UCC Postgraduate courses

English – Texts and Contexts: Medieval to Renaissance

About This Course

Fact File

  • Title

    English – Texts and Contexts: Medieval to Renaissance

  • Code

    CKE31 Full-time

  • College

    Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences

  • Duration

    1 year Full-time

  • Teaching Mode


  • Qualifications


  • EU Fees 2018

    See Fees and Costs for full details.

  • Non-EU Fees 2018


  • Entry Requirements

    Primary degree result of 2H1 level or higher or equivalent qualification in English or a cognate subject. See Requirements for full details.

  • Closing Date

    Applications processed in rounds: See How To Apply

  • Non-EU Closing Date

    15th June

  • Start Date

    10 September 2018

Course Outline

This MA, offering Old English, Middle English, and Renaissance modules, explores the full variety and contexts of writing from the islands of Britain and Ireland across the period circa 700 to circa 1700. We concentrate on interactions between texts in English from these islands, examining the beginnings of Anglo-Irish writing, as well as the cultural transmissions and transformations between classical, European, and insular intellectual and literary traditions before 1700. We also have a particular interest in interrogating traditional period boundaries, such as medieval and Renaissance. Our work is stimulated by exceptional contexts and resources from medieval and early modern sites such as Spenser’s Kilcolman Castle to the substantial early printed book collections of the Boole Library’s Special Collections and other accessible early collections.

This one-year, intensive taught graduate course is designed to provide you with a greater awareness of the conceptual and critical issues involved in the study of Old, Middle and Renaissance English; some of the historical and cultural contexts that the study of this period involves, and also some sense of how early writing has been received, transmitted, and transformed in modern texts and media. Modern writers and filmmakers have a fascination with the medieval and early modern that goes far beyond rewritings of Shakespeare, or star-studded movie versions of his plays, and this course also aims to alert you to some of these recent cultural approaches.

The course lays the foundation of study at higher degree level. It introduces the subject-specific skills that are required for the primary study of earlier English (palaeography, codicology, analysis of the physical composition of printed texts together with use of databases and bibliographies), as well as developing generic skills (writing, referencing, presentation skills) that will be useful as you embark on a scholarly project or career.

Taught Element
The subject modules and the Literary Research Skills module comprise the taught element of the MA and run from October to March. The subject modules introduce students to the specific thematic area of their choice. The Literary Research Skills module aims to equip MA students for the development and implementation of their research strategy through the acquisition of a range of research skills.

Research Element
Dissertation: the dissertation will be written between March and the end of September, and will be submitted in October. It will be supervised by a member(s) of staff, after consultation and agreement, and will be 15,000 to 17,000 words. Supervision will take place between March and the end of September.

Part 1
EN6009 Contemporary Literary Research: Skills, Methods and Strategies (10 credits)
EN6051Middle English Literature, 1200-1550 (10 credits)
EN6052 New Histories of the Book: theories and practices of earlier writing (10 credits)
EN6054 Renaissance Literature, c. 1500-1700 (10 credits)
EN6053 Old English Literature, to c. 1200 (10 credits) or 
EN 6055 Texts and Transformations: Medieval to Renaissance (10 credits)

Note:  Module details are subject to change for 2017/2018

Note: Subject to the approval of the MA programme co-ordinators, students may substitute one 10-credit module with a 10-credit module from one of the other three MA programmes: Irish Writing and Film; American Literature and Film; Modernities: Romanticism, Modernism, Post-Modernism.

Part 2
EN6017 Dissertation (40 credits)

Details of the programme content and modules are in the Postgraduate College Calendar

Non-EU Applications

Applicants who are interested in applying for the programme can also apply online at PAC.

For full details of the non-EU application procedure please visit our how to apply pages for international students.


**All Applicants please note: modules listed in the course outline above are indicative of the current set of modules for this course, but these are subject to change from year to year. Please check the college calendar for the full academic content of any given course for the current year. 

In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools and departments. 

Course Practicalities

The seminars for the taught core course in Texts and Contexts consist of two two-hour sessions per week. Each meeting will concentrate both on close reading of primary texts and on the contextual element of the course, considering authors and texts along with key secondary criticism concerning matters of genre, history, book-history, politics, culture, and art. We will examine some of the major literary influences on medieval and Renaissance texts, and take account of medieval and Renaissance theories of authorship and translation, as well as modern theoretical approaches to pre-modern texts. Field trips to sites of particular importance to the production and dissemination of Anglophone writing in Ireland are undertaken each year (such as Spenser’s Kilcolman Castle, Co. Cork, and Archbishop Marsh’s Library, Dublin).

All MA students in English must also take EN6009 Contemporary Literary Research, which requires a 2 hour per week attendance.

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.

Who Teaches on this Course

Dr Andrew King

Dr Kenneth Rooney

Dr Edel Semple

Dr Thomas Birkett

Why Choose This Course

This course is unique in these islands in offering a specialist graduate course which covers the full range of the three linguistic and cultural phases of earlier English writing: Old English (or Anglo-Saxon) to c. 1100; Middle English (or later Medieval writing) to c. 1500; and Early-Modern (or Renaissance) writing (c. 1500-1700). Study in UCC also affords graduate students the opportunity (subject to approval) to enrol in courses in other languages and literatures of the European Middle Ages and Renaissance such as Latin, Irish, Italian, and the languages of the Iberian peninsula.    

Skills and Careers Information

Graduates of the course will be linguistically and critically-adept writers and researchers, capable of advanced scholarly research. With extensive knowledge of the physical, social, formal, and linguistic contexts of ideas and writing over time, the MA in ‘Med & Ren’ will equip you with the skills required for careers in teaching, journalism and broadcasting, new media, publishing, librarianship, administration, and policy research and formation. 


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

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

The selection committee for the MA in the Department of English, University College Cork also attaches strong importance to the additonal special supplementary online questions and the online 500 word personal statement for the MA in English (Medieval and Renaissance: Texts and Contexts): CKE31AdditionalQuestions(108kB)

If you are applying with Qualifications obtained outside Ireland and you wish to verify if you meet the minimum academic and English language requirements for this programme please click here to view the grades comparison table by country and for details of recognised English language tests. 

View the grades comparison table

Non-EU Candidates

Non-EU candidates are expected to have educational qualifications of a standard equivalent to Irish university primary degree level. In addition, where such candidates are non-native speakers of the English language they must satisfy the university of their competency in the English language. To verify if you meet the minimum academic requirements for this programme please visit our qualification comparison pages.

For more detailed entry requirement information please refer to the International website .

Fees and Costs

The fee for this course is €6,000.

Part-time students:

If your course is offered full time and part time, the fee for part time courses is half the full time fee.


If your course required a deposit, that figure will be deducted from your second semester fee payment in January.

EU student fee payment:

Fees for EU students are payable in two equal instalments. First payment at registration in August and the second in January.

International student fee payment:

Fees for Non-EU Students are payable in one instalment in August.

How can I pay?

By Credit/Debit card online or by credit transfer.


If you have any questions on fee payment please email our Fees Office at fees@ucc.ie .

The Non-EU fee for this course is €13,000.

Non-EU Fees

The 2017/2018 Postgraduate Fees Schedule is available here

How Do I Apply

1. Choose Course

Firstly choose your course. Applicants can apply for up to three courses under one application. Details of taught courses are available on our online prospectus.

2. Apply Online

Once you have chosen your course you can apply online at the Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC). Applicants will need to apply before the course closing date. There is a €50 application fee.

3. Gather Supporting Documents

Scanned copies of the following documents will need to be uploaded to PAC in support of your application. Applicants may need to produce the original documents if you are accepted onto a course and register at UCC.

  • Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC
  • Any supplementary forms requested for your course.

Please log into PAC for more details.

4. Application processing timeline

Our online application system PAC opens for applications in early November of each year.

Questions on how to apply?

EU students contact graduatestudies@ucc.ie

International students contact internationaloffice@ucc.ie

Please note you will be required to answer specific additional/supplementary questions as part of the online applications process for this programme. A copy of these additional/supplementary questions are available to view here: CKE31AdditionalQuestions (108kB)

Irish/EU Closing Date Rounds

Irish/EU places on this programme are offered in rounds. The closing dates for each round can be found here

The closing date for non-EU applications is 15th June

Apply Now