BA single honours Medieval and Early Modern Studies* 2017/18 

Year of entry

*Subject to validation

The Medieval and Early Modern Studies degree draws on the expertise of scholars from across Archaeology, English Literature, History and Theology to provide a unique way of studying the past amidst the historical city of Canterbury.

The Medieval and Early Modern Studies degree combines high-quality teaching with internationally-acclaimed research in a friendly and supportive learning environment. Situated in the beautiful cathedral city of Canterbury and standing on the edge of the ruins of the medieval St. Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury Christ Church University is steeped in history and culture and is in many ways the ideal location for the study of the Middle Ages and early modern period.

Drawing on our internationally-recognised research and expertise in Archaeology, English Literature, History and Theology, this course offers an interdisciplinary approach to the period from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Age of Enlightenment. Students can choose from a wide range of modules across these disciplines and focus their studies on the historical period that interests them most, immersing themselves in its history and culture.

For over 1,400 years, since St. Augustine established his abbey in Canterbury, the city has been home to historians, theologians and scholars of great texts.

You can study French, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish as part of, or alongside, your course.

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Medieval and Early Modern Studies combines the disciplines of Archaeology, English Literature, History and Theology to encourage a deep and rounded understanding of the distant past. The aim is to familiarize you with the different approaches scholars have taken to the pre- modern period and in Year 1 you will study various aspects of this through a series of case studies. In Years 2 and 3 you will be free to choose relevant modules across the subjects of Archaeology, English Literature, History and Theology, as well as, in your final year, completing a piece of independent research in a topic of your choosing.

The Medieval and Early Modern Studies degree has four guiding aims:

  • to provide you with a high quality learning experience that will help you develop an appreciation of the richness and complexity of the Middle Ages and early modern period;
  • to offer you a stimulating and engaging range of modules from different disciplinary perspectives;
  • to challenge you intellectually by offering a curriculum that progresses in terms of depth of study and complexity of content over the three years of your degree;
  • to help you enhance your analytical, interpretative, research, presentational, communication and ICT skills not only to help you succeed as an undergraduate but also to provide you with a portfolio of transferable skills to draw on in forging what we hope will be a successful and fulfilling post-university career.

Core modules


Year 1

Approaches to the Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1: Theories and Perspectives

This module will introduce you to the different disciplinary perspectives that scholars have taken in studying the pre-modern past. As well as the core disciplines of Archaeology, English Literature, History and Theology, it will examine the approaches of art historians, political scientists, social anthropologists and, more recently, pyschologists and cognitive neuroscientists to the history and culture of the medieval and early modern periods.

Approaches to the Medieval and Early Modern Studies 2: Medieval and Early Modern Canterbury and its World

This module will look at how the different disciplinary approaches outlined in the ‘Theories and Perspectives’ module have been applied in practice by scholars wishing to understand various aspects of pre-modern Canterbury and the men and women who lived in, worked in or visited the city.




Year 3

Independent Study – 8,000-10,000-word research dissertation

In this module, you will undertake a formal, long-form independent dissertation project, entailing detailed analysis of primary and secondary sources, one-to-one supervision with a qualified member of staff, and significant independent study. You will submit a topic proposal in the spring of your second year, and consult with staff from then onwards about the nature and scope of your chosen research area


Likely optional modules

Year 1

Kings Queens and Conquerors in Medieval Europe

In this module, you will be introduced to the fascinating and colourful world of the kings, queens and conquerors who ruled medieval Europe between c. 750 and c. 1250. Focusing primarily on England, France and Germany, you will engage with a range of key themes including medieval kingship, the Vikings, the Church and conversion, monasticism and queenship.

Renaissance, Reformation and Revolution in the Early Modern World

In this module, you will be introduced to the major social, political, religious and economic developments which occurred across a broad expanse in Western Europe during the period 1450-1750. Topics covered include the Reformation, Humanism and the Renaissance, the printing press, colonial expansion, the Ottoman Empire, poverty, witchcraft, print, war, women and the Enlightenment. Above all, this module aims to help you forge connections and contrasts between these facets of the past.

Texts and Contexts I: Medieval to 18th Century

This module introduces you to medieval and early modern literatures. It aims to introduce you to some of the important themes, ideas, and genres within each period, and to situate these within the English literary tradition in its wider contexts. You will develop critical and historical skills for close reading and broader analysis.

Year 2

Castles in Medieval Society

In this module, you will come to appreciate how castles are one of the most visible and imposing reminders of our medieval past. The ruins we see now are the result of dynamic changes in society, culture, politics and architecture. This module therefore investigates castles in their medieval context using archaeological evidence, the landscape and standing buildings alongside written documents. It will consider how castles were viewed in medieval society and chart the evolution of castle studies in the modern era.

The Crusades, c.1095-1229

In this module, you will study the history of the crusading movement from its origins in the 1090s to the end of the sixth crusade. Along the way, you will explore major themes and debates, including, for example, the forces and influences that gave rise to the Crusades; the motives of crusaders; the causes, course and consequences of a series of Crusades; the Islamic response to the Crusades; the development of the crusader states; and the portrayal of the Crusades in film.

Anarchy, Law, War and Tyranny: Angevin England, 1128-1216

In this module, you will study the history of England under the Angevin kings (Henry II, Richard the Lionheart and John) who governed a vast collection of cross-Channel territories. Key topics include the ‘Anarchy’ of King Stephen’s reign (by way of background), the forging of the Angevin Empire under Henry II, Henry II’s fateful quarrel with Archbishop Thomas Becket, King Richard’s role in the Third Crusade and the disasters of John’s reign.

The Age of the Tudors, 1485-1603

In this module, you will study the political history of England and its neighbouring realms from the end of the Wars of the Roses through to the Reformations of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Tying together political history with contemporary political theories, the module considers the major political events of all the Tudor reigns and the roles of major institutions such as Parliament and the Church.

Sex, Deviance and Death in the Sixteenth Century

In this module, you will be introduced to a variety of sixteenth century primary sources and shown how to work with sixteenth century texts and artefacts which which should deepen your knowledge of sixteenth century English history and its sources. Key topics include print culture, health, witchcraft, heresy, gender, and the role of women in sixteenth century England.

'The Monstrous Regiment': Women in Tudor and Stuart England

In this module, you will study how Tudor and Stuart women played a public political role through demonstrating religious piety and through defence of family interests in an overtly patriarchal society. Key topics include the roles of the Tudor and Stuart Queens; the political influence of aristocratic and gentry women and the lives of women below these elites. The effects of the Reformation, the Renaissance and the English Civil Wars will also be examined.

Life & Death in Medieval Europe

This module will introduce you to the archaeology and history of north-west Europe c.900-1348 AD. This was a period of great change across all areas of life; encompassing the formation of states, the foundation of new forms of religious life, agricultural and technological change, and periods of disease. In this module you explore these themes through a range of source material including artefacts, cemeteries, agrarian and urban landscapes, narrative histories, administrative sources, and the built environment.

Old English Language and Literature

Few students of English have the opportunity to study the literary culture of its first six centuries – the works of the Anglo-Saxon and the Viking Age. This module will introduce students to the study of Old English literature and language. You will learn the language skills necessary to translate and analyse poetry and prose written in Old English, and do this using online hypertexts, textbooks, and learning aids.

The Canterbury Tales

Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are among the greatest literary achievements of the late Middle Ages. The text contains a compendium of different stories, offering wide-ranging insights into the richness of late medieval English culture and literary tradition. It is also a radical and experimental work, which places different genres in competition with one another to challenge and subvert the assumptions they encode. On this module you will encounter some aspects of medieval culture that you have already studied, and others that will be entirely new: complex gender and sexual politics; ecclesiastical and institutional greed; class struggle; suffering and endurance in the face of extreme adversity; flatulence, murder, fairies, and demons.

Shakespeare and His Contemporaries

This module introduces you to the rich and dynamic world of the Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre. You will study a range of texts across dramatic genres, written between the 1580s and the 1620s; the reading list will typically include plays by William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, John Webster, Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton and John Fletcher. The texts studied provide access to a broad range of issues including, for example, staging in the public amphitheatres and indoor theatres; theatrical conventions and practice; genres and subgenres (e.g. city comedy, revenge tragedy); audience; the relationship between drama and (court) politics; regulation and censorship.

Seventeenth-Century Literature and Society

This module explores how early modern writers responded to issues in a particularly turbulent period that witnessed civil war, the execution of the monarch and the temporary instigation of an experimental form of republican government. You will explore the emotional highs and lows of this extraordinary period in literature that ranges from the sublime to the obscene. Key topic areas include the court culture of James I and Charles I, the Civil War, Republic and Restoration. Key authors usually include Ben Jonson, Robert Herrick, Richard Lovelace, Andrew Marvell, John Milton and Lord Rochester.

Applied Humanities: Employability in Practice

This module will introduce Humanities students to a range of work-related skills such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, decision-making, initiative, and creativity. In doing so, we see this module as enhancing students’ awareness of the work environment, thus improving students’ employability and self-awareness of their individual career planning. We work with a range of local partners to provide placement opportunities for students studying this module.

Year 3

From Norsemen to Normans, 911-1106

In this module, you will discover how and why historians have long been fascinated by the Normans – not least because of the quantity and quality of the historical writing that celebrates their achievements and their magnificent architecture. Although 1066 is a date that looms large in British history, the Normans also settled in other areas of Europe. This module considers the principal ideas, approaches and debates that inform historians currently researching the Normans in Normandy, England and Southern Italy c.911-c.1106.

King Stephen, Empress Matilda and the Anarchy: The Anglo-Norman Dominions, 1120-54

In this module, you will study some of the major aspects of the civil war between King Stephen (reigned 1135-1154) and the Empress Matilda, a period often described as ‘the Anarchy’. Themes explored include the causes and consequences of the civil war; the fate of English power in Northumbria and Normandy; the role of the Church and disputes over the election to bishoprics; the activities, loyalties and ambitions of major barons; and the forces and influences that helped to restore peace.

Queens, Maidens and Dowagers: Women in Medieval England

In this module, which draws on chronicles, letters and records, you will reflect on the diverse nature of women’s experiences in medieval England. The module investigates the roles open to queens, aristocratic ladies, peasant women, townswomen, anchoresses and nuns in an era when women were widely regarded as the weaker of the two sexes. Topics covered typically include the impact of the Norman Conquest on women, queenship, royal daughters, estate and household management, religious devotion, and women at work.

From Richard II to The Wars of the Roses: Politics and Society, 1377-1509

In this module, you will study the history of England during the fifteenth century, particularly the causes, course and consequences of the civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses. It assesses the crisis of kingship occasioned by the Lancastrian revolution of 1399 and the characters of the men who sat upon the English throne in that period. Political turmoil in England is set against the context of social and cultural change throughout late medieval Europe.

Crimes, Courts and Social Protest in Early Modern England

In this module, you will study the structure and functioning - in theory and in practice - of the English criminal law and its courts in the early modern period. You will study primary sources associated with pre-trial investigation as well as prosecution in court. Popular and elite perceptions of crime are also considered as are examples drawn from popular crime literature. Riot and disorder is also addressed.

The Stuart State: Britain, 1603-1714

In this module students will study the development of the Stuart State through civil war and revolution, and consider the roles of the Monarchy, Parliament and the Church in seventeenth century politics. Key topics include the reign of Charles I, the causes and impact of the English Civil Wars, the Cromwellian Protectorate and the Restoration. The legacies of civil war will be examined in the formation of political parties and the regime change of 1688-9.

Poverty, Prostitution, Plague: The Problems of English Society, 1600-1800

In this module students will study the social and cultural history of three powerful ‘problems’ central to life in England, c. 1600-1800. The module examines the history of welfare, sexual cultures, and medicine in a bid to recover the lived experiences of a broad majority of England’s population. Key topics include: early modern mental illness, transgressive sexuality, roguery and counterculture, and the English poor laws.

Lovers and Fighters in Medieval English Literature

The literature of the early and later Middle Ages is home to some of the best known lovers and fighters in English literature. In this module you will study some that you have heard of, including the monster-slaying Beowulf, and legendary kings, queens, and knights like Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Gawain. You will also encounter a range of other holy men and women as you have never seen them before: a militarised warlord Christ who defeats death with the help of a talking tree; St Andrew drowning satanic cannibals in an urban wilderness; Judith, a warrior princess who beheads a diabolical general in the defence of her people; and the soldier-turned-hermit St Guthlac, a fen-dwelling recluse who defends an ancient burial mound from winged demons.

Topics in Renaissance Literature and Culture

This module invites you to take a different approach to the study of literature by focusing on book production and book ownership. It asks questions like, “Who read Shakespeare’s Sonnets anyway?” and “What else did they read?” and sometimes, “Did these readers venture into print themselves?” It looks at writers who courted a book-buying public and those who preferred the intimacy of circulating their work in hand-written manuscripts. Authors frequently studied on this module include Sir Philip Sidney, William Shakespeare, and John Donne, but attention will also be given to women writers and to the book collections and writing habits of the ‘not famous.’

Topics in Shakespeare and Shakespeare’s Background

This module aims to encourage you to analyse Shakespearean texts in their historical and cultural contexts. The content of the module will vary according to the ‘topic’ selected for study. For example, the particular focus could be on “Shakespeare’s Afterlives”: responses to and rewritings of Shakespeare's plays by his contemporaries and by later generations. In addition to the plays themselves you will study, among other things, late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century rewritings, the handling of Shakespearean themes in (post-)modern novels and Shakespeare in performance (theatre and film).

Britain in the Early Medieval World

In this interdisciplinary module you will draw upon the evidence from archaeology, history, and literature to understand the early medieval period in Britain. In addition to following a chronological narrative from the collapse of the western Roman Empire through to the late-eleventh century, you will explore keys themes including: kingship and state formation, society and religion, settlement and landscape, art and literature, warfare and society, conceptions of the past, and the nature of historical writing.

Work experience and placement opportunities are available to all students through the Applied Humanities Employability module in the second year.

Like all degree courses in the Humanities, Medieval and Early Modern Studies will equip you with a range of skills and abilities, such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, decision-making, initiative, and creativity. Throughout the course we stress the relevance of these skills to future work environments, thus improving students’ employability and self-awareness of their individual career planning. As well as obvious careers, such as teaching, heritage and post-graduate study, graduates of the Humanities enjoy careers in administration, finance, the arts and management.


The 2017/18 annual tuition fees for this course are:

Full-time £9,250* £11,000**
Part-time £4,625 N/A

Tuition fees for all courses are payable on an annual basis, except where stated.

*Full-time courses which have a Foundation Year 0 will have a 2017/18 UK/EU tuition fee of £6,165 in Year 0.

**Tuition Fee Scholarship discounts of £1,500 are available to eligible overseas students. Visit the International webpages for further information.

Please read the 2017/18 Tuition Fee Statement for further information regarding 2017/18 tuition fees and year on year fee increases

Further information

Additional course costs

Although we aim to minimise any additional costs to students over and above the course tuition fee, there will be some additional costs which students are expected to meet.

Costs applicable to all students

Text books Own purchase text books
Travel to other sites Where travel to other sites is required, this will be payable by the student
Library Fees and Fines Where students fail to return loaned items within the required time they will be responsible for the cost of any Library Fees and Fines applicable
Printing & Photocopying The cost of printing and photocopying undertaken by students to support their individual learning are payable by the student
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire / photography are additional costs payable by the student

General principle policy

The University’s general principles policy for additional course fees are set out here

CategoryIncluded in the tuition feeAdditional cost to student
Field trips (including trips abroad and trips to museums, theatres, workshops etc) Yes, if the trip contributes to the course (whether it is part of an optional or compulsory module), but not including food and drink. Yes, if the trip is not an essential part of the course but is offered as an enhancement or enrichment activity, or for a student’s personal development.
Travel and accommodation costs for placements  No

Travel and accommodation costs for professional placements within the Education and Health & Wellbeing Faculties.

Travel and accommodation costs for other work placements. 
Text books No Own purchase text books.
DBS / Health checks No Yes
Professional Body registration No Yes
Travel to other sites (e.g. travel to swimming pool for lessons) No Yes
Clothing / Kit Yes, where the clothing / kit is essential for Health & Safety reasons. Yes, where the clothing is kept by the student and not essential for health and safety reasons.
Learning materials Essential learning materials (excluding text books) in connection with the course. Additional materials beyond the standard provision essential for the course or where the costs are determined by the student’s area of interest and the outputs are retained by the student.
Library fees and fines No Yes
Printing and photocopying No Yes
Social events No, unless the event forms an essential part of the course. Yes, unless the event forms an essential part of the course.
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire/ photography are additional costs payable by the student.

Composition of the course

Teaching is primarily conducted via seminars and workshops, in which you and your tutor will debate and discuss key texts, ideas and issues, and more formal lectures. Tutors will also guide you in self-directed learning, where wide reading and the writing of assignments develop skills in research, analysis and academic writing. All assignments are returned with written feedback and students are invited to one-to-one tutorials designed to further direct your intellectual and critical development.

David Grummitt is Head of the School of Humanities and a medieval historian who specializes in the Wars of the Roses and the Early Tudor period. As well as recent books on the Wars of the Roses and King Henry VI, he has appeared on BBC TV’s The Real White Queen and Radio 4’s In Our Time.

Academic input

The Medieval and Early Modern Studies team is comprised of full-time permanent lecturers in Archaeology, English Literature, History and Theology. They range from professors to early career academics, but all have established records as scholars and teachers. We are also able to draw on the talents of associate teachers and research fellows associated with the degree, as well as postgraduate students researching the medieval or early modern periods.

The degree is assessed using a variety of methods of assessment, from traditional essays to portfolios, class presentations, and student-organised exhibitions. As well as essays and reports, usually about 2,000 words in length, you will also have the opportunity to do a longer piece of research and writing, up to 10,000 words, in your final year. Some of our modules are assessed by final examination, but many are entirely coursework. This wide variety of assessment methods is designed to help you extend your knowledge, deepen your understanding, and develop your skills in research, analysis, debate and writing.

While the Medieval and Early Modern Studies course does not in itself require anything in the way of specialist facilities, it is worth pointing out that the Canterbury campus is modern, attractive and up-to-date in its teaching and learning resources, and that these broad ‘facilities’ help generate an on-campus atmosphere that is both friendly and conducive to study.


Full-time study

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Part-time study

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Full-time study

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Fact file

UCAS code

  • V150 Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Institutional code

  • C10


  • 3 years full-time

    6 years part-time


  • September 2017

Entry requirements



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Last edited: 05/07/2017 12:06:00