

      Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to larger groups, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups led by a tutor.

      Independent learning

      On our taught courses, much of your time outside of class will be spent on self-directed, independent learning, including preparing for classes and following up afterwards. This will usually include, but is not limited to, reading books and journal articles, undertaking research, working on coursework and assignments, and preparing for presentations and assessments.

      Independent learning is absolutely vital to your success as a student. Everyone is different, and the study time required varies topic by topic, but, as a guide, expect to schedule up to five hours of self-study for each hour of teaching.

      On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, the emphasis is very much on independent, self-directed learning and you will be expected to manage your own learning, with the support of your module tutors and various learning technologies.

      Study skills and additional support

      Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

      • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
      • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
      • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

      Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

      Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

      Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short- or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.

      Assessment

      Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations, although this will vary from course to course - on some of our courses, assessment is entirely by coursework. The methods of assessment on this course are specified below under 'Methods of assessment on this course'. You will need to allow time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

      Where a course has unseen written examinations, these may be held termly, but, on the majority of our courses, exams are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June. Exams may be held at other times of the year as well. In most cases, exams are held during the day on a weekday - if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance - but some exams are held in the evening. Exam timetables are published online.

      Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

      Methods of assessment on this course

      Core and option modules are assessed by essays. You also write a dissertation of 15,000 words. There are mandatory core course research skills sessions in the summer term.

    • Careers and employability

      Careers and employability

      Graduates go in to careers in research and archiving, museums and galleries, education and journalism. Possible professions include archivist, researcher, or higher education lecturer. This degree can also be useful in a variety of roles within museums and galleries, as well as in becoming a newspaper/magazine journalist or arts administrator.

      We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

    • How to apply

      How to apply

      You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application link. Please note that online application will open in September 2018.

      You will need to prove your identity when you apply - read more about suitable forms of identification.

      When to apply

      You are strongly advised to apply now, to ensure there are still places on your chosen course and to give you enough time to complete the admissions process, to arrange funding and to enrol.

      You don't need to complete your current programme of study before you apply - Birkbeck can offer you a place that is conditional on your results.

      Birkbeck Orientation is on Saturday 28 September 2019 and is a great way to start your studies - find out more about what's happening during Orientation. You will also receive information about subject-specific induction sessions over the summer.

      Help and advice with your application

      Get all the information you need about the application, admission and enrolment process at Birkbeck.

      Our online personal statement tool will guide you through every step of writing the personal statement part of your application.