English - Medieval & Renaissance Literature

University College Cork

English - Medieval & Renaissance Literature

Course Outline
Our MA English – Texts & Contexts: Medieval to Renaissance offers students the opportunity to explore Old English, Middle English, and early modern literature in all its rich variety and contexts.

The MA examines canonical and lesser-known texts, forms, and authors from the islands of Britain and Ireland, ranging from the earliest works in English, such as riddles, elegies, and wisdom poetry, to the proliferation of texts and genres in Middle English writing of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, including Chaucer, to the cheap print of the sixteenth century and the popular plays of Shakespeare. We take a particular interest in interrogating conventional boundaries between periods (including between Old and Middle English, and between medieval and Renaissance texts), between genres, and between media (from oral to written traditions, from page to stage, and from text to screen).

Under the guidance of the MA’s expert scholars, who have published widely on many of the topics covered on the course, you will explore key conceptual and critical issues in Old, Middle, and Renaissance English literature; the historical, cultural, and material contexts of this literature; and the afterlives and legacies of this literature across time and media (transmission, reception, adaptation, appropriation).

On this MA programme we will introduce you to the discipline-specific skills that are required for postgraduate study of earlier English (palaeography, codicology, linguistic analysis, use of databases and bibliographies) and foster transferable skills that are invaluable in a range of careers. The MA programme is stimulated by exceptional medieval and early modern contexts and resources in the local area, such as the nearby Elizabeth Fort, Edmund Spenser’s Kilcolman Castle in north Cork, and the early printed book collections of the Boole Library’s Special Collections.

Subjects taught

The MA English – Texts & Contexts: Medieval to Renaissance consists of two parts, a taught course and a dissertation, totalling 90 credits.

Part I (50 credits)

Mandatory Modules

EN6052 New Histories of the Book: Theories and Practices of Earlier Writing (10 credits)
EN6009 Contemporary Research: Skills, Methods, and Strategies (10 credits)

Elective Modules

EN6051 Middle English Literature 1200-1550 (10 credits)
EN6053 Old English Literature to c.1200 (10 credits)
EN6054 Renaissance Literature c.1500-1700 (10 credits)
EN6063 Earlier Literature and its Modern Reception (10 credits)

Note: Subject to the approval of the MA Programme Directors, students may substitute one of these modules with a 10-credit module from the MA Modernities: Literature, Theory & Culture from the Romantics to the Present.

Part II

EN6017 Dissertation in English (40 credits)

Entry requirements

To be considered for admission to an MA programme within the School of English, an applicant will normally possess a honours primary degree result of Second Class Honours Grade 1 (2H1) level or higher or equivalent qualification in English or a cognate subject. All applicants must satisfy a Selection Committee who may request applicants to provide letters of reference.

For North American applicants a cumulative GPA of at least 3.3 is expected.

The selection committee for the MA English (Medieval and Renaissance Literature) in the Department of English, University College Cork also attaches strong importance to the additional special supplementary online questions and the online 500-word personal statement for the MA iEnglish (Medieval and Renaissance Literature).

Assessment Info

The course is assessed by a combination of essays / assignments, a research journal in ePortfolio format, an oral presentation of the proposed dissertation topic and a 15-17,000-word dissertation.


1 year full time.

Enrolment dates

Start Date 9 September 2024

Post Course Info

Skills and Careers Information
Our English MA graduates are linguistically and critically adept writers and researchers. On this programme they develop a broad skill set, knowledge, and experience in independent research, effective verbal and written communication, critical thinking, organisation, teamwork, problem-solving, and time management.

Equipped with this array of transferable skills, MA graduates progress to careers in areas such as publishing, second-level teaching, arts and heritage, journalism and broadcasting, civil service, technical writing, and policy research development. Having developed the discipline-specific skills for the study of earlier literatures, graduates have also advanced to doctoral study in the fields of Old, Medieval, and early modern English, and Digital Humanities, and to careers within and beyond academia.

More details
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  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Daytime,Full time

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