Viking and Anglo-Saxon Studies MA


Fact file

MA Viking and Anglo-Saxon Studies
1 year full-time, 2-3 years part-time
Entry requirements
2.1 (Upper 2nd class hons degree from British University or international equivalent)
Other requirements
Transcripts are required
7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
University Park
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


As well as expertise in language and literature, we are also renowned for specialisation in Name-Studies and Runology.
Read full overview

This unique programme introduces you to a variety of approaches to the early Medieval period in England and Scandinavia, with particular emphasis on languages, scripts and texts.

The course is excellent preparation for postgraduate research in the subject area, but is also suitable for those planning a career in the heritage industry, or with a more general interest.

The course offers you the basic linguistic, textual and analytical skills for early medieval studies, within a broader comparative and thematic context.

Two MA modules, Q34310 World of the Vikings and Q34306 The Language of Stones, are based around field trips, funded by the School.  The field trips provide students with practical experience and relevant skills, which are then put to use in independent projects on topics chosen by the students, which form part or all of the assessment for the modules concerned. Many of the images on the Centre for the Study of the Viking Age website are taken from such field trips.

In addition to language and literature, Nottingham is also particularly renowned for its specialisation in Name-Studies and in Runology, and the MA programme has close links with related work in other disciplines, such as Archaeology and History.

Key facts

  • Nottingham is renowned for its work in Runology, Name Studies, Norse and Viking Studies and staff in the School of English and the Institute of Medieval Studies have received international acclaim for their research in these areas
  • We encourage an interdisciplinary approach to Viking and Anglo-Saxon Studies, and you will be able to participate in joint events and field trips with the School of History and the Department of Archaeology
  • This course is informed by work carried out in the University’s Institute for Name-Studies and the Centre for the Study of the Viking Age
  • The School was ranked 6th for English in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017 and 9th in the UK for 'research power' (REF 2014).
  • Hear from current students in our School of English Masters student videos

Course details

The course content combines taught modules and a dissertation.

You may choose to emphasise either Old English and Anglo-Saxon studies, or Old Norse and Viking Studies, or may pursue both within the overall comparative framework.

You will take modules which serve as an introduction to Medieval studies in general, as well as language modules in Old English, Old Norse or both (occasionally other languages may be offered).

Optional modules on this course allow you to study topics such as the history of religion or runology, or allow you to approach new disciplines, such as Name-Studies (for which the School is particularly renowned).

Finally, you will undertake a 60-credit dissertation on an appropriate research topic chosen in consultation with the course convenor.

This course may be taken over one year, full-time (September to September) or part-time over 2 to 3 years.

For full-time students, the taught modules are offered in the two semesters of the academic year, while the dissertation is normally completed in the summer months of June to September.

Core modules and optional modules are assessed by coursework (normally 3,000 words for a 15-credit module and 6,000 words for a 30-credit module), and the dissertation module by the completed dissertation of 14,000 words. 

Students on this MA form part of a lively local and international community. They may attend the seminars and lectures organised by the Institute for Medieval Research, where they will meet postgraduates and senior scholars in all areas of Medieval studies. There are also specific events of direct relevance to students on this programme, such as the Norse and Viking Seminars (NoViS) and the biennial Fell-Benedikz lecture organised by the Centre for the Study of the Viking Age which has a range of research projects. Students are also encouraged to attend the wide range of postgraduate events organised by the School of English. There are opportunities for study abroad supported by the Erasmus programme with the University of Oslo. The library has strong collections in all branches of the subject area, including the special Eirkur Benedikz collection of Icelandic Literature. 



The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result, may change from year to year. The following list is therefore representative but should give you a flavour of the modules we offer.

Full time students take 120 credits of modules across the Autumn and Spring Semesters (45-75 credits in each Semester), and then finish the course with a dissertation over the Summer. Part time students take 60 credits of modules in their first year of study, 60 credits in their second, and then commence their dissertation in the Summer of their second year.

Typical Autumn Semester modules

Old English Texts 1 (15 credits)

This module offers students the opportunity to explore the culture of the Anglo-Saxons through the surviving literature in Old English. Topics covered include Germanic legends and myths, heroic literature, the theme of exile, Christian homiletic writing and devotional works. Texts to be read may include heroic and elegiac poems, The Dream of the Rood, and saints' lives in verse and prose. Most of these will be read in Old English (with plenty of help given), enabling students to expand and consolidate their knowledge of the Old English language.


Old Norse Texts 1 (15 credits)

This module provides an intensive introduction to the Old Norse language, based on carefully-selected extracts from real texts, including sagas, and historical and mythological narratives. By the end of the module, you will have been taken through all the main aspects of Old Norse grammar and have translated the set extracts. In class we will return regularly to questions of translation and style, while observing grammar in action.


Old English in History 1 (15 credits)

This module consists of a detailed study of English language history, with Old English as the focal point.  The Indo-European background is surveyed, and the development of Old English within the Germanic family is traced.  The grammar, phonology, vocabulary, semantics, and social history of Old English are investigated.  Specific topics include the relationship between Latin and the vernacular; the concept of literacy; dialects; and the establishment of a 'standard' language. Manuscript and historical evidence is considered.


The Language of Stones: Runes and runic inscriptions of the Viking Age (15 credits)

Through a series of short workshops, this module will train you in relevant aspects of runology, including how to examine, transcribe, transliterate, translate and present runic inscriptions. The workshops will be based on photographs and other visual materials, but you will then be able to test your skills on actual runic inscriptions on a field trip. You will then develop an independent project in which you present and analyse a set of Viking Age or medieval Scandinavian inscriptions that are of particular interest to you.


The Hammar and the Cross: Religion in the Viking Age (15 credits)

This interdisciplinary module offers students the opportunity to explore the role of religion in pagan Scandinavia and subsequent changes after the conversion to Christianity. Students are expected to read and discuss a variety of texts (sagas, poems and histories) and study other media, such as artwork and runic texts. They will also be introduced to the critical studies in the field and be expected to conduct independent research into aspects of Scandinavian religion.



Typical Spring Semester modules

Old English Texts II (15 credits)

This module complements Old English Texts I offering students the opportunity to explore the culture of the Anglo-Saxons through the surviving literature in Old English. Topics covered may include Germanic legends and myths, heroic literature, the theme of exile, Christian homiletic writing and devotional works. Texts to be read will include Beowulf and related narratives. Most of the texts will be read in Old English.


Reading Old Icelandic Literature (15 credits)

This module will introduce you to current critical thinking about Old Icelandic literature in both poetry and prose, and equip you with a range of practical and theoretical frameworks for your own study of this literature. Seminars will be student-led: you will present and discuss recent critical approaches and test them against your own readings of the texts themselves. Knowledge of Old Icelandic is NOT required for this module.


The Study of Place-Names (30 credits)

The module employs the study of place-names to illustrate the various languages - British, Latin, French, Norse and English - that have been spoken in England over the last 2000 years. Students will learn how place-name evidence can be used as a source for the history of English: its interaction with other languages, its regional and dialectal patterns, and its changing vocabulary. Students will also undertake a directed self-study project which will assess the value of place-name evidence for some aspect of Anglo-Saxon and/ or Viking settlement-history.


World of the Vikings: Research approaches and methodology in Viking Studies (15 credits)

This module will begin with two half-day workshops in which you will be introduced to research resources and methods appropriate to interdisciplinary Viking Studies. You will also be given basic bibliographical training which will be assessed by an annotated bibliography and book review. A two-day field trip will introduce you to a range of material and linguistic evidence for the Viking Age, and you will write an assessed essay based on your study of this material. The timing and location of the field trip are to be decided – but it is most likely to be Dublin. Please note that for practical reasons this trip may be in the Easter vacation.



Further details on these modules are available in the Module Catalogue.

Students choose their modules at the beginning of the Autumn Semester. 

Please note that all modules are subject to availability and may therefore change.

The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



UK/EU Students

The majority of postgraduate students in the UK fund their own studies, often from a package made up of personal savings, parental loans or contributions, bank loans and support from a trust or charity.

However, financial support and competitive scholarships are available and we encourage applicants to explore all funding opportunities.

Please visit School’s website for the latest information about funding opportunities. 

The Graduate School website at The University of Nottingham provides more information on internal and external sources of postgraduate funding.

International and EU students

The University of Nottingham offers a range of masters scholarships for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study.

Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your masters course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.

The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.

Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.



The course is excellent preparation for postgraduate research in the subject area, but is also suitable for those planning a career in the heritage industry, or with a more general interest.

In fact, our postgraduate students move into an extraordinarily wide range of careers following their time in the School.

According to The Times, “English graduates have almost any career path open to them ... All of the big graduate recruiters look for communication skills.” (Clare Dight, ‘Degree Doctor…English’, The Times, 6 April 2006).

Conducting postgraduate work in the School of English fosters many vital skills and may give you a head start in the job market. Studying at this level allows you to develop qualities of self-discipline and self-motivation that are essential to employment in a wide range of different fields.

We will help you develop your ability to research and process a large amount of information quickly, and to present the results of your research in an articulate and effective way.

A postgraduate degree in from the School of English at Nottingham shows potential employers that you are an intelligent, hard-working individual who is bright and flexible enough to undertake any form of specific career training.

Average starting salary and career progression

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers.*

Consequently – and owing to our reputation for excellence – more than 84% of postgraduates from the School of English enter employment or further study during the first six months after graduation. The average starting salary for postgraduates from the Faculty of Arts was £20,250 with the highest being £33,000.**

* The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research.
**Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2014/15. Salaries are calculated based on those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career Prospects and Employability

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from  careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential. 

Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.  

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Dr Paul Cavill
School of English
The University of Nottingham
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