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MA Medieval History York or Mst medieval literature Oxford?

My daughter is graduating from a college in the US with a double major in English and History. She is very much interested in Medieval North History. She wants to learn Old North and ultimately plans for a Ph.D. Currently, she got accepted for an Mst at Oxford in Medieval English literature and at York in Medieval History. She likes the York program better. However, she thinks that the name of Oxford and the English degree might offer better and more flexible job options. Oxford is probably more expensive but we have not received any numbers yet. Any advice or experience?
Original post by Ulenkoeper
My daughter is graduating from a college in the US with a double major in English and History. She is very much interested in Medieval North History. She wants to learn Old North and ultimately plans for a Ph.D. Currently, she got accepted for an Mst at Oxford in Medieval English literature and at York in Medieval History. She likes the York program better. However, she thinks that the name of Oxford and the English degree might offer better and more flexible job options. Oxford is probably more expensive but we have not received any numbers yet. Any advice or experience?

you can look up the fees on the respective websites - for overseas students at York it's £19,950 and at Oxford it varies but for her chosen course it is £28,560 - which I believe is quite reasonable compared to what you would be paying if she went to school in America (also she will be automatically considered for scholarships at Oxford)
Some things for her to consider apart from course content are which University she likes the look of more, the old, gothic architecture of Oxford, or the Brutalist, more modern architecture of York (however, King's Manor, where she will spend a lot of time studying as that is where her department will be based has the same architecture as Oxford) - also which city she feels she will be more at home in, looking at places that will fit her hobbies and interests
I agree that Oxford always looks better on job applications but York is also a well renowned University in the Russell Group and it's medieval course is the leading one in the whole world which sorta trumps the prestige that comes with Oxford's name
Also she should think about where she is at with her mental health - will she thrive in the tougher environment Oxford will present? Not saying that the environment at York will not also be tough due to the nature of MA courses
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Funnily enough, I have a friend who is also from the US planning to go into medieval studies (although he's doing his masters in Germany because it's a lot cheaper and they have some good medieval studies departments there - also I gather as for most ancient language areas, reading knowledge of German is indispensable anyway so developing his German language skills through living there was a convenient bonus). He also considered York but, because he really wants to continue in academia if he can, he feels that really only Oxford or Cambridge in the UK is likely to enable that. Unfortunately, medieval studies is a tiny field and so it's quite tough to stay in that area after the PhD.

Therefore, I get the impression one really does need to aim as "high" as possible for graduate studies in that area (unless she is interested in moving into a cognate area like archival work or early modern history or something). So, while York is very good and has a good medieval studies area (albeit, perhaps not as good as Oxford's), if she has offers from both I think it would be hard to justify not going to Oxford, unless it's completely financially unfeasible - at least for a PhD; at masters level it might be a little more flexible but I think she'd need to very carefully consider the offerings from both courses, especially language offerings (medieval studies PhDs almost inevitably will require working with the texts in the original language(s), unless it's a purely archaeological PhD project, so a good background in those is very important I gather).

That said, for Old Norse specifically I'm aware UCL has a lot of offerings in that area. Also out of Oxford and Cambridge I imagine ASNAC at Cambridge might be the stronger programme, especially for philological work. This of course is outside the scope of your question but if she also applied to either of those and you are awaiting decisions, that might influence things (alternately places to consider for PhDs).

Usually I don't advise chasing "prestige" or "league table rankings" but the above is based on what my friend of mine was advised by academics in the field, and he is definitely not one to consider such things without critical eye so I'm pretty confident it's not just spurious "prestige chasing" on his part!
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by Ulenkoeper
My daughter is graduating from a college in the US with a double major in English and History. She is very much interested in Medieval North History. She wants to learn Old North and ultimately plans for a Ph.D. Currently, she got accepted for an Mst at Oxford in Medieval English literature and at York in Medieval History. She likes the York program better. However, she thinks that the name of Oxford and the English degree might offer better and more flexible job options. Oxford is probably more expensive but we have not received any numbers yet. Any advice or experience?

Hi!

Congratulations to your daughter for her offers!

I'd recommend your daughter contacts the MA Medieval History programme lead Dr Sethina Watson ([email protected]), who will be happy to answer any questions about the course and the career opportunities so your daughter can find out a bit more before she makes her decision.

I studied an undergraduate degree at York and had a fantastic experience. The beautiful medieval city of York is a great location to study history!

I don't know much about the course, but if you have any questions about the city, campus, accommodation or student life, I'm happy to help.

I hope this helps!

Hazel :smile:

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