The Centre's Students
The Centre's MA (Res) and PhD students come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, factors which strengthen further its multidisciplinary ethos. Some study the MA (Res) full-time over one year; others study part-time over two years, and it is also possible to take the course on a modular basis over five years. Some students have been encouraged by their employers to take the course to develop their professional skills: sponsors have included English Heritage and Guildford Borough Council. Other students are recent graduates, keen to gain a firm grounding in medieval studies to enable them to undertake research towards a PhD. In this context, the UK's Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) recognises the MA (Res) in Medieval Studies as an appropriate one-year pre-doctoral training course, as well as a stand-alone Master's course. Other students take the course because of a long-standing personal interest in the Middle Ages.
Mature students are particularly welcome, including those who graduated some time ago but who now wish to return to study.
Over the years, we have welcomed students from the USA, Canada, Australia, Egypt, Israel, Mexico, Columbia and most European countries, and the University of Reading as a whole has a long-established reputation as a popular venue for overseas students.
Having developed an interest in medieval literature while a mature undergraduate at Oxford, the MA in Medieval Studies at Reading seemed the ideal way for me to develop my interests further and to expand my knowledge. I have not been disappointed. The course has proved to be extremely practical and has armed me with the skills necessary to read and research medieval literature at a detailed level. During my time at the Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies (GCMS) I have studied Medieval Latin, Palaeography and Manuscript Studies as well as general research methods and such interdisciplinary topics as Archaeology. It is a testament to the teaching, content and structure of the course that I have used all of the skills I have acquired while researching my MA dissertation and nothing has been wasted. I would not hesitate to recommend this course for any scholar but especially for those such as myself who have come to academia later on in life and need to acquire the key research skills necessary to develop their academic careers and/or interests further.
I came to the University of Reading from America because I was impressed with the expertise of the staff in the field I was interested in: heresies of the High Middle Ages. I had only intended to stay for the MA(Res) year, but the encouragement and support of my advisers inspired me to pursue my PhD here!
MA, part-time modular option, 2010-12
After a career in finance I wanted to return to History. Reading GCMS offered the flexibility with the modular option to study and work. The first year studying the core skills including Latin and palaeography has flown by. What can I say? It has been thoroughly enjoyable, stimulating, enriching and hard.
It was a wonderful experience doing the MA in Medieval Studies, following my degree in archaeology. Having a strong interest in medieval buildings, I wanted to be able to investigate the documentary evidence relating to them. The course was everything I had hoped for, in that it gave a comprehensive overview of the medieval period in the taught units of history, literature, Latin and palaeography, but allowed specialization in interests in the research options. The research methods classes were very helpful. I chose to study medieval manuscript production and ecclesiastical history for my two options. These topics required me to use the skills I had acquired in Latin and palaeography. I am currently working as an archives assistant at the Berkshire Record Office, and hope to develop a career as an archivist. Studying palaeography, Latin and engaging in historical research in the MA has been an excellent way to prepare for this type of employment.
Recent MA dissertation topics include:
- Giving and Receiving: Perspectives on the Theory and Practice of Poverty by Dominicans and their Detractors in Thirteenth- and Fourteenth-Century England.
- Taking Power and Keeping Control: The Teutonic Knights and the Order-States from 1230 to 1283.
- Political Propaganda in the Continuations to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
- Garden Imagery in English Books of Hours
- Magic in Twelfth-Century England
- The Medieval Archer: Professional Soldier?
- Maritime Aspects of Edward III's Expedition to Flanders in 1338
- Edmund of Langley's expedition to Portugal, 1380-81
- The crusading policies of Pope Leo IX
- Latin personal names of the 5th and 6th centuries in Western Britain
- The Secular Cathedral in England and France: The West Frontier in its spatial context