Triangle

Course overview

'Velkomin' (welcome)!

Join our team of internationally renowned specialists to study the languages and cultures of early medieval England and Viking and Medieval Scandinavia. Our unique MA programme offers you the opportunity to:

  • learn and improve your knowledge of Old English and Old Norse languages and literatures
  • explore interdisciplinary approaches to the early medieval period
  • study place-names, runic inscriptions and material culture alongside contemporary texts
  • design and curate a small exhibition

The course offers a perfect training if you are considering PhD research, and excellent preparation for work in the heritage industries.

Your teaching is informed by the work of the Centre for the Study of the Viking Age (CSVA) and the Institute for Name-Studies (INS), dynamic research centres which host reading groups and organise regular lecture and seminar series. You can also choose to work with, and develop teaching materials for, local primary schools as part of our ‘Vikings for Schools’ activities, and to collaborate with our partners at the University Museum.

Find out more

Visit our dedicated webpage and explore our modules, hear from graduates, and discover our research.

Why choose this course?

Ranked 10th

for grade point average among 92 universities, and 7th in the Russell Group.

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Want flexible study?

specialise in one of ten areas on our MA Applied English Distance Learning Programme

Share your knowledge

Take part in our Vikings and Anglo-Saxons for Schools programme deliver sessions for children at Key Stage 2.

Course content

Pre-arrival reading lists will be sent out with registration information before you join your course, where available.

The total credits for this course are 180. A full-time student takes:

  • three 20-credit modules in the autumn term
  • three 20-credit modules in the spring term
  • a 60-credit dissertation over the summer

You may also attend the seminars and lectures organised by various research centres in the Faculty of Arts, including the Centre for the Study of the Viking Age, the Institute for Name-Studies, and the Institute for Medieval Research, where you will meet postgraduates and senior scholars in all areas of Medieval studies.

Modules

Full-time students take the following 20-credit modules:

Reading Old English

This module introduces working with early medieval English texts in their original language.

We explore a wide variety of texts, both poetry and prose, literary and non-literary. This includes everything from the lives of virgin saints, to literary heroic reworkings of Bible stories.

Starting with the basics, you will study a different aspect of language each week. After learning the grammar, you will then work with texts through translation, linguistic analysis, and discussing the literary and historical contexts in which they were produced, preserved and reproduced. 

By the end of the module, you will understand Old English grammar and syntax, and will be familiar with texts from a number of genres.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Reading Old Norse

This module offers an introduction to the Old Norse language (no previous knowledge is necessary).

You will read selected texts in prose and verse, with an emphasis on the Old Icelandic sagas which describe Viking Age exploits and settlement from Norway to Newfoundland.

Each week you will study a different aspect of language and grammar through tailored exercises and focussed work on extracts from the set texts. You will also practise translating these extracts and discuss their literary and historical contexts.

By the end of the module, you will have an understanding of Old Norse vocabulary, grammar and syntax and you will be familiar with several key works of Old Icelandic literature.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Research Methods in Viking and Early Medieval English Studies

Discover the research resources and methods needed for interdisciplinary Viking and Early Medieval English Studies.

All teaching takes place through a series of workshops and when possible an intensive extended field-trip, which:

  • introduce a variety of approaches to studying the Vikings and early medieval England, including runology and name-studies
  • offer a practical insight to public engagement and museums
  • provide basic bibliographical training and an introduction to relevant research and presentation skills

The field-trip is an opportunity to:

  • discover material and linguistic evidence relevant to the study of the Vikings and early medieval England
  • understand the importance of interpreting the evidence within its landscape setting

Please note that the timing and location of the field-trip are to be decided.

You will produce a portfolio of assessed work on your learning. You are also welcome to share your skills and take part in our well-established 'Vikings for Schools' project.

This module is worth 20 credits.

The above is a sample of the typical modules 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. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Friday 15 July 2022.

Full-time students take the following 20-credit modules:

Contextualising Old English

This module follows on from 'Reading Old English', and offers the opportunity to explore more of the culture of Early Medieval England through an intensive study of surviving texts and their contexts.

The focus is on concepts of health and wellbeing, and we will read a variety of texts which focus on health, including medical texts and hagiography. We will look at the contexts of these works, which includes the manuscripts in which they were preserved, the sources which have influenced them and the practice of medicine and care in the period.

The module is worth 20 credits.

Contextualising Old Norse

This module introduces a range of Old Norse texts in both poetry and prose, and current critical thinking about Old Norse literature in its cultural and historical contexts.

The module will equip you with a range of practical and theoretical frameworks for your own study which will be tested in the contextual commentary.

Seminars are student-led. You will present and discuss recent critical approaches and test them against your own reading of texts themselves. You will write an essay similarly combining theoretical, historical or cultural reflection with analysis of a text or texts of your choice.

Prior knowledge of Old Norse is not required, though students who have taken 'Reading Old Norse' will be expected to deploy the knowledge gained there.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Place-Names in Context: Language, Landscape and History

English place-names are a rich and stimulating resource for the study of the past, offering insight into the landscape, history and languages of medieval England.

You are trained in the methodology of place-name study and the ways in which place-names can inform on a wide variety of topics. In consultation with your tutors, you will devise and complete a research project which fits with your particular interests.

You also have access to the library and archives of the Institute for Name-Studies, which include the holdings of the English Place-Name Society (est. 1924).

This module is worth 20 credits.

The above is a sample of the typical modules 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. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Friday 15 July 2022.

During the summer you will take a 60-credit dissertation:

Dissertation MA Viking and Early Medieval English Studies

You will complete a 60-credit dissertation. This is a major piece of independent research, and you will be allocated a supervisor who is a specialist in your chosen area.

Your dissertation supervisor will provide advice and guidance to help you select your area of study, and offer close supervision and support as you complete your research. There are also two dissertation workshops available to help you, where we discuss good practice.

Recent dissertation topics include:

  • gender and sexuality in Old English and Old Norse texts
  • runes and runic inscriptions
  • place-names
  • religion and belief in Early Medieval England and the Viking world
  • the relevance of the subject in the contemporary world

This module is worth 60 credits.

The above is a sample of the typical modules 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. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Friday 15 July 2022.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Small group learning
  • Field trips
  • Tutorials
  • Seminars

How you will be assessed

  • Dissertation
  • Coursework
  • Fieldwork exercises
  • Research portfolio
  • Language exercises

Most modules are assessed by written coursework of varying lengths, corresponding with the content and weighting of the module. Course tutors provide detailed guidance and feedback on assignments.

Towards the end of your studies, you will complete a 14,000-word dissertation, a major piece of independent research. Your tutors will provide advice and guidance to help you select your area of study, and you will be allocated a supervisor who is a specialist in your chosen area. They will offer close supervision and support as you complete your research.

This course is assessed through varied forms of coursework:

  • Research Methods in Viking and Early Medieval English Studies’ is assessed by a portfolio designed to develop your research skills and ability to communicate in a range of academic and non-academic environments
  • Assessment for ‘Reading Old English’ and ‘Reading Old Norse’ includes language and translation exercises to develop your understanding of these languages
  • You are encouraged to pursue areas of particular interest to you in coursework completed for spring semester modules
  • The 14,000-word dissertation allows you to pursue independent research with expert supervision on a topic of your choice

Contact time and study hours

You will typically have six hours of face-to-face timetabled contact a week. Your tutors will also be available during office hours for individual consultation to discuss your work and help you develop your understanding. You will receive one-to-one supervision for the dissertation.

Class sizes vary, but groups are generally small on this course (with an average of 10 students per cohort).

Study hours

One credit is approximately 10 hours of student work, so a 20-credit module will be around 200 hours of work. On average, you will spend around 10 hours per module per week on independent study.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2023 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:1 (or international equivalent) in English language/literature, history or archaeology

Applying

Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply

Fees

Qualification MA
Home / UK To Be Confirmed
International To Be Confirmed

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) .

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

All students will need at least one device to approve security access requests via Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). We also recommend students have a suitable laptop to work both on and off-campus. For more information, please check the equipment advice.

Field trips

There is usually a field trip as part of the module 'Research Methods in Viking and Early Medieval English Studies' (2 days, 1 night). This is based in the UK and accommodation costs are covered. We recommend you allow approximately £20 a day for refreshments.

Books

You'll be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to buy your own copies of core texts. The Blackwell's bookshop on campus offers a year-round price match against any of the main retailers (i.e. Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith).

Funding

Routes into Masters Scholarships

Aimed at UK-based students intending to progress on to PhD research. The Scholarships cover:

Full details and application form

There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

We also offer a range of international masters scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding

Careers

We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

Each year 1,100 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Graduate destinations

Graduates from the School of English move into a wide range of areas, including:

  • the education and higher education sectors
  • communications-based roles in marketing/PR/journalism
  • business and finance
  • the charity sector
  • local/national government

Recent graduates have gone on to:

  • PhD studies (with funding)
  • work in the heritage industries (primarily museums)
  • library and archive work
  • work in educational charities

"The department in Nottingham was a really supportive environment and helped me to explore new approaches to topics I thought I was already familiar with. The course definitely helped me develop my academic skills, as well as opening my eyes to a world outside of academia. I'm really glad I decided to give it a go!"

Lily Stancliffe (2019 graduate). Now working for the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge

Career progression

For postgraduate taught students from the School of English: 

  • 97.4% are in work or study 15 months after graduating
  • 81.6% are in graduate level work or study 15 months after graduating 

Source: University of Nottingham derived figures from HESA's Graduate Outcomes Survey of the Class of 2017/18 (Open Data Release 23rd June 2020)

The School of English has a range of bespoke volunteering opportunities offered throughout the academic year. These provide valuable professional experience, enhancing your CV and helping you to stand out from the crowd.

Vikings for Schools: Students design and lead workshops on Viking and early medieval English culture and society for local primary schools.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
" What drew me to this course was the breadth of non-literary medieval studies, such as place-names and runology. The hands-on fieldwork was especially formative to my research interests and showed me how academia can be taken beyond a desk too. The MA set me up with skills and language knowledge to continue researching, and I’ve ended up doing my PhD in pre-Old English runology. The MA taught me that there’s a world of early medieval research beyond parchment and ink, and it’s very much worth exploring! "
Jasmin Higgs, AHRC-funded PhD student

Related courses

This content was last updated on Friday 15 July 2022. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.