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MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies

The Taught MA MEMS is a highly diverse, interdisciplinary programme associated with the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS). It covers a wide and exciting range of topics from Late Antiquity to the late eighteenth century, with a global range from the Silk Road to the Viking North.

At IMEMS, we provide a lively environment in which students can participate in a multifaceted approach to the period 300AD-1800 and its legacy, with workshops, seminars, and other activities ranging from fieldwork to research-led performance practice.

World-Class Research in a UNESCO World Heritage Site

We encourage our MA MEMS students to explore Durham's world-class Libraries and Collections, as well as the tangible and intangible heritage of its UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Durham Cathedral possesses the finest collection of medieval manuscripts of any of its English peers. At the Renaissance architectural complex on Palace Green, you will find a fully preserved seventeenth-century library, established by Bishop John Cosin. Ushaw College holds thousands of medieval and early modern books, manuscripts, and artefacts, including the cope worn at the coronation of King Richard III in 1483. Durham University’s Museum of Archaeology invites the study of early leatherwork, textiles, bones, wood and pottery. The Oriental Museum is devoted to art and archaeology from the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia to Japan; its Chinese and Egyptian collections are among the finest in Britain. At Auckland Castle, the University sponsors the Zurbarán Centre for Spanish and Latin American Art.

Be Part of over 1000 Years of Learning and Intellectual Exchange

IMEMS rallies one of the largest groups of medieval and early modern specialists anywhere in the world. Our MA MEMS students thus work with experts across the Arts and Humanities, and Social and Physical Sciences, as well as with industry professionals in our libraries and museums.

We provide a lively environment in which students can participate in a multifaceted approach to the period 300AD-1800 and its legacy, with workshops, seminars, and other activities ranging from fieldwork to research-led performance practice. 

I was hands on with primary sources from day one. The professors are always happy to chat. Working around the Castle and Cathedral really brings history to life on a daily basis.

Callum
Postgraduate Student

Join our bustling Medieval and Early Modern Student Association

Our MA students become members of the Durham Medieval and Early Modern Student association (MEMSA), which organises a range of seminars, community outreach activities, social activities, and an annual conference.

MEMSA is fully supported by IMEMS and provides opportunities to present papers on your research, devise small-scale courses for non-specialist members of the public, or gain experience by working with larger research projects currently running in the University in the area or medieval and early modern studies.

Programme Details

As an MA MEMS student, you will

  • Take two core modules to hone your research skills and explore key historical and critical questions. These modules are team-taught; they consider developments over the longue durée from the end of the classical world, through the Middle Ages and into the early modern era. The first, Reading the Medieval and Early Modern Past, takes one key item or body of material (e.g. a text, a site, an archive) as a lens through which to explore different approaches to the period 300-1700. You write a 5000-word essay on a topic of your choice connected with the themes of the module. The second module, Writing the Medieval and Early Modern Past, focuses on major themes, movements and institutions across the whole medieval and early modern period. You will write a 4000-word essay and give a 15-min. presentation.
  • You then follow up your own interests by choosing two further optional modules from a broad range of disciplines. Taught by subject specialists, these usually take the shape of seminars, such as: Latin for ResearchOld NorseArchaeology of the BookEngland’s Religious Revolution 1640-62Narrative Transformations: Medieval Romance to Renaissance EpicPalaeography: Scribes, Script and History from Antiquity to the RenaissanceWarrior Poets in Heroic SocietiesRenaissance Tragedy. Options on larger multi-taught modules include, for example, Cultural Landscapes of Eurasia, or War Lords, Holy Men, and Tyrants in North-East England. (All are subject to staff availability.)
  • You will write a 15,000-word dissertation of original research, supervised by one of Durham’s specialists, on a topic of your choice in the period AD300-1700.

Funding Opportunities

The University offers a range of scholarships and funding opportunities. Of particular interest may be: 

The Faculty of Arts and Humanities MA Bursary Scheme (all applications recieved by the general deadline set by the Faculty)

The Durham Alumni Discount Scheme (all Durham alumni)

The Hatfield Lioness Scholarship (female students from a developing country where access to tertiary education is limited)

Chevening Scholarship (applicants from all Chevening-eligible countries)

Please check the particulars using the links provided and visit the University fees and funding pages for details of further scholarship and funding opportunities that may be of interest to you.