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UCL Medieval and Renaissance Studies

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About the degree

UCL's MA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies (MARS) is an intensive interdisciplinary programme run and taught by scholars who are leaders in the field.

Based in the heart of London's Bloomsbury, at the centre of an exceptional confluence of libraries and museums, the course is demanding, cosmopolitan and stimulating. We place particular emphasis on equipping those students who intend to continue to PhDs with the skills that they will need to do so. The MA requires one year of full-time or two years of part-time study.

For full course information including entry requirements and course fees, please visit the UCL Prospectus page for the MARS MA.

Learning environment

We emphasise intensive teaching in small groups, one-to-one tutorials outside of classes, and providing students with all the support required for them to flourish on this stimulating and demanding course.

This approach draws not only on our own expertise but also on our position at the heart of one of the world's greatest collections of manuscript, library, and museum resources. In particular, students have the exceptional privilege of being taught inside the British Library's Manuscripts Reading Room on medieval and renaissance manuscripts of their own choosing, relating to their own interests.

Our location also means that MARS students are no more than seven minutes' walk away from the Institute of Historical Research (IHR), the Warburg Institute, Senate House Library and its paleography collection, the Wellcome Institute Library, and Dr Williams' Library. Students are introduced to these libraries early in the year, and we regularly organise guided trips to nearby museums with medieval and renaissance collections including the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, and the National Gallery.

We also have a MARS centre at UCL and are actively involved in a range of lively seminars across Bloomsbury, including at the Warburg, the IHR, and our own graduate-run Medieval and Renaissance Interdisciplinary Seminar.

Degree structure
  1. Language-based module(s) (30 credits)
  2. Module(s) from the full MARS module list (30 credits)
  3. Module(s) from the MARS module list; these may include Skills and Sources options OR options outside of this, subject to the approval of the Degree Tutor (60 credits)
  4. Dissertation (60 credits). All students produce a research dissertation of up to 12,000 words on a topic of the candidate’s own choice, written under the expert supervision of a UCL-based academic.
Teaching

Teaching takes place in groups of about 3 to 12 students. In addition, students are offered individual tutorials in relation to essays, and have regular one-to-one meetings with a supervisor whilst completing their dissertation. All MARS teaching is provided by experienced academics. We place a premium on accessibility and students will find that their teachers, however senior, are available and happy to meet with them.

As is the case across UCL, students are taught by staff who are also engaging in their own research around the topics that they teach. Most modules therefore give students the opportunity to experience new research as it is produced.

Skills training

The MARS MA is designed to equip students with the skills necessary for medieval and renaissance doctoral work, whilst maintaining a flexible curriculum.

All students must take one medieval or renaissance language. The selection includes Old Norse, Latin, medieval Italian and many more. Beyond this, students are free to specialise or to range as widely as they wish. Modules are often available in a range of full- or half-year models, allowing for either preference. For more details on the modules running this year, please visit the MARS modules page.

For those who are definitely planning to continue to doctoral work, our 'skills' modules are likely to prove particularly useful: 'Renaissance Texts', 'The Medieval English Book', and 'Manuscripts and Documents' (described by one external examiner as a "jewel in the crown" of the degree). Students taking the full-unit options on Latin or Manuscripts and Documents will enjoy twice as much teaching time as in other equivalent MAs.

Finally, the dissertation provides the opportunity to apply these skills to independent research into primary sources, on a subject of the student's choosing.

Interdisciplinarity

MARS is an interdepartmental, interfaculty MA currently run by the History department. It draws on expertise across UCL. Archaeology, Classics, English, French, German, History, History of Art, Italian, Jewish & Hebrew Studies, Scandinavian Studies and the School of Slavonic and East European Studies all contribute to the MARS MA. MARS students therefore have an exceptional range of modules and staff at their disposal and are able to develop an individualised course of study exactly appropriate to their interests.