Major

Overview of the Undergraduate Major

Every period in history is better illuminated and understood by using evidence from research in different fields rather than by studying it solely from the point of view of a single discipline. People of the past, after all, did not live their lives according to the departmental divisions of a modern university. Medieval studies, particularly in the last half century, have benefited enormously from this interdisciplinary approach. Work in family history, genealogy, archeology, folklore, iconography, textual criticism, linguistic analysis, and statistical research has advanced and deepened our knowledge of the highways and byways of the period.

The study of the Middle Ages has been strong and active at the University of Virginia for many years. There are now more than thirty faculty members who offer upwards of sixty courses on medieval topics in the departments of History, Classics, Religious Studies, Philosophy, English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Middle Eastern Studies, Art History, Architecture, Music, and Government. Research and teaching on the medieval period are supported by extensive holdings in the University Library, including Special Collections.

For the interested and able student, the major provides a way of pursuing medieval studies free of existing departmental requirements, along with a program of language study within the field, a sound training for graduate work, and a chance to share knowledge and opinions with other scholars on a critical period of western civilization. By its comprehensive structure, it promotes cordiality, collegiality, and an exchange of views across departmental lines. Work in medieval studies helps to develop and refine powers of criticism and imagination, and encourages, through practice, the ability to think and write with clarity and precision. It thus furnishes skills useful in a wide variety of vocational fields.

Requirements for the Major

1. The major is open to all qualified students in the College of Arts and Sciences who have demonstrated competence in a foreign language through the 200 level, or its equivalent, which is appropriate to their work in the program.

2. Requirements for graduation from the major:

  • a) 30 hours of credit in courses approved by the student’s advisor with passing grades, and at least a 2.0 average, distributed over the following fields of study:
    • History (9 hours)
    • Literature (9 hours)
    • Art or Music (3 hours)
    • Philosophy, Religious Studies, or Political Thought (3 hours)
    • The Colloquium in Medieval Studies (MSP 3801) by the fall of the junior year (3 hours); this course will sometimes be taught in conjunction with a 3000-level class in an affiliated department
    • The Seminar in Medieval Studies (MSP 4801) in the fall or spring of the senior year (3 hours), generally administered as an independent study with the thesis director.
  • b) a senior thesis written under the supervision of a member of the faculty and approved by the student’s advisor and the director of the Medieval Studies Program. ┬áThe grade for MSP 4801 (see above) will depend on the quality of the thesis and its timely completion.

3. The major may be combined with another departmental program as a double major.

As an interdisciplinary major, Medieval Studies requires the student to explore sources and methods in different fields, and to develop an individual program from a vast array of courses. The program can be tailored to each student’s abilities and needs through individual consultation, work in small classes, and careful supervision of the senior essay.

Requirements for the Minor

Students may complete a Minor in Medieval Studies by taking at least 18 credit-hours in medieval courses approved by the program director. At least one course must be taken in each of the four contributing fields of study (History; Literature; Art or Music; Philosophy, Religious Studies, or Political Thought).

Becoming a Medieval Studies Major/Minor

To discuss becoming a Medieval Studies Major or Minor or to ask questions about the undergraduate program more generally, please contact Gregory Hays at bgh2n@virginia.edu.

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