The GCMS offers an MRes and a PhD programme in Medieval Studies:


The MRes in Medieval Studies

View our leaflet to find out more about the MRes in Medieval Studies

The MRes programme in Medieval Studies provides a sound training in the skills required of medievalists in all disciplines and focussed preparation for research. We run interlinked skills courses in Medieval Latin and Palaeography. These are aimed at getting students at least to a stage where they have a sound reading ability of both printed and manuscript texts; you are assessed through coursework and timed tests. MRes students may choose to write an extended study of an appropriate piece of source material instead. Students all take a compulsory Research Methods module entitled "Researching the Middle Ages", concentrating not only on skills required in all disciplines such as bibliographic and annotational techniques, proof-reading, dissertation research and writing, and oral presentation, but also on issues relevant to specific disciplines. These include the editing of literary texts, location of historical sources, artistic and architectural analysis, and the writing of learned papers and reviews. An important element is the series of Autumn and Spring Term research seminars and the Summer Symposium, in both of which many disciplines are represented. The Research Methods module is assessed by an appropriate assignment submitted by each student, in the Spring Term.

In addition, MRes students choose two Option Modules. Each Option is assessed by an essay of 4,000 words. Students needing to acquire a foreign language in order to have access to the scholarship of their area of interest may also take, instead of one of your Options, "Reading in a Foreign Language for Medievalists". This is a language course supplemented by a targeted reading programme; you will then be assessed by a critical synthesis of up to 2,500 words analysing works in your chosen language.

Finally, all students write a dissertation of 18,000-20,000 words on a topic of their choice. MRes students make a formal oral presentation on their research in the Summer Term and submit the Dissertation itself in September.

This programme is flexible enough to allow students to specialise in what interests you most or what will be of most assistance to you in your research plans or in your professional development. For instance, a student interested in the evolution of armour was able to study his topic in an archaeological context in his Option and from a historical perspective in his Dissertation. All courses are geared to the student's existing knowledge and expertise, and we offer small group or one-to-one tutorials for Options and the Dissertation.  

Flexibility of study

The Centre aims to be as flexible as possible in meeting the needs and interests of students. It is usually possible to arrange additional options on an ad hominem basis if someone wishes to study a particular topic. Teaching of the Latin, Palaeography and Research Methods is concentrated on Thursdays, to facilitate attendance by part-time students. The timetable of teaching for the Options and the Dissertation is arranged between student and supervisor on a mutually convenient basis. There is a considerable amount of personal tuition and contact. Students who take the part-time MRes follow the Research Methods, Latin and Palaeography in your first year and the Option A, B and Dissertation in your second year, although this may be reversed if a student has difficulty attending on Thursdays in their first year. In addition, students may take the MRes as a modular programme over five years.

Further information may be requested from

Summary of Course Structure

The course consists of:

1. Researching the Middle Ages (20 credits)

2. Latin and Palaeography (30 credits - coursework and timed test) or Source Study (30 credits)

3. Option A (20 credits - one 4,000-word essay)

4. Option B (20 credits - one 4,000 word essay)

5. For MRes Dissertation (90 credits - research portfolio, oral presentation and 18,000-20,000-word Dissertation submitted in September).


PhD in Medieval Studies

The GCMS welcomes applications either from within the University or from outside to do a PhD in any area covered by the collective staff expertise, provided the proposed topic is of an interdisciplinary nature. (Applicants intending to concentrate on one discipline are invited to apply to one of the departments involved in the Centre.)

Those without enough expertise in the medieval period are encouraged to do the MRes first. Given that the normal completion period for a PhD is regarded as three years, this would mean the total commitment is four years, full time.

Further information may be requested from

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If you are thinking of doing a postgraduate course are you  aware that as a Reading alumnus you could be eligible for a discount on the cost of your course fees.  See Alumni Discounts- University of Reading


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