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MA Medieval, Early Modern and Renaissance Studies Dissertation


  • Credit value: 60 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor: to be confirmed
  • Assessment: a dissertation proposal (0%), working bibliography and draft (0%) and a 15,000-word dissertation (100%)

Module description

The dissertation is a culminating project on a topic of your choosing conducted independently with faculty guidance. It consists of a final piece of around 15,000 words and works as a capstone for the MA degree. In some cases, it may serve as excellent preparation for the pursuit of doctoral study. 

The module is supported by a programme of research preparation classes. Students of the Medieval or Early Modern and Renaissance era face particular challenges when engaging with the wealth of evidence from these periods and the considerable body of scholarly work that has developed to make sense of them. These classes, which are taken by all students as part of preparation for the final dissertation, work to demystify the process of preparing for a substantial research project. They will equip you with the skills necessary to ask the right questions, to explain how you will go about answering them, and to find the appropriate set of tools and materials needed to interrogate your subject. In addition, you will consider the benefits and pitfalls of different kinds of approaches, discover how to map a clear route through less familiar areas of your studies, and learn how to present your work to your peers and ask constructive and productive questions.

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • define a subject area, within the fields of Medieval and Early Modern studies, in consultation with a supervisor
  • articulate a substantially new thesis about primary materials within that subject area
  • contextualise the thesis within an understanding of the contemporary historical circumstances of the Middle Ages or Early Modern era and the modern scholarly field
  • find and critically evaluate both primary and secondary materials, or other non-textual evidence within the field
  • synthesise intellectual debates and theories, using them in the service of a new and independent argument
  • present research in accordance with recognised academic conventions.