MA Program

Admission Requirements

A candidate for the MA must have completed, with at least B+ standing, a four-year BA or its equivalent, in which course work in the medieval period formed part of the program. MA students may be full-time or part-time.

Master of Arts Degree Requirements

The normal length for the MA program at the Centre for Medieval Studies is one year.


For those registering in September 2008 or after, the course requirement for the MA is four full courses (or a combination of full and/or half courses totalling the same), one of which is Latin (MST 1000Y), or three full courses for those who achieve the Level One pass in Medieval Latin upon arrival in September of their first year of registration. Students who do not achieve the Level One Latin pass on arrival are required to take MST 1000Y. Latin is the most important and fundamental requirement of the degrees at the centre, and Latin classes meet daily.

MA students may substitute a thesis for one full course as part of their degree requirements. Submitted theses must follow the formatting guidelines set by the School of Graduate Studies.

The non-Latin MA courses are normally chosen from the centre’s annual list, though permission to take a course not on the list can be granted. Students should consult the Associate Director about their choices, talk to instructors, and perhaps sit in on the first classes before making a final decision: enrolment forms need not be handed in to the centre until the end of September/early October.

The centre refrains from prescribing any course or program of courses. Medieval studies includes anything between about AD 500 and 1500; it ranges across all Europe and the Mediterranean; it can be approached from the perspective of language, literature, philosophy, religion, art, technology, politics, social organization, literacy, archaeology, physical resources, and probably more. No single set of courses can provide an adequate introduction to all this.

Moreover, the centre’s philosophy is one of freedom to cross traditional boundaries and to make new connections, unrestricted by the prejudices of past approaches. We require only an ability to read Latin, the primary written medium of the Middle Ages (and even this can, officially, be achieved without taking a course). Nevertheless, we stress fundamental skills: the hallmark of centre graduates – including over 400 PhDs, most of whom are in academic positions – is their ability to use primary sources, in the original languages and in their original (usually handwritten) form. Mindful that not everything can be done in a single MA year, we offer the following suggestions for course packages that will help students acquire fundamental skills, breadth in unfamiliar areas, and depth in chosen areas of specialization.

A. For those who have not passed the Level One examination:

  • MST 1000Y
  • 1½ Foundation courses (3 x ½ or 1+ ½) in areas to which an introduction may be needed:
    history (HIS 1201H, 1210H), technology (HPS 1215H), literary theory (MST 3101H), social history (MST 3201Y), philosophy (MST 3301Y), religion (MST 3401H), liturgy (MST 3501H), art and architecture (FAH 1111Y).
  • 1½ Courses (3 x ½ or 1+ ½,) in an area of specialization. For those working in one of the vernacular literatures, this is the ideal time to learn languages, e.g.
    Old English (ENG 1001H), Old French (FRE 1164H), Old Norse (MST 2010Y), Old and Middle Irish (MST 2030Y), Middle Welsh (MST 2050Y), Middle High German (GER 1200H), Old Saxon (MST 2001).
    On the other hand, it can be difficult to begin too many languages all at once.

B.  For students who have passed the Level One, but not the Level Two Latin examination:

  • Those who are thinking of proceeding to a PhD are strongly urged to audit MST 1001Y (Medieval Latin II), though a pass at the Level Two Latin examination is not required for the MA degree.
  • Palaeography (MST 1104H and/or MST 1105H) is advised since it is a prerequisite for advanced courses such as textual criticism (MST 1107H), diplomatics (MST 1110H), and editing Old English (MST 1384H), which students may want to take later.
  • A mixture of foundation/specialization courses, as suggested in A (above).

C. For students who have passed both the Level One and Level Two Latin examinations:

  • There is no need to take any more Latin (though advanced courses are offered). Only three other courses are required for the degree, though four may certainly be taken.
  • Palaeography (MST 1104H and/or MST 1105H).
  • A mixture of foundation/specialization courses, as suggested in A (above). Students in this category are ideally placed to take other languages, if needed, and to build up skills in editing, if this is what they are interested in pursuing.

These three packages are only suggestions. Students may wish to take mainly (or only) foundation courses in new areas; they may wish to take mainly (or only) courses in their areas of specialization; they may have done palaeography elsewhere, or even (though we would be surprised) not wish to take it at all. We do urge all students, however, to take the opportunity of the first year to open gateways to future research.

Language Requirements

The only language requirement for the MA at the Centre is Level One Latin/MST 1000Y. MA students are, however, urged to have a try at the Level Two Latin, French, and German examinations: failures are not recorded. An MA student’s pass in a language exam that is part of the PhD requirement will be recorded on the transcript.


Forms for MA students (e.g. to enrol or submit a thesis) are available from the School of Graduate Studies.