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Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

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Course details

The MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies equips you with the skills and knowledge you will need to embark on your own doctoral research journey.

Delivered by Durham’s Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS) this MA is an ideal opportunity to develop your interest in a particular historical period.

Exploring aspects of society and thinking between AD c.300-c.1800, it is suitable if your undergraduate background is in archaeology, classics, history, literature and languages, philosophy or theology.

You will study over one year full-time or two years part-time and complete two core modules on reading and writing the medieval and early modern past. You also choose from a selection of optional modules ranging from medieval Franciscan theology to sources of power in South East Asia 1400-1800. The course culminates in a dissertation on a subject of interest.

Teaching is delivered by renowned scholars who are experts in their respective fields and together comprise one of the largest gatherings of medieval and early modern scholars in the world.

From the outset, you will be integrated into the wider research community, including an opportunity to join the vibrant postgraduate student group, MEMSA. This gives you access to an active programme of events, workshops and masterclasses with visiting subject experts and industry professionals. By joining this Masters, you will experience the rich and varied research life that exists within the Institute and the associated departments of archaeology, classics, English, history, modern languages and cultures, philosophy and theology.

All the while you will have access to unrivalled resources that include rare books, records, manuscripts and artefacts as you complete your studies within the rich cultural setting of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Course structure

All the MA programmes offered by the Faculty of Arts & Humanities consist of three components: 

  • a Major Research Project to the value of at least 60 credits 
  • Core Modules to the value of 0-90 credits, depending on the programme
  • Elective Modules, making up the total number of credits to 180; some of these modules will be defined as Recommended Electives for particular programmes.

For students studying the MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies the Interdisciplinary Dissertation (your Major Research Project, 60 credits)) explores an area of interest in greater depth. It gives you the opportunity to practise, develop and demonstrate your research skills on a specific topic and prepare for independent academic research in the future. It also tests your ability to argue, respond and interpret, while demonstrating subject-specific knowledge and skills. You can choose to complete a dissertation in any of the following fields: 

  • Archaeology
  • Classics
  • English Studies
  • History
  • Modern Languages and Cultures
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Theology

You will also be required to take the following two 30-credit core modules:  

Reading the Medieval and Early Modern Past introduces you to the different approaches to studying this period of history, and develops your research skills both for course work and for possible further study. This module also looks at specific historical texts and objects and their contemporary context in order to help develop your understanding of how such material emerged and developed in the medieval and early modern periods. 

Writing the Medieval and Early Modern Past considers a range of key themes, approaches, ideas, movements and institutions involved in the study of this period of history, including change and continuity over this time. This module will develop your research and communications skills as well as honing the skills that will help you design and complete your dissertation. 

Finally, you will choose 60 credits of elective modules from across the Faculty of Arts & Humanities or beyond, so that your total number of credits adds up to exactly 180. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of your programme, some modules will be specifically recommended to you by your Programme Director.  


The course is delivered through a range of lectures, tutorials, seminars and practical hands-on workshops which are taught by the relevant subject experts.

Lectures provide key information on specific subjects, while seminars are an opportunity to get involved in discussions in more depth. The workshop sessions give you an opportunity to practise your skills. Many of our seminar sessions include short student-led presentations, designed to demonstrate your learning around a topic and encourage debate within the seminar group. Each module includes around 20 hours of contact time, which is supported by a significant level of independent study.

One-to-one supervision is provided through focusing in detail on a particular aspect of medieval and early modern history, literature, society or culture in your dissertation.


Assessment is rigorous and ongoing throughout the course and is designed to highlight your knowledge and understanding of the subject. Most of the course is assessed by essays or equivalent methods such as manuscript transcriptions. Some modules include seminar presentations which will be assessed by subject experts.

The MA dissertation is worth either one-third or half of your overall mark depending on the route you choose.

Entry requirements

  • A 2:1 or equivalent
  • A 500-word personal statement which should include the following:
    • An outline of your interest in an interdisciplinary MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies
    • What skills and knowledge you would bring to the course
    • What skills and knowledge you would hope to acquire
    • An indication of your planned area of research

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £11,750 per year
EU students £24,900 per year
Island students £11,750 per year
International students £24,900 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £6,500 per year
EU students £13,700 per year
Island students £6,500 per year
International students £13,700 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities


For further information on career options and employability, student and employer testimonials and details of work experience and study abroad opportunities, please visit our employability web pages.

Department information


The Department of History is a highly successful academic community that places a huge value on the contribution postgraduates make to its ever-growing research output covering a wide range of historical contexts.

Specific areas of expertise in the Department include medieval, early modern and modern history in Britain, continental Europe, North America, Africa, and East and South Asia. They consider a wealth of themes including gender, culture and race as well as political, religious, economic and social topics.

Our postgraduates benefit enormously from being taught by staff who work at the cutting edge of their respective subject specialisms. This enables them to incorporate the most up-to-date findings into their teaching. Our Masters qualifications in Global History, History, and Social and Economic History (Research Methods) offer choice, flexibility and the opportunity to specialise.

You will also benefit from the relationships the department has with University research institutes and centres, such as the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the Centre for Nineteenth Century Studies, and the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture.

We consider our postgraduate community to be committed and active, contributing to academic activities through its own discussion groups and organising annual conferences and meeting with external keynote speakers.

For more information see our department pages


  • World Top 40 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • 4th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • 4th in The Guardian University Guide 2024
  • 4th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the History Department pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 7th in the Power Rank for REF 2021.


The Department of History is located in the heart of Durham, next to Durham Cathedral and Castle, which together form the UNESCO World Heritage Site. We are within easy reach of all university colleges, libraries, lecture rooms, and other facilities.

The Department occupies a group of historic townhouses on North Bailey and Palace Green. Originally built as coffee houses and lawyers’ offices in the 17th and 18th Centuries, these buildings now accommodate academic staff, administrative staff and seminar rooms. All postgraduate classes and supervision meetings take place within the History Department.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
Find out more