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Crusader Studies MA

UCAS code
Year of entry
Course length
1 year full time
2 years part time
History »
Location of study
Main Campus (Egham) »

The Royal Holloway MA in Crusader Studies offers a unique and fascinating examination of the ideas, impact and personalities of this subject from the medieval age to the present day. You will be taught, inspired and challenged by internationally recognised experts in this field.

Royal Holloway has a long tradition of studying the History of the Crusades and Byzantium and in conjunction with the libraries and research seminars of central London, offers unparalleled expertise and resources. This is an ideal MA if you are pursuing an advanced interest in crusading history, it will provide you with a further set of skills and a qualification, it also has a highly successful track record as a springboard to doctoral research.

The programme offers students an understanding of the context of the crusades, and the ideology that underpinned the movement as well as a consideration of its modern day resonances. You will gain an unparalleled insight into the ideas, events and people of crusading history while engaging with a full array of source materials in this compelling field. The course will also consider the impact of the crusades on the Muslim world, as well as exploring western Europe’s first contacts with the terrifying Mongols.

We are one of the largest and liveliest History departments in the UK yet our size is not at the cost of anonymity; you will receive our individual attention and become part of our close-knit post graduate community.

  • Access to some of the richest facilities for historical research anywhere in the world; in addition to the College’s substantial library collections, there are the National Archives, British Library and libraries of the University of London.
  • Participate in the renowned research seminar, The Crusades and the Eastern Mediterranean, at the Institute of Historical Research.
  • World-leading and internationally excellent research which is ranked joint first for its impact on greater society (Research Excellence Framework 2014, 4* and 3* research).
  • Learn with some of the world's leading historians of the crusades.  Professor Jonathan Phillips is author of five monographs on the history of the crusades, including most recently Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades (2009) and The Second Crusade: Extending the Frontiers of Christendom (2007).
  • Professor Andrew Jotischky is author of The Perfection of Solitude: Monks and Hermits in the Crusader States (1995), The Hermit's Cookbook (2011) and Crusading and the Crusader States (2004, new edition, 2017).

Core modules

Louis IX of France and the Recovery of the Holy Land

In this module you will develop an understanding of the aims and motives of those who called for and took part in crusades in the thirteenth century. You will look at how crusaders were organised from inception to end, including the preaching of the expedition, the financing of the crusade, the journey to the East, and the progress and outcomes. You will examine the impact of Louis IX's crusade in the Muslim Near East and consider the crusading and chivalric ethos of the writings of John of Joinville.

The Mongols - 'A Journey through the Gates of Hell' - Europe Discovers the Wider World, C.1219 to C.1262

In this module you will develop an understanding of the impact of the arrival of the Mongols on the Christian and Muslim powers of the Middle East and Western Europe. You will look at the form and effectiveness of Latin Christendom's response in the context of contemporary religious practices and political events. You will examine the Mendicants' narratives and the evaluate the Mongol attitudes towards other political and religious groups.

Recording the Crusades - The Memory of the Crusades

In this module you will develop an understanding of the memory, impact and legacy of the crusades in the West and Muslim world since the medieval period. You will look at the evolution and mutation of the crusading idea over the last 200 years, examining the European colonial and imperial powers adopted crusading during the nineteenth century, and how the idea was used in World War 1 and by General Franco in the Spanish Civil War. You will consider how historians have interpreted the subject, starting with Michaud in the early nineteenth century, moving through Grousset (1920s), Erdmann (1930s), Runciman (1950s), Prawer, Richard and Mayer (1970s) to Riley-Smith, Housley and Tyerman (contemporary). You will also analyse how the crusade and the jihad have been treated in the Muslim world, tracing colonial and imperialist views through the twentieth century to the present day, including use by Islamists such as Osama bin Laden and Arab Nationalists such as President Nasser of Egypt and President Hafez al-Asad of Syria. 

Research Development

In this module you will develop an understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of medieval studies. You will learn how to format and deploy sources according to scholary practice, and how to present your research effectively in an oral format. You will engage in critical discussion of research in an oral setting, describing, summarising, comparing and evaluating critical arguments. You will consider how to find, organise, deploy, and assess primary sources for your independent research and examine different types of evidence, such aas non-textual sources and edited texts.


You will carry out an extended piece of research. You will be appointed a member of academic staff who will act as your supervsior, providing you with support and guidance. You will produce a written report of between 10,500 and 12,000 words in length. 

Optional modules

In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Byzantium and the Fourth Crusade

In this module you will develop an understanding of the events surrounding the capture and sacking of Constantinople, the capital city of the Byzanthine empire, in April 1204. Starting in 1180, you will look at events in context of relations between the Byzantines and previous crusades and assess how key developments such as the usurpation of Andronicus I, the Third Crusade, and the empire’s internal weakness contributed to its ultimate downfall. You will examine the events of 1198 to 1204, considering accounts left by contemporaries and eyewitnesses (both Byzantine and Western) and why an expedition that set out with the intention of recovering Jerusalem from Islam ended up pillaging the greatest city in the Christian world. 

Women, the Crusades, and the Frontier Societies of Medieval Christendom, 1000 to 1300

In this module you will develop an understanding of how the crusading movement arose at a time of significant change for women. You will look at the effects of the Gregorian Reform and contemporary societal change on women’s traditional roles. You will examine how medieval historians used gendered language and moral tales to express their disapproval of women who took the cross, and the role of women in supporting crusader battles, often becoming the casualties of warfare. You will consider the role of noble women in providing political stablibility through regency and marriage after the First Crusade in the Latin society established in the East, and the effects of crusading on women who remained in the West.

Introductory Latin for Medievalists

In this module you will be given specific training in the reading of medieval documents. You will look at simple texts in classical Latin and learn how to parse all five declensions and indicative verbs. You will examine a range of documents in basic medieval Latin such as wills, deeds and accounts and translate two medieval passages plus an unseen passage.

Further Latin for Medievalists

In this module you will further enhance your linguistic training in Latin. You will develop comprehensive grammatical knowledge including all declensions of nouns and moods of verbs, with specific training in a range of documents in medieval Latin, including wills, deeds, and chronicles. You will carry out a series of translations of medieval material.

Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including coursework, examinations and a dissertation. 

Entry criteria:

UK Upper Second Class Honours degree (2:1), or equivalent, in a relevant subject.

Relevant professional qualifications and work experience in an associated area will be considered.

  • While a background in medieval history is helpful, it is by no means essential. The primary factors required are: considerable motivation, and a willingness to read widely and to engage with diverse cultures and ideologies from the perspective of the medieval world. 
  • We make decisions based on achieved or predicted grades, personal statements and references. We occasionally invite candidates to interview, usually in cases where we would like more information on which to base a decision. Applicants unable to attend, such as overseas students, will be interviewed by telephone.

English language requirements:

IELTS 6.5 overall with 7.0 in writing and a minimum of 5.5 in all other subscores. For equivalencies please see here

If you require Royal Holloway to sponsor you study in the UK, your IELTS must be a UK government-approved Secure English Language Test (SELT).

International and EU entry requirements

Please select your country from the drop-down list below

Students from overseas should visit the International pages for information on the entry requirements from their country and further information on English language requirements. Royal Holloway offers a Pre-Master’s Diploma for International Students and English language pre-sessional courses, allowing students the opportunity to develop their study skills and English language before starting their postgraduate degree.

Additional information:

  • An interview and sample essay may be required if we would like more information upon which to base a decision. Applicants unable to attend an interview, such as overseas students, will be interviewed by telephone.

On completion of your MA in Crusades Studies at Royal Holloway you will have developed and finessed skills, such as research, analysis and presenting, which will appeal to future employers. Your degree also demonstrates that you enjoy being challenged, understand complex issues, as well as other values and cultures, which equips you to operate successfully in a fast-changing and increasingly globalised and multi-cultural environment.  On graduation you will have ideally placed to develop your career in areas that involve the professional creation, evaluation and dissemination of knowledge or wish to progress towards a PhD.

  • Our Careers team will work with you to enhance your employability and prepare you for the choices ahead. Their support doesn’t end when you graduate; you can access the service for up to two years after graduation.
  • Our graduates are highly employable and, in recent years, have progressed to many stimulating and rewarding careers, including: doctoral research, school teaching, management-level banking, management-level business, local government, the Metropolitan Police, and the National Trust. 

Home and EU students tuition fee per year 2018/19*: £7,200

International students tuition fee per year 2018/19*: £14,900

Other essential costs**: You will need to purchase two essential text books costing approximately £25

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

* These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying part-time are charged a pro-rata tuition fee, usually equivalent to approximately half the full-time fee. Please email student-fees@royalholloway.ac.uk for further information on part-time fees. All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see tuition fees and our terms and conditions.

** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.

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