Medieval Studies Cluster and Certificate Requirements

The following requirements are in addition to, or further elaborate upon, those requirements outlined in the Graduate School Policy Guide.


Required Courses

1. LATIN 400: Medieval Latin

This course is offered annually.  Participants read and translate medieval Latin texts ranging from the Vulgate (Latin Bible) to a wide selection of literary, historical, and religious works. Instructors review difficult points of grammar as well as specialized medieval vocabulary and orthography. After completing Latin 400, students should register for the Toronto Medieval Latin Exam, Level 1, which is offered twice a year in early September and mid-April. Passage of this exam is a Ph.D. requirement within the Medieval Cluster and should ideally be completed before candidacy. Further Latin study is encouraged until students have passed the Toronto exam, Level 2, which is required for the Medieval Studies Certificate.

Latin 400 is not a beginning course. Students who arrive without advanced Latin proficiency should prepare for it by (a) taking the 9-week summer Latin intensive at the University of Chicago (tuition credit is available through The Graduate School); (b) taking Intermediate Latin in the Classics Department; and (c) participating in the informal Medieval Latin workshop as needed. This workshop meets year-round, with occasional intermissions, and is led by faculty or advanced students.  

Exception: Students in Medieval Archaeology may substitute the following courses for the Latin requirement: ANTHRO 401 “The Logic of Inquiry in Archaeology” and ANTHRO 322 “Archaeological Research Design and Methods.” Both courses must be completed.  

2. MED. ST. 420: Medieval Doctoral Colloquium

A non-credit, yearlong colloquium. The Medieval Studies cluster sponsors visits by five or six speakers in various disciplines every year. All students must officially register for the Doctoral Colloquium at least once. Graduate students are expected to attend Colloquium talks as long as they remain in residence (i.e. for at least three years) and are warmly encouraged to have lunch with the speakers closest to their fields. The graduate lunches are an indispensable part of each visit and may prove invaluable for research assistance and recommendations later on. View a list of recent Colloquium speakers.

3. At least one graduate seminar in Medieval Studies outside the home department.

4. At least two graduate seminars in Medieval Studies within the home department.

Pertinent Courses

ANTHRO. 390: Material Worlds of the Middle Ages

ART HISTORY 420: Studies in Medieval Art

Offerings have included Medieval Encounters with Islam; Art and Crusade; Image and Text; and The Role of the Patron.

ENGLISH 422: Studies in Medieval Literature

Offerings have included The Canterbury Tales; The Piers Plowman Tradition; Heresy, Rebellion, and the Book; Medieval Shakespeare / Renaissance Chaucer; Allegory and Gender; Medieval Drama; and Middle English Vision Narratives.  

FRENCH 410  Studies in Medieval Literature

Offerings have included Chrétien de Troyes, Christine de Pizan, Troubadours, and Fictions of the Grail.

HISTORY 430: Medieval Field Seminar

Offerings have included The Fourteenth Century; Europe in the High and Later Middle Ages; Medieval Popular Religion; Medieval Women; Hagiography; and Medieval Marriage.

MED. ST. 430: Paleography

Instruction in Latin and vernacular paleography is offered through individual and group tutorials and at the Newberry Library.  It may be taken with or without formal credit, depending on a student’s particular needs and stage in the program.

MUSICOL. 350: History of Western Music to 1499

PHILOSOPHY 421: Studies in Medieval Philosophy

Additional opportunities 

Aside from their regular departmental coursework, Cluster students might also take Classics courses on Latin authors regularly studied in the Middle Ages; medieval courses at the University of Chicago (available through the CIC Travelling Scholars’ program); and regularly scheduled seminars at the Newberry Library’s Center for Renaissance Studies. Students can obtain Northwestern credit for these seminars by registering for a 499 (Independent Study) in the relevant department.

All Cluster students are eligible for summer grants, which may at various points cover language acquisition, specialized training in paleography or codicology, and manuscript research in collections and archives.


Students who wish to receive the extra credential of a Certificate in Medieval Studies (awarded at graduation) must take Latin 400, Medieval Studies 420, and at least four seminars in medieval subjects in at least two departments. They must also pass the Toronto Medieval Latin Exam (Level 2) before defending their dissertations. A student working in Jewish or Byzantine studies may pass the Toronto Medieval Latin Exam (Level 1) and instead of Level 2, substitute a proof of equivalent proficiency in Hebrew or Greek.