Medieval Studies Major Guide for 2011-2012

What is Medieval Studies

Medieval studies is the examination of the Middle Ages—the period between the great Classical civilizations and modern times—from the perspectives of several academic disciplines: history, literature, languages, art history, religious studies, music, archeology, political science, and philosophy. The objective of the program is to allow a student to comprehend the medieval mindset and the environment that shaped it.

Medieval studies traditionally covers Europe in the period from 500 to 1500, but the program is flexible enough to allow students to focus on this period in Asia if they wish and to widen the time period studied to include the late Classical world at one end and the beginnings of the Renaissance or early modern pe­riod at the other.

Medieval studies was one of the first interdisciplinary programs established at UT, and it has a proven record of interdisciplinary faculty cooperation. Our excellent faculty resources make it possible to offer many concentrations within the program. Some popular ones are the late Classical/early medieval Mediterranean world, religions and cultures in contact in the Middle Ages, and the insular culture of medieval England.

Career Opportunities in Medieval Studies

Because medieval studies is an inter­disciplinary program, students who major or minor in medieval studies have a good chance to develop a highly valued skill set that includes

  • critical evaluation
  • analysis
  • historical understanding
  • communication skills
  • synthesizing information from several disciplines

These skills are marketable to virtually any employer.

    Students who want to pursue an even deeper understanding of the Middle Ages usually choose to go to graduate school to prepare for a career in teaching and research. They generally find that their interdisciplinary preparation serves them well in their graduate studies. Others who want to apply their knowledge and skills immediately often go to work for institutions with a historical or educational mission, such as museums and libraries.

Salary Trends in Medieval Studies

A degree in arts and sciences prepares students for many types of careers. Your college major is not necessarily the deciding factor in your career choice. As with any degree, pre-professional experience (for example, volunteering, work experience, and internships) increases your chances of obtaining the job you want and affects your potential salary.

High School Preparation

The best high school preparation for medieval studies is to indulge your interest in medieval history and culture at every opportunity.

If your school offers it, take Latin. Mastery of Latin is essential to in depth study of the Middle Ages in Western Europe, because most of the documentation of that period was written in Latin, the language of European scholars of the time.

Supplement your history courses with independent reading about the Middle Ages—your history teachers can get you started with some good choices. Go to films set in the period and compare their presentation of the times with what you have read.

If these opportunities are not available where you live, don’t worry—you can still do well in the Medieval Studies Program. Many students in the program have been drawn to the Middle Ages after starting at UT, so they choose Latin to fulfill their language requirement in the College of Arts and Sciences and catch up quickly with those who studied it in high school.

How to Major in Medieval Studies

Meet with the chair of the Medieval Studies Program as soon as you begin to think seriously about a major in Medieval Studies. He or she will help you plan an individualized curriculum that best suits your range of interests and particular strengths. We recommend that you begin or continue to study Latin, and if you plan graduate study in the field, take at least one additional language.

Requirements for Medieval Studies

1. Medieval Studies 201, “Medieval Civilization”
2. Medieval Studies 403, “Seminar in Medieval Studies”
3. 21 hours of upper-division courses that emphasize the medieval experi­ence, divided among the following three categories:

  • History, philosophy, political sci­ence, and religious studies
  • Language and literature
  • the Arts

These courses must be chosen in consultation with the chair of the Medieval Studies Interdisciplinary Program.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

Students with a special interest in the Middle Ages are encouraged to join the Medieval Club at UT and to participate in the many activities and public lectures sponsored by the Medieval Studies Program and the Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

Highlights of Medieval Studies

Each year the Marco Institute sponsors at least one symposium on a topic of medieval or Renaissance interest, one Manuscript Workshop for scholars of manuscript studies, several public lectures, and a weekly medieval Latin sight-reading group, among others.  In 2011 Marco hosted its first Undergraduate Conference. All of these events are free and open to the public.  If you’d like to receive informational emails about these events, please inquire at

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

Medieval Studies is global in its scope and concerns. We advise, encourage and direct students to pursue their work by spending time abroad in classes or research projects.

“Ready for the World” is part of a long-range plan to transform the UTK campus into a culture of diversity that best prepares students for working and competing in the 21st century.  Thus students are encouraged to actively participate in the diverse cultural programs offered on campus.  Some of these events include the guest lecture series, cultural nights at the International House, and international film screenings.  Visit the Center for International Education web site ( or the Ready for the World web site ( for more information on upcoming cultural programs and activities.
Students are also encouraged to develop a global perspective within their academic program through study abroad.  Visit the Programs Abroad Office web site ( for information on study abroad opportunities.

Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Sample Curriculum

Following this four-year plan will help you stay on track to graduate in four years.  Milestone courses have been identified as the minimum courses that must be completed.

Freshman Year Credit Hours
English Composition 6
Foreign Language (Latin recommended) 6
Natural Science Lab Sequence 8
Quantitative Reasoning 6-8
Social Science 3
Elective 0-1
Milestone courses: English 101, Quantitative Reasoning (3 hrs) and a social science (3 hrs)
Sophomore Year Credit Hours
Medieval Studies 201-202 6
Natural Science 3
Foreign Language or General Electives 6
Social Sciences 9
Arts and Humanities 6
Milestone courses: English 102, elementary foreign language proficiency, natural science (3-4 hrs) and MDST 201 and 202
Junior Year Credit Hours
Arts and Humanities 3
Upper Division Electives 9
Medieval Studies 403 3
Medieval Studies (major) 9
Communicating Orally 3
General Elective 3
Senior Year Credit Hours
Medieval Studies (major) 15
Upper-Level Distribution 6
Communicating Through Writing 3
General Electives 6
GRAND TOTAL (minimum) 120

For More Information

Dr. Heather Hirschfeld, Riggsby Director
Vera Pantanizopoulos-Broux, Program Coordinator
Dunford Hall, 6th Floor
915 Volunteer Blvd.
The University of Tennessee
Knoxville, Tn 37996
Phone: (865) 974-1859





The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.