Duration: 1 year full time or 2 years part time
Institution code: R72
UK fees*: £10,600
International/EU fees**: £21,700
Crusader Studies (MA)
The Royal Holloway MA in Crusader Studies offers a unique and fascinating examination of the ideas, impact and personalities of this compelling 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 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 and will provide you with a further set of skills and a qualification that can lead to an impressive range of career paths. 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 you will receive our individual attention and become part of our close-knit post graduate community.
We offer a wide range of postgraduate scholarships to help with funding your studies. We especially encourage eligible applicants to apply for one of the following:
Brian Harris scholarship – full tuition fee reduction plus £14,800 research, living and travel costs for UK students with, or expected to achieve, a First Class degree.
Dinah and Jessica Nichols scholarship – £12,000 scholarship for Home/EU or international students with, or expected to achieve, a First Class degree or equivalent.
We also have two awards specifically for the MA in Crusader Studies:
The Peter Le Grys Prize. Awarded annually in the memory of this former student of the College, and to the value of £1500.
The St John Historical Society Award, given annually and to the value of £500.
Please contact the MA Course Director for further details.
From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as possible.
This module investigates the origins of the Seventh Crusade; the progress and outcome of the campaign; the presence of Louis IX in the East, 1250-54; the writing of John of Joinville; the end of the Ayyubid dynasty and the emergence of the Mamluks; the emergence of the Mongols into the consciousness of western Europe; how the papacy tried to understand and react to this; the aims and motives of the missionary journeys of the 1240s and 1250s; their outcomes and the reasons therein.
In this unique and ground-breaking 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 (especially) the last 200 years, examining how and why 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. We will also consider how the idea has taken on, in the West, a more secular meaning. You will analyse how crusade and jihad have been treated in the Muslim Near East, tracing cultural developments in theatre and poetry, as well as politics and religion, from the nineteenth to the present day, with particular emphasis on the figure of Saladin, the hero of the Muslim world for recovering Jerusalem from the crusaders. We will see how his image, and the memory of the crusades has been used by Islamists such as Osama bin Laden and Arab Nationalists such as Nasser of Egypt, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Hafez al-Asad of Syria and Yasser Arafat and the Palestinians.
All students pursuing the MA in Medieval Studies and the MA in Crusader Studies take this module, and so it creates and fosters an intellectual community of medievalists during your time on the degree. The module aims to make you aware of the issues and topics associated with the study of the Middle Ages on a wide and interdisciplinary basis, give you the skills that you need to undertake research in the field of Medieval Studies, and provide opportunities for you to engage in and practise academic dismodule, particularly in an oral context.
You will carry out an extended piece of research. You will be appointed a member of academic staff who will act as your supervisor, providing you with support and guidance. You will produce a written report of between 12,500 and 15,000 words in length.
This module will describe the key principles of academic integrity, focusing on university assignments. Plagiarism, collusion and commissioning will be described as activities that undermine academic integrity, and the possible consequences of engaging in such activities will be described. Activities, with feedback, will provide you with opportunities to reflect and develop your understanding of academic integrity principles.
You will choose one of the following modules:
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.
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.
There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.
Optional modules may include:
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 stability through regency and marriage after the First Crusade in the Latin society established in the East, including the dramatic reign of Queen Melisende of Jerusalem, and the effects of crusading on women who remained in the West.
This module traces the response of the rulers of the Byzantine Empire to the First Crusade, which passed through their territory in 1096-7. It places the crusade in the context of previous Byzantine interaction with the Latin West, especially attempts by the emperors to secure military help both before and during the reign of Alexios I Komnenos (1081-1118). The events of the First Crusade - its preaching by Urban II in 1095, its arrival at Constantinople in 1096-7, its progress through Byzantine territory to Antioch, the ‘third wave’ of 1101 – will all be discussed in this context through a range of Byzantine and Western source material in translation. Among the issues discussed will be the role of Alexios I in the preaching and launching of the crusade, the nature of the oaths sworn in Constantinople in 1097, the importance of the schism between the Byzantine and western Churches and the origin of the hostility between Bohemond and Alexios I.
The aims of the module are to develop an understanding of the significance of pilgrimage in the medieval world through a combination of contextual study of the ideals and practices associated with this dimension of medieval piety, and specific study of contemporary pilgrimage accounts from the fourth to fifteenth centuries. Students should thereby be able to consider specific aspects of pilgrimage and the practices associated with it within a broad context of changing practices of piety. They should appreciate the value of interdisciplinary approaches to the understanding of medieval texts, and comparative approaches to medieval religious history. The content will be based on study of a number of pre-selected contemporary pilgrimage accounts from Latin and Byzantine sources, in translation. Typical topics will include: the practice of pilgrimage in religious traditions from Late Antiquity onwards, Saints' cults and sacred space, specific pilgrimage destinations, pilgrims' writings, gender, class, material culture, etc.
Teaching & assessment
Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including coursework, examinations and a dissertation.
UK Lower Class Honours degree (2:2) or equivalent in History or a related subject in the Humanities or Social Sciences.
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.
International & EU requirements
English language requirements
- IELTS: 6.5 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
- Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C
- TOEFL iBT: 88 overall, with Reading 18 Listening 17 Speaking 20 Writing 26.
- Duolingo: 120 overall, 135 in Literacy, 135 in Production and no sub-score below 100.
Your future career
Students take this MA first and foremost out of a passion for the subject and then, either to extend their undergraduate interest in the Crusades, or to return to the academic field after time in the workplace.
For some, the MA is a springboard to further research and we have a really strong record in providing the impetus, the intellectual development, the environment and the training to undertake doctoral work. To date, 15 former students on the module have, or are in the process of, completing PhDs. No less than 11 academic monographs have been published by these individuals.
For others, the MA is where they complete their studies and afterwards they wish to enter, or re-enter, the world of work, having hopefully enjoyed the module, learned more about the world of the crusades and enhanced their skills as communicators, researchers, analysts and listeners. While Crusader Studies may sound a little niche, the tremendous variety of career paths followed by its former students suggest that all options are open. Graduates from the MA have entered:
- Government (UK Civil Service and a European Foreign Office)
- Overseas Charity work
- School Teaching (UK and Overseas)
- The Heritage Industry (National Archives, National Trust)
- The Metropolitan Police
- University of London Professional Services
- The Financial World: International Financial Trading
- Senior Banking Management
- Senior Management
- Human Resources
- The Travel Industry
Fees, funding & scholarships
Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £10,600
EU and international students tuition fee per year**: £21,700
Other essential costs***: You will need to purchase two essential text books costing approximately £25
* and ** These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying on the standard part-time course structure over two years are charged 50% of the full-time applicable fee for each study year.
All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. Please be aware that tuition fees can rise during your degree (if longer than one year’s duration). This means that the overall cost of studying the course part-time will be slightly higher than studying it full-time in one year.
** This figure is the fee for EU and international students starting a degree in the academic year 2024/25. Find out more
*** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree at Royal Holloway during the 2024/25 academic year, and are included as a guide. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.