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.
This course is informed by work carried out in the University’s Institute for Name-Studies and Centre for the Study of the Viking Age, and offers you the basic linguistic, textual, and analytical skills for early medieval studies, within a broader comparative and thematic context.
Two of the modules, 'Research Methods in Viking and Anglo-Saxon Studies' and 'Reading Runes', are based around field trips, funded by the school. The field trips provide 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.
There is also the opportunity to learn about public engagement through a placement in our well-established ‘Vikings/Anglo-Saxons for Schools’ project.
- Nottingham is renowned for its work in Runology, Name-Studies, and Norse and Viking Studies. Staff in the School of English, Centre for the Study of the Viking Age and the Institute for Name-Studies have received international acclaim for their research
- 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
- The programme offers an excellent route towards pursuing a PhD
- There are opportunities for study abroad, supported by the Erasmus programme with the University of Oslo
- The School of English was ranked: 13th in the UK for English in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020, 13th for English by the Complete University Guide 2020 and 49th for English Language and Literature in the QS World University Rankings 2019
- We are ranked 9th in the UK by 'research power' (REF 2014)
Teaching on this course will include:
- seminar group teaching
- group and one-to-one tuition with academic members of staff
- teaching informed by active researchers
- access to a variety of online resources
- flexible course content
- interdisciplinary study and discussion
- field trip options on some modules
Students on this MA form part of a lively local and international community. You may attend the seminars and lectures organised by the Institute for Medieval Research, where you 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), the biennial Fell-Benedikz lecture organised by the Centre for the Study of the Viking Age (CSVA) and the biennial Cameron Lecture, organised by the Institute for Name-Studies (INS).
The library has strong collections in all branches of the subject area, including the special Eirikur Benedikz collection of Icelandic Literature.
Towards the end of your studies, you will complete a supervised dissertation of 14,000 words. This is a major piece of advanced independent research, which you will undertake with the supervision of a specialist in your chosen area. We will provide you with advice and guidance while you select and refine your area of study, and offer close supervision and support as you complete your research and your MA.
Students must take all modules from the following list:
Reading Old English
This module provides an intensive introduction to the Old English language, taking students through its grammar and through a selection of texts in prose and verse. Each week an aspect of language will be studied through exercises and focussed work on extracts from ‘real’ Old English. By the end of the module, students will have an understanding of the Old English grammar and syntax, and will be familiar with texts from a number of genres, extracts of which they will have translated. Understanding of the language and of the set texts and their literary and cultural context will be tested in the coursework assessment.
Reading Old Norse
This course provides an intensive introduction to the Old Norse language, taking students through its grammar and through a selection of texts in prose and verse. Each week an aspect of language will be studied through exercises and focussed work on extracts from ‘real’ Old Norse. By the end of the module, students will have an understanding of Old Norse grammar and syntax, and will be familiar with texts from a number of genres, extracts of which they will have translated. Understanding of the language and of the set texts and their literary and cultural context will be tested in the coursework assessment.
Research Methods in Viking and Anglo-Saxon Studies
The module provides a substantial grounding in the research resources and methods appropriate to interdisciplinary Viking and Anglo-Saxon studies. All teaching takes place through an intensive extended field-trip and a series of workshops. The workshops will introduce you to a variety of approaches to the study of the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons, including runology and name-studies, as well as providing a practical insight to public engagement and museums. You will also be given basic bibliographical training and the field-trip will provide an opportunity for you to discover a range of material and linguistic evidence relevant to the study of the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons, and to understand the importance of interpreting the evidence within its landscape setting. You will produce a portfolio of assessed work to reflect your learning in these areas. Please note that the timing and location of the field-trip are to be decided. As part of this module students will also have the opportunity to learn about public engagement through the well-established 'Vikings/Anglo-Saxons for Schools' project.
Students will choose a topic in consultation with the MA Course Convenor and an appropriate supervisor. The topic will normally be based on interests and skills students have developed in the course of the modules already studied.
You can choose 60 credits of modules from the following list (each module is worth 20 credits):
Conflict and Cohesion: Religion and Cultural Change
The Conversion of the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings is a marked watershed in both cultures. Whereas Anglo-Saxon Conversion appears to be straightforward, the Conversion of the Scandinavians seems to have been more complex, or so it seems. This course will introduce the processes that led to the Conversion; it will introduce the major texts and primary sources, but also consider the important research questions and the methods with which we can approach such a complex period of change, with often incomplete or missing sources.Students will be asked to read a range of different text types, including historical and religious sources, as well as poems and sagas, and be guided towards weekly secondary reading. Students will also consider evidence from material culture, such as manuscript illuminations, sculpture and evidence from burial archaeology. At the end of the module students should be familiar with the methods with which a range of divergent and sometimes incomplete pieces of evidence can be analysed, as well as major debates in the field. This knowledge will lead to the development of a research question for their own coursework.The module will be assessed by a) a 1000 word methodology essay (20% of the overall mark) which will be submitted before the Easter break and marked in time to be useful for feedback and the development of the final essay (20% of the overall mark) and b) a 3,000 word project which discusses Conversion processes in either the Viking homelands or Viking Age Britain and Ireland or Anglo-Saxon England (80% of the overall mark).
Contextualising Old English
This course follows on from Reading Old English, offering students the opportunity to explore the culture of the Anglo-Saxons through the surviving literature in Old English. The focus will be on extensive reading of texts in Old English and discussing themes which may overlap in the different genres. We will cover topics such as history and hagiography, heroic and homiletic writing. Texts to be read will include Beowulf and related narratives.
Place-Names in Context: Language, landscape and history
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. They 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.
This module will train you in the essential skills of runology: you will learn how to examine, transliterate, transcribe, translate and present runic inscriptions. This includes working with databases, corpus editions and specialist literature. In the workshops you will develop and practise your skills using photographs and other visual materials. You will then be able to apply these skills on a field trip, with hands-on study of inscribed objects. At the end of the semester you will undertake an independent project in which you will study and present a set of inscriptions which are of interest to you.
The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. This course page may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.
Teaching methods and assessment
Most taught modules are assessed by written work of varying format and length commensurate with content and weighting. Tutors provide detailed comments on assignments. The objective is to provide you with the confidence to work as professional academics, at ease with the conventions of the discipline, and ready to tackle any area of research in Viking and Anglo-Saxon Studies.
Our postgraduate students move into an extraordinarily wide range of careers following their time in the school.
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 from the School of English 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
For postgraduates from the School of English, six months after graduation:
- 96.6% were in employment or further study
- the highest salary was £34,000
- the average salary was £21,875.
Source: known destinations and salary data for full-time, home, postgraduates extracted from the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2016/17.
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We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students whatever your course, mode of study or future career plans.
You can access our Careers and Employability Service during your studies and after you graduate. Expert staff will help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.
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Scholarships and bursaries
Securing funding for postgraduate study can be a complicated and competitive process, but there are many opportunities available to support your studies. Our step-by-step guide to funding sets out all of the different stages and avenues to explore.
The latest information about school funding opportunities is available on the school website.
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Masters student loans of up to £10,906 are available for taught and research masters courses. Applicants must ordinarily live in the UK or EU.
International and EU students
Masters scholarships are available for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure you apply for your course with enough time.
We provide guidance on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study. You can also access specific funding opportunities, entry requirements and other resources for students from specific countries.